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Tosh Hovli Palace 360° Virtual Tour
Tosh Hovli (or Tash Hauli) Palace was built by the order of Allah Kuli Khan in 1832. It consists of three courtyards: the reception area, the harem and the guesthouse area. Visitors are nowadays allowed to tour the harem courtyard, so we'll also focus on this part of the palace complex.
The root word for harem is haraam meaning “forbidden” in Arabic. It was used to denote sinful actions that should not be committed by Muslims. Haraam can easily be mixed with the term haram which means a protected zone. These zones mean an important aspect of urban planning in Islamic civilization and resemble much modern zoning laws. They were established to ensure that everyone can get access to parkland, watersheds and nature; and to restrict urban sprawl.
Getting back to the harem of the palace, the khan used to live here with his four legal wives and further forty concubines. Female musicians also lived in the palace to entertain the ladies. He has always received the selected lady for the night through a secret door to prevent the wives and concubines getting jealous of each other. Each legal wife had her own iwan but the largest and highest iwan was of course of the khan.
There is an interesting symbol replicated on door and windows frames and the corners of the iwans. It consists of two triangles facing each other and connected through a horizontal line. The triangles represent a husband and a wife and it symbolizes the unity of a family. It is of Zoroastrian (pre-Islam) origin its colour used to be yellow but had to be changed to green after the advance of Islam. When looking around the iwans it is also interesting to find the rings that used to support the mosquito nets. Although Khiva enjoys plenty of sunshine, when it was raining there used to be lots of mosquitoes and protective nets had to be installed against them. Foundation of the columns is of marble stone that was transported from Samarkand to here. Living areas of the wives were separated from the courtyard by doors with a woven pattern. These doors enabled them to know exactly what is happening outside in the courtyard but nobody could see them.