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Saif ed-Din Bokharzi & Bayan-Quli Khan Mausoleums

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In the settlement called Fathabad, to the east from medieval Bukhara city, in the past was situated vast religious complex. The initial core of the complex was the grave of Saif ed-Din al-Boharsi - very popular poet, sheikh, and theologian - who lived in thirteenth century. The followers of the sheikh al-Boharsi have built up at this area of rabad ("rabad" - an outskirt) many dormitories (khanakas) for dervishes, who lived there on donations of the Kubravi Sufi order members. The Fathabad settlement later had joined the city.

The Chagatay ruler Bayan-Quli Khan had expressed a wish to be interred near by respected burial place of al-Boharsi, and it is there that he is buried. In 1358, the Mausoleum of Bayan-Quli Khan had appeared there. The extant mausoleum of Saif ed-Din Boharsi dates from the end of 14-ht century.

The Saif ed-Din al-Boharsi Mausoleum together with the Bayan-Quli Khan Mausoleum are an admirable architectural ensemble. However, these monuments make even more great interest because of their religious-historical and cultural importance.

The Kubravi order

"Kubravi" is the Sufi order, founded at the 13 century by Sheikh Nadjm ed-Din Kubra, (was killed in 1221). The order ("tarika" - means "spiritual way") of Kubravi was a religious community ("taifa") of followers. The mystical teaching of perception of God was an idea, which united all followers. There was an opinion that only elite, talented people, marked by God can walk by this mystical way, because this way was not easy. According to the doctrine, the order's main aim was to educate enlightened and advanced people - godly men.

The order community consisted of two unequal parts. There were ordinary members and spiritual elite, devoted into the secret teaching of Moslem mystics (Sufi). The greater part of the community consisted of ordinary people. They should live their ordinary life and not penetrate into the depths of the complicated teaching, inconceivable to them. Leaders and tutors of the order did not demand knowledge of postulates of teaching from the majority.

Ordinary members participated in the order activity through the offertory and membership dues. They were taught that their membership in the order is useful for them, because they receive a peace of mind and pride from their participation in training the godly man inside their order. Therefore, the order members should be very successful people, unlike others. All the people outside the order they called as a gang of unlucky and wretched people, without proper understanding of life.

After Mongols had captured Khoresm in 1221, they killed a great many people. Najm ed-Din Kubra was among killed captives.

Here are some other names of prominent representatives of the order Kubravi listed below:
    1. Farid ed-Din Attar (d. about 1225);
    2. Saif ed-Din al-Boharsi (d. 1261);
    3. Aziz ed-Din Nasafi (d. 1263);
    4. Badr ed-Din Firdavsi as-Samarkandi.

Biographical information

Dates of life of Bukhara sheik Saif ed-Din al-Boharsi (full name Seid al-Hak va-d Din Abu-l-maani said ibn al Mutahar ibn Saif al-Boharsi) were 1190 - 1261. He was born in Horasan region (northeastern Iran); he got religious education in Gerat and Nishapur cities. When he achieved unusual successes in mystical teaching, he moved to Khorezm. There he became one of nearest followers of very popular sheikh – Nadjm ed-Din Kubra. Afterwards, according to the prominent poet Abdurahman Djami Boharsi (15-ht c.), sheikh Saif ed-Din went to Bukhara as a tutor. In Bukhara he was honored with the title of "Sheikh al-Alam" ("sheikh of peace").

Unlike his teacher Saif-ed-Din al-Boharsi safely survived the Mongol invasion. He lived in Bukhara about 40 years under new rulers. Moreover he had incontestable authority over ruling elite. For example, Berke Khan, who was brother of Batu Khan, once had visited sheikh al-Boharsi. Because of this meeting, the powerful Khan of the Kipchak or Golden Horde had adopted Islam.

Bayan-Quli Khan, Duva’s grandson, (d. 1358) was Khan of the Chagatai Khanate from 1348 to 1358. In 1348 Bayan-Quli was raised to the position of Khan by the ruler of the Qara’unas, Amir Qazaghan, who had effectively taken control of the Chagatai ulus in 1346. For the next decade he remained Qazaghan’s puppet, exercising little real authority. In 1358 Qazaghan was assassinated and succeeded by his son Abdullah. Not long after his ascension, Abdullah had Bayan-Quli Khan killed and selected a new puppet, Shah Temur, to succeed him. Bayan-Quli’s death was used as a pretext by Abdullah’s enemies to bring about his downfall that same year.

Mongols, before their intrusion into Maverannahr and Semirechye were heathens. However, in 14-ht century more of them have adopted Islam. Bayan-Quli Khan was a Moslem and a faithful stalwart of Saif ed-Din Boharsi. Therefore, he was buried opposite the sheikh grave. The mausoleum rises above the Bayan-Quli Khan grave since 1358.

The dinars, coined in Shahrisabz in 1357 (758), became a good evidence of Bayan Quli's piousness, because of saying, engraved on them: "Bayan-Quli-bahadur Khan is the greatest sultan. May Allah prolong his reign".

The Mausoleum history

After al-Boharsi's death - in 1261 (by some sources in 1262) - the khanaka, erected near to the Al-Boharsi grave, became the center of Kubravi order in Bukhara. There dervishes and pilgrims could find shelter, food, clothes, footwear and so on. Sometimes, more than 100 dervishes could eat there. Besides donations, another source of necessary funds was a big land property (about ten thousand hectares to the south of Qarshi Gates of Bukhara), which belonged to the order.

Construction of first building of mausoleum above the grave of "Sheikh of peace" was finished at the beginning of 14-ht century. This building was not remained to our time. The last building of mausoleum adorns Bukhara city since the second part of 14-ht century, and its imposing intake portal was built even later.

The mausoleum attracts by its mighty shapes, excellent simplicity and clarity of an architectural idea. It is possible to see an evolution of architectural theme when comparing this mausoleum with intact Bukhara monument of 10-th century. This Mausoleum is not unicameral burial-vault as the Ismail Samani Mausoleum (on Bukhara map Samonid’s Mausoleum). The design of building is more ingenious and consists of the burial-vault (purhana) and commemoration room (ziarathona). Two domes above these rooms organize building's side-view.The distinguishing feature of the Mausoleum is an absence of an inner and external decoration. In spite of this feature, an unknown architect achieved an impressive power of his building.

The Mausoleum of Saif ed-Din Boharsi is a vivid illustration of artisans' innovation, their self-perfection, and searching of new ideas. Here we can see technique of conversion from square foundation of ziarathona to octahedral and then to hexahedral shapes. This technique was accomplished using stalactite "sails". There are small windows in the hexahedral part; soft sunlight shines through them. Above it - a cap of the dome, this concludes whole space.

Inside the mausoleum, in gurhana room, there is rich picturesque element - splendid tomb of Saif ed-Din Boharsi. The tomb represents the combination of refined multipronged pictures, complicated interlacement of crockets and intricate Arabic characters. It is a genuine masterpiece of the medieval wooden engraving.

In the course of time the bricks of mausoleum began to crumble. During the restoration in the sixties of 20-th century, the monument roof and walls were slightly strengthened. In spite of that, the earthquake in 1976 badly damaged the building.

In soviet time, the group of restorers from "Special scientific institute of monuments restoration/conservation of UzbSSR" under the direction of architect A. Bogoduhov and engineer Y. Golshtein had accomplished full restoration of the Mausoleum according with the project of its strengthening and restoration. The State had appropriated for this purpose 118 thousand soviet rubles.

Dmitriy Page


1. С.Муминов - Кешский дирхем. Деньги Шахрисабза ("зеленого города") 00:11 29.05.2003 ЦентрАзия Постоянный адрес статьи -
2. Гумилев Л.Н. Опыт описания исторического времени. СИНХРОНИЯ Пятая тетрадь (1321 – 1401).
3. В.Г. Сааков. Архитектурные шедевры Бухары. Бухарское областное общество «Китобхон» УзССР. Ровно 1991 г.

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