Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Taphophile Tragics

Guri Amir Mausoleum, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Gur-e Amir is Persian for "Tomb of the King". This architectural complex with its azure dome contains the tombs of Tamerlane, his sons Shah Rukh and Miran Shah and grandsons Ulugh Beg and Muhammad Sultan. Also honoured with a place in the tomb is Timur's teacher Sayyid Baraka.


The earliest part of the complex was built at the end of the 14th century by the orders of Muhammad Sultan. Now only the foundations of the madrasah and khanaka, the entrance portal and a part of one of four minarets remains.


The construction of the mausoleum itself began in 1403 after the sudden death of Muhammad Sultan, Tamerlane's heir apparent and his beloved grandson, for whom it was intended. Timur had built himself a smaller tomb in Shahrisabz near his Ak-Saray palace. However, when Timur died in 1405 on campaign on his military expedition to China, the passes to Shahrisabz were snowed in, so he was buried here instead. Ulugh Beg, another grandson of Tamerlane, completed the work. During his reign the mausoleum became the family crypt of the Timurid Dynasty.



In 1740, Nadir Shah tried to carry off Tamerlanes sarcophagus, Nader idolized Timur, the most sucsessful conqueror from Central Asia. He imitated his military prowess and especially later in his reign cruelty, but it broke in two. This was interpreted as a bad omen. His advisers urged him to leave the stone to its rightful place.

The second time the stone was disturbed was on June 19, 1941 when Soviet archaeologists opened the crypt. The anthropologist Mikhail Mikhaylovich Gerasimov was able to reconstruct Tamerlane's facial features from his skull, and it was also confirmed that he was 172 cm in height, a giant for his day, and would have walked with a pronounced limp. Further historical information about the assassination of Ulugh Beg and the authenticity of the other graves was also confirmed. Timur's skeleton and that of Ulugh Beg, his grandson, were re-interred with full Islamic burial rites in November 1942, at the beginning of the Battle of Stalingrad.

For more taphophilia please visit Julie's Taphophile Tragics.

14 comments:

Sondra said...

an amazing place!! I wonder about him being a nephilim, a bibically recorded Giant that was the product of fallen angles or Gods, and humans. Goliath was (reported to be) one. In recent eopisodes of Ancient Aliens they ponder the theory that these Fallen Angels or Gods were actually Aliens come to visit Earth..strange but intriguing.

Jim said...

Magnificent architecture.

Mark said...

Wow! Would love to visit these places but until then you have taken me there.

Joan Elizabeth said...

What a beautiful beautiful place. I look forward to seeing what you are going to turn up each week. You sure have travelled to some wonderful places.

Herding Cats said...

Wow, simply amazing!

Halcyon said...

Wow! What an impressive place.

Oakland Daily Photo said...

The tiled dome is beyond description.

Oakland Daily Photo said...

The tiled dome is beyond description.

NixBlog said...

Wonderful pictures of this magnificent mausoleum. The decorations are superb.
Amazing what can be inferred from the mortals remains of people who died so long ago.

Kathy said...

The architecture is simply amazing. And to think it's lasted these centuries. Thanks for a wonderful historical post.

Julie said...

What wonderful balance you have achieved here, Ann. Great photographs, and really useful and informative text. Thank you.

I agree with the others that the tiling on that dome is just mind-boggling. As is the interior, although I though one, at first glance, resembled 'bats in the belfry'.

As is usual with these things, not a female in sight!!

As Joan says, can't wait each week to see where your magic carpet whisks us off to.

Enjoy Adelaide. Can't be as wet as it is here.

hamilton said...

Maybe it is the turquoise colouring, but this looks so light and airy from the outside.

PerthDailyPhoto said...

Beautifully shown Ann and fascinating information.

JM said...

Uzbekistan! WOW! Years ago I was invited to join some friends to travel to Samarkand and do part of the Silk Road, but I already had plans to go somewhere else... Wonderful shots!