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History Zharkent of mosque.

Architectural places of interest Zharkent.

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Roman Payne.

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The Kazakh town of Zharkent near the Chinese border is home to a mosque of unusual architectural inspiration. In Soviet times, the town was closed to outsiders, so few people know about this XIXth century beauty - a mosque in the form of a Chinese pagoda.
Now, of course, the town is open - and discerning visitors are making their way there to see this beguiling place of worship that blends Central Asian and Chinese building traditions. "Do not over-dry your footwear and never forget the past," says an Uighur inscription painstakingly transcribed in an ethereal script on the gable over the mosque entrance.
It was a merchant of the first guild called Valibay-akhun Yuldashev who decided to build this incredible construction, and these are his words that adorn the gable. The story goes that when the merchant decided to build this mosque on the Great Silk Road and began searching for craftsmen, there was no-one willing to take the work on, because Yuldashev set one daunting stipulation: use no nails.
A wandering dervish who visited the merchant told him about an architect in China named Khun Pit, who he said might be willing to do it. Such was the merchants enthusiasm for the project that he joined the next caravan leaving for China and went in search of the architect.
When he finally tracked the man down, the merchants offer was so tempting that the craftsman turned down a few profitable contracts to build temples and set off for Zharkent instead. The construction of the mosque started in 1887, and Yuldashev spent what was at the time the enormous sum of 300,000 gold roubles on it, making him a considerable patron of the arts as well as a successful merchant.
The mosque - a meeting point for Central Asian and Chinese architecture - is most unusual. The main material used in the construction was wood - beams made of Tian Shan firs which arrived in Zharkent from the Aksu and Ketmen mountains, travelling 200 kilometres on bullock carts.
When the clay for the foundations was brought in, the whole populations of Zharkent and nearby villages were drafted in to knead it. Only after the clay became as hard as rock was it laid as the foundations of the mosque.
Wisely steered by the Chinese architect, 75 carpenters worked tirelessly for several years. We can still admire the results today: the mosques frame consists of 122 wooden posts linked via a special system of joints and beams.
No nails or iron bolts were used in the building, just as Yuldashev had stipulated. It took only one summer to build and assemble the main wooden frame of the mosque, but it wasn't until 1892 that construction was completed and the mosque opened.
The exterior boasts features such as a soaring roof.

Picture "Zharkent a mosque ". The author is unknown.Figure Zharkent of a mosque.Old photo Zharkent of a mosque.Photo from M.V.Lavrov book "Turkestan. Geography and history of edge", 1914.The decision of Ministerial council Kazakh SSR.

Magazine “Tengri” 2, 2008.