An Indian minaret, with a Ghaznavid taste: the Qutb Minar

it becomes Indian and painstaking, and loses its freedom It is quite ironic that the last monument Byron visited in his trip was neither in Afghanistan or in Iran: on the 21st of June 1934 he visits the Qutb Minar and with this, ends the long list of monuments of the Road to Oxiana. The…

The Tomb of Sultan Mahmud and its gates, commented by Robert Byron

The Tomb of Sultan Mahmud […] has attracted the notice of more travellers than the towers The tomb of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, who ruled the Ghaznavid Empire from 998 to 1030, was built in the village of Rauza, in a spot known as ‘Victory Garden’. In that spot, the Sultan liked to spend his…

A minaret Byron forgot to mention: the minaret of Damghan

… … … It is not clear when Byron actually visited the Minaret of Damghan or anyway when he took the photos of the minaret. Most probably he visited this minaret while visiting the Tarikh Khana, the Gunbad-i Chihil Dukhtaran and the Pir-i Alamdar (all recorded in his travelogue on the date of 13th of…

No image available: imagining Termez

All the same, I should like to have seen the ruins of Termez Byron’s plan was to cross the Oxus river. The river, known by the Latin name Oxus, is also called the Amu Darya and is one of the major rivers of Central Asia. Byron has thus far traveled around Afghanistan and Iran, keeping…

The dream of the Rowze-i Sharif

[it] owes its existence to a dream On the 27th of May 1934 Byron visits and describes the Mausoleum of Hazrat Ali (most commonly called Rowze-i Sharif) in Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan, and two smaller mausoleums next to it. THE LEGEND The passage Byron dedicates to the Mausoleum opens with a historical account of how it was…

The Square Kufic of the Pir-i Bakran Shrine

After years running this blog, I realized I have not devoted even one single article to a Square Kufic inscription. Which sounds weird, considering the name of this blog. In any case, the time has come. A reader, JJ (I don’t know the full name, thus, let’s call him/her JJ), sent me a couple of…

The Gunbad-i Qabus: the superlative beauty of a tomb tower

the Gumbad-i-Kabus ranks with the great buildings of the world Finally! On the 24th of April 1934, Robert Byron finally visits the Gunbad-i Qabus, in Gurgan. Why do I say finally? Right before having the chance to visit the tomb tower of Gurgan, on the 23rd of April 1934, Byron explains that “[i]t was Diez’s…

The inscriptions of the Friday Mosque of Na’in in context

one of the oldest in Persia Byron, after having been in Yazd, on his way back to Isfahan stops in Na’in and Ardestan, in both cities he visits the Friday mosques. He records both his visits under the entry dated 31st March 1934. The first Friday Mosque he describes is the one in Na’in: “I…

The Friday Mosque of Yazd and its decoration

clue after clue yielded treasure It is the 20th of March 1934 when Byron arrives at Yazd. As he recounts in his travelogue, the very same day he reaches the city, he sets off to look for monuments. And the monument that intrigued him the most in the city is the Friday Mosque. In his…

Analysing a foundation inscription: the Luftallah Mosque

no idea that abstract pattern was capable of so profound a splendour “The Shaykh Luftallah mosque is viewed by historians and visitors as one of the most important architectural projects built on Isfahan’s maidan, prominent for its location, scale, design, and ornament”. This is how the long entry Archnet devotes to the Luftallah mosque ends….