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Bolgan ana mausoleum.

Sacred places of Ulytau.

“If diversity is a source of wonder, its opposite - the ubiquitous condensation to some blandly amorphous and singulary generic modern culture that takes for granted an impoverished environment - is a source of dismay. There is, indeed, a fire burning over the earth, taking with it plants and animals, cultures, languages, ancient skills and visionary wisdom. Quelling this flame, and re-inventing the poetry of diversity is perhaps the most importent challenge of our times” 

Wade Davis.

Ulytau and Central Asia on Silk Road Tour.

The Bolgan ana mausoleum is located in the Ulytau district of the Karaganda region, 25.6 kilometers southeast of the Talap village, which is subordinate to the city administration of Zhezkazgan and 18 kilometers southeast of the Bestobe mountain range, the dominant elevation of which is 384 meters above the level seas.
The Bolgan Ana mausoleum is located at a height of 331 meters above sea level in the ancient Bolganon cemetery in the interfluve of Karakengir and Sarysu. Bolganon cemetery is located 10 kilometers from the mouth of the Karakangir River to the north.
Here, at the cemetery, 25 meters southeast of the Bolgan Ana mausoleum, there is the Kulan Ana mausoleum. The mausoleum is a single-chamber structure of a portal-dome type, almost square in plan (926 x 1090 x 930 x 1085 meters along the outer contour).
Oriented with an exit to the south-west (in the direction favorable in the Chinese tradition), built entirely of well-fired square bricks (32 x 32 x 6 cm). The foundation of the building is shallow and filled with clay mortar mixed with the same brick - which is why, perhaps, the mausoleum suffered so much from time to time.
The dome, which supported its floors and supporting elements, together with the adjoining upper part of the walls and portal, completely collapsed. However, the surviving part of the walls up to 2.9 meters high and the portal up to 3.7 (4.7) meters high allow us to judge the structure - its proportions, composition and style - in many respects reminiscent of the Ayakkamyr mausoleum.
Like the Ayakkamyr mausoleum, the Bolgan ana mausoleum is lined with square bricks (although slightly larger, and therefore giving slightly fewer masonry joints), and has almost the same facade to side wall ratio.
Also in a powerful (3.1 meters thick) portal is arranged a relatively shallow (1.2 meters), with its width (2.6 meters), a niche, the top of which was once decorated with a wedge-shaped arched vault, the niche was framed by a U-shaped notch , 48 cm wide.
Two more (12 cm deep) were made almost symmetrically in relation to the U-shaped notch in the portal, vertical - one on each side. The recesses were apparently intended for the installation of ornamental terracotta slabs.
Here, the resemblance to the Ayakkamyr mausoleum, decorated with carved inserts not only along the portal, but also along the side walls, ends, since there are no traces of these slabs or any traces of mortar deposits in the recesses.
As there are no embossed decorations on the walls, except for the front one, they are completely smooth. Perhaps, the organizer deliberately left the recesses empty, for reasons of economy and the effect of strict simplicity, in the spirit of which the mausoleum is generally sustained.
In the center of the niche there is an entrance opening, 2.2 meters high and 1.3 meters wide, also decorated with an arch. This is the first time and the only decoration of the entrance opening with an arch among the "old" mausoleums - all similar structures of this and previous eras on the territory of modern Kazakhstan were decorated with a simple horizontal lintel. In its form, “the arch approaches the keeled form, which is rare in Kazakhstan,” which probably “rhymed” with the main arch of the niche.
The entrance opening leads to a rather long passage (1.9 meters) with a vaulted ceiling. Next is the room, which also has an almost square area, but approximately 2.5 times smaller than the outer one (6.27 x 6.29 meters).
The complete sensation of the transition from one world to another - if we imagine that the octahedral dome drum and the dome with a diameter of 6 meters are intact - ended with a sharp beam of light falling through a hole in the dome onto a square brick floor.
The mausoleum is located on the steep bank of the river, on its uppermost terrace, and is clearly visible from afar. Like many monuments of memorial architecture, it served at the same time as a track landmark and, possibly, a spatial boundary mark.
The dominant height of the place is also not accidental - the opening view soothes with its breadth, creates a contemplative mood; the structure stays in the sunlight longer. On the terrace below, on the same bank, are the ruins of unknown buildings with foundations and cellars - it is assumed that this is a kind of "castle", the owner or mistress of which ordered the construction of the tomb.
Indirectly, the hypothesis of the "family necropolis" is confirmed by a memorial structure located in the immediate vicinity of Bolgan ana, known as "Bolgan ana No. 2". Two-chamber, but at the same time smaller in size, it was built much later, as indicated by a completely different technology: the walls of raw and pakhsa (rammed clay) are lined outside and inside with red fired brick. Due to the fact that the facing is not tied to the base, this second, younger mausoleum has suffered from time even more than the first.
The mausoleum has a simple plan, strict and expressive architectural forms, technically competently executed brickwork and plasterwork speaks of a rather high culture of the building art of that time. Bolgan ana mausoleum is a monument of memorial architecture of Kazakhstan of republican significance, it has been protected by the state since 1982.
The mausoleum forms a cultural and historical unity with other significant monuments of memorial architecture that have survived in the same area - the mausoleums of Alash Khan, Ayakkamyr, Jochi Khan, Zhuban-ana, and is often mentioned together with them as an example of the original style that existed in the regions of Central Kazakhstan in the Middle Ages.
The mausoleum was finally identified and described for the first time by the famous Kazakh archaeologist A. Kh. Margulan. However, it has not yet been possible to finally identify the person who gave the building its name.
Some sources claim that the Bolgan girl is the daughter-in-law of the semi-legendary Alasha Khan, others consider her to be the daughter-in-law or even the beloved of Genghis Khan himself, and still others - the wealthy widow of the sovereign protokazakh.
The answer to the question of when the mausoleum was built depends on the answer to the question of who Bolgan Ana was: supporters of communication with Alasha Khan, whose dates of life are indicated in different sources in the range from the VIIIth to the XVth centuries, are also consistent in the dating of the mausoleum Bolgan-ana, supporters of communication with the first Chingizids date back to the XIII - the beginning of the XIV century; finally, it is argued that the mausoleum was built, most likely, not earlier than the beginning of the XVth century.
Geographic coordinates of the Bolgan Ana mausoleum: N47 ° 28'00.25 "E68 ° 00'30.32"

Bolgan-ana mausoleum.

Alexander Petrov, Vitaly Shuptar.