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…

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…

Gawhar Shad Mausoleum and its missing tombstones

Few architectural devices can equal a ribbed dome for blind, monumental ostentation. During his visit to the Musalla Complex in Herat, on the 23rd of November 1933, Robert Byron carefully recorded what remained of the monuments that once were part of the magnificent project, commissioned by Gawhar Shad. The construction of her mausoleum was completed in…

The sad story of the Musalla Complex: art crime and destruction

It is a miserable story It is difficult to define the Musalla Complex in Herat. The name ‘Musalla’ can refer both to the whole complex and to the Mosque of Gawhar Shad that is part of it. Even Robert Byron is apparently confused, and use the word to describe first one and then the other. Musalla…