Kyz-Bibi Women’s Sufi Khanaka Convent


There is a unique architectural complex named Kyz-Bibi between the oases and the desert a 30-minute ride from Bukhara. It was built by order of the vizier Sadik-Khan in honor of a woman called Mastura-Khanym, also known as Kyz-Bibi. She was a Sufi, and once she just disappeared from her hujra cell. The locals believe that her spirit still lives in the convent and protects it. According to a legend, they wanted to marry her against her will but she hid in the desert to avoid such sad future and stayed there as a hermit. Soon she discovered a gift for healing and helped infertile women.

Kyz-Bibi complex consists of utility, pilgrimage and khanaka convent parts (khanaka - also spelled khanqah, khaniqah, khanqa, khaneqa, khanegah or khaneqah - is a Sufi hospice, monastery or convent). There is also a building serving both as a khanaka and as a mosque, an underground cell for 40-day fast and prayers in seclusion, a few kitchens, a bathhouse, pilgrimage cells, and rooms where mentally handicapped once lived. Kyz-Bibi shrine with a marble tomb is also there.

Although the khanaka convent was built part by part and had been completed only by the 18th c, the complex features the typical medieval khanaka design with an inner yard where Sufis could stay in complete isolation from the outside world.

Today female pilgrims from all the corners of the country come to this unique women’s Sufi convent in the hope of getting maternity happiness and family well-being. They say that after three days of seclusion spent with a fast and continuous pray in one of the cells there a woman gets rid of the problem that caused her to come to the convent. Men are strictly prohibited in the complex.


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