Samarkand to Tashkent

Samarkand to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 5 October 2018.

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We are en route from Samarkand back to Tashkent, where we catch a plane to Istanbul.  These images are all taken from a moving car.  Some are less than technically perfect, but still included for a feel of the journey.

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There were a few military vehicles on the road.  I wouldn’t have taken a photo like this in Ladakh, not that far from the Chinese border, but felt safe to do so here.

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Fruit for sale on the side of the road.

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The truck looks overloaded but perhaps the load is not all that heavy.

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A variety of products for sale on the way.

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I’m not able to translate the signs.

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Stork nests on a telegraph pole.

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Roadside cattle.

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It seems the products are delivered by trucks – or, maybe, a donkey and cart.

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Many people must still be pursuing largely traditional lives because some of the vehicles on the road are less than high tech.

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He’s carrying a pole; it’s not to beat the donkey.

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This car wasn’t moving very fast either.

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Ulugh Beg and Afrasiab, Samarkand

Samarkand, Uzbekistan, 4 October 2018.

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This post is from out last day in Samarkand.

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Young woman extracting strips of bark from branches of young mulberry trees.

We visited a traditional paper mill in the village of Koni Ghil, just outside Samarkand.  Paper making in Samarkand dates back to 751AD when the Abbasid general Abu Muslim defeated a Tang Dynasty army with the aid of the Tibetan Empire and the defection of Karluk mercenaries who were over half of the Tang army.   They took many prisoners, some of whom then introduced paper making to the region.  This replaced the use of papyrus and became an export industry to the rest of the Arab world.  The paper-making tradition was lost following the Russian takeover in the nineteenth century and it has been recently recreated. 

(China retreated from the region soon after the Battle of Talas but not due to that, rather due to the An Lushan Rebellion which started in 755.)

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The strips of bark are next boiled for four or five hours.

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They are then pounded to a pulp by a trip-hammer powered by this water mill.  Then they are pressed and dried and finally polished with an agate stone for a smooth finish.

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A local woman welcoming us to the small museum for the Ulugh Beg Observatory.

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Inside the museum, a model of the observatory built by Ulugh Beg in the 1420s.

At the top front of the building is the viewing hole of the astrolabe inside.  The smaller structure on top of the building appears to be a sextant able to rotate, for less precise observations at flexible angles. 

The site is close to the ancient city of Afrasiab (prior to the existence of Samarkand).  There was another observatory here as early as 840AD, of which no trace remains.  Although Afrasiab was the capital of the Sogdians, in the ninth century they had been taken over by the Samanids, based in Bukhara, who featured in a brief renaissance of science and culture, unmatched in the world at that time.  

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Inside this 13th century building was a meridional arc, or astrolabe, aligned north-south, for celestial measurements.  Since they took measurements using 60 degrees instead of the full 90 degrees available, it is also a sextant.  This is clearly not a working model because there is no viewing hole to the sky at the top.  I presume the little vertical windows on the back wall are for viewing the angle cast by the sun.  The rest of the building was rooms for scientists to confer and calculate, maybe even some to sleep in.

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The astrolabe as it survives.

In 1908 Russian Archaeologist Vyatkin discovered the location of the Observatory and excavated the remains.  In particular, he  uncovered the below-ground part of the massive astrolabe, as shown here.  Only the foundations remain of the rest of the building.

As well as being Lord of Transoxiana from 1409 to 1447, Ulugh Beg was a scientist and imported the best scientists available for the observatory. It could accurately measure the length of the year, the local time of noon each day, the altitude of a star and other planets, the period of planets, and eclipses. They estimated the length of the year more accurately than Copernicus subsequently did and the axial tilt of the earth as accurately as modern measurements.  They constructed an atlas of over 1,000 stars, Zij-i-Sultani, the first to be published since Ptolomey and including those stars but with more accurate measurements.  The atlas also included a sine table accurate to six places from 0 to 87 degrees, and to 11 places from 87 to 90 degrees.  The atlas survived for posterity because when the observatory was destroyed, scientist Ali Kushji fled to Constantinople and published it.  It was in use until the nineteenth century.

Ulugh Beg became Emperor when his father died in 1447, but only for two years of turmoil until he was deposed and then murdered by one of his sons.  The observatory was then destroyed by religious fanatics and the scientists fled.  

“Religions dissipate like fog, kingdoms vanish, but the works of scientists remain for eternity” – Ulugh Beg.

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This is a view from outside.  The big black tube is the top of what remains of the astrolabe.  Perhaps that gives you a better idea of the scale of it.

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… as does the view from here.  This also gives a sense of how high the arc of the original version would have climbed to reach the top of the third floor.

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A short distance away, we are near the Mausoleum of the Prophet Daniel (as in Daniel and the lions), sacred to Moslems, Jews and Christians.  Inside, the tomb is eighteen metres long because Daniel is supposed to be still growing inside it.  There are also other tombs of Daniel in seven other countries.  There was no-one stopping me taking photos inside but notwithstanding my religious cynicism, I did not do so because it was clearly a place of veneration for other people there.

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The tomb of Daniel is in the background to the right.  However, the line of hills in the background is the edge of the location of the ancient city of Afrasiab.  This was the capital city of the Sogdians, from the sixth century BC to 1220 AD when Genghis Khan razed it, though they were not independent for all of that period. 

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Three hunters, probably Scythians, with horses and lions or leopards.

We next visited the Afrosiab Museum, a short distance from the Mausoleum of Daniel.  Russian archaeologists discovered Afrasiab in the 1880s and the museum includes some of their finds.  It also includes some seventh century murals from the royal palace, discovered in 1965 when building a road. They are from the time of King Varkhuman, and painted between 648 and 651, or shortly after 658.  He ruled a multicultural entity and was nominally a vassal to China but his polity did not last long as his palace was destroyed by the Arab general Sa’id Ibn Ithman between 675 and 677 CE and after that there were no kings of Samarkand.

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Here we see ossuaries and skulls, from the sixth to the eighth centuries.  Some of the skulls exhibit cranial deformations that I had previously associated only with the Maya, but that I discover were performed in many cultures.  This practice was brought to Sogdia by the Yuezhi, who were driven out of China and established the Kushan Empire in Central Asia and India in the early first century.

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Fresco showing the the arrival of a king and a princess to a country church or the arrival of a royal bride.  There are details from this fresco in the next four images.

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In most of these human representations, the eyes may have been later gouged out by Islamic Arabs.

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Birds (swans?), possibly for sacrifice.

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Detail of camel saddle.

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Part of the saddle of the elephant.

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Ambassadors from Chaganian (south of Afrasiab, central figure) and Chach (modern Tashkent).

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Turkish (Turkic?) dignitaries, one of them is labeled as coming from Argi (Karashahr in modern Xinjiang).

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Left hand group: Tang Dynasty emissaries carrying silk and a string of silkworm cocoons;

Right hand group:  Sogdian chamberlains and interpreter introduce Tibetan messengers.

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Women on boats, probably local Turkic aristocrats copying the fashions of women in Tang China.

Tang Dynasty China was a major force in Central Asia during this period and Sogdia may have shared a border with them at this time (the border fluctuated).

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A duck – a sacred bird of the Zoroastrians.

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Model of eleventh century kiln.

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Ceramic plate from 10th to 12th century.

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We are away from the museum now and still had some spare time so we headed for a small mosque in the country.  I do not know the name of the village.

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The minaret of the mosque.  I could remove the wires, but they were there.

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Some kind of restoration exercise in the grounds of the mosque.  I do not remember the details.

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This is the mosque and we are definitely not in the city.  It was small and unassuming and the locals, who were not expecting us, were polite and friendly.

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Later in the evening, since we were staying very close to it, I decided to go back for some night-time exposures of Gur Emir, Timur’s Mausoleum.

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Ak Saray, Samarkand

Samarkand, Uzbekistan, 3 October 2018.

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At the end of a long day (as per the previous four posts) we had some free time in the late afternoon so we decided to go for a walk near our hotel, which was also near Gur Emir (Timur’s mausoleum).

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In the park opposite the hotel, this is the Rukhabad Mausoleum, built by Timur in 1380 to house the grave of Islamic theologian Sheikh Burhaneddin Sagaradzhi.  The mausoleum is generally plain and unassuming, as is the interior.

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Here from a distance is the top of Gur Emir, Timur’s mausoleum, as we approach.

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(See earlier post for more on Gur Emir).

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Late in the afternoon, just before closing time, there were few people around, just a few locals passing by.

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Not far away is a mausoleum with a simple exterior.  I was not aware of this and an attendant called us inside as we passed by.

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The interior was spectacular and elegant and a great surprise.

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The exterior was supposed to include a turquoise dome but that was never finished.

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It has been very recently restored, in 2007.

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It is the mausoleum of Abdal-Latif Mirzu, sone of Ulugh Beg and geat grandson of Timur.

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Timur’s death lead to a civil war, which his son Shah Rukh won after several years.  He based himself in Herat and let his son Ulugh Beg rule Samarkand.  Ulugh Beg’s great achievements were as Crown Prince and ruler of Samarkand.

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Looking up….

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When Shah Rukh died, another series of civil wars broke out. Ulugh Beg spent his three years as Emperor fighting them.

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In 1449, he was defeated by his son Abdal-Latif Mirza.  He surrendered and then set off on a pilgrimage to Mecca but his son had him assassinated on the way.

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When Soviet scientist Gerasimov disinterred Timur in 1941, he also disinterred Ulugh Beg who lay with his head separated from his body.

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Abdal-Latif Mirza ruled for only six months before he too was executed.

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The magnificence of the mausoleum lives on….

We were very lucky to visit so late in the afternoon because we were the only visitors and it is quite small.

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This section said to represent the eyes and head of a bird.

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The steps to the undecorated funeral chamber below.  A body was discovered here with the head separated, presumably Abdal-Latif Mirza.

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Walking back to the hotel, we were able to enter Gur Emir (Timur’s mausoleum) in the last few minutes before it closed, free of the seething crowds.  This is the main chamber.

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I still have a few posts to go on Samarkand but they will have to wait as I am soon expecting to depart of a short trip to North Queensland, unless COVID lockdowns intervene.  More on that soon.

 

Shah-i-Zinda, Samarkand

Samarkand, Uzbekistan, 3 October 2018.

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Shah-i-Zinda is a necropolis in Samarkand, with two dozen mausolea housing the tombs of Timurid nobles and royalty, dating mainly from the 14th and 15th centuries.  The mausolea are on each side of an avenue leading up a hill.  As well as being a spectacular location, it is a sacred place and a place of pilgrimage.

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This is the Ulugh Beg Pishtak, the entrance gate, built in 1434-35.

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This image was taken by Russian photographer N.V. Bogaevski in 1870, no doubt on a 5×4 or 10×8 glass plate camera.

Like most other historical monuments in Samarkand, Shah-i-Zinda had slowly fallen into ruin over the centuries.  Timur’s successors had quickly exhausted the gains of conquest with civil wars and were no longer able to upkeep and repair.  Consequently, much of the ceramic facings here are not original but are impressive nonetheless.

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We are now inside the Qazi Zadeh Rumi Mausoleum, built in 1420-1425.  It is the dome on the left not far past the pishtak in the historic photograph. 

Qazi Zadeh Rumi was a celebrated mathematician and astronomer who formed a scientific partnership with Ulugh Beg in the early fifteenth century.  His name means “Roman son of a judge” so he was presumably the son of a judge and he came from Turkey, which had been Roman.  He was not buried here though because the skeleton discovered in the tomb was a woman, possibly Timur’s nurse.

Following images show interior details of the mausoleum.

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The Qazi Zadeh Rumi Mausoleum has two domes and here they are, viewed from below.

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Here we are in the avenue of the mausolea.

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Looking back at the twin domes of the Qazi Zadeh Rumi Mausoleum.

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We are looking through a chortak, or a gateway on the avenue.

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The Shadi Mulk Adi Mausoleum is on the left, where the woman is leaning against a wall, probably taking a photograph on her phone of the Uzbek couple opposite.

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And here we are inside the Shadi Mulk Adi Mausoleum, built in 1372, looking up at the inside of the dome.  This is the tomb of Timur’s beautiful niece, later joined by his sister Turkhan Aka.

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There were evidently several people buried in this mausoleum.  The tilework here is original.

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Alim Nasafi Mausoleum is at the front on the left and the avenue leads up through another chortak in the distance.

Ustad Alim Nasafi was a Timurid architect.  I’m not sure whether he was buried here or just designed the mausoleum.

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The pishtak of Alim Nasafi Mausoleum, built c. 1385.

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Inside, the dome from below.

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We are looking through a chortak to the Khodja Akhmad Mausoleum, built c. 1350.

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A door inside the Kusam Ibn Abbas Mosque.

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We are inside the ziaratkhana, or prayer room (looking up).  It was rebuilt in 1334 on 11th century foundations.

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A closer view of the chandelier.

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A wider view of the ziaratkhana.

The gurkhana (or funeral chamber) of Kusam Ibn Abbas, dating from the 11th century, is behind a wooden door at the left but this was not open at the time of our visit.

This gurkhana is the most sacred part of Shah-i-Zinda.  Kusam Ibn Abbas was a cousin of Mohammed.  He is said to have come to preach at Samarkand in 640 and spent thirteen years there, then was killed by Zoroastrians while at prayer.  Shah-i-Zinda means “the living king” which refers to Kusam Ibn Abbas, who is said to have lived on after he was executed.

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A more vertical view of the ziaratkhana.

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A view looking back through the last chortak.  The Octagonal Mausoleum is on the left and the blue pishtaks of Emir Zade Mausoleum and Shadi Mulk Aka Mausoleum are behind it.

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The remaining four images are from the Tuman Aka Mausoleum, constructed in 1404-1405 for Timur’s favourite young wife Tuman Aka.

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Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Shah-i-Zinda, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan .

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Bibi Khanum Mosque, Samarkand

Samarkand, Uzbekistan, 3 October 2018.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.)

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This is the pishtak (or portal) as viewed from the side.  It is 35 meters (115 feet) high, enclosing an arch 18 metres (60 feet high).  I don’t have an image of the pishtak from the front as we didn’t approach it from that direction.  Behind that entrance as you walk through it (i.e. off beyond the left side of this image) there is a large open space and then the Bibi Khanum Mosque.  There are two small mosques on each side and it is all enclosed by an outer wall. There was also a considerable enclosed area between the open space and the enclosing walls, though this is now gone.

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This is a seismically active area and here we may be looking at the handiwork of the earthquake of 1897.

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Pishtak, minaret and wall.

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Looking up at the top of that minaret.

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The top of another of the minarets.  I’m not sure which one.  There are four.

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This is the dome of one of the side mosques, seen from its rear. We must have entered to the left of here somewhere.  There were several periods of reconstruction though none in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries.  You can see that much of the door is below ground level.  This is not the original wall; that presumably matched the door and the surrounding ground level has raised significantly, perhaps due to sand blowing in from the desert.

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Detail of Majolica tiles on a wall.

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A very elaborately carved panel or doorway.

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Looking up at the dome of the one of the minor mosques at the sides.

. Architecture, Bibi Khanum Mosque, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan .

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Architecture, Bibi Khanum Mosque, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

The top of the dome of one of the minor mosques.  I don’t recall climbing up there for a closer view so my guess is that this was taken from the ground with a telephoto lens.  I will probably not recoil from this hypothesis even if someone can produce a photograph of me with my camera on top of the dome.

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Architecture, Bibi Khanum Mosque, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

This is the dome of Bibi Khanum Mosque, from a distance. 

The mosque is the largest in Central Asia and was easily the tallest building in Samarkand until the twentieth century.  Construction started in 1399, using plunder from the capture of Delhi in 1398.  In 1404 Timur decided the main pishtak was not high enough, ordered it torn down and rebuilt and executed those who had been overseeing the construction.  He took charge of the construction himself and directed it to proceed in all haste.  Construction stopped in 1405, the year he died.  By then, bricks were already falling from the ceiling onto the worshippers.  The structure slowly deteriorated due to some combination of construction haste, insecure foundations, poor materials and inadequate engineering.  Ineffectual efforts to maintain it were made until the seventeenth century. Then it was slowly stripped of marble and other valuable materials by locals for their buildings.

The Mosque is generally said to have been named in honour of Timur’s favourite wife, Saray Mulk Khanum though it is also possible it was named for her mother.

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A detail of the dome’s tiles.

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.Architecture, Bibi Khanum Mosque, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Details of majolica tiles and brickwork, probably from the vicinity of the main mosque.

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.Architecture, Bibi Khanum Mosque, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan .

.Architecture, Bibi Khanum Mosque, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

In the background is the rear of the pishtak or entrance arch for the Bibi Khanum Mosque (as distinct from the pishtak for the whole complex).  In the foreground is a Koran stand for a massive ancient Koran, donated by Ulugh Beg, that originally stood inside the mosque. That Koran was appropriated to St Petersburg by the Russians in the nineteenth century and restored by the Russians in the twentieth century, though not to the now-ruined mosque here.

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And here is a view of the pishtak from straight in front.

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We saw the spectacular magnificence of the mosque in the Ulugh Beg Madrassah in the Registan in the last post, and of Gur Emir (Timur’s Mausoleum) in the post before.  This is the interior of the Bibi Khanum Mosque which is not quite in such a high state or restoration and preservation.  More like a renovator’s delight.  There are some tile fragments stacked on the floor at left and centre.

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Here on the left is Bibi Khanum Mosque and its pishtak; one of the side mosques is in the background.

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This is an image taken by Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii in 1905, showing damage to Bibi Khanum Mosque, still unrepaired since the earthquake of 1897. This an early colour process, combining three images taken through red, blue and green filters, probably taken on glass plates.  This is why there are a few people in the foreground who have moved and appear as different coloured shapes.

The Soviets started the repair of the mosque but most was done by the independent Uzbek government since 1991.

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I wasn’t going to include this image but the lone figure gives a good sense of scale.

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Here is a side mosque from the archway of the main mosque.  You can see a corner of the central open area, large enough to hold ten thousand people, and originally paved in marble. 

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Jools is photographing that same side mosque from the other side.  You can see here the extent of the enclosed spaces that lay between the open courtyard and the wall.

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The Registan, Samarkand

Samarkand, Uzbekistan, 3 October 2018.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.)

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Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Registan, Samarkand, Shir Dor Madrassah, Street photography, Tillya-Kari Madrassah, Travel, Ulugh Beg Madrassah, Uzbekistan

As we turned up at the Registan, there was a wedding party having their photo taken.

. Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Registan, Samarkand, Shir Dor Madrassah, Street photography, Tillya-Kari Madrassah, Travel, Ulugh Beg Madrassah, Uzbekistan

This is the Registan without a wedding event in front.  Ulugh Beg Madrassah is on the left, Tillya-Kari Madrassah in the centre and Shir Dor Madrassah on the right.  Samarkand was the capital of Timur’s empire.  The Registan was the ceremonial heart of Samarkand and was the place for markets, public announcements, military parades and public executions.  It was in a state of ruin at the end of the nineteenth century and restored primarily by the Soviets, who pieced together all the shattered debris lying on the ground.

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Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Registan, Samarkand, Shir Dor Madrassah, Street photography, Tillya-Kari Madrassah, Travel, Ulugh Beg Madrassah, Uzbekistan

The dome of the mosque that is incorporated into the Ulugh Beg Madrassah.

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Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Registan, Samarkand, Shir Dor Madrassah, Street photography, Tillya-Kari Madrassah, Travel, Ulugh Beg Madrassah, Uzbekistan

One of the domes of the Shir Dor Madrassah.

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Ulugh Beg Madrassah is on the left, Tillya-Kari Madrassah on the right.  Ulugh Beg Madrassah is the oldest of the three, built 1417 to 1420 when Ulugh Beg was Crown Prince, resident in Samarkand, while his father Shah Rukh ruled the empire from Herat (in what is now Afghanistan).  Other buildings in the square at the time fell into disrepair and were later replaced.

. Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Registan, Samarkand, Shir Dor Madrassah, Street photography, Tillya-Kari Madrassah, Travel, Ulugh Beg Madrassah, Uzbekistan

Tillya-Kari Madrassah was the last of the three, built between 1646 and 1660.  The name means “gilded” and we will later see something of the interior of the mosque, featuring much gold leaf.

. Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Registan, Samarkand, Shir Dor Madrassah, Street photography, Tillya-Kari Madrassah, Travel, Ulugh Beg Madrassah, Uzbekistan

Meanwhile, though, here are some images from the markets inside the courtyard of the Ulugh Beg Madrassah.

. Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Registan, Samarkand, Shir Dor Madrassah, Street photography, Tillya-Kari Madrassah, Travel, Ulugh Beg Madrassah, Uzbekistan

The young woman’s backpack says “Golden Eagle/ Trans-Siberian Express”.

. Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Registan, Samarkand, Shir Dor Madrassah, Street photography, Tillya-Kari Madrassah, Travel, Ulugh Beg Madrassah, Uzbekistan .

. Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Registan, Samarkand, Shir Dor Madrassah, Street photography, Tillya-Kari Madrassah, Travel, Ulugh Beg Madrassah, Uzbekistan .

. Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Registan, Samarkand, Shir Dor Madrassah, Street photography, Tillya-Kari Madrassah, Travel, Ulugh Beg Madrassah, Uzbekistan .

. Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Registan, Samarkand, Shir Dor Madrassah, Street photography, Tillya-Kari Madrassah, Travel, Ulugh Beg Madrassah, Uzbekistan

Coming out of the Ulugh Beg Madrassah now, and looking across at the Shir Dor Madrassah, built between 1619 and 1636.  While public Islamic architectural art is usually abstract, we see here some of the more figurative elements that crept in in the seventeenth century.  Above the entrance arch are two tigers, each chasing a deer, and carrying anthropomorphic suns on their backs.

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This is the entrance steps of the Ulugh Beg Madrassah, which we are now heading into.

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Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Registan, Samarkand, Shir Dor Madrassah, Street photography, Tillya-Kari Madrassah, Travel, Ulugh Beg Madrassah, Uzbekistan

Through into the interior courtyard, we are now heading into the mosque.

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Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Registan, Samarkand, Shir Dor Madrassah, Street photography, Tillya-Kari Madrassah, Travel, Ulugh Beg Madrassah, Uzbekistan

First we have some details of the decorations…

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This is a closer view of the previous image.

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Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Registan, Samarkand, Shir Dor Madrassah, Street photography, Tillya-Kari Madrassah, Travel, Ulugh Beg Madrassah, Uzbekistan .

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Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Registan, Samarkand, Shir Dor Madrassah, Street photography, Tillya-Kari Madrassah, Travel, Ulugh Beg Madrassah, Uzbekistan

And now we get to wider views of the interior of the mosque, in all its gilded magnificence.

. Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Registan, Samarkand, Shir Dor Madrassah, Street photography, Tillya-Kari Madrassah, Travel, Ulugh Beg Madrassah, Uzbekistan .

. Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Registan, Samarkand, Shir Dor Madrassah, Street photography, Tillya-Kari Madrassah, Travel, Ulugh Beg Madrassah, Uzbekistan .

. Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Registan, Samarkand, Shir Dor Madrassah, Street photography, Tillya-Kari Madrassah, Travel, Ulugh Beg Madrassah, Uzbekistan .

.Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Registan, Samarkand, Shir Dor Madrassah, Street photography, Tillya-Kari Madrassah, Travel, Ulugh Beg Madrassah, Uzbekistan

This is not a tourist walking by, rather an official or attendant.

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On the left is the entrance to the mosque and on the right the minbar, where the imam climbs up to give an address.

. Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Registan, Samarkand, Shir Dor Madrassah, Street photography, Tillya-Kari Madrassah, Travel, Ulugh Beg Madrassah, Uzbekistan .

. Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Registan, Samarkand, Shir Dor Madrassah, Street photography, Tillya-Kari Madrassah, Travel, Ulugh Beg Madrassah, Uzbekistan

Painted rather than gilded, not sure if this is in the mosque or on the way out.

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. Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Registan, Samarkand, Shir Dor Madrassah, Street photography, Tillya-Kari Madrassah, Travel, Ulugh Beg Madrassah, Uzbekistan

Out in the open again, looking across at the Ulugh Beg Madrassah with the Tillya-Kari Madrassah on the right.

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Ulugh Beg Madrassah.

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One of the small corner turrets of the Tillya-Kari Madrassah.

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A detail of one of the domes of the Shir Dor Madrassah.

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A wider view.

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Now inside the Shir Dor Madrassah,  looking up inside one of those domes.

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Carpet weavers.

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Top of a portal in the interior courtyard of the the Shir Dor Madrassah.

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Markets in the interior courtyard of the Shir Dor Madrassah.

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Final image, out in the open again.

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Gur Emir (Timur’s Mausoleum in Samarkand)

Samarkand, Uzbekistan, 3 October 2018.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.)

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Architecture, Ceramics, Gur Emir, History, Landscape, Mausoleum, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Timur, Travel, Uzbekistan

This is Gur Emir, Timur’s (Tamerlane’s) mausoleum in Samarkand.

.Architecture, Ceramics, Gur Emir, History, Landscape, Mausoleum, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Timur, Travel, Uzbekistan

People are walking in through the massive entrance gate at left in the previous image.

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Looking up.

. Architecture, Ceramics, Gur Emir, History, Landscape, Mausoleum, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Timur, Travel, Uzbekistan

Another view looking through the gateway, with massive perspective distortion and strange cropping from a “corrected” view through an ultrawide lens.

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The old doors are always impressive.

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We have walked through the entrance arch, then through the entrance of the building, and are now in the internal courtyard.

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Looking up at an archway, maybe facing back the way we came.

.Architecture, Ceramics, Gur Emir, History, Landscape, Mausoleum, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Timur, Travel, Uzbekistan

This is Timur’s empire at the time of his death in 1405.  He was also known as Timur the Lame (Tamerlane) because of a limp caused by fused leg bones due to an early arrow wound and he lost a couple of fingers of his right hand at the same time due to another arrow.  He was undefeated in battle but his empire did not long outlast him.  This is because his aim was conquest and the glorification of himself, Samarkand and Kesh, rather than establishing viable administrations in the conquered territories.

He was highly intelligent and cultured and devoted to the arts and science.  Conversely, he ruthlessly wiped out cities and peoples who opposed him and is said to be responsible for the deaths of seventeen million people.  Consequently, he is seen in retrospect as a hero in Central Asia, but in the further reaches of his empire and beyond as a tyrant.  The devastation he wrought made it difficult for successor states to recover and it also compromised the operation of Silk Road.

The Ming Dynasty had overthrown the Mongol Yuan Dynasty in 1368.  Timur saw himself as a successor of Genghis Khan.  He died in 1405 at the age of sixty-nine, just north of Samarkand, heading towards China with an invasion army of 200,000, intending to also meet up with the remnants of Yuan forces.

.Architecture, Ceramics, Gur Emir, History, Landscape, Mausoleum, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Timur, Travel, Uzbekistan

We are inside the mausoleum now, looking up.

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Many of the surfaces are covered in gold leaf.

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These are details, picked out with a long telephoto lens.

.Architecture, Ceramics, Gur Emir, History, Landscape, Mausoleum, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Timur, Travel, Uzbekistan .

.Architecture, Ceramics, Gur Emir, History, Landscape, Mausoleum, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Timur, Travel, Uzbekistan .

.Architecture, Ceramics, Gur Emir, History, Landscape, Mausoleum, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Timur, Travel, Uzbekistan

The next series of images are looking up or across with ultrawide lenses, mostly a fisheye (and may be partly corrected).

.Architecture, Ceramics, Gur Emir, History, Landscape, Mausoleum, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Timur, Travel, Uzbekistan .

.Architecture, Ceramics, Gur Emir, History, Landscape, Mausoleum, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Timur, Travel, Uzbekistan

They are all exposure bracketed, each combining four to six images at different exposures, with an extreme contrast range.

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It was also very difficult getting a clear overall view, as the mausoleum was filled with people.

.Architecture, Ceramics, Gur Emir, History, Landscape, Mausoleum, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Timur, Travel, Uzbekistan .

.Architecture, Ceramics, Gur Emir, History, Landscape, Mausoleum, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Timur, Travel, Uzbekistan .

.Architecture, Ceramics, Gur Emir, History, Landscape, Mausoleum, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Timur, Travel, Uzbekistan .

.Architecture, Ceramics, Gur Emir, History, Landscape, Mausoleum, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Timur, Travel, Uzbekistan

At last the crowd cleared a little.  There are seven marble tombs encircling a jade one, once the largest piece of jade in the world.  They are place holders for the actual tombs in a chamber below.  As well as for Timur, they are for his grandson Mohammed Sultan, Timur’s heir who pre-deceased him, another distinguished successor and grandson, Ulugh Beg, and several of his sons.

.Architecture, Ceramics, Gur Emir, History, Landscape, Mausoleum, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Timur, Travel, Uzbekistan .

.Architecture, Ceramics, Gur Emir, History, Landscape, Mausoleum, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Timur, Travel, Uzbekistan

One last detail of the interior….

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Now outside, out the back.

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You can see that there are parts of the mausoleum that have not been restored.

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Looking up at the top of a tower.

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This merchandise area was out the back somewhere.

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A last view from the front, but the other side to the first image.  At the left you can see the foundations of the madrassah and khanagha (dervish hostel) that were built here prior to the mausoleum.

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