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….

Friday Mosque of Shiraz and its Qur’anic inscriptions

It is not a happy combination On the 17th of February 1934, Byron visits Shiraz and its monuments. In particular, he records the Friday Mosque of the city, also known as Masjid-i ‘Atiq. As often, Byron is not at all enthusiast of the building, particularly of its decoration. As a whole, Shiraz does not make…

A shrine as the center of the city: Mashhad-i Fatima

a good group with its tall gold dome and four blue minarets Robert Byron stayed in Teheran for a while before going towards Isfahan. After he visited the monuments of Bastam, next to Tehran, he did not visit any other monument, and we do not know the exact reason for this. After he had visited…

The Gundab-i Bastam: finding inaccuracies in a description

The brickwork has a fine texture Sometimes it is clearly visible from Byron’s writing, that The Road to Oxiana is not a travelogue compiled during the journey. This is the case with the entry dated 9th of January 1934. Under that date, Byron reports his visit to two monuments of Bastam: the Mashhad-i Bayazid Bastami, and a…

Mashhad-i Bayazid Bastami: the work of a family

its towers like Kentish oast-houses After having spent in Mashhad the days around Christmas, on the entry dated 9th of January 1934, we find Byron further West: in Bastam. There, the first monument Byron encounters and notes down in his travelogue is the Mashhad-i Bayazid Bastami. January 1934 corresponds to the month of Ramadan. In…