“One thinks of…” Robert Byron describing monuments

As I have already written, the Road to Oxiana can be seen as an artistic  Bildungsroman, where the author, while traveling, becomes more and more aware of Islamic art. This awareness changes Byron’s perspectives and point of view: the more Byron travels, the more knowledge of Islamic art and architecture he builds. This background change…

Forgotten monuments Byron revives

Do people travel blind? ‘Do people travel blind?’ asks Byron on the 20th of March 1934, in front of the portal of the Friday Mosque of Yazd. Byron, on this occasion, is upset that no other traveler has described the mosque, that he considers magnificent. From the travelogue, it is clear that Byron relies on…

A description of the Buddhas of Bamiyan by Robert Byron

In early June 1934, on the 8th and the 9th of June to be precise, Robert Byron visited the Bamiyan valley and the two Buddhas. This post will be kind off-topic for my blog since it will not deal with Islamic art. Nonetheless, I have decided to include the Bamiyan Buddhas in the Road to…

Epilogue: the end of a long journey

I began to feel dazed, dazed at the prospect of coming to a stop The last entry of Robert Byron’s travelogue is dated to the 8th of July 1934. His journey started on the 20th of August the previous years. Considering he spent 11 months traveling (but probably more, since in the first entry he…

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…

Who knows Khoja Aghacha?

Who St Agacha was I don’t know. After paying a visit to the Shrine of Khoja Abu Nasr Parsa, on the 30th of May 1934, Byron continues his visit of Balkh and goes to a small shrine, the Shrine of Khoja Aghacha, that dates back to late 15th century. Byron is not impressed, not at…

Byron and the Shrine of Khoja Abu Nasr Parsa

An unknown force seems to be squeezing it upwards. It is the 30th of May 1934 when Byron writes in his travelogue that he is in Balkh, where he spent the whole day. In this entry, Byron also describes a monument: the Shrine of a spiritual leader, that died in 1460 c.e.: Khoja Abu Nasr Parsa….

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…

What remains of the Madrasa of Gawhar Shad

The origin of this baffles me. On the 23rd of November 1933, while visiting the Musalla Complex and its monuments, we can imagine Robert Byron lingering a while in front of a solitary minaret. In his own travelogue, he records that he was quite perplexed. He then wrote: “Next, on the east of the mausoleum, stands…