Leaving the legacy of Tamerlane behind, it was another long drive from Samarkand to Bukhara. Just before arriving in Bukhara, we stopped at Gijduvan to visit Alisher Narzullaev's traditional ceramics studio. Ceramics have been made in the Gijduvan style since the 18th century. Their clay recipe has three parts, kaolin a fine clay from the river's bottom, a rural clay, and the fibers of cattails. The colors of the glazes are from minerals which are ground using a donkey driven mill. I really liked the earthy colors and interesting patterns of their finished product. The ninth generation (I think) is in training now.
We really liked Bukhara and we really liked the fact that we stayed in a small "boutique" style hotel that was just meters from the old town and most of the sites.
The palace of the Amirs of Bukhara is within the walls of the Ark Fortress. There has been a fortress here since at least the 7th century AD, but the configuration of these walls dates back to about the 16th century. The Bolo Hauz Mosque (1712) is just a short walk from the palace walls.
Every Friday, red Bukharan carpets are unrolled to accommodate the overflow of worshipers.
The old domed bazaars and madrassahs have been renovated and repopulated with artisans making and selling textiles, metal work, and wood carvings.
Some shops had antique textiles and jewelry. Unfortunately, the Uzbek government says that nothing more than 50 years old can be removed from the country. That law did make it easier to merely admire and not buy.
We didn't just trawl the bazaars of Bukhara; we also visited historic landmarks. One jewel is the early 10th century tomb of Ismael Samani. It is the best preserved building in Bukhara (maybe in Uzbekistan) and best designed. Using bricks, the builders achieved a delicate basket weave design on the outer walls. It has withstood earthquakes and Mongol invasions.
Another interesting site was the Poi Kalon (Pedestal of the Great) Ensemble that includes the Mir-i-Arab Madrassah, the Kalon Juma Mosque, and the Kalon Minaret.
The Kalon Minaret (12th C) is 48 meters/155 feet tall. When the minaret was completed it was the tallest minaret in the world. Genghis Khan was so impressed by its height that he spared it from destruction. He did not have the same respect for the mosque which at first he thought was the Amir's palace.
The Kalon Mosque is the Friday Mosque, and it was built to hold the entire male population of Bukhara. This is the 16th century version. In 1219 Genghis Khan burned to the ground one of the prior versions.
On our last night in Bukhara, Azat took us to a former madrassah that is now a series of shops with a restaurant. We enjoyed a show of folk dancing interspersed between a fashion show using Uzbek textiles.
The real surprise came after the folk dance/fashion show. Our dinner was at a traditional Uzbek house. The house is 170 years old and the interior is original. The current owners, Mastura and Akbar bought the home about 20 years ago from a family of Jews who immigrated to Israel.
Before our dinner, Mastura showed us her beautiful collection of old and new Uzbek textiles. The textiles like the house were exquisite. She is holding a vintage woman's robe called a Farangis. She said that meant it was in the French style.