You are here

Home » Lebap region monuments. Tours and excursions to ancient Lebap monuments.

Astana-baba mausoleum.

Tours on monuments of Lebap Region.

"Locals believe that the mausoleum is the place of burial of a standard bearer of the Prophet. While there is no efinitive answer as to the figure for whom the mausoleum was built, written sources record that the last Samanid ruler, Abu Ibrahim Ismail Muntazir, was killed in this general area in 1004"

Trip to mausoleum Astana-baba in Lebap Region.

The Mausoleum of Astan-Baba is unique structure in its type, built in the area of the Medieval Zemm, north-west from Kerki. It has been rebuilt many times in the course of the centures.   
Kerki is an administrative centre forming part of Lebap velayat.
It's a town with a population of 20.000. The city differs from others with its' XIX c architecture. Kerki is rich in archaeological monuments. The first and most impressive monument is a comparatively older fortress named Sultaniyazbiy-kalasy (40 km of the Turkmenabad-Kerki highway).
It is also known as Seiydi fortress, named so in honour of Seyitnazar Seyidi, a classical Turkmen writer. Another monument of Kerki is the Alamberdar mausoleum dating back to the XI c. It is situated 12 kilometres to the northwest of the present day location of the town of Kerki.
This is the largest preserved monument among the early buildings of north Khorasan (in present day Iran). Inside of the Alamberdar mausoleum there are architectural ornaments crafted from 15 types of figured brick.
There is only one room adorned with a cenotaph, which often is mistaken as a gravestone but excavations have revealed that no one is buried there. Alamberdar, or Alamberdar-tutchy is translated from Turkmen as "standard-bearer". 
No person is connected with the monument, however, from the written origins in Kerki there was killed Abu-Ibrahim Ismail Muntazir, the last ruler of the Samanid state. In Turkmenistan there is not a few of sanctuaries, where even today it's possible to see ziyarat-a ritual of worshipping to one or other saint, which is performed by pilgrims.
The Astana-baba mausoleum of Kerki is one of the respected saints. The mausoleum was subjected to multiple reconstructions during a range of centuries. Its oldest parts -"the mosque" and probably, its entry peshtak refer to 12 c, and its last capital restoration was carried out in 1918 - 1920 under the aegis of Bukhara Emir.
The Astana-baba cult has formed several centuries ago and not at all on the empty place. The name points out pre-Islam, pagan origin, then transforming in the image of a Moslem saint. Now, both a settlement and a unique 4-dome in shape architectural ensemble bears this name. 
Square in plan, its external walls feature three blind niches on each side. The decorative brickwork is particularly fine. Inside, a brick tomb near the door is covered with cloths. At one head of the tomb, a short column was, when I visited, topped with a few used matches and an ominously sticky substance to which a couple of feathers were clinging, all too suggestive of recent avian sacrifice.
The tomb is apparently a false one: research has indicated that no-one was ever buried beneath it.
Locals believe that the mausoleum is the place of burial of a standard bearer of the Prophet. While there is no efinitive answer as to the figure for whom the mausoleum was built, written sources record that the last Samanid ruler, Abu Ibrahim Ismail Muntazir, was killed in this general area in 1004.
Some historians suggest that Alamberdar might be the symbolic mausoleum of Muntazir. A few hundred metres to the south, on the same side of the road, lies another interesting mausoleum, that of Astana-Baba.
This is an unusual and attractive complex, consisting of four domed rooms, readied by way of a brick corridor beyond the portal, the corridor leading into a now roofless four-pillared hall before reaching the first of the domed rooms.
The two westernmost domed rooms, those furthest from the entrance, each contain two tombs. The building has been progressively enlarged, and several times altered, over the centuries. The oldest part of the complex seems to comprise the two easternmost domed rooms, one of them a mosque, the other containing a single tomb, which probably date from the XIIth century.
The portal and the twin-tombed room known as the Kizlyar-Bibi Mausoleum are among the most recent additions, probably XIXth century. The whole complex is a place of shrine pilgrimage. 'Astana' derives from the Farsi word meaning 'mausoleum', and it is unclear who is actually buried beneath the various tombs.
One tale begins with the sudden death at this place of the beloved only daughter of the ruler of Balkh, Ibn Ali Nur Ogly Zuveida, just a week after her marriage to a local worthy. The distraught father ordered the construction of a magnificent mausoleum to his daughter.
But no sooner was the building completed than it fell down. This happened a second time, and a third. One day a wise old man advised the grieving father to mix earth and water brought from Mecca to the building materials.
This he did, and this time the building remained standing. On his death, the father was buried in the mausoleum alongside the daughter he had loved so much.

Authoruty:
By Christopher Robbins from http://eurasia.travel