Nukus- Governmental, Economical and Cultural Center of Karakalpakstan


 
Nukus is the capital of the autonomous Karakalpakstan Autonomous Republic, based in the delta of the Amu Darya River. Nukus is 230 km south of Muynak, the former shoreline of the Aral Sea. The local climate has changed with the disappearance of the sea, and Nukus now experiences an average of ten dust and sand storms a year. The city has a large museum with an art collection from the Russian avant-garde, a bold group of artists who ushered in modernism at the beginning of the 20th century. Many of those artists fell victims to the purges of Soviet system in the early 1930s, but the late director of the Nukus Museum collected their work and brought it to Nukus. Nukus became a city in 1932 and succeeded Turtkul as capital of Karakalpakstan in 1939. But around Nukus there are number of ancient historical sights which attract thousands of visitors from abroad.
 
Nukus and around sights:
-          The Karakalpakstan State Museum of Art named after Savitskiy,
-          Mizdak khan - The archaeological architectural complex in Khodjeli village
-          Mausoleum of Mazlumkhan Sulu
-          Mausoleum of Shamun Nabi
-          Madrassah Khalif Erjep
-          Ayaz Kala Fortress
-          Toprak Kala Fortress
-          Kizil Kala Fortress
State Museum of Savitskiy
The Karakalpakstan State Museum of Art named after I.V. Savitsky - also known, simply, as the Nukus Museum - hosts the world's second largest collection of Russian avant garde art (after the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg). It is also home to one of the largest collections of archeological objects and folk, applied and contemporary art originating from Central Asia.
Perhaps the most remarkable, indeed unique features of the Savitsky Collection are the paradoxes surrounding its existence. For example, Karakalpakstan - the remote northwestern region of Uzbekistan where the Museum was founded - was, and remains one of the poorest of the entire former Soviet Union. On the other hand, despite its poor economic prospects, Karakalpakstan’s culture has been preserved and provided the intellectual raison d'être and nourishment for the Museum’s creation in 1966.
Second, the Museum may be one of the few places in the world where Russian avant garde art hangs alongside that of Socialist Realism - the former slandered by the Soviet State, the latter glorified by it.
Third, the Museum’s collection of Russian avant garde is the only one that was initially condemned officially by the Soviet Union and, at the same time, financed partly by it, albeit unwittingly. Evidently, Nukus’ status as a ‘closed’ city and, especially, Savitsky’s good relations with the Karakalpak regional authorities enabled this to happen.
Finally, Savitsky, the European, trained the Karakalpaks, his Asian counterparts, in the value of their own culture and the importance of preserving it. His approach and sensitivity instilled trust not only in the older generations of Karakalpaks who sold him their textiles and jewelry, but also in the local government which played a large role in the Museum’s foundation and continued existence. It was this mutual affection and trust that has ensured the renaissance of both a forgotten nation and a neglected generation of artists and their work.
 
Mizdakhan
Mizdakhan is a cemetery dating from the 4th century BC. Located on three hills about twenty kms to the west of Nukus (over the once mighty Amu Darya river now reduced to a large stream), the complex provides a good overview of the burial site. Mizdakhan (4th century BC) is an archeological complex belonging to Ancient Khorezm and Zoroastrians. According to scholars Complex Mizdakhan is built in honor of Akhura- Mazda-the deity of fire worshipers mentioned in the holy Zoroastrian book Avesta. There are many legends about this place. Some people believe that it is the burial place of Biblical Adam. It includes the Mazlumkhan Sulu mausoleum, in which visitors can descend stairs to a beautiful cupola structure with bright blue tiles.
 
Kizil Kala Fortress
The fort was built in the 1st or 2nd centuries AD and is therefore contemporary with Toprak Kala. It was occupied until the 4th century and then abandoned. It seems to have been restored much later, during the 12th or early 13th century, just prior to the Mongol invasion. Some archaeologists have proposed that Kızıl Kala was a military barracks garrisoned with troops, possibly linked with the nearby summer palace of Topraq Kala just 3km to its east. However this seems questionable given its small size and its lavish interior decoration. It was more likely the fortified residence of an important Khorezmian aristocrat or official.
 
Ayaz Kala
Ayaz qala is considered to be one of the biggest forts in Karakalpakstan. There are many legends about this place. According to one of them, in the past there lived a young and strong guy whose name is Ayaz. He fell in love with a daughter of a king and wanted to marry to her. But the king did not let them get married. So Ayaz decides to build big a fort on a hill and starts to build that. However, the king did not let Ayaz get married to his daughter. After that Ayaz gave up building the fort and fort Ayaz Kala was left unfinished.
Ayaz Kala is a fortress that was built in the 4th century BC just after Khorezm had gained its independence from Persia. The fortress had the function to defend agricultural settlements of the right bank of the Amu Darya River from attacks by nomads.
 
Toprak Kala Fortress
Toprak Kala is an excavated town dating back to the 1st to 5th cent. AD and is considered as the most important monument on Khorezm from the Kushan time. Its ground plan is 500m x 300m and it was surrounded by a wall made of bricks, 10 to 15 m high. The King's Palace in the north western part of the town was built on an elevated base rising about 15 m above the rest of the town. Three monumental towers, 25 m high, still exist. In front of the palace was the temple area with the holy fire. The town was divided by streets into several districts with blocks of dwellings with 150 to 200 rooms. The Kings’ Hall covered an area of 280 square meters. The wall paintings and monumental clay sculptures were the works of a school of arts which could develop a particular Khoresmian style under the influence of Greek-Bactrian art. The rooms of the palace had colorful wall paintings. The fortress is considered as the palace of the shah of Khorezm. In the ruins of Toprak Kale a great number of Kushan and Khorezm coins dating from the 2nd to the 5th centuries and small copper discs with portraits of the rules of Khorezm and written documents on wooden plates or on skins, the most ancient documents in this area, were found.


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