January 14, 2013

Antiquities of Samarkand. Mausoleum of the Emir Timur Kuragan (Gur-Emir). Inscription along the Sides and inside the Main Entry Niche

This photograph of a detail of the main entrance arch to the courtyard of the Gur-Emir mausoleum in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) is from the archeological part of Turkestan Album. The six-volume photographic survey was produced in 1871-72 under the patronage of General Konstantin P. von Kaufman, the first governor-general (1867-82) of Turkestan, as the Russian Empire’s Central Asian territories were called. The album devotes special attention to Samarkand’s Islamic architectural heritage, including Gur-Emir (Persian for "tomb of the ruler"). Although known primarily as the burial place of Timur (Tamerlane), Gur-Emir was begun by Timur in 1403 to commemorate the death of his beloved grandson Muhammad Sultan at the age of 27. When Timur was buried there in 1405, Gur-Emir became the mausoleum of the Timurids. Shown here is the left flank of the niche within the iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch of the entrance structure. Despite damage to the facade, the four levels in this view present an array of polychrome ceramic ornamentation. The pointed arch panel at the bottom contains floral motifs within an intricate geometric design. The panel above displays a decorative grid and floral elements. The next panel contains a Perso-Arabic inscription in elongated script intertwined with a floral pattern. The top level is a horizontal band composed of faience segments with radiant floral figures.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Mausoleum of the Emir Timur Kuragan (Gur-Emir). Inscription along the Sides and inside the Main Entry Niche

This photograph of a detail of the entrance arch to the courtyard of the Gur-Emir mausoleum in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) is from the archeological part of Turkestan Album. The six-volume photographic survey was produced in 1871-72 under the patronage of General Konstantin P. von Kaufman, the first governor-general (1867-82) of Turkestan, as the Russian Empire’s Central Asian territories were called. The album devotes special attention to Samarkand’s Islamic architectural heritage, including Gur-Emir (Persian for "tomb of the ruler"). Although known primarily as the burial place of Timur (Tamerlane), Gur-Emir was begun by Timur in 1403 to commemorate the death of his beloved grandson Muhammad Sultan at the age of 27. When Timur was buried there in 1405, Gur-Emir became the mausoleum of the Timurids. Shown here is the right flank of the niche within the iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch of the entrance structure. The four levels in this view present an array of ceramic ornamentation. The pointed arch panel (at bottom) contains floral motifs within a geometric design. The panel above displays a decorative grid and floral elements. The next panel contains a Perso-Arabic inscription in elongated script intertwined with a floral pattern. The top level is composed of faience segments with symmetrical floral elements. These patterns continue on the niche’s main surface (far left).

Antiquities of Samarkand. Mausoleum of the Emir Timur Kuragan (Gur-Emir). Inscription along the Sides and inside the Main Entry Niche

This photograph of a detail of the entrance arch to the courtyard of the Gur-Emir mausoleum in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) is from the archeological part of Turkestan Album. The six-volume photographic survey was produced in 1871-72 under the patronage of General Konstantin P. von Kaufman, the first governor-general (1867-82) of Turkestan, as the Russian Empire’s Central Asian territories were called. The album devotes special attention to Samarkand’s Islamic architectural heritage, including Gur-Emir (Persian for "tomb of the ruler"). Although known primarily as the burial place of Timur (Tamerlane), Gur-Emir was begun by Timur in 1403 to commemorate the death of his beloved grandson Muhammad Sultan at the age of 27. When Timur was buried there in 1405, Gur-Emir became the mausoleum of the Timurids. Shown here is part of the facade to the left of the iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch of the entrance structure. The pointed arch in the lower panel contains botanical figures of polychrome faience within an intricate geometric design. The damaged panel above displays a rectilinear geometric design with floral elements. The panels are framed by a border of floral motifs connected by a delicate tendril pattern. Despite their lack of color, such detailed photographs convey significant information for the study of the original ceramic ornamentation of Samarkand’s architectural monuments.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Mausoleum of the Emir Timur Kuragan (Gur-Emir). Decorations on the Main Entry Niche

This photograph of ceramic work on the entrance arch to the courtyard of the Gur-Emir mausoleum in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) is from the archeological part of Turkestan Album. The six-volume photographic survey was produced in 1871-72 under the patronage of General Konstantin P. von Kaufman, the first governor-general (1867-82) of Turkestan, as the Russian Empire’s Central Asian territories were called. The album devotes special attention to Samarkand’s Islamic architectural heritage, including Gur-Emir (Persian for “tomb of the ruler”). Although known primarily as the burial place of Timur (Tamerlane), Gur-Emir was begun by Timur in 1403 to commemorate the death of his beloved grandson Muhammad Sultan at the age of 27. When Timur was buried there in 1405, Gur-Emir became the mausoleum of the Timurids. Shown here is the upper part of the facade within the iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) niche of the entrance structure. The horizontal band at the bottom is composed of a row of vertical faience panels containing radiant polychrome floral motifs. The panels are capped with pointed arches leading to an intricate pattern of ceramic tiles set within a geometric lattice. The right corner shows remnants of a vault structure known as mocárabe--also referred to as a “stalactite” vault because of the appearance of the suspended decorative elements. The upper corner shows the underlying brick wall.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Mausoleum of the Emir Timur Kuragan. View of the Southern Facade of the Mausoleum

This photograph of the Gur-Emir mausoleum in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) is from the archeological part of Turkestan Album. The six-volume photographic survey was produced in 1871-72 under the patronage of General Konstantin P. von Kaufman, the first governor-general (1867-82) of Turkestan, as the Russian Empire’s Central Asian territories were called. The album devotes special attention to Samarkand’s Islamic architectural heritage, including Gur-Emir (Persian for "tomb of the ruler"). Although known primarily as the burial place of Timur (Tamerlane), Gur-Emir was begun by Timur in 1403 to commemorate the death of his beloved grandson, Muhammad Sultan. With Timur’s own burial there in 1405, Gur-Emir became in effect the mausoleum of the Timurids. Shown here is a south view of the mausoleum, with remnants of a large iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch (left) on the west facade. In the left background is the remaining minaret of the original four. Despite major damage over the centuries in this active seismic zone, the central part of the ensemble survived, including the drum and great ribbed dome with blue ceramic tile cladding. The drum has monumental ceramic inscriptions in elongated Perso-Arabic script, while the walls of its octagonal base are covered with block Kufic script forming words from the Islamic proclamation of faith. The men at the base of the drum give a sense of its scale.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Mausoleum of Emir Timur Kuragan. View of the Northern Facade of the Mausoleum

This photograph of the Gur-Emir mausoleum in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) is from the archeological part of Turkestan Album. The six-volume photographic survey was produced in 1871-72 under the patronage of General Konstantin P. von Kaufman, the first governor-general (1867-82) of Turkestan, as the Russian Empire’s Central Asian territories were called. The album devotes special attention to Samarkand’s Islamic architectural heritage, including Gur-Emir (Persian for "tomb of the ruler"). Although known primarily as the burial place of Timur (Tamerlane), Gur-Emir was begun by Timur in 1403 to commemorate the death of his beloved grandson, Muhammad Sultan, who had built a madrasah (religious school) and khanaka (memorial complex) on the site in the late 14th century. With Timur’s own burial there in 1405, Gur-Emir became in effect the mausoleum of the Timurids. This view of the mausoleum’s north facade shows the effects of major damage over the centuries, including the collapse of the upper part of the great iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch. Nonetheless, much remains of the rich polychrome ceramic ornamentation, including portions of tile cladding on the ribs of the main dome. Particularly impressive are the sides of the arch and its niche facade, surfaced with an array of faience panels containing intricate botanical and geometric figures. Above the pointed portal arch are inscriptions in elongated Perso-Arabic script.