Mahalla in Uzbekistan


The young folk get married and built their houses but there was not enough space so the young families left for the open lands and built their homes there. Thus several mahallas appeared with names which included the word “yangi” new.

The other reason for splitting up mahallas is economics. All the holidays (ethnic, religious, family and others) are celebrated together in mahallas. For this reason in each mahalla (in our times as well) a big choykhona was built (now it sometimes resembles a banquet hall) but it became uneconomic to invite the population of the entire mahalla, for example, to a wedding.

One can see the names of mahallas, which reflect remarkable events in the life of the city. The mahalla of Janggoh (Battle place) is called so because of the events of 18th century. At that time there were 4 khokims (stewards) in Tashkent of which one was from Shaykhontohur, fought with the adherents of the others. By the way, the governing of khokims of Tashkent was ended with this battle and the system of khokimiyats renewed noticeably later but only in the 90s of the 20th century.

Another big groups of mahallas contains in it’s appellations the names of historic personalities, for example Chighatoy. Chighatoy was one of the sons of Chinghizkhan who apart from the territory of the modern Tashkent province possessed the lands in east of Uzbekistan.

His rule was remarkable by the relative calm in political as well as in economic aspects. In Tashkent the Chighatoy mahalla is famous for its shashliks. It is located in Old city district (reference point metro station “Tinchlik”). In many yards you will be served delicious soups, salads and shashliks – you just have to know in which.

In this district there is the Chighatoy restaurant with an interesting interior and at one time, a beer named Chighatoy was brewed there. In some mahallas the names reflected the class stratification of society. The Boy-kucha mahalla was so called because it was frequented by the sons of great landowners.

A separate group of mahallas is formed by reflecting the peculiarities of architecture. Mahalla Baland-mosque stood among others by its tall mosque (baland-tall), Pushti hammom was located behind the sauna (hammam-sauna), Pushti-bogh was situated behind the garden (bogh-garden), in the Olmazor mahalla once huge apple trees were growing (olma-apple).

Because of the development of Tashkent many mahallas were demolished or rebuilt again (after the earthquake in Tashkent in 1966). The new multi-storied buildings kept their names, for example, block Qoratosh (black stone) not far from the metro station Bunyodkor (the creator) and block Beshyghoch. The mahallas Qor-yoghdi and Khadra have disappeared from the map of Tashkent. The Pakhtakor stadium and Circus building are now in their place.


The conquerors came and went, the rule in the city changed, but the mahalla remained unchanged in its character. It represented a secluded world with traditional activities, customs and ceremonies, a world of narrow streets and blind alleys, in which two donkeys could barely pass.

Each mahalla has its central guzar, with the mosque and school attached to it, a choykhona and a houz (a small quadrangular pond with trees planted around it). The houz served as the only source of drinking water for the entire population of the mahalla. The water in it was changed once a month and even more rarely.

It was cleaned also rarely 1-2 times a year the water was let out and silt and loam was scooped out which of course meant that sometimes epidemics arouse in mahallas. Apart from this grocers were located here so one could buy novvoy non (flat cakes), kurt (balls from dry cottage cheese), nosvoy (powder mixture of tobacco and lime), which oriental men put under the tongue (women very rarely practiced this habit). There were also barbershops ad small workshops for repairing shoes and copper pots and pans. The mosque stood out from other buildings with its walls of baked brick. All the other houses, with the exception of the rich people’s houses were made from self made mud bricks.

Clay was mixed with chopped straw and water; bricks were formed and dried in the sun. Each spring green sprouts came out quaintly appeared and some roofs were completely overgrown. You will not be able to see these buildings in Tashkent anymore as well as in other cities. They remained only in kishlaks (villages). For building a new house, men used to gather on hashar (free work) days where everyone came for 2-3 hours to the neighbor and helped to lay bricks and build the house and take away the rubble. 

Aged men “aksakals’’ in the morning after the prayers took their places in choykhonas, young men left for work, boys under 5-6 years rode on sticks in the streets, played oshiq(oshiq articular bones of a sheep, the cavities of which were filled with lead. It was required to knock them down from a specific distance. The one who scores the most knock downs wins) and lankas (lanka is a piece of sheep wool with a coin or a piece of metal stitched to it). It was required to hit the lanka by twisting the foot or the toe as often as possible. 

20 years ago oshiq and lankas were played in the cities but now one sees them played very rarely. The girls and their mothers stayed at home to keep house, to sweep and water the floor, stitch quilts, embroider skullcaps, cook, bring water, make jams from fruits, clean the crockery, etc..

On festive and not so festive, occasions men went to one of the houses for morning pilov (at 5-6 o’clock) and in the evening women gathered for fellowship. They brought baking in big basins (toghora) covered with clean tablecloths “dastarkhans’’ for the festive table. Even nowadays one can come across a well dressed woman with a dish of tasty smelling food. Strict customs prevailed and prevail till now. A girl to be married or a young bride came out to sweep the yard or the area in front of the gates with the first rays of the sunshine. Dust and leaves not sweeped up in front of the gates means one thing: either the mistress of the house is ill, or lazy woman lives here. Life in urban apartments relieved many women from this necessity but however sometimes one can still see a young woman near a many storied house.

This means that in this family a wedding was celebrated not long ago and the bride is from a small city where this way of life remained. If you go around the mahalla, all the kiddies and passing strollers will certainly greet you. It is custom to respond to these greetings and you will feel the necessity of it yourself, without any advice.

One wants to say something pleasant to the smudgy half-dressed smiling children. A house provides people with the corresponding status and respect and more importantly those customs and norms of human relations which were formed through centuries.

Mahalla today 

At present times mahalla committees of respected citizens are created which decide the questions of allocation of welfare among the poor and families having many children and help organize traditional family holidays (apportion tables, chairs, crockery, covers). Many committees have created clubs of interest for teenagers, repair shops, workshops, worktables and studios.

Many mahallas have their own sports grounds and as decades ago in mahallas there are clean streets with ariks (small irrigation ditches), fruit trees, which in spring abundantly cover the streets with white and pink petals and in summer with small fruits of cherries, apricots, apples. The fruits are usually not gathered from the trees but are left to the children. 

Beshyogoch daha 

Beshyoghoch (Turkic) means five trees. In written sources it was also called the daha of Zangi ota. This daha had three gates (Samarqand, Kamolon and Beshyoghoch), five big medresses, 75 mosques, 76 mahallas and 36 mavzes. The ancient main street was called Beshyoghoch, now that street has nearly disappeared. In 1903 first horse-drawn tram started operating on this street and from 1913 onwards, the electric tramway. The main square is Beshyoghoch. There was Muhammadkarimhoji medresse (Which was ruined in 1924) and is now replaced by the present Republican pupil’s palace and Halimtoy medresse stood in the place of the present Alisher Navoiy national garden. Abulkasim medresse is near to the national garden and Kukeldash and Khoja Ahror medresses are also in this daha.

Beshyoghoch square. Until 1972 it was called Beruniy, until 1986 Beshyoghoch square and until 1991 it was named Komsomol. Furqat, Bobur, Turob Tula (former 9-january) and Olmazor streets converged here. The square is near to the Uzbekiston national garden. 

In the 70s of the XIX century, the defensive wall of the city in this square were ruined and the place was renamed Beshyoghoch square. In the 30s of the last century the Halimtoy medresse which had stood in the place of the present national garden’s gate, was demolished. In place of the old brickyards, artificial lakes and the national garden were built. In 1935 there was organized Beshyoghoch bazaar. In 1943 the Muqimi theatre was built in place where Olmazor and Arpapoya streets crossed.