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The Mennonites of Khiva     A Modernizing Community
Main Points Time Period Three Cultural Keys to Mennonite Influence Significance
Time Period1882 – 1884: Settlement in Lausan   Relative isolation, little influence in the Khanate
Time Period1884 - 1901: Ak Metchet   Mennonites used as craftsmen, day-laborers      Royal construction project (c.1900)
Time Period1884 - 1901: Ak Metchet   Emil Riesen and Herman Jantzen study languages and   Islamic literature in the palace...
Time Period 1882 – 1884: Settlement in Lausan     Relative isolation, little influence in the     Khanate 1884 - 1901: Ak M...
Three Cultural Keys Key 1: Khiva had a history of drawing upon outside influences
Three Cultural Keys  Muhammad Murad - Former Afghan Slave
Three Cultural Keys    Islam Khodja - Khivan Reformer
Three Cultural Keys Key 1: Khiva had a history of drawing upon outside influences Key 2: Mennonite values and talents provi...
Three Cultural KeysKey 2: Mennonite Values and Talents      Nonviolence      Craftsmanship      Talents for languages     ...
Three Cultural Keys Key 1: Khiva had a history of drawing upon outside influences Key 2: Mennonite values provided a path t...
Three Cultural keysKey 3: Mennonite Cultural and KinshipContacts      Photography      Cotton      German equipment      E...
Key 3: Mennonite Cultural and KinshipContacts   Photography       Khudaybergen Divanov & Wilhelm Penner
Key 3: Mennonite Cultural and Kinship Contacts    Cotton: American relatives       Exchanged seed, ideas
Key 3: Mennonite Cultural and Kinship Contacts    Cotton: Exclusive ginning contract
Key 3: Mennonite Cultural and Kinship Contacts  Cotton     By 1904, half of Khiva’s harvest was high-yield     American co...
Key 3: Mennonite Cultural and Kinship Contacts     Electricity in the palace        German generators from AEG        Crit...
Key 3: Mennonite Cultural and Kinship Contacts   Electricity in the palace     Russian officer: “Mennonites are very     im...
Key 3: Mennonite Cultural and Kinship Contacts   Entrepreneurship             Otto Toews and Family
Key 3: Mennonite Cultural and Kinship Contacts   Entrepreneurship: Toews and Schmidt      Carpentry      Carriages      We...
Key 3: Mennonite Cultural and Kinship Contacts   Entrepreneurship: Toews and Schmidt      Carpentry      Carriages      We...
SignificanceMennonites had much more influence thanpreviously thought
SignificanceMennonites had much more influence thanpreviously thoughtMennonites were “rooted cosmopolitans”
SignificanceMennonites had much more influence thanpreviously thoughtMennonites were “rooted cosmopolitans”Example of Muslim...
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The Mennonites of Khiva: A Modernizing Community

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Before the Russian conquest of 1873, society and technology in the Silk Road kingdom of Khiva had changed little in hundreds of years. The Mennonite community of Ak Metchet, founded in 1884, played an instrumental role in the khanate’s transition into the modern world. The Khan and his closest advisors relied on the Mennonites for their understanding of modern agricultural techniques and new technologies, as well as their example as entrepreneurs. Their contributions had a lasting impact on the region.
This presentation will highlight important contributions by Mennonites in Khiva, including the introduction of photography and filmmaking, modern cotton harvesting, and electricity to the khanate. It will also highlight their role as model business owners in the kingdom prior to the introduction of Communism.
The community of Ak Metchet is most often remembered for its connection to the millennial hopes of Claas Epp Jr. and his followers. After Epp’s prophecies failed, a majority of the community rejected his teachings and remained in Khiva for more than fifty years. Their close relationship with Khiva’s power brokers and Muslim reformists helped ease the khanate’s transition from a traditional society to a modern nation on the fringes of the Russian empire.

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The Mennonites of Khiva: A Modernizing Community

  1. 1. The Mennonites of Khiva A Modernizing Community
  2. 2. Main Points Time Period Three Cultural Keys to Mennonite Influence Significance
  3. 3. Time Period1882 – 1884: Settlement in Lausan Relative isolation, little influence in the Khanate
  4. 4. Time Period1884 - 1901: Ak Metchet Mennonites used as craftsmen, day-laborers Royal construction project (c.1900)
  5. 5. Time Period1884 - 1901: Ak Metchet Emil Riesen and Herman Jantzen study languages and Islamic literature in the palace Emil Riesen Herman Jantzen
  6. 6. Time Period 1882 – 1884: Settlement in Lausan Relative isolation, little influence in the Khanate 1884 - 1901: Ak Metchet Mennonites used as craftsmen, day-laborers Emil Riesen and Herman Jantzen study languages and Islamic literature in the palace 1901 – 1918: Peak of Mennonite influence
  7. 7. Three Cultural Keys Key 1: Khiva had a history of drawing upon outside influences
  8. 8. Three Cultural Keys Muhammad Murad - Former Afghan Slave
  9. 9. Three Cultural Keys Islam Khodja - Khivan Reformer
  10. 10. Three Cultural Keys Key 1: Khiva had a history of drawing upon outside influences Key 2: Mennonite values and talents provided a path to influence in the palace
  11. 11. Three Cultural KeysKey 2: Mennonite Values and Talents Nonviolence Craftsmanship Talents for languages and cross-cultural communication
  12. 12. Three Cultural Keys Key 1: Khiva had a history of drawing upon outside influences Key 2: Mennonite values provided a path to influence in the palace Key 3: Mennonite cultural and kinship contacts kept new ideas coming into the khanate.
  13. 13. Three Cultural keysKey 3: Mennonite Cultural and KinshipContacts Photography Cotton German equipment Entrepreneurship
  14. 14. Key 3: Mennonite Cultural and KinshipContacts Photography Khudaybergen Divanov & Wilhelm Penner
  15. 15. Key 3: Mennonite Cultural and Kinship Contacts Cotton: American relatives Exchanged seed, ideas
  16. 16. Key 3: Mennonite Cultural and Kinship Contacts Cotton: Exclusive ginning contract
  17. 17. Key 3: Mennonite Cultural and Kinship Contacts Cotton By 1904, half of Khiva’s harvest was high-yield American cotton By 1914, it consisted of two-thirds of the kingdom’s cotton At the same time in Bukhara, low-yield local cotton still outnumbered American varieties 30:1
  18. 18. Key 3: Mennonite Cultural and Kinship Contacts Electricity in the palace German generators from AEG Criticized by Russians
  19. 19. Key 3: Mennonite Cultural and Kinship Contacts Electricity in the palace Russian officer: “Mennonites are very important to the khanate of Khiva since the natives see the model order in the German village, value the rational, business-like intellect of its residents, esteem their industry, their entrepreneurship and their skills and thus they try to learn from and imitate the Mennonites in all these traits and values . . . No doubt, every German appears to the natives as a very clever and virtuous person.”
  20. 20. Key 3: Mennonite Cultural and Kinship Contacts Entrepreneurship Otto Toews and Family
  21. 21. Key 3: Mennonite Cultural and Kinship Contacts Entrepreneurship: Toews and Schmidt Carpentry Carriages Western-style furniture Employed and trained local artisans
  22. 22. Key 3: Mennonite Cultural and Kinship Contacts Entrepreneurship: Toews and Schmidt Carpentry Carriages Western-style furniture Employed and trained local artisans These two workshops generated 25,000 to 30,000 rubles per year for Ak Metchet’s economy
  23. 23. SignificanceMennonites had much more influence thanpreviously thought
  24. 24. SignificanceMennonites had much more influence thanpreviously thoughtMennonites were “rooted cosmopolitans”
  25. 25. SignificanceMennonites had much more influence thanpreviously thoughtMennonites were “rooted cosmopolitans”Example of Muslim-Christian cooperation andpartnership

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