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Buddhist Complex of Kuba Site

Ferghana Valley

For several years the ancient settlement of Kuba on the northwest edge of Kuva District, Ferghana Province, was a site of active archeological excavations. In the early Middle Ages Kuba was a large trade and craft settlement where such crafts as pottery, metal-working and jewellery making were highly developed. The archeological finds prove that the settlement appeared in the 4th – 3rd century BCE. Kuba was a Ferghana Valley’s important political and economical center until the 13th century CE when it was destroyed during Genghis Khan’s invasion in Central Asia. The archeologists excavated in Kuba the remains of 80 craftsmen’s houses and shops, 5 streets and a square.

Under the archeological strata dating to the 10th-11th century the archeologists discovered the remains of a Buddhist temple. Built on a natural hill, it towered over the whole settlement. Stone stairs led to the top of the hill; an adobe wall separated it from the dwelling houses.

The remains of the temple were hidden by cultural strata of the subsequent period, including three tiers of the 10th- and 11th- century graves. The temple was built of adobe bricks and pakhsa (rammed loam and straw mixture), whereas the overhead cover was made of wood. Although what survived of the temple strong walls was the structure not exceeding two metres in height, the archeologists managed to reconstruct the layout of the Buddhist religious complex. The southern side contained the entrance leading into the sanctuary and further to the altar on a one-meter-high platform. Along the walls of the sanctuary, around the altar, there were sufa platforms for offerings of flowers, fruits and incense burning.

Abutted on the eastern wall of the sanctuary there was the rectangular part of the temple oriented from south to north. At one of the walls, the archeologists excavated a mud brick sufa that was probably used as a counter for selling small bowls for offerings, incense sticks and fragrant herbs as there were found lots of broken and intact ceramic bowls and plain moulded containers. In the southern part of the temple there was a deep niche with an ayvan under a wooden roof. The wall of the ayvan still contains fragments of a painting that served as a background for sculptures. In the niche there were also discovered debris of two sculptures of horses and warriors.

At the entrance, just blocking it, there lay, with its face down, a wonderful sculpture of Buddha measuring 2.5 of man’s height. Next to it there were fragments of sculptures of other Buddhist characters, including the goddess Sri Devi, the patroness of Buddhism. The archeologists believe that the sculptures in the ayvan depicted the scene of fight between the forces of good, led by Sri Devi, and the forces of evil, led by Marah, Buddha’s enemy.

The archeologists could tell which forces the sculptures represented by their colouration. The gods of good were blue, cream and white; their cloths were yellow, red and blue. Their heads had royal diadems, their arms were decorated with bracelets; they were adorned with flower necklaces and strings with jingles and rosettes. The faith-defending gods were painted blue and black and looked very expressive. They had furious faces to scare the demons. Sculls were worked into their diadems and garlands; their bracelets had the shape of snakes; their cloaks and waistcloth were made of tiger hides; their waving hair locks looked like flames of fire.

Archeologists have not yet determined the exact age of the Buddhist temple in Kuba. It is only clear that its heyday fell on the second half of the 7th century, while in the 13th century the temple was destroyed by Arabs. At least the ruins of the sanctuary and the other parts of the temple bear visible traces of fire. The excavations in Kuba proved that at the beginning of the Common Era Buddhism was spread not only in today’s Surkhandarya Province, where most of Buddhist monuments are located, but also further to the north in the Fergana Valley.

Sightseeing Places in Ferghana Valley

Kokand: Marghilan:
Khudayar-Khan Palace Chakar Mosque
Dakhma-i-shakhan Royal Cemetery Seieed Ahmad Hajji Madrassah
Jami Mosque 'Yodgorlik' Silk-weaving Mil
Narbuta-bey Madrassah Pir-Siddik Architectural Complex
Modari-khan Mausoleum  
Rishtan: Kuva:
Rishtan Ceramics Center Buddhist Complex of Kuba Site
Andijan: Chust:
Jami Madrassah Chust Knives Manufacturing Workshop
Jami Mosque Namangan:
Zakhiriddin Babur architectural Complex Ancient Settlement of Aksikent