January 14, 2013

Antiquities of Samarkand. Mosque of Khodzha Abdu-Berun. View of the Mosque from the Northwest

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. Although the original photographic caption identifies the structure as a mosque, it is more precisely a khanaka that includes a mausoleum (mazar), built in the first half of the 17th century by Nadir Divan-Begi, vizier of the Bukharan ruler Imam-Quli Khan. Shown here is the facade containing the iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch (in shadows) and the side facade with blind arcading. The structure culminates in a cylinder and dome. Despite widespread damage, fragments of polychrome ceramic decoration are visible on the upper parts of the facade and on the cylinder, which displays a large inscription band.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Mosque of Khodzha Akhrar. Family Crypt (sagana) of Khodzha Akhrar

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. This shrine is dedicated to the memory of the renowned 15th-century mystic Khodzha Akhrar (1403-89), an ascetic and adherent of Sufism, who wielded great spiritual influence in Central Asia during the final decades of the Timurid dynasty. He is said to have established mosques not only in Samarkand, but also in Bukhara, Herat, and Kabul. The Khodzha Akhrar ensemble in Samarkand contained several structures, including a winter and a summer mosque, as well as a minaret and cemetery. Seen here is a portion of the marble wall that separated the main courtyard from the cemetery, which contained the sarcophagi of local spiritual leaders. One of the high marble grave markers is visible in the center background. The shrine and its cemetery were frequently visited by devout pilgrims, who would be dressed in the manner of the figure standing in the foreground.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Mosque of Khodzha Akhrar. Bottom. Inscription on the Tombstone at the Grave of Khodzha Akhrar

This photograph of the interior 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. Seen here is the bottom half of the tombstone at the grave of Khodzha Akhrar (1403-89), a renowned 15th-century mystic, ascetic, and adherent of Sufism who wielded great spiritual influence in Central Asia during the final decades of the Timurid dynasty. He is said to have established mosques not only in Samarkand, but also in Bukhara, Herat, and Kabul. The Khodzha Akhrar ensemble in Samarkand contained several structures, including a winter and a summer mosque, as well as a cemetery. Located inside the mosque, the grave marker is framed by a carved inscription band in elaborate cursive Perso-Arabic script. As with the upper half of the stone, the main part of the surface is recessed and consists of further inscriptions related to the life of the saint. This extraordinary display of carved text is an indication of the importance of the Khodzha Akhrar shrine as a pilgrimage site.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Mosque of Khodzha Akhrar. Top. Inscription on the Tombstone at the Grave of Khodzha Akhrar

This photograph of the interior 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. Seen here is the tombstone at the grave of Khodzha Akhrar (1403-89), a renowned 15th-century mystic, ascetic, and adherent of Sufism who wielded great spiritual influence in Central Asia during the final decades of the Timurid dynasty. He is said to have established mosques not only in Samarkand, but also in Bukhara, Herat, and Kabul. The Khodzha Akhrar ensemble in Samarkand contained several structures, including a winter and a summer mosque, as well as a cemetery. Located in the mosque, this grave marker is framed by a carved inscription band in elaborate cursive Perso-Arabic script. The central part of the surface is recessed and consists of further inscriptions framed by a pointed arch decorated with botanical figures and surmounted with an eight-pointed star. Above the arch point is a corbelled “stalactite” element supporting the main sacred inscription. The Khodzha Akhrar shrine was an important pilgrimage site.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Mosque of Khodzha Akhrar. View toward 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, the shrine contained several structures, including a winter and a summer mosque, as well as a minaret and a cemetery. The summer mosque, seen in this bosky view, is so called because its pavilion has one side open to the courtyard, with the roof supported by large wooden columns resting on a carved marble base (an example visible on the left). On the sides of this iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) are brick walls surfaced with polychrome ceramic work, including faience mosaics. In the center background is the mihrab niche, which shows the direction to Mecca. The mihrab is set within a lavish display that includes a network of ceramic inscription bands in elongated cursive Perso-Arabic script (Thuluth). The open part of the mosque is joined to an enclosed structure (on the right) whose walls are also surfaced with ceramic work in geometric and botanical patterns. The basic color is dark blue.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Namazga Mosque. Section of the Main Facade

This dramatic photograph of the Namazga Mosque 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. A namazga mosque was intended to mark Eid al-Fitr (a holiday observed at the end of the Ramadan fast), as well as Kurban, or Eid al-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice. Built perhaps as early as the 11th century and rebuilt by the Timurids in the 15th century, the Namazga Mosque was replaced in the first half of the 17th century by Nadir Divan-Begi, a vizier and uncle of the Bukhara ruler Imam-Quli Khan. Located on the southern fringes of the city, this version of the namazga was completed around 1630. Visible on the right is the high main dome, elevated on a large cylinder, or drum, which is decorated with bands of ceramic tiles. At the center of the facade is an iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch that frames the entrance to the mosque. The central structure is flanked by one-story arcaded galleries, whose size is suggested by the standing figure. In contrast to other mosques of the period, the facades of the Namazga Mosque have little ceramic ornamentation.