Gawhar Shad Mausoleum

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Gawhar Shad Mausoleum
2009 Musalla Complex Herat Afghanistan 4112214558.jpg
Religion
Affiliation Islam
Location
Location Musalla Complex, Herat
Country Afghanistan
Architecture
Architect(s) Qavan ud-din
Type Mausoleum
Style Persian
Completed1438

The Gawhar Shad Mausoleum, also known as the Tomb of Baysunghur, is an Islamic burial structure located in what is now Herat, Afghanistan. Built in the 15th century, the structure served as a royal tomb for members of the Timurid dynasty and is part of the Musalla Complex.

Contents

Description

The mausoleum forms a cruciform shape, with a dome covering the centre. [1] This dome is the most impressive feature of the structure, in that it is actually three domes superimposed over one another: a low inner dome, a bulbous outer cupola and a structural dome between them. [2] The outer cupola is decorated with flowery light-blue-green mosaics. The inner dome is adorned with gold leaf, lapis lazuli and other colours which form intricate patterns. The interior of the tomb itself is a square chamber with axial niches. [3]

Due to the widespread habit of tombstones being taken and re-used, it is unknown how many burials there are in the mausoleum. Though some sources claim there were as many as twenty grave markers at one time, at present there are only six. [4] These are oblong shaped and made of matt black stone, with floral patterns carved on them. [5]

History

The mausoleum was originally constructed to house the remains of Prince Baysunghur, a son of the Timurid ruler Shah Rukh by his chief wife Gawhar Shad. [4] [6] It was commissioned by the latter (for whom it is named) within a madrassah which also bore her name and was completed in 1438. [2] [7] Its location in the Musalla Complex was convenient due to the close vicinity to the royal residence in the Bagh-i Zaghan. [8] As such, over the following years, further members of Baysunghur's family were interred alongside him. These include Gawhar Shad herself and her brother Amir Sufi Tarkhan, [9] her other son Muhammad Juki, [10] Baysunghur's sons Sultan Muhammad [11] and Ala al-Dawla, as well as the latter's son Ibrahim. More distantly related Timurids, Ahmad and Shah Rukh (sons of Abu Sa'id Mirza), were also buried in the mausoleum. [4] Baysunghur's father was briefly interred as well, before later being transferred to the Gur-e-Amir in Samarqand. [12]

By the 20th century, the mausoleum had been extensively damaged, with the cupola in particular being severely deteriorated. Intervention in the 1950s resulted in drastically changing the appearance of the building, with an entirely new eastern façade being built and the hexagonal Mihrab being demolished and replaced with a rectangular one. This, along with later restorations, were of poor quality and used inappropriate materials. [13] In 2014, UNESCO and the Afghanistan government coordinated to attempt to preserve and replicate the tile work on the exterior dome. [14] UNESCO is presently considering the nomination of Herat (in which the mausoleum is specifically mentioned) as a World Heritage Site. [15]

Related Research Articles

Herat City in Afghanistan

Herāt is the third-largest city of Afghanistan. In 2020, it had an estimated population of 574,276, and serves as the capital of Herat Province, situated in the fertile valley of the Hari River in the western part of the country. It is linked with Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif via Highway 1 or the ring road. It is further linked to the city of Mashhad in neighboring Iran through the border town of Islam Qala, and to Mary in Turkmenistan to the north through the border town of Torghundi.

Timurid Empire Empire in the ancient Persian territories founded by Timur

The Timurid Empire, self-designated as Gurkani, was a Persianate Turco-Mongol empire comprising modern-day Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Iran, the southern region of the Caucasus, Mesopotamia, Afghanistan, much of Central Asia, as well as parts of contemporary India, Pakistan, Syria, and Turkey.

Gur-e-Amir

The Gūr-i Amīr or Guri Amir is a mausoleum of the Turco-Mongol conqueror Timur in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. It occupies an important place in the history of Central Asian architecture as the precursor and model for later Mughal tombs, including the Gardens of Babur in Kabul, Humayun's Tomb in Delhi and the Taj Mahal in Agra, built by Timur's descendants. The mausoleum has been heavily restored.

Shah Rukh Timurid ruler

Shah Rukh was the ruler of the Timurid Empire between 1405 and 1447.

Gawhar Shad chief consort of Shah Rukh, the emperor of the Timurid Empire

Gawhar Shad was the chief consort of Shah Rukh, the emperor of the Timurid Empire.

Yadgar Muhammad Mirza was the Timurid ruler of Herat in opposition to Sultan Husayn Mirza Bayqarah for 6 weeks of 1470.

Great Mosque of Herat

The Great Mosque of Herat or "Jami Masjid of Herat", is a mosque in the city of Herat, in the Herat Province of north-western Afghanistan. It was built by the Ghurids, under the rule of the Sultan Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad Ghori, who laid its foundation in 1200 CE, and later extended by several rulers as Herat changed rulers down the centuries from the Timurids to the Safavids, Mughals and then the Uzbeks, all of whom supported the mosque. Though many of the glazed tiles have been replaced during subsequent periods, the Friday Mosque in Herat was given its present form during the closing years of the fifteenth century.

Baysunghur Timurid Prince

Ghiyath ud-din Baysunghur, commonly known as Baysonqor or Baysongor, Baysonghor or (incorrectly) as Baysunqar, also called Sultan Bāysonḡor Bahādor Khan was a prince from the house of Timurids. He was known as a patron of arts and architecture, the leading patron of the Persian miniature in Persia, commissioning the Baysonghor Shahnameh and other works, as well as being a prominent calligrapher.

Abu Said Mirza Sultan of the Timurid Empire (1451-1469)

Abu Sa'id Mirza was the ruler of the Timurid Empire during the mid-fifteenth century.

Musalla Complex

The Musalla complex, also known as the Musallah Complex or the Musalla of Gawhar Shah, is a former Islamic religious complex located in Herat, Afghanistan. The 15th-century complex is in ruins today. The complex ruins consist of the five huge 55 metre Musallah Minarets of Herat, mausoleums of Mir Ali Sher Navai, Sultan Husayn Mirza Bayqara and the ruins of a large mosque and a madrasa complex. Construction on the complex was begun in 1417 under Queen Goharshad Begum, the wife of Timurid ruler Shah Rukh who established Herat as the capital of the Timurid Empire.

The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Herat, Afghanistan.

History of Persian domes Part of Persian architecture

Persian domes or Iranian domes have an ancient origin and a history extending to the modern era. The use of domes in ancient Mesopotamia was carried forward through a succession of empires in the Greater Iran region.

Timurid Renaissance Cultural movement from the 14th to 17th century

The Timurid Renaissance was a historical period in Asian and Islamic history spanning the late 14th, the 15th, and the early 16th centuries. Following the gradual downturn of the Islamic Golden Age, the Timurid Empire, based in Central Asia ruled by the Timurid dynasty, witnessed the revival of arts and sciences in the Muslim world. Its movement spread across the Muslim world and left profound impacts on late medieval Asia and Early Modern Period. The French word renaissance means "rebirth", and defines a period as one of cultural revival. The use of the term for the description of this period has raised reservations among scholars, some of whom see it as a swan song of Timurid culture.

Musalla Minarets of Herat

The Musalla Minarets of Herat are five huge ruined minaret towers in Herat city, western Afghanistan. The minarets and the complex were built by Queen Gawhar Shad in 1417.

Shrine of Khwaja Abd Allah

The Shrine of Khwaja Abd Allah, commonly called the Shrine at Gazur Gah and the Abdullah Ansari Shrine Complex, is the funerary compound of the Sufi saint Khwaja Abdullah Ansari. It is located at the village of Gazur Gah, three kilometers northeast of Herat, Afghanistan. The Historic Cities Programme of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture has initiated repairs on the complex since 2005.

Bayqara Mirza I was a Timurid prince and a grandson of the Central Asian conqueror Timur by his eldest son Umar Shaikh Mirza I.

Architecture of Afghanistan

The architecture of Afghanistan refers to architecture within the borders defining the modern country, with these remaining relatively unchanged since 1834. As the connection between the three major cultural and geographic centres of Central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and the Iranian plateau, the boundaries of the region prior to this time changed with the rapid advancement of armies, with the land belonging to a vast range of empires over the last two millennia.

Rukn-ud-din Ala al-Dawla Mirza, also spelt Ala ud-Dawla and Ala ud-Daula, was a Timurid prince and a grandson of the Central Asian ruler Shah Rukh. Following his grandfather's death, Ala al-Dawla became embroiled in the ensuing succession struggle. Though he initially possessed a strategic advantage, he was eventually overtaken by his more successful rivals. Ala al-Dawla died in exile after numerous failed attempts to gain the throne.

Muhammad Juki Mirza was a Timurid prince and a son of the Central Asian ruler Shah Rukh. He served as one of his father's military commanders and may have been favoured as his preferred successor. However, he died of illness in 1445, predeceasing Shah Rukh by two years.

Malikat Agha was a Mongol princess as well as one of the empresses of Shah Rukh, ruler of the Timurid Empire.

References

  1. Petersen, Andrew (2002). Dictionary of Islamic Architecture. Routledge. p. 111. ISBN   978-1-134-61365-6.
  2. 1 2 Cassar, Brendan; Noshadi, Sara (2015). Keeping history alive: safeguarding cultural heritage in post-conflict Afghanistan. UNESCO Publishing. p. 184. ISBN   978-92-3-100064-5.
  3. Dupree, Louis (2014). Afghanistan. Princeton University Press. p. 318. ISBN   978-1-4008-5891-0.
  4. 1 2 3 Knobloch, Edgar (2002). The Archaeology & Architecture of Afghanistan. Tempus. p. 137. ISBN   978-0-7524-2519-1.
  5. Byron, Robert (1937). The Road to Oxiana. Macmillan and Co. Ltd. p.  101.
  6. Roemer, H. R. (1989). "BĀYSONḠOR, ḠĪĀṮ-AL-DĪN". Encyclopaedia Iranica. Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  7. Meri, Josef W. (2006). Medieval Islamic Civilization: an Encyclopedia. 2: L-Z, index. Taylor & Francis. p. 864. ISBN   978-0-415-96692-4.
  8. Golombek, Lisa (1969). "The Timurid Shrine at Gazur Gah". Occasional Paper - Royal Ontario Museum, Art and Archaeology. Royal Ontario Museum (15): 90.
  9. Green, Nile (2017). Afghanistan's Islam: From Conversion to the Taliban. Univ of California Press. p. 66. ISBN   978-0-520-29413-4.
  10. Barthold, Vasilii Vladimirovitch (1963). Four Studies on the History of Central Asia. 2. Brill Archive. p. 147.
  11. Golombek (1969 , p. 86)
  12. Manz, Beatrice Forbes (2007). Power, Politics and Religion in Timurid Iran. Cambridge University Press. pp. 258, 263. ISBN   978-1-139-46284-6.
  13. Cassar & Noshadi (2015 , p. 186)
  14. "Italian-Funded Conservation of Gawhar Shad Mausoleum in Herat Underway by Afghan Government and UNESCO". unesco.org. UNESCO. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  15. "City of Herat". unesco.org. UNESCO. Retrieved 15 November 2019.