Pakhlavan Mahmoud Mausoleum
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A beautiful emerald green dome topped with a large brass finial marks the Mausoleum of Pakhlavan Mahmoud – the holiest site in Khiva. It is the shrine of Khiva’s patron saint, Pakhlavan Mahmud, who was a fur hat maker and a famous poet of Khiva, and the dynastic burial complex of the Khiva Khans. Pakhlavan Mahmud was also a superb wrestler, winning every single of his wrestling matches as well as the hearts of the Khiva citizens who built a modest mausoleum for him on the site of his furrier workshop.
The ensemble lies south of Khiva’s famed Allah ad-Din tomb, near the Islam Khodja Complex in the Ichan-Kala (inner fortress). The complex today consists of a domed monastic hall (khanqah), yard and gate pavilion (darvaza khana) along north-south axis, with a summer mosque, Quran reading rooms (qori khana), kitchen and other ancillary structures arranged on either side.
Viewed from the west, this monumental dome sits atop an unrelieved brick mass and rises above the adjacent graveyard’s cluster of domes and half-domes. The tile motifs and large medallions on the dome reflect the decorative traditions of the region.
The interior of Pakhlavan Mahmud’s Mausoleum displays an array of Khiva’s famed woodcarving, ceramic painted decoration, metal chasing and inlay craft traditions. All of the complex’s main rooms were faced with painted majolica tiles in 1825 under the patronage of Khiva ruler Allah Kuli Khan. The wooden doors are exquisitely carved and inlaid with copper and ivory. The latticed brass grille at Muhammad Rahim Khan’s gravestone is particularly noteworthy.
Today the Pahlavan Mahmud Mausoleum is carefully preserved as a national cultural treasure. The World Heritage Status conferred on the Ichan-Kala in 1991 has attracted increased world attention and sparked several conservation projects.
Don’t miss the view from the tombs to the left of the Pakhlavan Mahmoud ensemble which is one of the loveliest in Khiva. The glinting green of the dome contrasts with the glittering majolica blues and turquoises whilst the Juma Minaret soars in the background.