Explanatory notes of the monuments
1. The group of edifices at the entrance to the ensemble. 15th - 19th centuries.
In the 15th century the main entrance to the ensemble from the south was arranged with a group of buildings, including a monumental portal with a domed quadrivault darvazakhana (5.7х5.3 m inside) - a chartak (through-passage). The left arch on the west side of the darvazakhana led to the winter mosque, the one on the right (to the east) showed the way to auxiliary premises, which were rebuilt later on.
The winter mosque is a grand long-axial building with three sections (15х7.5 m axially), having a central cupola on spring-loaded arches and vaults in the side compartments.
The north arch of the chartak (passage) gives access to a small "lower courtyard" which leads to the main staircase of the ensemble.
All the premises at the entrance (the portal, darvazakhana, mosque and buildings in the east) were put up simultaneously in the time of Ulugh Beg in the 1430s on behalf of his young son Abdulaziz, of which there is a mosaic inscription on the portal: "This fine building was founded by Abdulaziz Bakhadur, son of Ulughbek Guragan, son of Shahrukh, son of Emir Timur Guragan in 838" (1434 - 1435 A. D.).
The portal was built in the traditional form: a П-shaped monumental frame penetrated with a vaulted niche leading, to a darvazakhana. The pylons of the portal and walls of the interior of the niche were worked with typical 15th century inlay, whose geometric carpet design was made up of polished and glazed ceramic tiles. The portal is framed with an ornamental epigraph. Above the portal there is a mosaic tympanium arranged with sets of glazed tiles (based on silicate). This is crowned with a mosaic inscription containing information about the period the entrance building was put up. The wood-carved door at the entrance was made by popular masters in 1911. The darvazakhana behind the portal is notable for the fine dodecahedral cupola.
"The north courtyard" came into being in the 19th - 20th centuries; the aivan of the 19th century summer mosque, which is a typical specimen of late feudal popular architecture, towers on the left side. In 1910 the ceiling and walls were painted by Usto Siddik, Usto Abduzakhid and Usto Makhmud - Samarkand masters. The right side of the yard is closed with a small commonplace medresseh built by Khakim Davlet Kushbegi of Samarkand in 1812 - 1813.
2. "The Sultan's Mother" - a bi-cupola mausoleum (early 15th century).
The bi-cellular tomb at the main staircase on the southern slope of Afrasiab is the most magnificent and dominating monument of the ensemble.
For a long time the mausoleum was attributed to Kazy-Zade Rumi, a mathematician and astronomer of Ulughbek's time. However, the inscriptions and archaeological study showed that the mausoleum was that of a distinguished lady - the Sultan's mother, as the inscription above the southern entrance indicates.
The mausoleum is a bi-cellular, long-axial structure, composing a spacious cruciform layout of a ziaratkhana (a worship chamber) with auxiliary premises in the corners and a small gurkhana (burial chamber) with a vault under the floor on the north side. First the mausoleum faced the way to the foot of Afrasiab in the south. The slope of the site of the ancient town along its eastern faсade, where the main staircase (restored in the early 1960s) is located, was supplemented with three terraces connected with steps. The side walls of the terraces were ornamented with brick inlay.
Both structures are crowned with two double domes (interior and exterior ones) on high round drums. The interior of the ziaratkhana was once covered with blue painting on ganch, only traces of which remain. The lower part of the premises is framed with a ceramic panel of slabs with blue inserts (restored in the 1950s).
The inner cupola of the burial chamber is very picturesque. It is faced with stalactite-shape ganch and painting.
The only decorated parts of the exterior were the drums (an ornamented epigraph inlaid with brick), cupolas which were faced with blue ceramic tiles, and the south portal (of which there are no remnants). A fragment remains of the mosaic band with the inscription - "the refuge of the Shariat and faith, the Sultan's mother taking her rest".
The general composition and style, the techniques of decoration and facing, the materials - brick and glazed tiles (based on silicate) for the exterior trim, the nature of the blue painting on white ganch in the interior, and location of the mausoleum in the ensemble suggest that the monument dates back to early 15th century.
The dimensions of the interior of the mausoleum are as follows: the gurkhana - 5х5 m, the ziaratkhana - 11.7х12.7 m. The exterior dimensions: at the long axis - 22 m. The height from key-stone to the floor of the ziaratkhana equals 23.3 m.
3. The mausoleum at the Afrasiab fortress rampart ("the middle group").
a) Shadi-Mulk-aka mausolem. 1371.
This is the second building on the left side of the corridor after the second chartak (through-passage). The monument was built on behalf of Timur Kultug-Turkan-aka's sister for her daughter Uljai Shadi-aka, who died on 29th December 1371. This memorial with a silvery cupola and turquoise portal sparkling with glaze is typical of the last quarter of the 14th century.
The portal is minutely worked out with charm. The angular columns are decorated with intricate carving; the arches in the corners have fine carved columns. The walls of the entrance niche are lavishly decorated with painted majolica panels or carved glazed terracotta.
The interior of the mausoleum is also adorned with splendour. It is arranged with painted multi-coloured majolica from panel to the summit of the dome. The mausoleum is one of the finest structures in the ensemble. The decoration was done by Shems ad-Din, Birr ad-Din and the potter Zain ad-Din of Tebriz as it appears from the inscription on the portal.
There are two small brick vaults under the floor.
The dimensions of the mausoleum are as follows: 8.6х10 m (exterior), 6x6 m (interior).
b) Emir Khussein (Tuglu-Tekin) mausoleum. 1375.
Judging by the inscription, the mausoleum was consecrated to Emir Khussein, one of Timur's military leaders, who fell in battle in 1375, and his mother Tuglu-Tekin. It is the same kind of portal-and-dome structure as the Shadi-mulk-aka mausoleum.
The main portal and panels of the interior were decorated with ceramic facing (carved glazed terracotta and painted majolica). The walls and cupola of the interior were overspread with white ganch plaster, possibly painted.
Under the floor there is an angular vault (according to layout) (3.15х4.15 m) covered overhead with an assemblage of inclined sections. The dimensions of the mausoleum are as follows: 8.5x9.5 m (exterior), 6.5х6.5 m (interior).
c) Emir-zade mausoleum. 1386.
The mausoleum is the first building on the left side of the chartak opposite Emir Khussein mausoleum. It is the same kind of portal-and-dome mausoleum as the other tombs at the Afrasiab fortress wall.
The portal is mainly faced with multi-coloured painted majolica. The motifs are more varied than in Tuglu-Tekin mausoleum.
The edifice is rigid in appearance and original - it has three niches instead of one in each wall - and the supplementary sixteen-sided figure under the cupola gives the mausoleum just proportion. The dimensions of the edifice are as follows; 10х9.2 m (exterior), 7.5х7.5 m (interior).
d) Shirinbek-aka mausoleum.
The mausoleum was dedicated to Shirinbek-aka, Timur's sister, who died in 1386 A. D., as the inscription discloses. The decoration suggests that the mausoleum was built later, possibly at the close of the 14th or turn of the 15th century.
The building was of the portal-and-dome type. For the first time carved glazed tiles (based on silicate) were used for the facing, which supplanted other kinds of materials subsequently.
The main portal and sixteen-sided drum (the base of the cupola) was decorated with carved majolica; the cupola was arranged with inlaid brickwork (blue and reddish earthenware tiles).
The interior is original and graceful. The ceiling is decorated with blue, golden, red-orange painting on ganch; the panel at the base consists of blue hexahedral slabs with traces of painting in gold.
Ganch panjaras (lattices) with showy stained-glass ornate the windows beneath the cupola.
In the cellar under the floor there is a cruciform crypt with an octahedral cupola and interments on the floor. The dimensions of the mausoleum are as follows: 10х9 m (exterior), 7х6.8 m (interior); the crypt: axial - 5 m (circa), height - 2.3 m.
e) The octahedron. 15th century.
The mausoleum is on the right side of the passage to the north of Shirinbek-aka mausoleum. It was a new kind of monument, originating from the tower mausoleums of West Iran and Azerbaijan. The octahedral rotunda with its through arches on the sides was once crowned with a blue cupola.
In the cellar under the floor there is an octahedral burial vault with an artistically fashioned cupola. There are four interments on the floor.
The sides of the rotunda are faced with inlaid brick; the members (tympana) were decorated with sets of carved mosaic. The interior was faced with ganch painted in light and dark blue shades. The diameter of the exterior of the mausoleum equals 6.3 m; the diameter of the burial vault is 3.68 - 3.9 m.
4. The Unnamed-1 mausoleum (or Usto Alim Nesefi mausoleum, 1380s.).
This is one of three 14th century-mausoleums (having no connection with each other), which were erected on free sites on the left side of the passage in the same way as the group of buildings at the fortress wall in Afrasiab.
The mausoleum stands on the remnants of 11th - 12th century buildings; its socle is slightly raised above the pavement of the passage; all the facades are reviewable and decorated.
It is a portal-and-dome mono-cellular structure. The main entrance, which is faced in relief with painted majolica, is the most striking. The П-shaped frame of the portal forms a wide strip of interwoven bands, interjecting in relief, which differ from earlier burial vaults with their narrow ornamental strips.
Three other facades are faced with double polished brick in chess-board order with blue bow-shape inserts.
The mausoleum had two cupolas. In ancient times the inner cupola was crowned with another one outside. Its base is all that has reached us.
The interior is of special interest, being faced with ceramic inlay. The inner corners of the mausoleum have arches filled with garlands of stalactites.
There is a small domed vault with an arched niche in the west wall under the floor. The names Usto Alim Nesefi (a Karshi master) and Usto Ali, who did the facing, were inscribed on the columns of the niche at the entrance.
The dimensions of the mausoleum are as follows: the interior - 6.5х6.4 m, the exterior - 8.1х9.8 m. The square (in project) vault is 1.75 m high; its dimensions - 3.45х3.45 m.
5. The Unnamed-2 mausoleum. 1380s - 1390s.
The portal is all that remains of this structure. Excavations revealed that it was a portal-and-dome mausoleum, though larger than the others of the ensemble. Its interior dimensions equalled 8 - 8.3 m, as against the average 5 - 6.5 m.
The layout suggests there was an arched pendentive in the cupola section, a low drum (as in Unnamed-1) and a double dome. The edifice stood on a free open site on the remnants of Tamgach Khan medresseh, a major 11th century structure, and was faced on all sides. The decorations of the main entrance and majolica of the interior, which were found during excavations, were very intricate. The blue lattices on the portal are attractive. They are filled with figured inserts, which were wonderfully painted over the glaze. The interior was faced with ceramic tiles in the same way as in Unnamed-1. Hexahedral tiles have been found with intricate polychromic painting from the panels, as well as fragments of stalactites with blue and multi-coloured glazing, unique high-quality glazed tiles (based on silicate) with painting in green, white, cobalt and golden colours, and edged in red.
A spacious cruciform (according to layout) burial vault (8.1х7.6 m axially) with a fretwork niche in the north, was attached to the west wall of the mausoleum. Judging by the fragments found, the vault of the niche and central cupola of the crypt were decorated with a network of ganch droves. It is the only crypt in the Shahi Zindah ensemble to be decorated within.
6. Emir Burunduk mausoleum. 1390s.
The building is on the left side of a passage to the north of Unnamed-2. According to legends the mausoleum is attributed to be that of Emir Burunduk, one of Timur's associates. In structure the mausoleum pertains to a group of monocellular tombs of the 1380s - 1390s. The edifice was crowned with a double dome on a sixteen-sided drum. The outer cupola has not reached us, or maybe it was not completed. The drum and three sides were not faced.
Along the lower part there is a majolica panel (only part of which remains) of delicate work, and above it - walls and a cupola, which were crudely decorated with ganch. The geometric design of the cupola stands out, thanks to the ganch droves in relief, and is set off with blue and kyzyl-kesak colouring. The portal is faced with stamped terracotta and painted majolica in relief. There is a geometric design of glazed tiles in the niche at the entrance.
Under the floor there is a spacious cruciform crypt (in accordance with layout) with two entrances (from the portal niche in the south and east). The centre of the crypt is covered overhead with a cruciform arched roof, which was very rare in the Orient. The dimensions of the crypt are as follows: 6.9х7.9 m axially, the exterior - 12.5х11 m, the interior - 8.5x8.5 m.
7. Tuman-aka ensemble. 1405 - 1406 A. D.
The ensemble includes Tuman-aka mausoleum, a mosque of the same name, a hujra (cell) to the south of the mosque and upper chartak (through-passage), uniting the group and connecting it with the Kusam ibn Abbas ensemble. In the 1960s research revealed that the buildings of this group were erected at different times and only the decoration, which was done in 1405 - 1406, communicated the appearance of being a single whole ensemble. The first section of this group is the upper chartak, built on the axis of the passage at the entrance to Kusam ibn Abbas ensemble in the first half of the 14th century. The northernmost structure of this group - Tuman-aka mausoleum, was laid-out and built as a separate edifice. It is a mono-cellular portal-and-dome building with a blue cupola on a high cylindrical drum. The portal of the mausoleum, facing the east towards the "north courtyard", is covered all over with sets of inlay. The two other free faсades are faced with brick tiles of light and dark blue shade.
The portal is inscribed with the name of the Tebriz calligrapher (Sheikh Mukhammed ibn Khodja Badgira at-Tugri Tabrizi) and date 1405 - 1406, when the structure (and apparently the entire group of buildings) was decorated.
The interior of the mausoleum is very elegant. Axially laid-out with deep niches, it is cruciformed. The bases of the walls are lined with a dark-green panel of hexahedral slabs covered with intricate painting in gold. The walls and inner cupola have retained the painting on ganch with a lot of gilt. The dimensions of the exterior are 8.7х6.8 m, and those of the arched crypt - 4.38х3.12 m.
From the south a tripartite (in layout) mosque was attached to the mausoleum, which was crowned with three small domes leaning on cross-cut lancet arches. The central entrance of the mosque is connected with the chartak, the northern aperture leads to the "north courtyard".
The deep niches in the walls of the mosque are filled with intricate ganch stalactites. High under the cupolas are windows for light with ganch panjaras (screens). The lower part of the walls are lined with a bright blue panel of hexahedral tiles with mosaic border stones in the west wall of the mihrab (a niche for worship). The dimensions of the mosque (in layout) are - 11.8x6.8 m.
To the south of the mausoleum (close to Emir Burunduk mausoleum) there is a small (3.5х3.5 m) hujra (a cell) which is connected with the mosque. There is a mosaic inscription at the entrance to the hujra, which makes known that the mosque was founded by Tuman-aka, the daughter of the Emir, Mussa the Just.
8. Khodja Akhmad mausoleum. 1340s.
One of the oldest 14th century tombs to reach us stands in the north courtyard. Facing the south, it is the last edifice in the passage. On the portal of this mono-cellular portal-and-dome building there is an inscription which imparts that the mausoleum is that of Khodja Akhmad (a personage unknown to history). Another inscription discloses the name of the master "the work of Fahri-Ali".
The main entrance, which is faced with carved glazed terracotta (close in style to 12th century terracotta, though represented by carving and coloured glaze) is of great artistic value. A turquoise background predominates in the carved glazed terracotta of the portal, on which there is an Arabic inscription (the text is from the Koran) beautifully designed and interwoven with a floral decoration.
By the turn of the 20th century all that remained was the dilapidated portal. In 1922 the outer walls were dug up and restored, the epitaphs of fretted marble were unearthed and the crypt was discovered and examined. In 1962 the portal, which was very much inclined, was straightened and the unique facing was dusted and reinforced. The outer dimensions of the mausoleum (according to outlay) are equal to 7.6X6.3 m; the interior - 4.83х4.87 m; the rectangular crypt - 3.6х2.28 m; the height - 1.67 m.
9. The 1361 Mausoleum.
This edifice is next to Khodja Akhmad mausoleum on the east side and faces the west. It is the same kind of portal-and-dome structure as the other 14th century burial vaults in the ensemble The remnants of the inscription on the portal show that it was erected in 762 hijra (12th December, 1361 A. D.) and that it was built for a distinguished lady of virtue, who was associated with feudal lords.
The mausoleum is also a mono-cellular structure, but considerably larger than the previous one. Under the floor there is a sub-square crypt covered over with a small dome (2.87х3 m, and 1.38 m in height).
The mausoleum stands free and is faced all around. The side facades - with double brick and blue bow-shaped inserts, the main portal - with carved terracotta intricately designed. Judging by the remnants, the lower part of the interior was begirded with a ceramic panel, the walls were plastered with ganch (possibly painted). The dimensions are as follows: (exterior) - 9.40х8.50 m; (interior) - 5.80х6 m.
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