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Tash Khauli



The Khan’s palace is a large building, ornamented with pillars and domes, which, covered with bright coloured tiles, flash in the sun, and attract the attention of the stranger approaching Khiva. A guard of thirty or forty men armed with scimitars stood at the palace gates. We next passed into a small courtyard. the Khan’s guards were all attired in long flowing robes of various patterns, bright coloured sashes being girt around their waists, and tall fur hats surmounting their bronze countenances. The courty
ard was surrounded by a low pile of buildings, which are the offices of the palace, and was filled with attendants and menials of the court. Good looking boys of effeminate appearance, with long hair streaming down their shoulders, and dressed a little like women, lounged about, and seemed to have nothing in particular to do. Captain Fredrick Burnaby “A Ride to Khiva” 1876

The Tash Hauli Palace in Khiva was built in the 1830s, as a royal residence by prominent Khivan ruler Allah Kuli Khan (1826-42). Tash Hauli Palace is located within the walls of Ichan-Kala or Inner Fortress. The name of Tash Hauli translates to ‘stone house’, demonstrating an urban interpretation of the traditional, stronghold-like country houses in Khorezm known as “hauli”. Apparently built more than eight years by thousand Persian slaves, the Tash Hauli Palace in Khiva marked the shift of royal residence and patronage from the ancient Kunya Ark in western Ichan-Kala to its eastern section.

The Allah Kuli Palace, as it is also known, was separated from neighboring buildings by narrow paved lanes, as the case for many important buildings in the Ichan-Kala. The construction of the palace spurred development in its immediate vicinity and it stands today amidst a dense urban ensemble consisting of the Qutlugh Murad-Inaka and Allah Quli Khan Madrasahs, Aq Mosque, Anush Khan Baths and Pahlavan Darvaza.

1. Harem.

2. Court office (Arz Khana).

3. Reception Room (Ishrat Hauli).

The Tash Hauli Palace complex has a rectangular plan and consists of three parts with small courtyards. The northern courtyard with varying degrees of privacy and security was occupied by the Khan’s harem (1). The reception room-ishrat-hauli (3) adjoins the court office (arz-khana) (2)- in the southwest. In the center of Arz-khana there is a round platform for the Khan’s yurt.

The step by step construction of the Tash Hauli Palace over a decade created independent, often isolated sections inside the palace with separate entrances. Today, there are only two operational gates in the Tash Hauli Palace, facing west and south.

The royal harem was first built in 1830-34, and later extended with an inner court to form the Ishrat Hauli, or the private reception chambers. The Arz Hauli, or the receiving yard, was added in 1837 and used as a ceremonial court for official receptions. The plans of the Ishrat and Arz Hauli are nearly identical, with inner courts flanked on the long side by two-storied structures with deeply recessed, double height iwan bisected by a single column. A traditional circular tent made of animal hides (yurt) was often installed, in the open court during winter months.
The Tash Hauli’s richly decorated interiors stand in stark contrast with its fortified exteriors with their tall, crenellated, solid brick walls, corner turrets and iron gates. A wide variety of materials, including wood, stone, plaster, ceramic tiles and brick are used in a variety of styles. The typical decorative program for the courtyard façades involves alternation between plain brick buttresses and elaborate blue and white majolica panels. Many of the majolica panels are executed in the medallion technique are attributed to master craftsman Abdullah Djinn, and are seen only in Khiva. Large portion of the ornate, painted false wood ceilings, wooden lattice work on railings (panjaras), carved tapering wood columns and wooden doors were acquired from older buildings; they are excellent specimens of the Khorezmian tradition of wood workmanship. White marble pedestals, intricately carved with swastikas and arabesques are adopted as the base of columns in the harem iwans.

The Tash Hauli began to deteriorate in the early twentieth century due to lack of maintenance and improper renovation by impoverished rulers. Extensive restorations were commissioned in 1975, when the then Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan classified Khiva as a historical city. A series of preservation projects were undertaken between 1981 and 1996, accelerating with the declaration of the Ichan-Kala as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1990.

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