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Bukhara Kalyan Mosque and-minaret.JPG
Courtyard at Po-i-Kalyan,
with the madrasa and minaret.
Basic information
Location Uzbekistan Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Affiliation Islam
Province Bukhara
District Bukhara
Ecclesiastical or organizational status Mosque complex
Architectural description
Architectural type Mosque, madrasa, courtyards, minaret
Architectural style Islamic
Completed 12th-century, 16th-century
Spire(s) 1
Spire height 45.6 m

Po-i-Kalyan or Poi Kalyan (Uzbek: Poi Kalon, Persian: پای کلانPā-i Kalān, which means "The Foot of the Great"), is an Islamic religious complex located around the Kalyan minaret in Bukhara, Uzbekistan.


The complex is located at the historic part of the city. Since 713, several ensembles of main mosques were built in this area, to the south of the Ark citadel. One of these complexes, burned down by Genghis Khan during the siege of Bukhara, was built in 1121 by the Karakhanid ruler Arslan-khan. The Kalyan minaret is the only of structures of Arslan-han complex, which was kept safe during that siege.

Iwan of the Mir-i Arab madrasa.


Kalyan minaret[edit]

Main article: Kalyan minaret

Kalyan minaret, more properly, Minâra-i Kalân, (Pesian/Tajik for the "Grand Minaret"). Also known as the Tower of Death, as arguably for centuries criminals were executed by being thrown off the top.

The minaret is most famed part of the ensemble, which dominates over historical center of the city in form of a huge vertical pillar. The role of the minaret is largely for traditional and decorative purposes - its dimension exceeds the bounds of the main function of the minaret, which is to provide a vantage point from which the muezzin can call out people to prayer. For this purpose it was enough to ascend to a roof of mosque. This practice was common in initial years of Islam. The word "minaret" descends to Arabic "manara" ("lighthouse", or more literally "a place where something burn"). Probably an idea of minarets of Islam was adopted from "fire-towers" or lighthouses of previous epochs.[1]

The architect, whose name was simply Bako, made a minaret in the form of a circular-pillar brick tower, narrowing upwards, of 9 meters (29.53 feet) diameter at the bottom, 6 meters (19.69 feet) overhead and 45.6 meters (149.61 feet) high. There is a brick spiral staircase that twists up inside around the pillar, leading to the landing in sixteen-arched rotunda - skylight, which based on a magnificent stalactite cornice (sharafa).[2]

Kalyan Mosque[edit]

Kalyan Mosque (Maedjid-i kalyan) was completed circa 1514, in the Khanate of Bukhara. It is equal in size to the Bibi-Khanym Mosque in Samarkand. Although they are both mosques, they are very different in architectural styles. The roof of the galleries encircling the mosque's inner courtyard has 288 domes resting on 208 pillars. Facing the courtyard is a tall tiled Iwan portal, for entry to the main prayer hall. The mosque is surmounted by a large blue tiled dome.

Inner courtyard of the Kalyan Mosque, part of the Po-i-Kalyan Complex in Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Historical background[edit]

The place where the complex Po-i-Kalyan is located remembers a few completely ruined buildings in the past. In pre-Islamic era right here was located the central cathedral of fire-worshippers. Since 713 here, at the site south of the Ark, several edifices of main cathedral mosque were built then razed, restored after fires and wars, and moved from place to place. In 1127, the Karakhanid ruler Arslan-khan fulfilled a construction of most significant of past architecture ensembles at this place - the cathedral mosque with the minaret. Greatness of these structures was so amazing, that it made Genghis Khan to consider mosque mistakenly to be khans' palace. Nevertheless the building of mosque was not spared by the fire, and for many years after the conflagration it was laying in ruins. All that remained intact of former ensemble is the magnificent minaret Kalyan (Minara-yi-Kalyan).

After the death of Shaibani-khan in 1510 the most of local rulers (emirs and sultans) recognized central government only partially. The capital of the Shaibanid state was in Samarkand. In 1512 the nephew of Shaibani-khan young prince Muizz ad-Din Abu-l Gazi Ubaidullah became sultan of Bukhara. He inherited the power from his father Mahmud-sultan, who was the cadet brother of Shaibani-khan and his faithful companion-in-arms. Till 1533 Ubaidullah-sultan was successful governor of Bukhara, when he was enthroned as a khan of whole Shaibanid state - khan of Maverannahr (Ma wara'u'n-nahr). In spite of this he refused to move his residence to Samarkand - the capital of the State. Moreover he later made Bukhare the capital of the Shaibanid state. After that the state governed by Ubaidullah (Ubaidulla) received new name - Bukhara khanate. Thus Ubaidullah-khan (gov. 1533-1539) became the first khan of Bukhara khanate. While Ubaidullah-khan was the khan of Maverannahr, his son Abdul-Aziz-khan was the khan of Bukhara. They considered Bukhara as their family lot. They were patriots of Bukhara, and therefore they constantly were anxious for success of the city.

The fact that governor of Bukhara in 1514 built such grand mosque, which could rival with the symbol of royal Samakand]] - the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, shows a tendency to make eventually Bukhara the capital of the Shaibanid state. By the construction of Kalyan Mosque Ubaidullah-sultan started formation of new capital, rather than to fight for domination over Samarkand, which by the way has forever hostile feeling to Shaibanids.


Mir-i Arab Madrassah (1535-1536)[edit]

The construction of Mir-i-Arab Madrasah (Miri Arab Madrasah) is ascribed to Sheikh Abdullah Yamani of Yemen - called Mir-i-Arab - the spiritual mentor of Ubaidullah-khan and his son Abdul-Aziz-khan. Ubaidullah-khan waged permanent successful war with Iran. At least three times his troops seized Herat. Each of such plundering raids on Iran was accompanied by capture of great many captives. They say that Ubaidullah-khan had invested money gained from redemption of more than three thousand Persian captives into construction of Mir-i-Arab Madrasah. Ubaidullah-khan was very religious. He had been nurtured in high respect for Islam in the spirit of Sifism. His father named him in honor of prominent sheikh of the 15-th century Ubaidullah al-Ahrar (1404-1490), by origin from Tashkent province.

By the thirties of the 16-th century the time, when sovereigns erected splendid mausoleums for themselves and for their relatives, was over. Khans of Shaibanid dynasty were standard-bearers of Koran traditions. The significance of religion was so great that even such famed khan as Ubaidullah was conveyed to earth close by his mentor in his madrasah. In the middle of the vault (gurhana) in Mir-i-Arab Madrasah is situated the wooden tomb of Ubaidullah-khan. At his head is wrapped in the moulds his mentor - Mir-i-Arab. Muhammad Kasim, mudarris (a senior teacher) of the madrasah (died in 1047 hijra) is also interred near by here.

The portal of Miri Arab Madrasah is situated on one axis with the portal of the Kalyan Mosque. However, because of some lowering of the square to the east it was necessary to raise a little an edifice of the madrasah on a platform.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dmitriy Page. "Kalyan Minaret". Retrieved October 14, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Бухоро Bukhara Бухара" На узбекском, английском и русском языках. Издательство "Узбекистан", Ташкент 2000
  3. ^ История Узбекистана (XVI - первая половина XIX в.) Ташкент -"Укитувчи" -1995
  4. ^ Dmitriy Page. "Kalyan Mosque". Retrieved October 14, 2014. 
  5. ^ Dmitriy Page. "Mir-i-Arab". Retrieved October 20, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°46′33″N 64°24′51″E / 39.77583°N 64.41417°E / 39.77583; 64.41417