Kokand – the architecture of Russian Turkestan


Kokand – the architecture of Russian Turkestan

Part 2

Kokand is not only the colorful mosques of the Old City and the luxurious Khan's Palace.

At the beginning of the 20th century, various institutions of the era of capitalism appeared and flourished in Kokand. Some of the buildings they occupied can still be seen today. All of them are the brightest monuments of the colonial architecture of Russian Turkestan.

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From the end of the 19th century, the main economic project of Russia in Central Asia was the cultivation and processing of cotton, associated with the development of American varieties of cotton and the opening of a direct railway connection with the textile centers of Russia.

Along with the cotton industry in Kokand, the banking industry also flourished. In 1890-1914, branches of 8 banks were opened in Kokand: "Russian-Asiatic Bank", "Azov-Don Bank", "Moscow Accounting Bank", "International Moscow Bank", "Bank of Russian Foreign Trade", "Volga-Kama Commercial Bank", "Office of the State Bank", "Siberian Trade Bank".

Russian-Asian Bank

Russian-Asian Bank, Русско-Азиатский банк

Russian-Asiatic Bank (built in 1910) is a Russian, then a French bank that operated in the Russian Empire, China and France in 1910-1926.

It was formed by the merger of the French shareholders of the Russian-Chinese and Northern Banks, which were under the control of the French. The main area of activity is the financing of industry. In the Fergana Valley, he represented the interests of his main clients – the owners and shareholders of the St. Petersburg military factories of Alexei Putilov, who needed local cotton as one of the main components of gunpowder.

The building is an asymmetric composition. The façade is decorated with round and rectangular windows with complex sashes, the entrance and the gate with wrought iron bars with curved lines. There are a lot of decorative elements on the building – elegant bas-reliefs with floral motifs.

Inside the building, the authentic finishes and decor have been almost completely preserved. The huge operating room is decorated with bronze, the floors are lined with mosaic tiles, the ceiling is made of carved wood. There are also floral motifs on the walls.

Even the safe of Meller's firm (the company was founded in 1857) has been preserved. These safes were awarded a gold medal at the 1900 World Exhibition of Technical Achievement in Paris.

Now the building is occupied by Pakhta Bank

The building of the branch of the State Bank

The building of the branch of the State Bank, Здание отделения Государственного банка

The building of the branch of the State Bank, built in 1897, currently houses the Mukimi Literary Museum.

Kokand is considered one of the most important literary centers. In the 18th century, the heyday of the Kokand Khanate, poetry and prose flourished. Literary life was concentrated mainly at the khan's palaces. The Kokand Khan Umar Khan, like his predecessors, sought to bring writers, artists, scientists, talented folk singers closer to him, to turn them into his ode writers. Writers such as Makhmur, Gulkhani, Mukimi, Furkat, Zavki, Khamza lived and worked here.

Recently there has been a reconstruction.

Commercial school building

Commercial school building, Здание Коммерческого училища

The building of the Commercial School was built in 1907 at the expense of the townspeople by the architect Markevich. The very emergence of such a school in Kokand was very significant. Numerous commercial and industrial firms and partnerships of the region needed specialists, who were trained by the school.

The students of the Commercial School were mainly the children of officials, merchants and industrialists.

The building now houses a school.

House of the Vadyaevs

House of the Vadyaevs, Дом Вадьяевых

Not far from the building of the "Russian-Asian Bank" is the stunning mansion of the Vadyaevs (1911) – the richest merchants of Kokand, whose trading house owned several factories and enterprises in the Ferghana Valley.

In 1874, the elder Vadyaev brothers founded a cotton trading house, and in 1881, the youngest of the Yakub brothers moved from Bukhara to Kokand.

The Vadyaevs' house is one of the most bizarre, conspicuous, colorful and representative in Kokand. Its wings are symmetrically located on two streets converging at right angles. Front entrances with wide staircases stand out due to large semicircular openings and massive domes with spiers. One of the most noticeable details here is the brickwork, an iconic feature of Turkestan Art Nouveau.

You can go inside the building and admire the spacious iwan, a covered terrace overlooking the garden located on the inside of the building.

Now the city hokimiyat is located in the mansion.

House of the Poteliahovs

House of the Poteliahovs, Дом Потеляховых

Next to the house of the Vadyaevs is the house of the Poteliahovs (1907), their fellow tribesmen and closest competitors. Rafael ben Shlomo Poteliahov, who moved to Kokand in 1898, owned a cotton factory in Asaka near Andijan. In the 1910s, he and his brother Nathaniel owned 36 factories.

The level of influence of the family was enormous… Rafael Poteliahov was an honorary citizen of the city. The Poteliahovs built railways and also schools. Since 1905, a school built by him for Bukharian-Jewish children has been operating in Kokand.

The Poteliahovs' house now houses a post office and a city telegraph office.

House of the Simkhaevs

House of Simkhaevs, Дом Симхаевых

The house of the manufactory merchant Abo Simkhaev (1907) – the third largest house of cotton magnates – stretches for almost a whole block!

This house looks as if the customer could not decide what he wants – classical columns, a facade in the style of the Dutch or a dome for everyone to envy.

During the years of his residence, the mansion had a beautiful orchard with flower beds and rose gardens, a swimming pool and a two-story summer house decorated with mosaics.

The building now houses an oil technical school.

House of the Mandalaka (Mindelaki)

House of Mandalaka (Mindelaki), Дом Мандалака (Минделаки)

Another huge mansion, from a pair of symmetrical buildings (1911), standing aside from the houses of cotton magnates, is considered one of the best in Kokand.

It belonged to the brothers Dmitry and Georgy Mindelaki (Mandalaka) – Greeks by nationality – who came from Russia at the end of the 19th century. They did not deal in cotton, but in silk. And, although the Ferghana Valley is one of the oldest silk-making centers outside of China, Mindelaki first established industrial silk production here.

Looking at the mansions, one can clearly understand that the customers wanted to use recognizable elements of ancient art in the project.

The building now houses a kindergarten.

German capital was tied up with the Russian-Asian Bank as well.

The history of German-Turkestan relations is extensive. Many Russian envoys to Central Asia in the 18th–19th centuries were ethnic Germans.

At the end of the 19th century, about 9 thousand Russian Germans arrived in Turkestan! Many of them settled in Tashkent, Samarkand and the cities of the Ferghana Valley, and a whole German quarter appeared in Kokand!

House of the Knabe

House of Knabe, Дом Кнабе

Behind the house of Mindelaki began the so-called German quarter and it opened with the house of Knabe. Knabe was a skilled man who found his own place in the business life of Kokand. He was known not only as the director of the Russian-Asian Bank and one of the three foremen of the Kokand Exchange Committee, but also as the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Kokand Commercial School, where his children studied.

Spacious, standing in a fenced garden, the Knabe mansion is a kind of encyclopedia of the characteristic attributes of Art Nouveau.

The asymmetric building consists of a variety of volumetric and spatial forms – windows of various sizes and configurations, decorative twigs and garlands framing window and door openings, flat capitals ending in male and female half-figures with veils thrown over their heads. All this makes the Knabe mansion a typical example of a fashionable bourgeois style.

The building was recently restored. Perhaps a museum will be created inside.

House of the Kraft Brothers

House of the Kraft Brothers, Дом братьев Крафт

In 1843, the Krafts opened the Brothers Kraft trading house in Moscow, which specialized in the sale of textile goods (mainly dyes for paper yarn). Indigo dye was in special demand in the textile industry at that time. Since 1885, the Kraft trading house began to engage in the wholesale trade of cotton, and for this they built their own cotton ginning plants in Central Asia.

In 1903, the architect Wilhelm Heinzelmann* built a large and richly decorated house for the owners of this trading enterprise with a representative arch in the center and two prominent towers at the corners.

Now the building houses a military registration and enlistment office.

House of the Siegel

House of Siegel, Дом Зигеля

Next door is the mansion of the merchant of the first guild Andrei Ivanovich Siegel, also built by Wilhelm Heinzelman at the end of the 19th century.

His company was founded in 1884 and was mainly associated with manufactories in the European part of Russia and, accordingly, with the supply of cotton. The company was also engaged in the purchase of raw hides and various fur products.

The peculiarity of this small mansion (very modest compared to the neighboring houses of magnates) is the decoration of the facade, looking into the courtyard and decorated with intricate carvings.

The Siegel house now houses a children's clinic.

* Wilhelm Heinzelman is considered the creator of the canons of Turkestan modernity and Turkestan colonial architecture. For more than two decades, he led the entire construction business in Turkestan. Under his leadership, with his direct participation and even according to his designs, many buildings in Tashkent and all of Turkestan were built.

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When traveling around Kokand, do not forget that this is the capital of handicrafts in Uzbekistan! Here you can find absolutely everything! And unusual clay crafts, and rare suzani. There are no workshops here.

In the city, you can also find items made by craftsmen from neighboring cities. For example, knives from Chust.

And also try a lot of great fruits from Fergana.

Kokand is the oldest city on the Great Silk Road. And although it is often lost in the background of Samarkand or Bukhara, it is definitely worth a visit.

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