The Mizdakh Khan cemetery in the Qaraqalpaq desert

 Mizdakh Khan cemetery

During our research trip for the new edition of our guidebook we finally found the time to visit the Mizdakh Khan cemetery near Nukus. Mizdakh Khan was once the second largest city in Khorezm and an important center of handicrafts. But in the 13th century Gengis Khan razed all the town of Central Asia to the ground. Even after the destruction people continued to bury their dead in the area and to build mosques and mausoleums.

 Mizdakh Khan cemetery

The large Mizdakh Khan cemetery in the vicinity of Nukus has been in constant use for many centuries, probably from long before the Arab invasion of Central Asia. Indeed, pre-Islamic traditions of grave decoration survive until today.

 Mizdakh Khan cemetery

The ladders you will see in the tombs were used as stretchers to carry the dead to the cemetery. They also symbolize the passage of the dead into heaven.

The Mausoleum of Mazlum Khan Sulu

P1010348 Mizdakhan Masdumxan Suli Mausoleum

One of the oldest tombs on the cemetery, that of Mazlum Khan Sulu, dates from the 13th century and has been beautifully restored. The elegant brickwork patterns decorated with occasional turquoise-blue glazed bricks relate to Seljuk buildings as far as Anatolia, and to Mongol mausoleums constructed in Iran.

The Mausoleum of Shamun Nabi

The Mausoleum of Shamun Nabi was built in the 13th or 14th century and has a very unusual architecture with seven domes making up the roof. Even more unusual ist the sarcophagus inside, which is 25 meters long and said to be still growing. Buried here is the miracle-performer and mystic Shamun Nabi. Although when Russian archeologists opened the tomb they did not find any body remains.

P1010397 Mizdakhan Shamun Nabi

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