In Asia trade has always been considered a respectable occupation. In Noble Bukhara there were always busy bazaars and the doors of the shops lining the streets stood invitingly open. Yet in the 16th century they also started to build in the town huge roofed shopping passages. Such a passage was called tim. One of them still exists. It is Abdullakhan Tim, named after its constructor, a ruler from the Sheibanids dynasty.
This large structure with a number of domes is square in plan. It is located on one of the main trade roads. Its central dome is placed on an octahedral base whose abutments are joined by lancet arches. Around the main hall there runs a gallery spanned by many smaller domes on strong supports. Vaulted niches divide the space into 56 shopping sections. All of them are connected by spacious vaulted enfilade. Soft light comes in through small windows cut in the drum of the principal dome and light apertures in smaller domes.
The original design of the interior created a peculiar microclimate in Abdullakhan Tim. On hot summer days the customers could enjoy refreshing air, shade and beneficial coolness. So it is easy to imagine how great the travelers felt being inside the construction after their long caravan journeys across salt marshes and sands. Under the domes of hospitable Bukhara they could finally have a deserved rest.
Abdullakhan Tim was used for carrying out trade in silk, which Bukhara had been famous for even before Arabian conquest. In the village of Zandana near Bukhara they made the patterned silk zandanachi, which was exported along the Great Silk Road from Sogd to the western territories. In the 16th century Bukhara masters began making the silk velvet bahmal with abr patterns. For several centuries the shopboards of local tradesmen have caught the visitor’s eyes with the famous locally made khan-atlas fabric. The secret and technology of its production have been passed down from father to son.
The remaining ancient shopping structures made only a small part of the Bukhara streets which in the Middle Ages were densely built-up by shops and artisans’ workrooms. But even the structures which time has spared are able to create an impressive image of an ancient Asian town, whose bazaars crammed with various local goods and goods from overseas.