January 14, 2013

Antiquities of Samarkand. Mausoleum of the Saint Sheikh Nuredin Basir Kutbi-Chaardakhum. General View from the South

This photograph of a mausoleum at the Bukhara emir’s palace 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. At the center of this view is a mausoleum dedicated to the spiritual leader Sheikh Nuredin Basir. Although lacking the complexity of 15th-century centralized mausoleums such as Rukhabad, this structure achieves monumental form with the design of its high dome, supported by a double construction on the interior. Despite clearly visible damage to the tile surface of the dome, the cylinder supporting it is in good condition, with a large ceramic inscription band intact. The mausoleum is located near the palace of the emirs of Bukhara, who ruled Samarkand after the expulsion of the Timurids in the early 16th century. The palace was referred to as “Kok Tash” after the throne of (Timur) Tamerlane, who built a citadel in Samarkand. Of special interest in this photograph is the row of cannons and the Russian guard (in white tunic), an indication of the capture of Samarkand by Russian forces in 1868.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Shrine of Chupan-Ata. General View from the Southwest

This photograph of the Chupan-Ata mausoleum on the outskirts of 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. This view of the mid-15th century Chupan-Ata mausoleum (mazar) reveals severe damage to both the structure and the dome, as well as to the surrounding wall of sun-dried (adobe) brick. The elevated position of the structure might have increased the risk of damage in this active seismic zone, yet the high dome, raised on a cylinder, is structurally intact. The name of the mazar means “father of shepherds,” a reference to a popular local cult. No traces of ceramic decoration remain; the exterior seems to have been surfaced with a stucco-like material as a conservation measure. The mausoleum has a centralized design, with four arches rising from the basic cuboid structure and beveled corners buttressing the cylinder beneath the dome. The figure standing on the roof gives an idea of the scale. The sun-baked ground appears to be littered with brick rubble.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Mosque of Khodzha Akhrar. Prayer Niche (mihrab) in the Mosque

This photograph of the Khodzha Akhrar shrine 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. Dedicated to the memory of the renowned 15th-century mystic Khodzha Akhrar (1403-89), the shrine contained several structures, including a winter and a summer mosque, as well as a minaret and cemetery. Seen here is the mihrab niche (showing the direction to Mecca) in the summer mosque, so called because its pavilion has one side open to the courtyard. The mihrab is set within a lavish display of polychrome ceramic work including faience mosaics. The primary color is dark blue, with details in yellow, orange, and white. This sacred space is defined by a network of ceramic inscription bands in an elongated cursive Perso-Arabic script (Thuluth). The pointed arch is framed by an outer inscription that extends to the top of the wall. The pointed arch leads to a faience panel with floral motifs, above which is an inscription square that, in turn, contains a smaller square with a sacred text in Arabic. The panels are bordered with patterned strips.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Mosque of Khodzha Akhrar. General View of the Crypt of Saint Khodzha Akhrar and the Mosque

This photograph of the Khodzha Akhrar shrine 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 shrine contains several structures dedicated to the memory of the renowned 15th-century mystic Khodzha Akhrar (1403-89). The main components are a winter and a summer mosque. The summer mosque, visible in the background, was built of adobe brick. Its iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) portico, supported by wooden columns on marble bases, culminates in a cornice decorated with intricate carving, including a “stalactite” pattern. The ensemble also included a pool and a cemetery for prominent religious leaders. This view of the cemetery shows marble sarcophagi and grave markers with decorative carvings and inscriptions. Although the tombs are in some disarray, the cemetery nonetheless retained its significance as a place of pilgrimage and prayer. The seated figure on the right is engaged in reading what would presumably be a devotional text. His long beard and white turban suggest status as a mullah.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Mosque of Khodzha Abdu-Berun. Tomb (sagana) of the Saint

This photograph of the grave at the Khodzha Abdu-Berun memorial complex 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-Berun ensemble was dedicated to a revered 9th-century Arab judge of the Abdi clan, with the word berun (outer) added to specify its location adjacent to a cemetery on the outskirts of Samarkand, and to distinguish it from another ensemble commemorating the sage that was located within the city. The khanaka, or memorial mosque, was built in the first half of the 17thcentury by Nadir Divan-Begi, vizier to the Bukharan ruler Imam-Quli Khan. Shown here is the dakhma, or saint’s grave, a simple pointed rectangular form elevated on a stylobate surfaced with stone. In the background is the ensemble’s open summer mosque. The memorial mosque is to the left, but only its brick porch is visible, not the structure itself. To the right is a pool (also not visible), which created an oasis of greenery at the site. The ensemble signifies the antiquity of Islamic law in this area.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Mosque of Khodzha Abdu-Berun. Prayer Niche (mihrab) on a Panel of the Main Arch of the Facade

This photograph of the mausoleum at the Khodzha Abdu-Berun memorial complex 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-Berun memorial complex (khanaka) was dedicated to a revered 9th-century Arab judge of the Abdi clan, with the word berun (outer) added to signify its location adjacent to a cemetery on the outskirts of Samarkand, and to distinguish it from another complex commemorating the sage that was located within the city. The khanaka mosque was built in the first half of the 17th century by Nadir Divan-Begi, vizier to the Bukharan ruler Imam-Quli Khan. Shown here is the qibla wall with the mihrab, a prayer niche indicating the qibla, the direction of Mecca. The mihrab niche is surfaced with ceramic tiles. Above the ceramic decoration around its pointed arch is a sacred inscription in cursive script. The mihrab is framed by an inscription band in block Kufic letters. At the top is another inscription in elongated cursive (Thuluth) Perso-Arabic script.