Hydro Architecture of the Bukhara Oasis
in the 10th - the beginning of the 20th cc.

The water was of important significance in conditions of a hot and droughty climate of Central Asia. From ancient times, in this region was practicing the irrigation farming with the irrigation system well developed.

Traditionally the cities were constructed at the rivers and had water channels, from which were running aryks (small channels) involving the entire area of the city. If it was possible the wells with drinking-water were constructed. For storage of the water and for urban design in cities and villages were installed the uncovered reservoirs - hauzes. Special covered water reservoirs - sardobas were built along the caravan roads to supply travelers and animals with the water. The most ancient and largest sardobas have been preserved in the Bukhara oasis - a big cultural, trading and craft center on the Great Silk Road.

The center of the oasis is Bukhara - one of the most ancient cities of Central Asia having 2500 - year long history. From ancient times, Bukhara consisted of three parts: fortresses with a residence of the governor; shahristan - an ancient nucleus of the city located westward from the fortress and suburbs - rabads surrounding them, which were fortified with walls. In the 16th century the layout of the city has acquired an oval contour (with a ledge in the southwest) and was fenced with a strong adobe wall of 12 km in length with 12 gates. Up to the beginning of the 20th century, the historical part of Bukhara was kept unchanged. To the south of shahristan, on a line from the east to the west, the city was crossed by Shahruh's channel flowing out of the Zerafshan river and being the major water source of Bukhara.

Numerous hauzes, which were installed almost in each quarter and within a number of architectural ensembles, gave up extraordinary beauty and charm to the architecture of Bukhara. Surrounded by trees, the hauzes created the comfortable and cool atmosphere with especial microclimate, turning in the places serving for the public rest with tearooms and snack bars.

For construction of hauzes, the builders used special methods which have been experienced and tested for of practice and could provided earthquake protection of structures, uniform ground compaction ground and waterproofing of the reservoir. Construction types (basically in aspect of the facing) of hauzes in Central Asia were wooden, wood - brick and stone. We should note, that 60% of hauzes in Bukhara (58 of 96 hauzes preserved by the beginning of the 20th c.) were made of stone - local natural sandstone or limestone (1, c. 171).

To construct a reservoir, at first, was dug a pit that was 1 - 1.5 m wider and deeper against the planned size; it was filled up with water for ground compaction. Then, 10 - 12 cm thick layer of crushed stone was put on the bottom and flooded with waterproofing solution - "kyr" that was used from ancient times in hydro architecture and water constructions in Central Asia. It contained ashes of local types of bushes and cane. For obtaining of a waterproof bottom, 8 - 10 of such layers were stacked. The bottom was stacked with a brick put on its side. A height of a step - 30 - 35 cm. Space between a stone wall and a ground was filled with gravel and kyr. To connect walls of the hauz with the ground, on perimeter of each layer, a ring of wooden bars (20x20 cm in section) with radially running wooden cores - anchors was erected.

Hauzes of Bukhara had the rectangular or square, sometimes hexagonal, form with cut off corners. Water was supplied by aryks or "tazars" (channels roofed with brick), branched off from the Shahruh's channel. Special decorative forms were given to stone weirs. They were often decorated with carvings (the Arabian inscriptions, vegetative and zoomorphic ornaments), sometimes they stylized a mouth of a lion or dragon, for example, a weir dated back to 1913 at Khodja Zain ad-Din's hauz of the 16th c. Hauzes served not only as water reservoirs with trees and shrubs planted around, giving attractive cool and comfort in summer heat, but also as a compositional nucleus of that architectural environs which they were part of.

Hauzes in a structure of the city ensembles. Rarely used in Central Asia and the only in Bukhara, was Gaukushon, an ensemble with frontal composition dated from the 16th c. Gaukushon medreseh and Khodja Kalon mosque with a minaret Gaukushon are located on one side of the square with hauz and face the square with their facades frontally.

In Bukhara more widespread was the "kosh" ensemble where two buildings located on the sides of the street faced each other by facades. (kosh - medreseh of Abdullakhan - Modarikhan, Ulugbeg - Abdulazizkhan). Sometimes in kosh ensemble between two oppositely staying buildings a hauz was located. Such are comfortable and shady ensembles of Goziyon of the 16th c. and Hauzi - Nau of the 17th c.

The composition of an ensemble with tripartite planning was basic in planning of the grand city squares of Samarkand (Registan, the 15th - 17th cc.) and Bukhara (Poi Minor, the 15th - the beginning of the 20th cc). However, in less official and grandiose ensembles of Bukhara having tripartite composition, on a square were constructed hauzes surrounded with trees. The most beautiful in Bukhara is the Ensemble of Lyabi - Hauz, the 16th - 17th cc., where from three sides of the square with a huge stone water reservoir, were placed Kukeldash medreseh, khanaka and medreseh of Nadir Divan - Beghi. Hauz, included into the ensemble of Nadir Divan - Beghi was the largest not only in Bukhara, but, perhaps, in all Central Asia. With its sizes of 36х46 m and depth of 5 m, it could contain almost 4,320 cubic meters of water. (1, c.178) The Goziyan ensemble of the 17th c. had the same structure, where the former kosh ensemble, by adding of the third building (kkhanaka), was transformed into ensemble with tripartite planning of the square and hauz.

Hauzes in the structure of the quarter centers. The architecture of dwelling quarters with a dominant beaten cob structures was vivified with public centers where nearby saint places or around the reservoirs - hauzes were located quarter mosque, school - maktab and sometimes medreseh and khanaka. Markets, shops and bathhouses also were located nearby the centers. Such was, for example, not preserved center of Mir - Dustum quarter, which included Khanaka-yi lyabi hauzi Mir - Dustum with a minaret, big stone hauz Dust - chiroq okosi, a market of diary and others. (2, c.154).

Some quarter centers represented actually religious center where a wide yard having along its perimeter the premises of a school, bathhouse, taharatkhana (a place for ritual ablution); tovut-khana (a place for storage of a funeral stretcher) and others adjoined to a quarter mosque (sometimes it combined functions of kkhanaka),. In this case hauz was placed within the yard of the mosque, and shops - nearby, but outside the yard of the mosque. The brightest example of such planning - is the center of the Khodja Zain ad-Din's quarter, where a yard with different buildings on the perimeter and hauz adjoined to a monumental and majestic mosque - khanaka of the 16th c. It was rather large - 36x26 m. in size (the second in size in Bukhara) stone hauz of the 16th c. Specific configuration of a site caused atypical location of a reservoir not in the center of the yard, but along its northeast side.

Hauzes in a structure of memorial-cult complexes arose at the tombs of saint men (often they were the Sufis). In a course of time for adherents of the saint's ideas and pilgrims visiting this tomb, stage by stage, during centuries a complex of structures in a form of closed or open composition around a yard was being formed. Quite often in one - yard memorial complexes, in a courtyard was established hauz (Saif ad - Din Boharzi). In multi - yard memorial complexes (Baha - ad - Din, Hazrati - Imam) as well as in complex-compounded complexes (Chor - Bakr) - two or three hauzes could be built. Some such necropolises were surrounded with gardens having water reservoirs in (Baha - ad - Din) and, sometimes with graceful arbors for relaxation. For example, a pool and "porceilon" pavilion, erected in the middle of a garden in Chor - Bakr complex.(3, c.69)

Pools in landscape gardening. According to Narshahi and Kubavi, in Bukhara planned and landscaped gardens and parks existed already in the 10th - 12th cc. (4, p.37). By the Temurid epoch, certain canons in landscaping of a garden - charbag have been already worked out, and in 1515 - 1516 they were stated in Herat in the treatise "Irshad-az Zir'a" devoted to patron - builder - Alisher Navoi. (5, p.152). According to the recommendations given in the treatise, in the rectangular garden surrounded with a wall with correct orientation on cardinal four directions should be pointed two axes - alleys with a channel where on a cross point of axes a water reservoir was installed. On a main axis stretching from an entrance portal into the depth of a garden, was placed a dwelling building that was a major high and monumental dominant of charbag. Before the building was installed a paved yard - "peshgokh" to which the mentioned water reservoir adjoined. Aryk (a small channel) and a line of poplars surrounded the garden on its perimeter. Each of two quarters of the garden was divided in its own turn into another four parts, forming so - called "charchaman". According to the recommendations, rest of the site was planted with the certain sorts of fruit and decorative trees and flowers. Thus, the paradise garden was created. One of early such gardens of Bukhara of the 16th c. was created by Mirak Sa'id Giyas - expert in agronomy and art of garden landscaping from Khorasan. According to canons, this charbag as well as by nowadays lost gardens of Bukhara of the 16th c.: Pir-i marza; Abdullakhan (1587); charbags of Hakim-oyim and Ubaidullakhan of the early 18th c. (analogous with Amir temur's gardens in Samarkand, the late 14th c.) had channels and water reservoirs.

Sardoba represented a cylindrical reservoir covered with a dome for water to where a small ladder within a corridor led through a small portal,. These water basins were erected along caravan roads, at rabats or caravanserais and occasionally in cities. The reservoir was filled usually with thawed and rain waters, sometimes water was also supplied from the nearest water source by aryks or underground channels "kiryaz" (the ceramic pipeline), and also ground water.

Genesis and development of sardoba architecture, most likely, is connected with experience of use in conditions of desert of natural cavities where water flew down. It has prompted the construction of artificial rain ditches with some simple structures, which further have resulted in architecture of sardoba, which exists nowadays. (6, p.35). Therefore for collection of thawed and rain water flowing naturally through special inlet apertures in the basis of a dome, these reservoirs were constructed in places with the lowered relief.

Sardobas were erected from ancient times, anyway they are known from the period of antiquity (the 1st c. BC - in the settlement of Dilberdjin near Balkh). (7, p.30). In the Bukhara oasis, besides above described typical sardobas, complicated in architecture sardobas, supplied for the rest of travelers by a circular platform - loggia around the tank (Rabati - Malik etc.), or with adjoining premises with entrances outside (sardoba in Karaulbazar).

For protection from infiltration of water from the tank into the ground, hydro proofing solution - kyr was used for its laying and especially for plastering of its internal surface. Sardoba was roofed with a dome which had smooth spherical form inside and stepped - outside that reflected reduction of its thickness (thickness of a dome at the basis might be up to 1.8 - 1.1 m., in zenith not less than 35 - 40 cm). Frequently, a territory around sardoba was fenced to keep it clean and out of animals reaching. The largest, most ancient and significant of sardobas in the Bukhara oasis is a sardoba of the 11th - 12th cc. at Caravanserai of Rabati-Malik located in the middle of the road from Bukhara to Samarkand. Besides thawed snow and rain water, sardoba was supplied by kiryaz from the the Zerafshan river. Sardoba inside had a circular platform around of the tank and was roofed by a large dome (with inner diameter of 17.5 m and outer diameter of 21.1 m.) with thick walls (thickness at basis - 1.8 m) (8, p. 1).

Rather active construction and restoration of sardobas in the Bukhara oasis were in the 16th - 17th cc. The most remarkable of them were three structures - in Karaulbazar, Buzachi and Koshsardoba, located on the road from Bukhara to Karshi and filled by the water which was supplied by aryks from the Kashkadarya river. (6, p.26 - 27). Larger of them - sardoba in Karaulbazar (with diameter of the tank - 15.8 m, depth - 8.1 m and height of a dome - 6.35 m) had small rooms for the serving personnel above an entrance corridor.

Sardoba of Buzachi consisted of two - the bigger and smaller domed tanks, located 50 - 60 m from each other (diameter of the larger tank was 12 m, depth - 6 m) and enclosed with earthwork. Both tanks were linked by a channel with cross section of 1.5 m. Probably, the smaller, nowadays lost, tank served for purposes of upholding the river water, before it was submitted into the larger one. Koshsardoba (lost nowadays), also had two domed tanks: the bigger and smaller one located two meters one from another. Diameter of the larger tank was about 15 m. Typical in architecture were one - dome sardobas of Akkan, Shahsuvar and Charcha, which were supplied by rain and thawed snow water and located in the Bukhara oasis on the road from Bukhara to Burdalyk. (6, p.26-27).

City sardobas. In the city of Bukhara were built four one - dome sardobas, typical in their architecture,. They were basically supplied by ground waters and were roofed with a heavy flat spherical dome with a large light lantern in its zenith. Those are sardobas: in a yard of medical medresseh of Doru - Shifo (1682), constructed under the order of Subkhankuli - khan), in a court yard of a Sufi complex of Halif Hudoydot (the 18th c. with diameter of a dome of 13.4 m.), on Ishan - Imlo cemetery (insufficiently studied) and on the Jewish cemetery (with internal diameter of a dome - 7.3 m, with a circular platform around of the tank).

Thus, the engineers of the Bukhara school of architecture in the 9th - 19th constructed most monumental and largest in Central Asia mainly stone hauzes; from the 17th c. comfortable city ensembles with tripartite planning of the square with hauz; park - garden ensembles with aryks, channels and reservoirs were planned according to the ancient canons of the charbag garden - park, which were improved and developed in cooperation with the experts from Khorasan; sometimes sardobas were constructed with a roundabout platform or rooms for habitation and rest, some sardobas, filled with river water, consisted of two nearby located domed reservoirs.

Author: Mavlyuda Yusupova


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