East of Paris Bookstore

Friday, May 14, 2010


Khiva is a long way from anywhere.  On the way, we enjoyed watching a shepherd lead his flock for water at the Oxus River [now known as the Amu Darya River] .  

Khiva is an oasis in the Kyzyl Kum [red sands] desert:  dusty, less flashy than Bukhara or Samarqand, unique, somewhat depressing.    Parts of it remind me of Taos, New Mexico.

The streets of the old town are hard-packed dirt. 
 Women holding buckets of water, fling handfuls of water on the streets outside their homes and shops to bring down the dust.

The wall (much restored) surrounding the old own is a combination of tan brick and adobe.  Tombs, reminiscent in shape to those is Lycia, dot the ramparts of the outer wall to discourage superstitious enemies from attack.  More tombs rest on the inner side of the wall as well.

This was a center of centuries of multidirectional slave trade.  The faces of the people we see reflect a variety of ethnic ancestors both Asian and Russian.  This oppressive history makes the heat [nearly 100 F in May] harder to bear.  And, the beauty of the architecture and decorative tiles seems out of place. 

The decorative tiling is the only dash of color in this fortress.  

We see more green shades in the tile work than elsewhere in Uzbekistan, perhaps to make up for the lack of green in the landscape. Embedded in the walls are green pre-Islamic Zoroastrian symbols.  

The apple and paisley tile designs  in the Tash Hauli Palace are unique to this area.  

And, a lonely whitewashed walkway in the Harem:

Khiva is also home to the Dzhuma Mosque, whose cool and dark interior [shades of Cordoba] has a seeming forest of 115 carved wood columns:

The narrow bases of the wood columns are wrapped in camel hide as a protection from insects.

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