Post offices in the Khanate of Khiva

Page about stamp-issuing country
06.12.2019       ISZO





After writing an article about post offices in the emirate of Bukhara, I decided to explore also the Russian post offices in Khanate of Khiva.

New Year’s postcard from New Urgench 1910 (

Documents from that time are very rare, and therefore I am glad to use photos of the amazing collection of Mr. Mramornov for the presentation. So let’s go back to the days when the Aralkum desert was still proudly called the Aral sea.

Khanate of Khiva was originally spread out at the historic territory between the Caspian and the Aral Sea. The landscape is barren, mostly desert character. People have populated the areas along life-giving rivers and the coast of the Aral Sea. These places were fertilized and expanded thanks to irrigation canals.

In the 19th century there were still Middle Ages in the Khanate, including a trade with slaves, who were captured during raids of neighboring territories and subsequently sold at markets in Khiva and Bukhara. It has did not contributed to friendly relationships with neighboring countries. After Russian troops began occupation of the Kazakh steppe north of the Khanate, hostility between Khiva Khanate and Russia increased. Tensions escalated when Russian businessmen, coming in the first half of the 19th century to Khanate of Khiva were discriminated in all possible ways and eventually were captured as slaves.

Because of that from 1839 to 1840 General Perovsky started a war campaign with squad about 5,000 men from the Orenburg base.

Location of towns in the current map


Due to the harsh winter most of the camels and horses were killed, and so called Khivan campaign did not even reach the borders of Khanate and stopped by the river Emba. To prevent next campaign, Allah Quli Bahadur Khan published regulation to ban capturing of the Russians and their enslaving in 1840. The situation has stabilized for several years. Unfortunately, due to the Czar’s hunger after the New Territories next expansive campaign started in the early 70s of the 19th century. Bukhara and Kokand were fallen and Khiva became the last independent territory. For a short time only until military operations March to the Khiva began in 1873.

Nikolay Karazin – Russian troops crossing Amu Darya

A command was entrusted to General Kaufmann. His army was divided into three parts, one of which marched from Tashkent, the second and third from Orenburg along Uzboy (currently non-existing River between the Amu Darya and the Caspian Sea). After demanding operations in difficult terrain ( desert area without water, without supplies and without landmarks ) he managed to defeat the khan’s army at Mang‘it (now in Karakalpakstan). Then merged armies and troops went to the capital city. After the cannon attack Khiva was conquered on June 10, 1873 and its a Khan of Khiva M. R. Bahadur II. fled to yomood Turkmens.

Muhammad Rahim Bahadur II.
(Reign 1864–1910)

They were dispersed by General Golovatchoff and Khan was forced to return to the throne on June 14. Winner set a one-party contract that was signed on August 8, 1873 by Khan of Khiva. He gave up all diplomatic or military operations without awareness of Russia, abolished slavery, and opened the Khanate for Russian merchants and the Amu Darya Russian ships. Russia gets the right to represent the Khanate to other countries and conclude international agreements on its behalf. Khan agreed to pay reparations of 2.2 million rubles payable over the next twenty years. Khanate lost its territory on the right bank of the Amu Darya in favor of Russia, and also the Bukhara. Khiva city began to lose its importance and business activities were moved to the city of New Urgench. Khanate of Khiva from that time remained dependent territory.

This agreement has laid the foundation for the possibility of free enterprise for Russian businessmen. They used Russian stamps and postmarks with texts in Cyrillic for correspondence. It is highly likely that the role of first postal and telegraph offices had the Russian steamers on the Amu Darya river (connection of traders with Caspian railway in Charjuy) and in the Aral Sea. However, no evidence of those times has survived.

Schooner Kirgiz of Khiva steam company on the Aral Sea

Probably since the nineties of the 19th century emerging of permanent post and telegraph offices has begun. There were only three. Furthermore, in the article I will describe these in more detail and will complete examples of rare (and very rare) documents from the collection of Mr. Mramornov.


Dargan-Ata – formerly a small settlement, which still had at the end of the fifties of the last century nearly 2000 inhabitants.

Development of the population according to the census in the USSR

Today, it is a small border town, which lies along the current railway line Türkmenabat – Dashoguz. It is located in the desert region and is habitable only through irrigation Amu Darya.

Taken from the site

The site was inhabited since the Middle Ages. Ancient times are resembled by the ruins of an ancient fort located about three kilometers to the south.

Photo Fortress – taken from

In times of Russian protectorate there was a transfer point for passengers who sailed by the Amu Darya river from town Charjuy and then headed to Khiva. At present it can be found in Lebap Vilayet in Turkmenistan. In 2003 the town was renamed to Birata. Russian post office was opened in 1914 and used a circular stamped with text “ДАРГАНЪ-АТА ХNB. ВЛАД.” and a date-stamp. Stamps and documents are extremely rare.

Dargan Ata – a collection of Mr. Mramornov


Khiva – an ancient city inhabitated 2500 years ago. In ancient times it was known as the Chejvak. Since 1598 a small fortified town became the center of Khanate of Khiva. From this time began development of the town and were built many important buildings.

Development of the population according to the census in the USSR/Russia

However, after the Russian invasion and the establishment of the Protectorate it led to a gradual deterioration of quality of the city.

Taken from the site


For example, Otto’s encyclopedia in its 12th section from 1897 states: “ … lies in a fertile landscape of irrigated canal Chirjeli. It is the dirty poor nest having about 1200 houses of clay; in the west part of the city are fields and gardens. The town is surrounded by a low, earthen walls; in the middle on a small rise is the citadel.

Vintage postcard

It has 30 mosques of which the prettiest is the mosque Polvani-Ata made from bricks, containing graves holy Khan, namely patron of Khiva – Pahlavan. Furthermore, there are 22 madrassahs and Grand Bazaar. Industry has limited the production of carpets and silk and cotton fabrics. Population is approximately from 6.000 to 20.000; it consists mainly of Uzbeks, Tajiks and Persians. Business is declining and now is more focused in New Urgench … “.

Today Khiva takes back its luster and it is a modern city with 90 thousand inhabitants and reconstructed magnificent monuments, especially in the inner city, called Itchan Kala. Currently Khiva town is district city in Khorezm Vilayet in Uzbekistan.

Itchan Kala – UNESCO

Opening date of post office is not known, postal and telegraph office was opened in November 1912. It was used a circular stamp with the text “ХNBА ХNBNН. ВЛАД.” with a date-stamp.

Postal documents are extremely rare. At the time of Tchilinghirian monography was not sure if any copy existed.


Khiva (1) – a collection of Mr. Mramornov
Khiva (2) – a collection of Mr. Mramornov


New Urgench – greater city and commercial center in the irrigation area of the river Amu Darya, founded in the 17th century, displaced residents of the “original” ancient city Khorezm – Konye-Urgench. A short article in Russian with images you can find at Konye-Urgench was abandoned as a result of reduced water levels due to changes in the Amu Darya river basin. Population in Urgench over the past 100 years increased tenfold.

15 T
35 T
54 T
76 T
91 T
130 T
137 T

Development of the population according to the census in the USSR/Russia

City New Urgench was renamed in 1929 to Urgench. At present, it is the administrative center of Khorezm Vilayet in Uzbekistan.

Taken from the site

Russian post office was opened in 1902 and used a circular stamp with the text “НОВЫЙ УРГЕНЧЪ ХNBNНСКОГО ХАНСТВА” or later “НОВЫЙ УРГЕНЧЪ ХNB. ВЛАД.” with a date-stamp. The stamps are quite rare.

Russian stamps with denominations of 25k, 70k and 5R. Used 1915 – cancellation type 2A

On the sample there is also a rating of 5 rubles with perforation holes. Stamps of a high nominal value were used for sending money or parcels from people working away from their home. To avoid repeated use of expensive stamps they were provided with perforations. Postal documents from New Urgench are very rare.

New Urgench (1) – from the collection of Mr. Mramornov
New Urgench (2) – from the collection of Mr. Mramornov


Although the history of the last years of Khanate of Khiva was difficult, for me, it still has the charm of bygone days when the two great rivers flowed into the Aral Sea and gave life to the desert areas. Today, the Aral Sea is almost completely dry, only a small portion of the Northern part protected with dam Kok-Aral slowly fills. Great Southern part is lost and with it, the people who survive today – mainly in the Republic of Karakalpakstan.

Promotional souvenir sheet issued in 1996 by several countries in Central Asia to support the fund IFAS. People eventually “won” …

Ivo Szostok


Sources: S.D.Tchilinghirian + W.S.E.Stephen: Stamps of the Russian Empire Used abroad (1958), a collection of Mr. Mramornov, Wikipedia, Britannica, Otto’s encyclopedia, The British Journal of Russian Philately, article The Russian Conquest of Khiva (, Google maps, Tripadvisor, author’s photoarchive, article, internet and more …


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