Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Taphophile Tragics

Ismail Samani Mausoleum, Bukhara, Uzbekistan

The Ismail Samani Mausoleum was built in the 10th century to house the tombs of Ismail Samani, founder of the Samanid Dynasty, as well as his father and grandson.  The walls are so thick and well-built that the mausoleum has never needed significant repair in the 1100 years it has stood here.


This mausoleum in Samani Park, completed in 905, is the town's oldest Muslim monument and probably its sturdiest architecturally. Built for Ismail Samani (the Samanid dynasty's founder), his father and grandson, its intricate baked terracotta brickwork - which gradually changes 'personality' through the day as the shadows shift - disguises walls almost 2m thick, helping it survive without restoration (except of the spiked dome) for 11 centuries.


The Samanid mausoleum is located in the historical urban nucleus of the city of Bukhara, in a park laid out on the site of an ancient cemetery. This mausoleum, one of the most esteemed sights of Central Asian architecture, was built in the 9th (10th) century (between 892 and 943) as the resting-place of Ismail Samani - a powerful and influential amir of the Samanid dynasty, one of the Persian dynasty to rule in Central Asia, which held the city in the 9th and 10th centuries. Although in the first instance the Samanids were Governors of Khorasan and Transoxiana under the suzerainty of the Abbasid Caliphate, the dynasty soon established virtual independence from Baghdad. For many years the lower part of the mausoleum remained under a two-meter high layer of sediment. Now the foundation has been cleared of these obstacles and the mausoleum, fully restored, is open for observation from all sides as was initially planned by the builders. The monument marks a new era in the development of Central Asian architecture, which was revived after the Arab conquest of the region. The architects continued to use an ancient tradition of baked brick construction, but to a much higher standard than had been seen before. The construction and artistic details of the brickwork are still enormously impressive, and display traditional features dating back to pre-Islamic culture. The mausoleum of Pakistan's founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah--Mazar-e-Quaid is modeled after this structure.

For more taphophilia please visit Julie's Taphophile Tragics.

12 comments:

Abraham Lincoln said...

Quite amazing structures. Beautiful too.

Jim said...

It really is amazing.

Julie said...

Just for starters, it is so much more impressive than the similar mausoleum built for Jinnah in my lifetime.

I laughed out loud when I got to the part where it told me that this 1100 year old building was built on the site of a much older cemetery!!

I thought it not to have been ravished but it had been overrun with sediment and ravages of flood and weather in general. That made some sort of sense.

I had thought somehow that this eurasian area was in a tectonic plate region, too, which makes it all the more remarkable.

However, it is the intricacy of the brickwork and design features that I find really breathtaking. It is the outward sign of a very mature civilisation, IMO.

I should be keeping a tally of all the wacky places you are dragging us!! You and Rae ... the ends of the earth ...

VioletSky said...

This has a very ancient and intricate look to its design.

Gene said...

Beautiful! And so very old.

Sondra said...

HOLY COW thats OLD!! and it is as sturdy and level as the day it was built I bet...really awesome thanks for taking me someplace Ill probably never get to go!!

Herding Cats said...

Wow, such amazing detail. They don't make them like they used to.

diane b said...

A very interesting post. It is hard to believe how old this building is and how little has been done to it over all those years.

Kathy said...

Massive and beautiful!

Rae Walter said...

Fabulous Ann. Love to hear of were you have been and the interesting stories behind such ancient places. Many thanks

NixBlog said...

I am awed by your travels to really exotic places, Ann! Must be amazing to see such beauties as this structure with your own eyes. Keep posting, am enjoying the virtual tour...

Joan Elizabeth said...

You have taken us to yet another amazing and different place.