Bukhara History - Part 11

Bukhara renewal

Thus, despite numerous ravages, which frequently included citizens being driven away and tremendous fires, Bukhara was coming to its revival, step by step. This was fostered by the significance of the city. It was potentially one of the largest centers of trade, crafts and culture, situated traditionally on the crossroads of the Great Silk Road routes; moreover, it was a spiritual and religious center, the Eastern Mecca of the Islamic world, which was definitely important during that time. Thus Bukhara remained a significant economic and political center and the second capital of Maverannakhr even under the power of Mongols.

Construction of significant architectural monuments was renewed. Among those surviving are the two well-known mausoleums erected in Bukhara's eastern suburb in the Fatkhabad locality, beyond the Karshi Gates. The first of these two is a large building with a tall portal facing eastward with two big domes surmounting the rooms of ziarat-khana and gur-khana. It was built on the tomb of the famous sheikh who belonged to the Kubraviya Sufi fellowship, Sayf ad-Din Bakharzi, who died in 1261.

On the basis of most recent archaeological research, this structure can be dated in the late fourteenth or early fifteenth century. According to a vakl document given to Yakhya, a grandson of Sayf ad-Din Bakharzi, from 1 August 1326, there was a tomb of a sheikh along the western side of the square named after the sheikh; a khauz (pool) in the middle of the square; a khanako consisting of cells for Sufis and single poor men; therefore, it can be concluded that there was a monument preceding this later one on the same site. Ibn Batuta also indicated the presence of this building.

He recounted: «The cloister we stayed in is attributed to this sheikh and it is very large, and possesses much property, so that pilgrims live on incomes this cloister receives due to its property."30 The architectural monument contained a wooden tombstone upon the sheikh's grave, with sophisticated carving and polychromatic painting performed in blue and red dyes and gilding, exhibited now in the museum of Bukhara. Indeed, this tombstone, made around the time when the sheikh lived, is the most eminent sample of woodenware design art among the surviving artifacts of Central Asia from that time.

Not far and westward from the Sayf ad-Din Bakharzi Mausoleum there is a smaller building — the tomb of the Chingizid Bayan Kuli-khan, who died in 1358. He wished to be buried near the tomb of his sheikh. The close positioning of the mausoleums points not merely to Bayan Kuli-khan's being myurid (disciple) of the sheikh, but represents the Islami-zation, Turkification, and settling process of the Mongolian tribes. Bayan Kuli-khan was a figure-head khan during the reign of emir Ka-zagan. His mausoleum has a small portal and structure that is rectangular in layout and divided into two unequal sections: ziaratkhana, the frontal domed section is the larger section while gurkhana, the westernmost, is the smaller one.

The interior and exterior of the mausoleum are faced with embossed, carved and glazed majolica, which is laid out elaborately and elegantly. The mausoleum is a typical architectural monument of that times.

Another architectural monument of that time worth mentioning is the Boboi-Poroduz Mausoleum situated 200 meters south-east from the Sallya-khona Gates in Bukhara. The person after whom the mausoleum named is believed to be the patron of all craftsmen who used needles in their work: golden brocade seamstresses, tailors, shoemakers, tape-weavers, etc. Regrettably, this mausoleum was rebuilt in the nineteenth-twentieth centuries using modern materials, which hampers dating the foundations. But on the basis of samples of carved unglazed architectural terracotta unearthed during excavations it can be dated to the second quarter of the fourteenth century.

According to early fifteenth century sources there were also mausoleums of sheikh Sirodjidolin Khivati (patron of sweet-makers) and sheikh Makhmud Sanbu-Sapaz (patron of cake-makers) within the mazar (cemetery) that is nearby. By the early twentieth century it was discovered that Boboi Mamoti's Mausoleum (the old man who made felt carpets) was also in this place.

This data points out once again that in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, besides the canonization of ecclesiastical and secular persons, the canonization of deceased pirs (patrons) of various crafts was also practiced. Consequently, the second quarter of the fourteenth century can be defined as a period of reviving crafts and economic activity and of reinforcement of the guild organizations in the city.