Khoja Gaukushan Ensemble

Khoja Gaukushan Ensemble

In the historical center of Bukhara, stands the largest architectural complex Khoja-Gaukushan, the construction of which dates back to the 16th century. The largest amount of the ancient buildings in Bukhara were built for cultic or religious purposes, and the structures of the Khoja Gaukushan Ensemble are no exception. Khoja Gaukushan was translated as “Killing Bulls” since it was the place of a former butchery and trading grounds in 1570. Even before, this large area was utilized as a retail space.

History

According to the various sources, the idea to produce this ensemble belongs to Sheikh Khoja Saad from the honored Juybar family. He granted funds for the construction of large and significant objects, becoming the main patron of the project. Also, another source says that the ensemble’s only Juma Mosque was supported by an influential Juybar Sheikh known as Khoja Sa’ad or Khoja Kalon (Great Khodja), who at that time was the head of the Naqshbandi Brotherhood. Consequently, his name was displayed in the name of the mosque and the entire complex as a sign of respect and gratitude. The Sheikh was also called Khodja Kalon, which means Great Khodja, therefore the buildings of the complex are also sometimes called Khodja Kalon. Sheikh Khoja Saad himself was buried in the family tomb Chor-Bakr along with all members of his family dynasty. The design and decor of the Khoja-Gaukushan Minaret resemble the famous 12th-century Kalyan Minaret, also in Bukhara, and is second only to its Kalyan counterpart in size. 

Architectural structure

The building itself has the shape of a regular trapezoid, as it was located at the intersection of several streets. A structure was built according to the traditional courtyard scheme in a typical oriental style. The complex consists of a madrasah, mosque, minaret and a pool (hauz). Madrasah is a Muslim educational institution, whose graduates later enter higher educational institutions. Education in the madrasah was primarily religious, and thus its decoration is marked by asceticism, while the outer facade boasts of majolica and tile mosaics resembling those of Bukhara’s Abdullakhan Madrasah. Madrasah is a two-story building with domed hujras. Here, students learned the history of Islam, Arabic, Sharia and the Koran. The impressive minaret which is second in height after the famous Kalyan minaret, it is even believed that the Khoja minaret is its mini copy of Kalyan. The decoration used to enrich the Khoja-Gaukushan complex is a two-color ganch decoration. 

The vast architectural ensemble of Bukhara, Khoja-Gaukushan, is included in the list of the historical heritage of architecture of the UNESCO World Organization along with other buildings in the historical part of Bukhara. Today it turned souvenir shops with goods for tourists are located near the madrasah, and there is a restaurant nearby on the square. Visitors who have visited the complex note that some parts of the structures look a little neglected, despite the ongoing restoration work.

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