Türkistan, Turkestan

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"city, southern Kazakstan, in the Syr Darya plain. An ancient centre of the caravan trade, known earlier as Shavgar and later as Yasi, it became a religious centre known as Khazret (Hazrat) because of the 12th-century S ufi (Muslim mystic) Ahmed Yesevi, whose 14th-century mausoleum is the city's chief monument. Captured by the Russians in 1864, Turkestan now has several industries." From the Encyclopaedia Britannica [external link].

Türkistan also refers to a region of central Asia. "historic region of central Asia. Western, or Russian, Turkistan extended from the Caspian Sea in the west to the Chinese frontier in the east and from the Aral-Irtysh watershed in the north to the borders of Iran and Afghanistan in the south. Eastern, or Chinese, Turkistan comprised the western provinces of China, now the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region . Southern, or Afghan, Turkistan referred to a small area of N Afghanistan. Politically, what was formerly called Russian Turkistan and Soviet Central Asia includes the nations of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan and the southern portion of Kazakhstan. Much of the western part of this region is composed of two deserts, the Kara Kum and the Kyzyl Kum . The eastern part, rough and hilly, rises to include the mountains of part of the Pamir highland and of the Tian Shan system. Athwart the eastern section extends the Fergana Valley , one of Asia's most fertile regions." From Columbia Encyclopedia [external link].

"A beautiful site of the ancient Kazakh history in the south of the country, Turkestan (Yasi city) was on the crossroads of an old caravan route - Great Silk Route branch - trade road between Desht-and Kypshak steppe and farming oasis of Central Asia - Horezm, Tashkent, Buhara and Samarkand. Its positioning provided for lively trade. China exported porcelain, Persia - Asian tiger skin, gold and silver ware, Byzantium - all kinds of women fabrics. Caravans leaving for Russia took astrakhan - the matchless treasure of nomad Turks, coloured Turkestan glass (it were Turks who taught its manufacturing to Chinese people), thin silk, cotton seed. Daily Turkestan saw the sale of more than 500 camels. The skin of a lynx was equivalent to 5 sheep, horn of a Siberian deer cost as much as silver. In XV - X cenuries Turkestan was the residence of Kazakh Khans. The town of Yasi was the scene of Hodja Ahmed's religious activity. It was here that he spent a large part of his life and was buried. Hodja Ahmed Yasavi Mausoleum is one of the major tourist attractions of Central Asia and a place of mass pilgrimage for Moslems from all over the world. This huge, domed structure, begun by Tamerlane in the 1390s, is a must-see-it's one of the most stunning architectural creations in Central Asia (the central chamber alone measures 153 x 213 x 144 ft/46 x 65 x 44 m). It is an important place of pilgrimage for Central Asian Muslims. A particular source of local pride is a two-ton sacred vessel, made of seven metals and used for storing holy water, that was returned to the mausoleum in 1989 after being on display at the Hermitage (in St. Petersburg, Russia) for 50 years." Previously on the Gateway to Kazakhstan.

Turkestan Map with Kazakh nationality (click on map to see a larger image, shows location of Kazakhs) used with permission from World Map [external link].

UNESCO Turkestan 1500 [external link] is an extensive look at the 1500 year history of Turkestan and the surrounding area.

"Turkistan is over 1500 years old, a flourishing centre of civilisation during the time of the Silk Road, which contains more historical relics than any other city in modern Kazakhstan. Turkistan is an important place of worship for Moslems, the Mausoleum of Hodja Ahmed Yassaui has attracted many pilgrims over the centuries. An outstanding poet and humanitarian scholar Yassaui established a theological school attracting those craving for knowledge both from the neighbouring cities and outlying steppes of Kazakhan and the city became a significant centre of enlightenment. At the age of 63, Hodja Ahmed Yassaui dug himself an underground cell next to the mosque and lived there until he died in 1166 when he was buried with great honour. At the end of the 14th century, Timur the Great (Tamerlaine) built a mausoleum over the site of the grave, which displays the wonderful Timurid style of architecture. Three visits to Turkistan are equivalent to making the Hajj to Mecca. Also of interest in Turkistan are the mausoleums of Rabiga Sultan Begimi, the granddaughter of Tamerlaine and the Kazakh Khans Yesim, Ablai and Abulkhair-khan, as well as a well restored medieval bath house." Previously on the Silk Road and Beyond (UK) site.

Excerpt from the poem Turkistan written by Maghzhan Zhumabay uh in 1921 in the Kazak language.

Turkistan is a door to two worlds,
Turkistan is a cradle of the Turks,
Living in beautiful Turkistan
Is Tengri's blessing to the Turks.

Ahmet Yasevi [external link] information and pictures of the Tomb.

You may find additional information on the Shymkent [external link] page and under "Uighur" on the Adopting in other countries.

The Mausoleum of Hodja Ahmed Yasevi [external link] in Turkestan; article by Nagim-Bk Nourmoukhammedov.

Doug Burnett's [external link] travelogue to Turkestan in September, 2000.

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Google image search [external link].

Previously on the Kazakhstan President's website.

Kazakhstan is a land of ancient civilization. From remote times its inhabitants, the ancestors of the present-day Kazakhs, were creating a unique and original culture. Some outstanding monuments of their cultural heritage have survived in the form of burial mounds, settlements, fortifications, mausoleums and even whole towns. Hodja Ahmed Yasavi Mausoleum in Turkestan (up to the XVI century Yasi city) in Southern Kazakhstan is unique among them. Yasi city was on the crossroads of an old caravan route - Great Silk Route branch - trade road between Desht-and Kypshak steppe and farming oasis of Central Asia - Horezm, Tashkent, Buhara and Samarkand. Its positioning provided for lively trade. China exported porcelain, Persia - Asian tiger skin, gold and silver ware, Byzantium - all kinds of women fabrics. Caravans leaving for Russia took astrakhan - the matchless treasure of nomad Turks, coloured Turkestan glass (it were Turks who taught its manufacturing to Chinese people), thin silk, cotton seed. Daily Turkestan saw the sale of more than 500 camels. The skin of a lynx was equivalent to 5 sheep, horn of a Siberian deer cost as much as silver. In XV - X cenuries Turkestan was the residence of Kazakh Khans. The town of Yasi was the scene of Hodja Ahmed's religious activity. It was here that he spent a large part of his life and was buried.

Hodja Ahmed Yasavi was born in the town of Sairam near Shymkent in 1103. Arslan-Bab sheikh was Akhmed's first spiritual teacher and mentor. After his death Hodja Ahmed went to Bukhara and studied a very complex course of Sufic doctrine . For a time he was the head of the Bukhara Sufis but soon he relinquished this place of honour and went to the town of Yasi. Here he started his preaching. In his sermons Hodja Ahmed Yasavi urged people to be good and taught them to despise greed and cupidity. His poems enjoyed great popularity, they were learnt by heart and were chanted far beyond the bounds of Desht - and- Kypshak. The poet's fame grew year by year. His poems entered the world cultural treasury. Legend has it that as a token of mourning for the dead prophet Mohammed, whom the poet regarded as his teacher, Hodja Ahmed Yasavi, having reached sixty- three, the age at which the prophet died, moved to a subterranean cell near the mosque and spent the rest of his life preaching there. He died in 1166/67 and was buried with great honour in a small mausoleum erected for him, which subsequently became a place of mass pilgrimage and workship for Moslems. If a man visited this mausoleum three times it stood for Hadj to Mecca.

The present Mausoleum was erected 233 years after his death under the order of Timur. In 1389, 1391, 1394, 1395 in numerous bloody battles Timur destroyed the power of the Golden Horde and set fire to its capital the town- Sarai -Berk, and in honor of this victory that he decided to build a new, grandiouse memorial complex on the site of the old mausoleum of Ahmed Yasavi, which was by then somewhat decrepit. Timur was guided not only by pure religious considerations. By this act he was raising his authority, asserting the idea of the inviolability of his power. Every kind of sources state that Timur took part personally in drawing up the design for the future mausoleum and gave instructions to his builders. The complex of Hodja Ahmed Yasavi consists of a huge, rectangular building with portals and domes. In ground plan it measures 46.5 x 65.5 metres. The thickness of the outside walls is 1,8-2 metres; and the walls of the central chamber are 3 metres thick. The building has an enormous portal and a number of domes. Around its central chamber are more than 35 rooms for various purposes. Kazanlyk ( the copper- room) has the largest extant brick dome in Central Asia and Kazakhstan with a diameter of 18.2 metres. Kazan for Turks was the symbol of unity and hospitality. That's why special significance was attached to its size and exterior. Turkestan kazan has no second to it. Its diameter-2.45 m., weight-2 tons, it is made of the alloys of 7 metals. The construction material for the halls of the Mausoleum is clinker. The technological purity of its production was perfected. The facing of the north portal is exceptionally beautiful. The door of the burial- vault is carved and decorated with fine ivory inscrustation. According to its size, Hodja Ahmed Yasavi Mausoleum is equal to Bibi- Khanym mosque of Samarkand (Uzbekistan). Currently Turkestan is a place of mass pilgrimage for tourists all over the world, who come to see the matchless masterpiece of medieval architecture - Hodja Ahmed Yasavi Mausoleum.

Falling Rain [external link] has maps and current weather conditions (temperature, cloud cover and precipitation).

Wiki: Turkestan [external link]

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Ingvarr photo album [external link]

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Aboutkazakhstan.com [external link]: population, city coat of arms, map, history, and pictures.

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Page last updated on 9 January 2016.

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