SPACH Photo Catalogue of Major Priority Sites and Monuments:

Provinces:

Badakhshan Badghis
Baghlan
Balkh
Bamyan
Farah
Faryab
Ghazni
Ghor
Herat
Helmand
Jawzjan
Kabul
Kandahar
Kapisa
Khost
Kunar
Kunduz
Laghman
Logar
Nangarhar
Nimroz
Nuristan
Paktika
Paktya
Parwan
Samangan
Sari Pul
Takhar
Uruzgan
Wardak
Zabu
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MASJID-E JAMI,

The great mosque of Herat is one of Afghanistan’s more attractive sights. The form in which it stands today was originally laid out on the site of an earlier 10th century mosque in the year 1200 by the Ghrid Sultan Ghiyasuddin. Only tantalizing fragments of Ghorid decoration remain except for a splendid portal situated to the south of the main entrance. (enter from front situated to the south of the main entrance. (Enter from front garden through small door in mosque wall.) A bold Kufic inscription, including the name of the monarch, stands in high Persian-blue relief above a soft buff background intricately designed with floral motifs in cut brick. The combination of the bright, bold straight-lined script contrasts dramatically with the graceful delicacy of the background. It is an exciting example of the artistic sophistication of the ghorids. This stunning decoration was hidden under Timurid decorative tile until the winter of 1964 when experts working with the Kabul Museum removed the later Timurid decoration dating from the 15th century. The upper section of the Timurid arch, lower that the ghorid arch, has been left for interesting comparisons. Ghorid geometric patterns give way to increasingly exuberant floral patterns in the timurid decoration; coloured tile used sparingly only as an accent by the Ghorid is used to cover every inch of the architectural facade by their successors.
The lavish Timurid decorative restoration covered the entire surface of the mosque but it disappeared as the unstable political climate enveloped Herat during the 400 years following Timurid rule. Photographs taken in the courtyard in the early tears of the 20th century show only piles of rubble against bleak, white-washed walls. In 1943 an ambitious restoration program began and continues to today. It is the creation of three noted Herati artists, Fikhri Seljuki Herawi, Mohammad Sa’id Mashal-i Ghori, and the accomplished calligrapher, Mohammad Ali Herawi. A visit to the mosque workshop (to left of corridor leading from the front garden into the courtyard) is highly recommended.
The huge bronze cauldron in the courtyard dates from the reign of the Kart kings of Herat (1332-1381). It was originally used as a receptacle fro sherbet (a sweet drink) which was served to workshipers on feast days. It is now used for donations for the upkeep of the mosque."
..." Better preserved fragments of Ghorid decoration may be seen on the arches of the short corridors on either side of the main iwan where the mehrab (prayer niche) is let into the west wall. Here the work was executed in cut brick and molded terracotta. In the south corridor, there is a Kufic inscription with a floral background done in a distinctive angular “brambly” style little seen elsewhere. Above this band there are two large panels of brickwork interspersed with x-form plugs and bordered with an undulating chain of molded terracotta arabesques. Simple in concept, the use of plain unadorned brick for design and texture produces a thoroughly handsome effect which is both aesthetically pleasing and strong. Between these brick panels there is a narrower panel filled with a complicated geometric design formed by a series of buds and interconnecting tendrils.
All that is left of the splendid Timurid restoration undertaken by Sultan Husain Baiqara’s prime minister Mir Ali Sher Nawai in 1498 may be found on the inside of the arcade in the southwest corner of the courtyard. The interiors fo these five arches are decorated with narrow strips of blue tile hexagons and octagons sprinkled with tiny golden flowers. Plain pink-beige tile plaques slightly in relief fill the spaces between. The relief and the tiny flowers produce an illusion of depth and mobility which is extremely effective.”

From Dupree, N. H. An historical guide to Afghanistan. Kabul. 1977. p.250

CONDITION:

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