January 14, 2013

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

This magnificent 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. This northwest view (the original photographic title, calling this an east view, is incorrect) of the mausoleum includes a corner of the north iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch (far left). Despite major damage over the centuries in this active seismic zone, the central part of the ensemble remains, including the drum and great ribbed dome with ceramic tile cladding. The drum has monumental inscriptions in elongated Perso-Arabic script, while the minaret shows block Kufic script forming words from the Islamic proclamation of faith. Fragments of polychrome ceramic ornamentation are visible throughout the structure. To the right is a side view of the enormous main arch on the west side of the mausoleum.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Mausoleum of the Emir Timur Kuragan. View of the Western 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 west view of the mausoleum, with remnants of a large pointed arch framing the main facade. To the left is the one 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 minaret shows spirals of block Kufic script forming words from the Islamic proclamation of faith. In the foreground is a group of houses built of sun-dried brick.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Mausoleum of Khodzha Abdu-Derun. General View of the Gallery for Contemplation of the Saint's Tomb

This photograph of the Khodzha Abdu-Derun 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. The Khodzha Abdu-Derun memorial complex was dedicated to a revered 9th-century Arab judge of the Abdi clan, with the word derun (inner) added to signify its location within Samarkand and to distinguish it from another complex commemorating the sage located just beyond the city. The original domed mausoleum, erected perhaps as early as the12th century, was expanded as a pilgrimage shrine in the 15th century. The complex included a courtyard pool, a mosque, and a separate entrance portal leading to the courtyard. This view at the back of the mausoleum shows a passageway that allows pilgrims to see and contemplate the tomb of the saint. Ancillary buildings and a damaged wall extend to the right. The passageway is guarded by a turbaned figure in a colorful silk robe. In the background an ornamental gate leads to a side courtyard.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Mausoleum of Khodzha Abdu-Derun. General View of the Mausoleum from the Southwest

This photograph of the Khodzha Abdu-Derun 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. The Khodzha Abdu-Derun memorial complex was dedicated to a revered 9th-century Arab judge of the Abdi clan, with the word derun (inner) added to signify its location within Samarkand and to distinguish it from another complex commemorating the sage located just beyond the city. The original domed mausoleum, erected perhaps as early as the 12th century, was expanded as a pilgrimage shrine in the 15th century. The complex included a courtyard pool, a mosque, and a separate entrance portal. This view shows the main components from the back. In the center is the domed mausoleum, a centralized structure with a cruciform plan. Although structurally intact, its wall and dome surfaces reveal substantial damage. On the right is the attached mosque with its own dome. On the left is a small minaret in front of the summer mosque. Low ancillary buildings extend from the back, where three figures give an idea of the scale.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Mausoleum of Khodzha Abdu-Derun. Window from the Tomb of the Saint Looking out into the Gallery Called a Ziaretga

This photograph of the Khodzha Abdu-Derun 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. The Khodzha Abdu-Derun memorial complex was dedicated to a revered 9th-century Arab judge of the Abdi clan, with the word derun (inner) added to signify its location within Samarkand and to distinguish it from another complex commemorating the sage located just beyond the city. The original domed mausoleum, erected perhaps as early as the 12th century, was expanded with a pilgrimage shrine in the 15th century. The complex also included a courtyard pool, a mosque, and a separate entrance portal. The caption states that this view, taken through a window in the burial chamber, looks out on a gallery connected to a ziaratkhana (a vestibule for ritual prayer at a burial shrine). The robed man in the gallery is wearing a white turban, often a symbol of spiritual authority. In the background, a wooden gate leads to a sunlit yard.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Mausoleum of Sheikh Burkhaneddin Kilich. Rukhabad. General View

This photograph of the Rukhabad 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. In the center of this view is the mausoleum known as Rukhabad (“dwelling of the soul”), a centralized domed structure probably built in the 1380s for the sage and mystic Sheikh Burkhaneddin Sagardzhi, a prominent Islamic figure in Beijing, where he died. He had requested of his son that his body be returned to Samarkand for burial at the mazar (mausoleum) of Sheikh Basir, another sage. A monumental structure was subsequently erected at the site by Timur (Tamerlane), who revered Sheikh Sagardzhi. The Rukhabad ensemble included a large courtyard enclosed by a cloister, as well as a summer mosque (visible on the left). The entrance to the ensemble is marked by a gate with a pointed portal arch (peshtak) flanked by two domed towers. One of the remarkable features of this photograph is its comprehensive view of an urban neighborhood with courtyards and houses of sun-dried (adobe) brick walls surfaced with clay. In the background is a portion of the city walls.