Bukhara History - Part 13

Ulughbek who was aware of the importance of Bukhara clergy - it had earlier promoted overthrow of his predecessor - now attempted to win the favor of religious circles. The earliest architectural monument Ulughbek built in Bukhara (1417-1418) was a magnificent madrasah with some remarkably specific features. This Khadis (saying of the Prophet Mukhammad) was written on a carved wooden door: «Aspiration to knowledge is to be the duty of every Muslim man and woman.» This can be understood as the exhortation, the motto, and the wish that Ulughbek left to his young contemporaries and the coming generations of his compatriots.

Ulughbek stayed in this building on 28 November 1419, probably because of inauguration of this madrasa. In 1432-33, Ulughbek also built a new madrasa at the tomb of Khodja Abdukhalik Qizhduvani, who was a teacher of Bakha ad-Din Nakshbandi, the originator of the most influential Sufi order. Complete reconstruction of Kalyan, the congregational mosque of Bukhara, carried out under Ulughbek, should be examined from the same point of view.

Ulughbek visited Bukhara rather frequently and stayed there for long periods. He especially liked to do so in wintertime to combine state affairs with hunting trips into Karakul. In the winter of 1421, his son Abdar-Rakhman (died in 1432) was born here. A special official reception for and negotiations with the Tibetan diplomatic mission were arranged in Bukhara as well.

After Ulughbek died, the clergy of Bukhara enhanced its influence in its political life interfering actively in the decision about succession to the throne. Under Ulughbek's son Abdullatif, the influence of dervishes from the Nakshbandi order increased. After prince Ab-dullah's partisans had usurped power, Bukhara put forward its pretender to the Temurid throne, Abu Said, and swore allegiance to him. Having risen to power Abu Said called for Khodja Akhrar, a famous Sufi of the Makshbandi order from Tashkent, who appeared to be the most influential politician and ecclesiastical personality in the Temurid state during the next forty years.

After Ulughbek's death none of the Temurids took care of the urban structures of Bukhara. In the late fifteenth century the city was under the Temurid tarkhans, the most respected officials, who had enormous riches and possessed documents that granted them by local feudal lords, the Kesh-Kushans. Apparently, these castles (keshks) were widespread throughout Central Asia in the Early Middle Ages; they had many rooms and stood on platforms. Narshakhi reports that in his time, there were about 700 keshks around Bukhara, although many of them were abandoned by that period. He reports an interesting detail concerning one such castle; its entrance doors were beautifully adorned with carvings that depicted idols. These doors subsequently were moved to a mosque in Bukhara and the idols were hewn out.