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Bukhara (bəkäˈrə), city, capital of Bukhara region, Uzbekistan, in the Zeravshan River valley. On the Shkhrud irrigation canal system, it is the center of a large cotton district and has textile mills as well as cotton-ginning industries and a large karakul skin processing plant. The population is mainly Uzbek, with Tajik, Arab, and Afghan minorities and a much-dwindled Jewish minority. First mentioned in Chinese chronicles in the 5th cent. A.D., Bukhara is one of the oldest trade and cultural centers in central Asia. It was a long-time center of Judaism. It came under the Arab caliphate in the 8th cent. and became a major center of Islamic learning. During the 9th and 10th cent. it was the capital of the Samanid state. From the 16th cent. to 1920 it was the capital of the khanate of Bukhara, which was ceded to Russia in 1868. From 1920 to 1924 it was the capital of the Bukhara People's Republic. Its many monuments include the mausoleum of Ismail Samanid (892–907), the minaret of Kalyan (1127), the mosque of Magoki-Attari (12th cent.), the Ulughbek (1417–18) and Mir-Arab (1535–36) madaris (theological schools), and the madrasah of Abdulaziz-Khan (1651–52). The name is also spelled Bokhara.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(from the Sanskrit vihara, “monastery”), a city; center of Bukhara Oblast, Uzbek SSR. Situated on the lower course of the Zeravshan River, in the center of the Bukhara Oasis, on the Shakhrud Canal. Linked by a branch line (13 km) with the railroad junction of Kagan. Population, 112,000 (1970; 50,000 in 1939; 60,000 in 1959).

According to archaeological data, Bukhara was founded not later than the first century A.D. By the time it was conquered by the Arabs in 709, Bukhara was one of Middle Asia’s important commercial, handicraft, and cultural centers. The population had trade links with Iran, India, China, and other countries.

During the ninth and tenth centuries, Bukhara came under the rule of the Samanids, serving as the capital of their vast state. At the end of the tenth century, Bukhara was seized by the nomadic Karakhanids; in the mid-12th century, by new nomadic tribes of Karakitais; in 1220, by Genghis Khan; and in 1370, by Timur. In the early 16th century, the city was taken by the nomadic Uzbeks and became part of the Uzbek state of the Sheibanids, becoming its capital. From the mid-16th through the 20th century, Bukhara was the capital of the Bukhara Khanate. For many centuries it was a center for the caravan trade between Europe and Asia and the trade with Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod. The city had a large artisan population and was the breeding ground for large-scale antifeudal uprisings led by Mukanna (770’s), Malik Sandzhar (1206-07), and Mahmud Tarabi (1238). During the 17th and 18th centuries, Bukhara was repeatedly attacked and devastated by the Persian shahs and other invaders. It became part of the Russian Empire in 1868. The emir of Bukhara was overthrown on Sept. 2, 1920, as a result of a popular uprising. On September 14, the All-Bukhara Revolutionary Committee and the Council of People’s Nazirs (Commissars) were formed, and on Oct. 8, 1920, Bukhara was proclaimed the capital of the Bukhara People’s Soviet Republic. Under the national-state demarcation of 1924-25, Bukhara became the center of Zaravshan Okrug; later it became the center of Bukhara Oblast, which was formed on Jan. 15, 1938.

Under the Soviet government, Bukhara became a major industrial and cultural center of the oblast. The city has a karakul farm (one of the largest in the USSR), a creamery, and a cotton-ginning plant; garment, knitwear, and silk-reeling factories; and meat, dairy, wine-making, and other enterprises. A cotton-textile combine is under construction (1971). The city is famed for its ancient artistic trades (gold embroidery, silk-weaving, and others). Metalworking and the building-materials industry are developing.

Bukhara is a museum city, with about 140 surviving architectural monuments. The most important are the mausoleum of the Samanids (the so-called Mausoleum of Ismail Samani, late ninth or early tenth century)—a masterpiece of Middle Asian architecture—with its central cupola and patterned masonry of fired brick inside and on the facades; the Poi Kalian ensemble, which includes the Kalian minaret (1127) with bands of brick ornamentation, the Kalian mosque (12th century, rebuilt in the 15th and 16th centuries; one of the largest in the Middle East—area 130 m by 80 m), and the Mir-Arab madrasa (1536); the modest, two-cupola mausoleum of Seifeddin Bokharzi (13th century, rebuilt in the 14th and 15th centuries), the miniature mausoleum of Buian Kuli Khan (14th century), with beautiful facings made of carved, irrigated terra-cotta; the madrasa of Ulugbek (1417), the oldest surviving madrasa in Middle Asia; and the madrasa of Abdulazis Khan (1652), which stands opposite it and is magnificently trimmed with majolica and painting. There are numerous 16th century buildings: the elegant mosque of Baliand and khanaka (shelter for pilgrims) of Khodzha Zinuddin; the Kukeltash madrasa (the largest in Middle Asia); the domed commercial buildings (taki) of Zar-garan, Telpak-Furushan, and Sarrafan; and the covered market (tim) of Abdullah Khan. Buildings outside the city include the khanaka of Bekhauddin (1544-45), the memorial ensemble of Char Bakr (1560-63), and the khanaka of Faizabad (1598-99). The Arka (citadels) and so-called Char Minar madrasa (1807), with its singular four-tower entrance, date to the 18th and 19th centuries. Modern facilities were installed and greenery planted in the city during Soviet times. Many residential buildings have been erected. A plan for the reconstruction of Bukhara was ratified in 1964 (architects V. P. Chunikhin, V. N. Slonimskii, and T. N. Kalinovskaia); the House of Communications (1966, architect M. Chernov) and the building of the oblast public library (1969, standard design) have been built.

Bukhara has a pedagogical institute, a general-technical faculty of the Tashkent Polytechnical Institute, and nine specialized technicums, including mining and geology, construction, highway, agricultural, and cooperative. The city has a musical drama and comedy theater and a museum of local lore.


Goroda Uzbekistana. Tashkent, 1965.
Ashurov, Ia. S., T. F. Gelakh, and U. Kh. Kamalov. Bukhara. Tashkent, 1963.
Sukhareva, O. A. Bukhara XIX-nachala XX vv. Moscow, 1966.
Pugachenkova, G. A. Samarkand. Bukhara, 2nd ed. [Moscow, 1968.]
Bukhara: Kratkii spravochnik, 4th ed. Tashkent, 1968.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


, Bokhara
1. a city in S Uzbekistan. Pop.: 299 000 (2005 est.)
2. a former emirate of central Asia: a powerful kingdom and centre of Islam; became a territory of the Soviet Union (1920) and was divided between the former Uzbek, Tajik, and Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republics
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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