15 JUNE 2019 Y.
The most amazing time of the day in Bukhara is early morning. When a slanting beam of light gets through a building and start coloring golden-blue portal of the opposite building into soft-pink. At this moment, you may want to look at Khodja Nasreddin – the sun turns iron into a silhouette and for several seconds it seems as if Khodja has just stopped and risen up his hand for greeting.
Calm waters of Lyabi-Khauz, the most famous water basin of Bukhara, reproduce buildings, which look into its depth, with photographical accuracy.
Lyabi-Khauz is one of the many other basins in Bukhara but is the largest and most famous, with wonderful history. In the last century, during the epidemic, it was dried as other basins of Bukhara, so that to avoid people to get infected with cholera. Many Khauzes were covered with stone and never appeared again. But Lyabi-Khauz resurrected and the water shined inside it again, all because of the fire in the nearest building. The fire could not be put out due to lack of water and it was decided to fill khauz with water again.
There is a gorgeous architectural complex around khauz which consists of khanaka and two madrassas. The most famous of them is Nodir Devon Madrassa – on the top of its portal there is an image of birds carrying their prey in claws towards the Sun. This is so amazing because in the 16th century Islam prohibited portrayal of any living being. But these birds were fairy-tale ones and probably because of this fact an exception was made. Yet, maybe it is a gentle hint on a profit which slipped off the hands of enterprising dignitary – Nodir Devon. But this will be mentioned later.
The area of the basin is connected with Jewish blocks of Bukhara located near Lyabi-Khauz. Old houses of rich Bukhara Jews can still be found here. Some of them were transferred into boutiques and hotels but the owners kept the environment of old houses. As a matter of fact, there was a house of one rich Jew woman on the site of modern Lyabi-Khauz. Nodir Devon tried to buy land for building khauz from her, but all in vain. Even Muslim Court did not help him as it stated that the Jew had right not to sell the land to a Muslim if she did not want to. Later it was agreed that a place for a synagogue will be given to her in exchange for this land.
Today famous Bukhara Jews still live here, about 800 people. Of course, compared to previous years it is a drop in the ocean. Nevertheless, there is still Jewish Block, unique language, old synagogue, amazing culinary traditions, legends, and anecdotes. As well as characteristic Semitic features on faces of some local people. The history of the madrassa is interesting as well as initially it was planned to build caravan-saray on this place. If you look carefully on planning and cells, it is obvious that the building is probably more suitable for a hotel than a school. When Nodir Devon finally built caravan-saray, the ruler of Bukhara, Imamkulikhan, participated in the opening ceremony. Of course, the ruler new about the purpose of the building and made diplomatic checkmate and congratulated the dignitary on the opening of the wonderful madrassa. And the dignitary rebuilt caravan-saray into madrassa as he had no other choice. And fairy-tale birds on the top of the portal were carrying possible profit of Nodir Devon away from him.
Today, recital and reading evenings are organized there. Drama performances, musical concerts and national dances performances – its large yard can seat many people. And of course, traditional Bukhara cuisine, so much and incredibly tasty, and it would be better to leave before staying late and not be able to go away from the meal…