State Museum of Arts,Tashkent

Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 6 October 2018.

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

.

On our last day in Tashkent we had some spare time before catching the plane and chose to visit the State Museum of Arts.

.

Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Reconstructed face of Neanderthal boy, Teshiktash Cave, Surkhandaraya region.

There was also a Neanderthal skull, 100,000 years old, from the same location.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Flint tools from 4th Millennium BC, Bukhara region.

.

Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Rock carvings, 3rd Millennium BC.

.Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Jar handle in the form of a goat, 5th to 4th millennium BC.

This image and the next two are images of objects from the Amudarya Treasure.  The originals are gold but these are replicas.  In 1880, Captain F.C. Burton happened upon some Afghan merchants being attacked by bandits in the roads of what is now Northern Pakistan, and drove off the bandits.  One of the merchants later showed Burton some items he had and Burton was most intrigued so purchased one.  Burton later showed it to Major General Sir Alexander Cunningham, Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India, whose jaw hit the floor.  Cunningham correctly identified it  as a a fine example of Achæmenid Persian metalwork, from a period when the Achæmenid Emprire stretched from Egypt to the Indus Valley.  Together with Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks, a curator of the British Museum, Cunningham scoured the markets of Pakistan and Northern India for several months and succeeded in purchasing 170 items from the hoard.  They are now in the British Museum.  The treasure had been found on the northern bank of the Amyu Darya River (the Oxus in Classical times), in what is now Tajikistan.

.

Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Priest, 5th to 4th millennium BC.

.Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Bracelet with Griffins, , 5th to 4th millennium BC.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Ancient individual with Central Asian headgear (didn’t record the label for this one).

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Coins of Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, 3rd to 2nd centuries BC.

.

Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Solar Deity, 1st to 2nd centuries AD, Fayaztepa, Old Termez, Southern Uzbekistan.

.

Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Buddha with monks, 1st to 3rd century AD.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Cover from reliquary vessel, 3rd to 4th centuries AD, Kara-Tepa, Old Termez, Southern Uzbekistan.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Hunting scene, mural painting, 7th century AD, Varakhsha, Ancient Sogdian city near Bukhara.

.

This is a copy of one of the world’s oldest Korans.  We saw the original at the start of the trip in Barakh-khan Madrasah (in Tashkent).  Photography is not permitted of the original one.  In either case, it is huge.  The original supposedly dates back to the 630s but testing indicates an early 8th to early 9th century date.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Glazed ceramic, Samarkand, 10th century.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Glazed ceramic, Samarkand, 11th century.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Ceramic dish, 10th to 12th Centuries.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Glazed ceramic, Samarkand, 12th century.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Armour of one of Timur’s soldiers, 14th to 15th centuries.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Glazed ceramic, Samarkand, 15th to 16th centuries.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Chain mail armour, shield and sword, Bukhara, 18th to 19th centuries.

.

Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Embassy from Khiva, in Tashkent, early 19th century.

.

Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Nineteenth century door from Khiva.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Nineteenth century door from Bukhara.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Nineteenth century door from Tashkent.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Military uniform, Bukhara, 1861-1865.

.

Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Siege of Samarkand, 1868.

Russia occupied Samarkand in 1868, which had been held by Bukhara.  The Russian army then left to pursue the Bukharan army, leaving a small force behind to hold Samarkand.  A combined Bukharan/ Kokand force then laid siege to Samarkand.  This is what is shown here.  The besiegers withdrew when the main Russian force returned.

.

Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

“Bazaar in Samakand”, 1897.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

“Bibikhonum Square”, Samarkand. 

(See here for my post on its restored appearance).

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

“The street of a Central Asian city”, 1896.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Decorative embroidery, late nineteenth century, Tashkent.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Saddle, Namangan, Ferghana Valley, late 19th century.

.

Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Emir’s horse-blanket, 1911-1912.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Jewellery, early 20th century.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan. .

Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Gidjak and Rubab (traditional instruments), 1978.

.

That was the last post on Uzbekistan, apart from monochrome conversion posts to follow.  Particular thanks to Advantour who organised a wonderful custom tour for us at a reasonable price.  There have been 22 posts with 600 images and 15,000 words.  I have updated the index of posts in the Trip Itinerary.

Samarkand to Tashkent

Samarkand to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 5 October 2018.

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

.

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.

.

Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

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.

. Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

Fruit for sale on the side of the road.

. Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan .

. Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

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

. Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

A variety of products for sale on the way.

. Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan .

.Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

I’m not able to translate the signs.

. Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

Stork nests on a telegraph pole.

. Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

Roadside cattle.

. Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

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

. Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

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

. Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan .

.Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

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

. Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

This car wasn’t moving very fast either.

.

Ulugh Beg and Afrasiab, Samarkand

Samarkand, Uzbekistan, 4 October 2018.

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

.

This post is from out last day in Samarkand.

.

Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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.)

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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.  

.

Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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.

.Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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.

.

Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

… 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.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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.

Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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. 

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Birds (swans?), possibly for sacrifice.

.Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Detail of camel saddle.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Part of the saddle of the elephant.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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

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

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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).

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan .

.Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan .

.Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

A duck – a sacred bird of the Zoroastrians.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Model of eleventh century kiln.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Ceramic plate from 10th to 12th century.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

.

.Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan .

.Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan .

.Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

.

.

Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

.

.

Ak Saray, Samarkand

Samarkand, Uzbekistan, 3 October 2018.

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

.

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).

.

Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

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.

.Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

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

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

(See earlier post for more on Gur Emir).

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

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

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

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.

.Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

The interior was spectacular and elegant and a great surprise.

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

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

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

It has been very recently restored, in 2007.

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

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

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

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.

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Looking up….

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

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

.

Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

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.

.

Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

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

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

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

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

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.

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

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

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

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

.Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

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.

.

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.

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

.

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.

.

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

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

.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

.

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

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

. Architecture,

.

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

Here we are in the avenue of the mausolea.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

Inside, the dome from below.

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

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

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

.

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

A door inside the Kusam Ibn Abbas Mosque.

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

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

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

A closer view of the chandelier.

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

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.

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

A more vertical view of the ziaratkhana.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

.

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

.

Bibi Khanum Mosque, Samarkand

Samarkand, Uzbekistan, 3 October 2018.

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

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

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.

.

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

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

.

Pishtak, minaret and wall.

.

 

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

Looking up at the top of that minaret.

.

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

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

.

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

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.

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

Detail of Majolica tiles on a wall.

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

A very elaborately carved panel or doorway.

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

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 .

.

 

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.

.

 

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.

.

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

A detail of the dome’s tiles.

. 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

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

. 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 .

.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.

.

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

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

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

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.

.

 

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

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

.

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

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.

.

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

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

.

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

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. 

.

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

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.

.

The Registan, Samarkand

Samarkand, Uzbekistan, 3 October 2018.

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

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

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

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.

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

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

.

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.

.

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…

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

This is a closer view of the previous image.

. 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

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.

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

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.

. 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

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

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

Ulugh Beg Madrassah.

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

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

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

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

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

A wider view.

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

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

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

Carpet weavers.

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

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

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

Markets in the interior courtyard of the Shir Dor Madrassah.

. 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

Final image, out in the open again.

.

Gur Emir (Timur’s Mausoleum in Samarkand)

Samarkand, Uzbekistan, 3 October 2018.

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

.

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.

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

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.

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

The old doors are always impressive.

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

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

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

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.

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

Many of the surfaces are covered in gold leaf.

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

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.

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

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….

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

Now outside, out the back.

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

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

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

Looking up at the top of a tower.

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

This merchandise area was out the back somewhere.

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

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.

.

Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Bukhara

Bukhara, Uzbekistan, 1 October 2018.

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

(This post is out of sequence.  It should have been the second last post for Bukhara).

.

Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan

The first thing that struck me when arriving at Sitorai Mohkli-Khosa Palace were the near perfect reflections in a pool. 

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan .

.Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan

And here is a wider view of the source of the reflections.

.Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan

Sitorai Mohkli-Khosa Palace is the Summer Palace for the Emir, originally outside Bukhara but now on the outskirts.  It was built three times by the last three Emirs and the surviving version dates from 1912 to 1918.  It was built using Russian engineers and traditional Bukharan craftsmen, in a sometimes strange mix of traditional Bukhara and early 20th century architecture.

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan

Courtyard ceiling decoration.

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan . Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan . Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan

The small “minaret” has a very realistic depiction of a pigeon on top.  It even moves and flies away.

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan

Eurasian magpie (unrelated to Australian magpie).

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan . Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan

The Russian engineers and architects were from St Petersberg.  The last Emir used to frequently visit there on his own private train.  He had attended military school there and sent his son to the same school.  The is the White Hall.  I would presume it was inspired by the Winter Palace of Peter the Great, in turn inspired by Louis XIV’s Versailles (including the Hall of Mirrors) which was in turn inspired by Vaux-le-Vicomte of Nicolas Focquet (and this last one possibly more impressive than the other two).

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan

The last two Emirs of Bukhara.  Said ‘Abd al-Ahad Khan (1885-1911) on the left and Said Mir Muhammad Alim Khan (1911-1920) on the right.

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan

Stepping back a bit…

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan

The Emir’s collection of Chinese Vases.

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan … and the ceiling above…

.Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan

Outside in the courtyard.

.Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan

Historical costumes on Bukhara on the nineteenth century.

.

 

Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan

There were some impressive wall niches.

.Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan

(I tried to have these appear on this page side by side by was defeated by WordPress formatting).

.

Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan

Maybe an earthquake; maybe just the building shifting…

.

Architecture,

Outfits of the Emir.

.

Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan

This is the building for the Harem.  Mind you, there were 400 in the Harem, so they can’t all have lived here.  When the Bolsheviks turned up in 1920 and the Emir fled to Afghanistan, the women of the harem were paired off with soldiers.

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan

Nowadays the building is a textile museum for suzanis from Urgut and Shahrisabz.

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan . Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan . Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan . Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan . Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan . Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan .Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan

A curiously ornate drainpipe at the harem.

.

Next, Samarkand….

 

Ak Seray Palace

Shakhrisabz, Uzbekistan, 2 October 2018.

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

.

In the distance, about a kilometre away, is what is left of Timur’s Ak Saray Palace. 

In the middle is a statue of Timur (Tamerlane), who was born here and was local governor at the age of 25.  Behind Timur you can see what appears to be two tall buildings.  They are the remains of the monumental entrance arch and reach only about half of the original height (!).  Beyond that is the top of a section of the city wall.  

I used a very long telephoto, the full-frame equivalent of 525mm and also cropped a little.  Perspective compression means Timur’s statue appears much closer to the background structures than it really is.  The city wall is also further away from the remains of the arch than it seems.

.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
 
(from Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

There is now little to see of Kublai Khan’s summer capital of Shangdu (Xanadu) in Inner Mongolia, visited by Marco Polo in 1275 and described by him in 1300, because remaining materials were pillaged for buildings in a nearby town. The “pleasure dome” Coleridge refers to was a portable bamboo construction and there was also a richly decorated marble palace. This was all on a grand scale but it is an open question how well Shangdu in its prime would have compared with Timur’s Ak Saray Palace in Shakhrisabz in its prime.

Come to think of it, Timur claimed kinship to Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan.  (To be precise, he claimed his great x8 grandfather was Genghis’s great x3 grandfather and Kublai’s great x5 grandfather).  Timur had quite conceivably read about Shangdu which was sacked by the Ming Army only a year before the start of his reign.  He may therefore have had a specific aim to outdo Shangdu.  He did want Ak Seray to be the greatest palace of all time and it was on a much grander scale than anything he created in his capital city, Samarkand.

.

We didn’t actually walk that kilometre down to the remnants of the arch; instead we drove down and are now walking towards it from the other side.  This is taken with a wide angle lens, the full-frame equivalent of 21mm, and I’m much closer than the previous image, so the perspective is quite different.  You may need to click on the image to see it larger, but the statue of Timur is still in view though now appears much smaller and further away, and in the distant middle right is the blue dome of the Kok-Gumbaz Mosque, near where I took the previous image.

The surviving towers are 38 metres high and you can just see the start of the curve of the inner arch.  That’s impressive enough, but the original interior arch was 70 metres high and the towers were 80 metres high.  That’s equivalent to a 25-story building.  Beyond that, just the inner courtyard was 125 metres wide and 250 metres long. The buildings on each side were two stories high and faced with blue, gold and green tiles and at the end was the grand reception hall.  The palace is likely to have included “a mosque, a courtyard for public audiences, a courtyard for private audiences, Amir Temur’s private quarters, a courtyard and a garden of Harem, a sauna, a courtyard with a library and a school, a farmyard with stables, buildings for guards and a kitchen“.

Construction started in 1380 using 50,000 involuntary workers.  The arch was finished in 1395 but the palace wasn’t entirely finished in 1404 when Castillian ambassador Ruy Clavijo visited.  If the decorations were as sublime as in the mausoleum of Shamsidden Kulol that we saw in the previous post, built by Timur from 1373 to 1374,  then it would have been impressive indeed.

The space between the two pillars looks wide and open, for anyone to walk through, but that’s not how it would have been.  Obviously, it would have been possible to restrict entry though events on a massive scale would also have occurred.  There was a wall around the palace as well as another around the city, and there would have been a gate under the arch and much of that space would have been enclosed.  Apart from what remains, the palace was destroyed by Abdullah Khan, ruler of Bukhara, at the end of the sixteenth century.  

.

With a very long telephoto lens, I took photographs of details of the tiling on the pillars as I was walking in.  These decorations are unreconstructed, as efforts so far have focused on ensuring structural integrity.

. .

.

There are even some residents….

.

Here we have Timur, in the middle of his largely vanished palace, staring out and contemplating how little remains.  It reminds me perhaps of this image of Lenin at Pyramiden from this post, or perhaps this image of a moai contemplating the environmental costs of mankind at Easter Island as described in this post.

.

Perhaps this is the image where we may really get a feel for the monumental scale of what remains of the entrance arch and by inference of the palace that once lay beyond.

There is an inscription on the remains of the arch “If you challenge our power – look at our buildings!”.   Though there is no mighty head lying around, this is in turn somewhat reminiscent of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem Ozymandias:

…”And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

.

There’s not much left of some of the tiles.

. .

.

.

One last look at the remains of the lower half of the entrance arch from a different angle.

.

And here is a glimpse of the city walls, very little of which remains, unlike Khiva.

.

We continue on our journey to Samarkand, 80 kilometres to the north.

.

There is a spring beside the road.

.

I don’t remember the details but I recall there’s something sacred or legendary about the water here.

.

And a small market at roadside in a mountain pass….

.

… and from here we travelled on further towards Samarkand….

.

In the next post I was about to segue seamlessly to Timur’s mausoleum in Samarkand but I have discovered a post from Bukhara I forgot to publish, so that will come first.