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 Imamzada of Khvajah Rabi’ by Byron, Yate, and Pope

It suits my mood. After having gone as far East as Herat, Afghanistan, around Christmas 1933 we find Robert Byron once again in Mashhad, where he had already been in the first half of November 1933. Between late November and mid-December 1933, Robert Byron tried to move further East, to Turkestan, but bad weather and…

The Friday Mosque of Herat: photos of changes

For seven centuries the people of Herat have prayed in it. They still do so, and its history is their history. On the 25th of November 1933, after nearly two months into his journey in Iran and Afghanistan, Robert Byron finally visited his first Friday Mosque: the Masjid-i Jami’ of Herat. And it happened apparently…

Double two-dimensional mihrab from Art Institute Chicago

I was thinking about writing something for the opening of the galleries of Islamic art at the Art Institute Chicago. While browsing the collection owned by the museum, I found a peculiar tile, decorated with a double-arched two-dimensional mihrab, and of course decorated with wonderful cursive inscriptions (accession number 1917.221).

The Nilometer and the deliberate choice of Qur’anic texts

The Nilometer proves to be important in two ways: on the one hand it is technologically interesting, being an instrument built for the measurements of the Nile. On the epigraphic point of view, it is one of the rare monuments about which we have an historical account clearly stating how the Qur’anic inscriptions in it…

The Dome of the Rock – reading its iconographic project

The Dome of the Rock was built in 72 a.h. (691-2 A.D.) and, besides being the most ancient Islamic building survived till our days, it is, most probably, the first monument to have been built by the new rulers of the Near East. Its building followed a highly uneasy period: during the ten years that…

Minaret of Jam: what it is and why it is important

On Aug 28th, 2014 BBC published an article about the minaret of Jam, Afghanistan, which is “in danger to collapse”. The news spread throughout Twitter, drawing more attention on the fact. The minaret’s importance was first recognized by UNESCO in 1982, that nominated it World Heritage Site. Then, in 2002, it was listed under the…