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…

The Masjid-i Shah of Mashhad: a fairly atypical mosque

“a ruined mosque in the bazaar“ When Byron is in Mashhad in December 1933, it seems that his whole days are spent at the small and peaceful shrine of Khvajah Rabi’, as he himself writes under the entry dated 24th December 1933. In fact, he also visited another monument in those days: the Masjid-i Shah….

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…

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…

Imam Reza Shrine

A gold dome flashed, a blue dome loomed, out of the cold autumnal haze The Imam Reza Shrine is by far the most important and most articulated monument of Mashhad, and probably Iran. It is also one of the biggest religious complexes in the world, with a total area of about 598,657 m2. So big that…

The Minaret of Khusrawgird

So this is the Golden Road. Eight centuries ago, the minaret of Khosrugird watched the traffic as it watches us. “What strikes the researcher, is the very scant information that one can find about the minaret.” This is what I wrote on a post-it while searching the web and the books for more information on…

Vikings and Square Kufic?

On the 3rd of October, the University of Uppsala published an article that was to generate much discussion on the social media. The title of the article was pretty sensationalistic, as it claimed that the words Allah and ‘Ali were written in Square Kufic on woven bands of silk in burial costumes found in Viking Age…

Tarik Khana Mosque

its round squat pillars recall an English village church of the Norman period The last monument Robert Byron visits in Damghan on the 13th of November 1933 is the Tarik Khana Mosque, that he compares to an English village church. Byron loves comparing Iranian buildings to more familiar architectural forms: it already happened, for instance,…

Gunbad-i Pir-i ‘Alamdar

inscribed and dated as built in the eleventh century On the 13th of November 1933, while taking a photo of the Gundab-i Pir-i ‘Alamdar in Damghan, Robert Byron probably did not realize he was in front of the oldest monument of Damghan. He recorded this tomb tower together with the Gunbad-i Chihil Dukhtaran, devoting to…