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Chiva / Kara Kalpak






Khiva Khanate

Choresm PCR

Choresm SCR




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On the territory of present Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan the Empire of Choresm (Khwārazm) which had its centre south of Lake Aral (today Kara-Kalpak) was situated in the middleages. The Choresm Empire existed from 1098 until 1231. About 1200 it comprised also Media and Khorasan in the north of  the former Sassanian Empire. The rulers of Choresm wore the title of shah.

In iconography the shah’s of Choresm appear when they have extended their possessions into Western Persia at the cost of the Seljuqs of which, in cooperation with the caliph of Bagdad, they defeated their last sultan, Toghril Beg in 1194. From that moment until the conquest of the territory by the Mongols in 1220 three shah’s ruled.

In 1220 the Choresm Empire was conquered by the Mongols and was divided between the empires of  Chagatai Khan and the Il-khans of Persia. The north became a part of the Golden Horde of Sarai. For a long time it was a bone of contest of Persia and Tartary, later Russia.

In the middleages Khiva, located on the northen silkroad  prospered economically. In 1873 the Persian parts of Turkmenistan were conquered by Russia but Khiva could maintain a exceptional position in the conquered territories.

After the 1917 Bolshevik seizure of power in the October Revolution, anti-monarchists and Turkmen tribesmen joined forces with the Bolsheviks at the end of 1919 to depose the khan. On 2 February 1920, Khiva's last Kungrad khan, Sayid Abdullah, abdicated and a short-lived Choresm People’s Soviet Republic (later the Choresm SSR) was created out of the territory of the old Khanate of Khiva, before in 1924 it was finally incorporated into the Soviet Union, with the former Khanate divided between the new Turkmen SSR and Uzbek SSR. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, these became Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan respectively. The khanate itself was reduced to Choresm District (Khorezmskaya Oblast)




About the heraldry of Choresm were are informed in the 14th century by the Libro de Conoscimiento of a Spanish Franciscan monk. [1] He writes: “...we came to  a great city called Norgancio (= Choresm) in the empire of Uxbeco. [....] The King of this Norgancio has for his device a white flag with the sign of Uxbeco Emperor of Sara, red.”

In this quote the Khanate of the Golden Horde of Shah Uzbek (*1292-†1341) is meant by the  “empire of Uxbeco”. This Khanate reached from the Dnjepr to the Ural. The symbol of this Khanate is a tamgha consisting of a crescent and a cypher in Tatar script.


Flag of Norgancio, about 1345


Indeed such flags are on 14th century maps showing the Empire of the Golden Horde, the cypher somewhat changed.


Khiva Khanate



Very little is known about the symbols used in Khiva to denote the ruler, the state or the khanate itself.

Flags used in the time of the Russian protectorate (1873-09.04.1918) show a blue crescent in the upper left corner on a white cloth. In the time of the sovereign Khanate (1918-1920) this was replaced by a crescent-and-star in black, the upper- and lower sides of narrow green breadths. In the last month of the Khanate, between the abdication of Sayid Abdullah on 1 February 1920 and the renaming of the Khanate into Choresm on 30 April 1920, the flag was changed into a yellow crescent-and-star on a red field with green bordures around.


Flag of Khiva Khanate, 1918 - January 1920

According to Roberto Breschi such a flag is preserved in the Khiva Museum


The accepted opinion is that the crescent or the crescent and star are the symbols of Islam. It must be pointed out however, that these symbols often denote, in any case in ancient times,  the state and the head of state, the crescent symbolizing the state and the star the ruler. Thus, the flag with the blue crescent may be intended to be the flag of state and the flags with the crescent-and-star the flag of the head of state, alias the Khan, Khiva itself being a function of the Khan.


5 tenge coin of Sayid Abdullah, 1919.

Showing a sun and a crescent


Also, on the tenge coin shown here the crescent and the sun are the symbols of the empire (the Khanate) and the state, the emblem meaning “the government of Khiva”.


Choresmian People’s Councils’ Republic

Xорезмскую Cоветскую Hародную Rеспублику

30-04-1920 - 20.10-1923


The idea was continued in the first year of the People’s Republic but later the crescent-and-star is always interpreted to be the symbol of Islam.


5000 rubel note (silk), 1921 (H. 1339) Obverse.

With sun and crescent

5000 ruble note, 1921 Reverse.


On silk money of the Soviet Republic appeared the crescent and sun and an emblem of three stalks of sorghum per pale and a spade, a sickle and a hammer in saltire.

Soon the hammer disappeared.

The emblem of the republic on seals and the like was laid down to be a spade, a sickle and stalk(s) of sorghum. This emblem remained in use until July 1922.

Piece of  25 ruble (bronze), 1921.

A crescent and a sun introduced


25 000 ruble note, 1921

The hammer removed, a crescent and star introduced


By Constitution of the Choresmian People’s Soviet Republic proclaimed at the 3rd All Choresmian Kurultai of Councils of July 1922, a crescent and star were made a part of the emblem and the sorghum, spade and sickle were drawn in saltire


Version of the emblem of the KPCR

with sorghum, spade, sickle, crescent, star and garland.

Emblem of  Choresm as on a 500 ruble note, 1923.


Choresmian Socialist Councils’ Republic

Xорезмская  Cоциалистическая Cоветскую Pеспублика



In 1923 the three Central Asiatic republics of Turkestan, Bukhara and Choresm established the Central Asiatic Economic Council. At the 4t All Choresmian Kurultai of Councils of 17 until 20 October 1923 the People’s Republic was changed into a Socialist Republic. At the saem time the emblem was changed. Forthwith it should consist of a sun radiant on a red field charged with a spade, a sickle and a stalk of sorghum in saltire.  



The crescent-and-star was replaced by the motto of the RSFSR: ПPOЛИETAPИИ  BCEX CTPAH COEДЙHЯTECЬ! (Workers of all Nations Unite!) and below the name of the country was added: хорезмская  социалистическая  республика. [2]


The Fifth All Choresmian Kurultai of Councils from 29 September until 2 October 1924 granted self government to the peoples of former Choresm. As a result the Choresm was dissolved on 27 October 1924 and became the Kara-Kalpak Autonomous Oblast within the Kazakhstan S.S.R and with Turtkul as its capital. This became an Autonomous Socialist Soviet Republic on 25 December1934. In 1936 it was added to Uzbekistan S.S.R.. In 1991 its status was changed from an A.S.S.R. into an autonous republic within the Republic of Uzbekistan


Kara-Kalpak AO

Kara-Kalpak ASSR

Qaraqalpaqstan Respublikası

27.10.1924 - 25.12.1934





The present emblem of Kara-Kalpak is a version of the emblem of Uzbekistan. No emblem is known of the Kara Kalpak A.S.S.R when a part of Kazakhstan.

The emblem of the Kara-Kalpak A.S.S.R. is the same as the emblem of Uzbekistan S.S.R., the motto in uzbek replaced by the motto in russian and vice versa. On the bow the initials of the A.S.S.R. are added: ҚҚ ACCP.

The emblem of present Qaraqalpaqstan Respublikası (or Қарақалпақстан Республикасы) is the same as the emblem of Uzbekistan, the landscape changed by replacing the dexter mountain by a volcano and leaving out a river. Also the lower windings of the ribbon are replaced by the Kara Kalpak colours being Blue, yellow and green separated by narrow red and white stripes. On the bow, also in new Kara-Kalpak colours, is the name ҚAPAҚAЛПAҚCTAH in white lettering.



đ See illustration in the head of this essay.




The Karakalpak Police wears the state emblem as a sleeve badge and the crest within a sunburst for cap badge.


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© Hubert de Vries 2011-05-22



[1] Book of Knowledge. Works Issued by the Hakluyt Society for 1912. N° 79 p. 51.

[2] See Also: http://www.vexillographia.ru/uzbekstn/khiva.htm

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