“White” Mosque or History of the Most Famous Lithograph in Osh

History of the most famous mosque of ancient Osh. This is probably the most popular ancient Osh lithograph. It is most often used as an illustration for articles on the history of the city. The mosque depicted on this ancient lithograph was built by descendants of an influential Kokand nobleman, Musulmankul. Some historians claim that this mosque was built by Abdurrahman aptabachi, while others claim that it was built by his son. In any case, in historical documents it is closely linked to the name of Abdurrahman aptabachi.

Who was that desperate Kokand official? Abdurrahman aptabachi was the son of the influential Kokand minbashi Musulmankul from the Kypchak clan executed in 1852 by Khudoyar Khan after the bloodiest battle in the history of this khanate in the area of Bylkyldama. Khudoyar Khan brutally suppressed the uprising by drowning the Kypchaks in the blood. Despite the fact that it was Musulmankul who brought then 14-year-old Khudoyar to power in 1845.

Abdurrahman was able to evade the fate of his father. The vengeful Khudoyar Khan made him his aptabachi, as in Kokand they called those who should give water to the khan to wash hands before a meal. Abdurrahman aptabachi steadfastly endured all the hardship and humiliation, having risen to the rank of minbashi.

From the book “Memories of General Skobelev about Abdurrahman aptabachi", B.G.Buchert

Abdurrahman aptabachi twice made attempts to overthrow Khudoyar Khan. But all his efforts were in vain. In July 1875, together with the son of Khudoyar Khan, Nasreddin-bek, sided with the rebels. The still legitimate Khudoyar Khan turned to the Russian Empire for support. In January 1876, in Indukyshtak, 8 kilometers from Andijan, Abdurrahman, along with the rest of biys and 500 soldiers, surrendered to the punitive detachment of General Skobelev.

Abdurrahman aptabachi was exiled to Orenburg. But then the Governor-General of Turkestan Konstantin Kaufman changed his mind and ordered to transport him to the city of Yekaterinoslavl in the southwestern outskirts of the Russian Empire. Now it is the Ukrainian city of Dnepropetrovsk.

Abdurrahman aptabachi was awarded a pension of 3,000 rubles per year from the income of his property in the Ferghana Valley. In January 1881, he was released from police control with the assignment of the rank of lieutenant colonel, and in February Abdurrahman aptabachi asked the tsarist authorities to allow him to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. Abdurrahman aptabachi died on 25 May 1881 before receiving a response to his request. His wife Zulaika and a young daughter were with him in exile. There is no information where he was buried. It is likely that his body was laid to rest in Yekaterinoslavl.

This familiar lithography (from ancient Greek λίθος «stone» + γράφω «I write, I draw») - a printing method in which pressurized paint is transferred from a flat printed form to paper) “Ak mecheti” (white mosque) was made in 1877 by members of a French scientific expedition. Exactly a year after the suppression of the uprising led by Abdurrahman aptabachi, in 1880, the ethnographer of this scientific expedition Marie de Uifalie-Bourdon published a book "From Paris to Samarkand" with lithographs made by M. Muller from his travel drawings. 

"Ak-mechit" (white mosque) in Osh. The author of the photo is unknown.

“The terrain determined the construction unusual for Central Asia: below the facade a two-tier terrace with thin columns-pillars runs down to the water, like a palace from a fairy tale. The mosque of the new exterior has an excellent location. It dominates the city. The majestic portal of the mosque is made by architects with great skill. A burnt brick mosque was erected and is similar to those we saw in Kokand”, described Abdurrahman aptabachi’s mosque E. de Uifalie, head of the French expedition, who visited Osh in 1877.

Unfortunately, “Ak mechit”, like the other 154 mosques (according to the historical photo portal photo.kg) in Osh was destroyed to the ground during the anti-religious campaign in 1950-1960.

Prepared by Almaz Ismanov