The Mausoleum of Khoja Akhmet Yassawy, XIV century
This amazing erection was built in honour of a famous Turkic poet and Sufi mystic, Khoja Ahmed Yasawi.
The word “Yassawi” originates from “Yassy” and means “from Yassy”. That was the ancient name of Turkestan.
The whole city is a historical and cultural reservation of Khazret Sultan. Except the Mausoleum of Khoja Akhmet Yassawy, there are medieval bath houses and khilvet, where the great Saint used to live, a mausoleum of great-granddaughter of Emir Timur - Rabiya Sultan Begim and other monuments.
Khoja Alhmet Yassawy is a founder of Sufism, thinker, poet and a preacher, an early mystic who exerted a powerful influence on the development of mystical orders throughout the Turkic-speaking world. His father Shaikh Ibrahim had already been renowned in that region for performing countless feats and many legends were told of him. Consequently, it was recognized that, with respect to his lineage as well, this quiet and unassuming young boy, who always listened to his elder sister, held a spiritually important position.
Yassawi was born to Sheykh Ibrahim and at age seven, when he was orphaned by the loss of his father, Yassawi was raised by another spiritual father, Arslan Baba. By age seven, Ahmed Yasawi had already advanced through a series of high spiritual stages and then, under the direction of Arslan Baba, the young Ahmed reached a high level of maturity and slowly began to win fame from every quarter. The formation of Akhmed Yassawy as an individual was in the city of Yassy, where he arrived at the age of 17 after the death of his teacher. At this age the young man started to write poems in Arabic, Shagatai, Pharsi and Turk languages. He was interested in the Eastern poetry and literature. Later on he visited Bukhara, where he was taught by Yusuf Hamdani.
After he got the status of the expert of Sufism, he returned to the city of Yassy and continues the tradition left by Arystan-Bab. He founded the Order of “Yassawy”. Khoja Akhmet Yassawy calls people to asceticism, renunciation of external life and patience, because this is what guarantees the felicity in the afterlife. He calls people upon the justice, truth and kindness. Owing to him, the Turk language was brought in the literary use. The people’s preachers named “baba” spread the teaching of Yassawy in Turkestan, Azerbayjan, Small Asia, in regions of Volga, Khorasan etc.
Yassawy has defined the development of people’s impetus of the new islamic civilization of Turk people. He united the new religious ideology with mass perception, which was mainly based on tengrian-shaman and zoroastrianism belief. The Yassawy movement played an important role in this process. This movement which has invoked the echo in the hearts of Turkic people, stimulated the justice, spiritual and moral purification. If before the teaching of Yassawy Turkic people were worshiping Tengri, he called them to worship one God, Allah. With the help of Sufism, Turkic people become acquainted with the eastern philosophy, the philosophy of world religion. The son of Arystan-Bab named Mansur has become a follower of him. He received the big number of admirer and pilgrims. When he reached the year of 63, he lived until the end of his life in the dungeon. Yassaui explained: "I have reached the age of the prophet, sixty-three years, for me this is enough, no need to live beyond the time allotted to prophet. There are various data on life expectancy of Ahmet Yassaui. According to one data, he lived 73 years, according to other - up to 85 years or even 125 years. By preaching the ideas of Sufism, Ahmet Yassaui strictly followed them by himself and has lived in poverty. The moral authority of Ahmet Yassaui was high among the population of Syrdarian steppes, and far beyond. After the death of Ahmet Yassaui, around his name were created legends, the tomb became a place of pilgrimage.
History of construction of the mausoleum
Folk legends tell us about the great respect of the Emir Timur to the sanctuaries of Turkestan. On his orders, more than two centuries after the death of Ahmet Yassawy in place of a small gravestones one of the great monuments of world architecture was built, which entered the UNESCO World Heritage List. The official history of Timur the "Book of victories" ( "Zafar-name") narrates about the construction of the building of year of 1397, when Timur solemnly committed ziarat (worship) at the tomb of Ahmed Yassaui.
According to the “Book of victories”, it was during his stay in the town of Yassy, whenTimur gave order to build here, on the outskirts of his possessions, the grand structure devoted to decent memory of Ahmet Yassaui. It had to was to glorify Islam and promote its further dissemination, to facilitate the board extensive margin.
In XIV century by instructions of Emir Timur the architectural monument was build. There is a local legend concerning this occasion. When they began to build the walls of the mausoleum, a strong storm destroyed them. After the second construction the history has repeated itself. Then Timur saw an old man who gives him an advice to build the first mazar Arystan-Bab as teacher and mentor of Ahmed. Emir Timur did what he said. Then began what was intended. The significance of Arystan-Bab can be seen from the tradition when the pilgrims were required to spend the night in Otrar near the Arystan-Bab mausoleum, and only then, they could come to Ahmed Yassawy.
Timur identified the main dimensions of the building by himself. In particular, the large diameter of the dome was supposed to be equal to 30 gyaz (the unit of measure of length which is equal to 60.6 cm). This module (gyaz) were determined by the size of all other parts of the structure. In the special literacy (Waqf-name) listed ditches and land alienated in favor of the monument. Income from these holdings and donations of believers had to be used for building repairs and maintenance of state servants.
Well-preserved inscription above the entrance to the building says: "This sacred place was built by command of the ruler, beloved by Allah, Emir Timur guragana ... – May Allah prolong his command for centuries!"
Architecture of the mausoleum
The unfinished state of the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, especially at the entrance portal and sections of the interior, allow for the better architectural scrutiny of how the monument was designed and constructed. The structure is rectangular in plan, measuring 45.8 x 62.7 m (150.3 x 205.7 ft), and is 38.7 m (127.0 ft) high. It is oriented from the south-east to the north-west. The primary material used for the building is ganch—fired brick mixed with mortar, gypsum and clay—which was made in a plant located in Sauran. Layers of clay reaching a depth of 1.5 m (4.9 ft), to prevent the water penetration, were used for the original foundation. These were replaced with reinforced concrete in modern restoration works. The main entrance to the mausoleum is from the south-east, through which visitors are ushered into the 18.2 x 18.2-m (59.7 x 59.7-ft) Main Hall, known as Kazandyk (the “copper room”). The section is covered by the largest existing brick dome in Central Asia, also measuring 18.2 m (59.7 ft) in diameter. At the center of the Kazandyk is a bronze cauldron, used for religious purposes.
The tomb of Yasawi is situated on the central axis at the end of the building in the northwest, with the sarcophagus located exactly at the center of the section, which has a double dome ribbed roof —the inner dome being 17.0 m (55.8 ft) high and the outer dome being 28.0 m (91.9 ft) high. The dome exterior is covered with hexagonal green glazed tiles with gold patterns. The interior is adorned with alabaster stalactites, known as muqarnas. Additional rooms in the structure, totaling more than 35, include meeting rooms, a refectory, a library, and a mosque, which had light blue geometric and floral ornaments on its walls. The mausoleum’s exterior walls are covered in glazed tiles constituting geometric patterns with Kufic and Suls epigraphic ornaments derived from the Qur'an. Initial plans also called for the addition of two minarets, but this was not realized when construction was halted in 1405