Modari-khan Madrassah

 

To the south-west from Ark, on the ancient Khiyobon street, which once ran to the city gate Shir-Garon, stands the architectural complex Kosh-madrassah, consisting of two madrassahs whose facades are located on the same line. Kosh means ‘coupled’. This architectural design was frequently used in Asia in the Middle Ages. Kosh-madrassah was completed in the second half of the 16th century, during the rule of emir Abdullakhan.

According to the rhymed inscription above the entrance the first madrassah – Modari-khan madrassah – was built in 1566 on behalf of the ruler’s mother. Unlike other madrassahs of Bukhara this structure is rather modest. Since the piece of land allotted for the construction of the madrassah was of an irregular shape, the facade facing the street is oblique-angled, and the lay-out of the building has the form of a trapezium. Slightly elevated peshtak portal with decorative geometrical patterns emphasizes the main entrance. The corners are flanked with guldasta towers. On either side between the towers run two-tier loggias. The tympanums of the loggias are decorated with ceramic panels presenting stylised flower stalks and buds.

An arcade and two floors of hujra living cells behind it surround the yard. Darskhona classrooms were placed at the corners of the yard. Instead of traditional two or four ayvan platforms there is only one, but rather big, avian in the yard of the mardassah.

Modari-Khan Madrassah has survived much better than many structures of the later period, though it was built in an economical way. They used mosaic brickwork on the facade and guldasta towers instead of more expensive carved majolica. Plain geometrical patterns substituted intricate ornamentation. Even the technology of constructing the walls and ceilings of the structure was subjected to reasons of economy. This fact characterizes Bukhara’s ruler Abdullakhan as a man of sense, who was not in the habit of wasting money. But for all that, the great skills of the unknown architect who created the perfect forms and harmonious architectural spaces of the madrassah, made this monument become one of the masterpieces of Bukhara’s medieval architecture.

Today the yard and the hujra cells of Modari-Khan Madrassah accommodate national arts and crafts fairs. It also houses one of Bukhara’s most exotic restaurants where guests can taste the dishes prepared in accordance with age-old recipes.