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Nukus E-mail
Asia - Uzbekistan
24 August 2010


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Nukus is a city in western Uzbekistan, the capital of the Karakalpakstan Autonomous Republic, located in the delta of the Amu Darya River, about 1255 km west of Toshkent and about 230 km south of Moynaq and the former shoreline of the Aral Sea.

An increase in upstream irrigation needs reduced the downstream flow of the Amu Darya, contributing to the shrinking of the Aral and the disappearance of the plentiful fish stocks. Nukus is a centre for the growing and processing of cotton and rice. The local climate has changed with the disappearance of the sea and Nukus now experiences an average of ten dust and sand storms a year. The 1989 census indicated that Nukus was the fastest growing city in Uzbekistan as a consequence of the deteriorating environmental conditions in the surrounding countryside.

Nukus also has a large museum with an art collection from the Russian avant-garde, a bold group of artists who ushered in modernism at the beginning of the 20th century. Many of those artists fell victim to the purges of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in the early 1930's, but the late director Igor V. Savitsky, a Russian painter, archeologist and collector of especially avant-garde art, single-handedly founded the Nukus Museum, collected their work and brought it to Nukus. It is noted for its collection of Modern Russian and Uzbek art from 1918-1935. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take any pictures at all, but you can see a selection on the museum's websitewww.savitskycollection.org.

The State Museum houses the usual collection of artifacts recovered from archaeological investigations, traditional jewelry, costumes and musical instruments, but more interestingly, displays of the area's now vanished or endangered flora and fauna and on the Aral Sea issue.

Nukus developed from just a small settlement in 1932 into a large and modern Soviet city with large public buildings and broad avenues by the 1950's.

Other sites nearby are:

  • Mizdahkan (Khodjeli's Gyaur Kala) - The archaeological architectural complex in Khodjeli village, 15 km from Nukus (4th c. BC - 14th c. AD):
  • Mausoleum of Mazlumkhan Sulgu. According to ancient currency found at the site, the construction of the mausoleum has been dated to the first half of the 14th c.
  • Mausoleum of Shamun Nabig (12-13th cc.).
  • Madrassah Halika Erjep (9-13th cc.).
  • Old town of Ali Belgisiz (16-17th cc.).