Dakhma-i-shakhan Royal Cemetery

As is well known 29 khans reigned over Kokand khanate. But possibly only during the reign of Umarkhan there was peace and tranquility in the countryThough he ascended the throne in 1810 through a coup d’etat, his aspirations were directed toward enlightening of his people and development of his land. Many calligraphers, painters, and poets worked at the royal court. Umarkhan himself was a rather known poet in his time. For his ghazals (a poetic form consisting of rhyming couplets and a refrain) he used a penname Amiriy. His wife- beautiful Mokhlaroyim, daughter of Andijan ruler, was endowed with exceptional poetic talent and was well known among her contemporaries and is revered by descendants as an outstanding Uzbek poetess Nadira.

After sudden death of her husband in 1822, when her adolescent son Mukhammad Ali was proclaimed the ruler of khanate, Nadira devoted her life to poetry and piety. The construction of several Kokand mosques, madrassahs and caravanserais is connected with her name. One of the most remarkable constructions initiated by Nadira is Dakhma-i-Shakhan burial complex where Umarkhan was interred. This was a composite architectural ensemble which was typical for memorial complexes of the Fergana Valley and was called khazira

The complex consisted of a domed entrance hall with splendid portal decorated with mosaics patterns made of blue and dark blue glazed tiles. Similar bright tiles covered the base of the dome. Of a special interest is the framing of the upper part of the portal, whose pattern reminds that of typical Fergana fabric bekasam used for making outerwear. The door leading inside the mausoleum is decorated with two-layer patterned fretwork where Arabic characters of quotations from Koran and verses by Umarkhan are interlaced with geometrical ornaments.

Behind a beautiful fence there are tombs and a small terraced mosque- ziaratkhona where commemorating prayers were to be offered up. A double-leaf door of the mosque is made from two pieces of plane tree (local type of sycamore) and is covered with fretwork of floral ornaments, just as two columns supporting the ceiling of avian (terrace). The name of the craftsmen who created this magnificent fretwork is Usto Mukhammad Isa from Marghilan. The plafond and the walls of the mosque are filled with ganch fretwork and are painted by well-known craftsman Usto Mukhammad Kuzi. Of great artistic value are the gravestones of Umarkhan, his brothers, sons and grandsons. The gravestones are richly decorated with carving, intricate ornaments and quotations from Koran made in Arabic characters.

Next to Dakhma-i-Shakhan, by Nadira’s orders, there was constructed Chalpak madrassah. She also ordered to lay out flower and fruit garden round the memorial complex. Over the whole nineteenth century Dakhma-i-Shakhan, which means “kings’ tomb”, was the royal cemetery of Kokand khans.