Timurid art and architecture


The Timurids, self-designated Gurkānī<1> descent, whose empire included the whole of Central Asia, Iran, modern Afghanistan, và Pakistan, as well as large parts of India, Mesopotamia, and Caucasus. It was founded by the legendary conqueror Timur (Tamerlane) in the fourteenth century.

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In the sixteenth century, Timurid prince Babur, the ruler of Ferghana, invaded India and founded the Mughal Empire, which ruled most of the Indian subcontinent until its decline after Aurangzeb in the early eighteenth century, & its eventual demise by the British Raj after the Indian rebellion of 1857.


3 Culture3.1 Literature3.1.1 Timurid literature in Persian language3.3 Architecture4 Legacy4.1 Rulers of the Timurid Empire

Flag of the Timurid Empire according to lớn the Catalan Atlas c. 1375.<2>

After establishing their rule in India, the Timurids became great patrons of culture They gave the world one of its most beautiful feats of architecture, the Taj Mahal, và fused Persian và India styles lớn produce new art-forms, and a new language, Urdu. At times, followers of different faiths under Timurid rule enjoyed religious freedom and non-Muslims held senior posts in the Timurid administration. The positive aspect of their legacy still contributes lớn interfaith harmony in India, Pakistan, & Bangladesh, but the negative aspect fuels inter-community (communitarian) hatred & even violence. Lessons can be learned from the legacy of Timurid rule on how to govern multi-racial, multi-religious societies.


The origin of the Timurid dynasty goes back to lớn the Mongolian nomadic confederation known as Barlas, who were remnants of the original Mongol army of Genghis Khan. After the Mongol conquest of Central Asia, the Barlas settled in Turkistan (which then became also known as Moghulistan—"Land of Mongols") & intermingled khổng lồ a considerable degree with the local Turkic và Turkic-speaking population, so that at the time of Timur"s reign the Barlas had become thoroughly Turkicized in terms of language & habits. Additionally, by adopting Islam, the Central Asian Turks and Mongols also adopted the Persian literary and high culture which has dominated Central Asia since the early days of Islamic influence. Persian literature was instrumental in the assimilation of the Timurid elite to lớn the Perso-Islamic courtly culture.<3> Timur was also steeped in Persian culture<4> và in most of the territories which he incorporated, Persian was the primary language of administration và literary culture. Thus the language of the settled "diwan" was Persian, and its scribes had khổng lồ be thoroughly adept in Persian culture, whatever their ethnic origin.<5>

Founding the dynasty

Timur conquered large parts of Transoxiana (in modern day Central Asia) và Khorasan (parts of modern day Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan) from 1363 onwards with various alliances (Samarkand in 1366, và Balkh in 1369), và was recognized as ruler over them in 1370. Acting officially in the name of the Mongolian Chagatai ulus, he subjugated Transoxania and Khwarazm in the years that followed and began a chiến dịch westwards in 1380. By 1389 he had removed the Kartids from Herat and advanced into mainland Persia from 1382 (capture of Isfahan in 1387, removal of the Muzaffarids from Shiraz in 1393, and expulsion of the Jalayirids from Baghdad). In 1394/95, he triumphed over the Golden Horde và enforced his sovereignty in the Caucasus, in 1398 subjugated Multan và Dipalpur in modern day Pakistan & in modern day India left Delhi in such ruin that it is said for two months "not a bird moved wing in the city."<6>In 1400/01, conquered Aleppo, Damascus và eastern Anatolia, in 1401, destroyed Baghdad & in 1402, triumphed over the Ottomans at Ankara. In addition, he transformed Samarkand into the Center of the World. An estimated 17 million people may have died from his conquests.<7>

After the over of the Timurid Empire in 1506, the Mughal Empire was later established in India by Babur in 1526, who was a descendant of Timur through his father và possibly a descendant of Genghis Khan through his mother. The dynasty he established is commonly known as the Mughal Dynasty. By the seventeenth century, the Mughal Empire ruled most of India, but later declined during the eighteenth century. The Timurid Dynasty came to lớn an end in 1857 after the Mughal Empire was dissolved by the British Empire & Bahadur Shah II was exiled khổng lồ Burma.

Due lớn the fact that the Persian cities were desolated by previous wars, the seat of Persian culture was now in Samarkand and Herat. These cities became the center of the Timurid renaissance<1>


Although the Timurids hailed from the Barlas tribe which was of Mongol origin, they had embraced Persian culture<8> & Persian art (distinguished by extensive adaptations from the Chinese,<1> và also Chagatay Literature,<1> converted to Islam and resided in Turkestan & Khorasan. Thus, the Timurid era had a dual character,<1> which reflected both the Turco-Mongol origins and the Persian culture as well the Persian language. The Persian language was also the state language (also known as Diwan language) of the dynasty.


Timurid literature in Persian language

Persian literature, especially Persian poetry occupied a central place in the process of assimilation of the Timurid elite khổng lồ the Perso-Islamic courtly culture.<9> The Timurid sultans, especially Šāhrukh Mīrzā và his son Mohammad Taragai Oloğ Beg, patronized Persian culture. Among the most important literary works of the Timurid era is the Persian biography of Timur, known as "Zafarnāma," written by Sharaf ud-Dīn Alī Yazdī, which itself is based on an older "Zafarnāma" by Nizām al-Dīn Shāmī, the official biographer of Timur during his lifetime. The most famous poet of the Timurid era was Nūr ud-Dīn Jāmī, the last great medieval Sufi mystic of Persia và one of the greatest in Persian poetry. The most famous painter of the Timurid court, as well as the most famous of the Persian miniature painters in general, was Ustād Kamāl ud-Dīin Behzād. In addition, the Timurid sultan Ulugh Beg is known as a great astronomer, building a "observatory that was a marvel of the age."<10> Daniel says that the Timurid"s were "distinguished as patrons of Islamic scholarship, literature, art> & architecture" & that several Timurid rulers were "accomplished in these fields themselves."<11>

BaySanghur Shahnameh

Baysanghur commissioned a new edition of the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi và wrote an introduction to it. According to lớn T. Lenz:<12>

It can be viewed as a specific reaction in the wake of Timur"s death in 807/1405 khổng lồ the new cultural demands facing Shahhrokh và his sons, a Turkic military elite no longer deriving their power and influence solely from a charis­matic steppe leader with a carefully cultivated linkage to Mongol aristocracy. Now centered in Khorasan, the ruling house regarded the increased assimilation and patronage of Persian culture as an integral component of efforts lớn secure the legitimacy và authority of the dynasty within the context of the Islamic Iranian monarchical tradition, và the Baysanghur Shahnameh, as much a precious object as it is a manuscript to lớn be read, powerfully symbolizes the Timurid conception of their own place in that tradition. A valuable documen­tary source for Timurid decorative arts that have all but disappeared for the period, the manuscript still awaits a comprehensive monographic study.

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National literature in Chagatay language

The early Timurids played a very important role in the history of Turkic literature. Based on the established Persian literary tradition, a national Turkic literature was developed, written in the Chagatay language, the native tongue of the Timurid family. Chagatay poets such as Mīr Alī Sher Nawā"ī, Sultan Husayn Bāyqarā, và Babur encouraged other Turkic-speaking poets to lớn write in their own vernacular in addition lớn Arabic và Persian.

The Bāburnāma, the autobiography of Bābur, as well as Mīr Alī Sher Nawā"ī"s Chagatay poetry are among the best-known Turkic literary works và have fascinated and influenced many others world wide. The Baburnama was highly Persianized in its sentence structure, morphology or word formation và vocabulary.<13>


During the reign of Timurid rule, the golden age of Persian painting was ushered. During this period as well as the Safavid dynasty, Chinese art and artists had a significant influence on Persian art. Timurid artists refined the Persian art of the book, which combines paper, calligraphy, illumination, illustration & binding in a brilliant và colorful whole.<14> It was the Mongol ethnicity of the Chaghatayid and Timurid Khans that is the source of the stylistic depiction Persian art during the Middle Ages. These same Mongols intermarried with the Persians & Turks>> of Central Asia, even adopting their religion và languages. Yet their simple control of the world at that time, particularly in the thirteenth-fifteenth centuries, reflected itself in the idealized appearance of Persians as Mongols. Though the ethnic make-up gradually blended into the Iranian & Mesopotamian local populations, the Mongol stylism continued well after, and crossed into Asia Minor & even North Africa.


Timurid architecture


In the realm of architecture, the Timurids drew on và developed many Seljuq traditions. Turquoise và blue tiles forming intricate linear & geometric patterns decorated the facades of buildings. Sometimes the interior was decorated similarly, with painting và stucco relief further enriching the effect. Timurid architecture is the pinnacle of Islamic art in Central Asia. Spectacular & stately edifices erected by Timur and his successors in Samarkand and Herat helped lớn disseminate the influence of the Ilkhanid school of art in India, thus giving rise khổng lồ the celebrated Mughal (or Mongol) school of architecture. Timurid architecture started with the sanctuary of Ahmed Yasawi in present-day Kazakhstan và culminated in Timur"s mausoleum Gur-e Amir in Samarkand. Timur’s Gur-I Mir, the fourteenth century mausoleum of the conqueror is covered with "turquoise Persian tiles."<15> Nearby, in the center of the ancient town, there is a Persian style Madrassa (religious school)<15> và a Persian style Mosque<15> built by Ulugh Beg. The mausoleum of Timurid princes, with their turquoise & blue-tiled domes remain among the most refined and exquisite Persian architecture.<16> Axial symmetry is a characteristic of all major Timurid structures, notably the Shāh-e Zenda in Samarkand, the Musallah complex in Herat, & the mosque of Gowhar Shād in Mashhad. Double domes of various shapes abound, and the outsides are perfused with brilliantly colors. Timurs dominance of the region strengthened the influence of his capital & Persian architecture upon India.<17>

Mughal architecture

After the foundation of the Mughal Empire, the Timurids successfully expanded the Persian cultural influence from Khorasan khổng lồ India, where the Persian language, literature, architecture, & art dominated the Indian subcontinent>> until the British conquest. The Mughals, Persianized Turks who invaded from Central Asia and claimed descent from both Timur và Genghis—strengthened the Persianate culture of Muslim India.<18>

The Mughal period marked a striking revival of Islamic architecture in northern India. Under the patronage of the Mughal emperors, Indian, Persian, and various provincial styles were fused lớn produce works of unusual unique and refinement.

The Mughal emperor Akbar the Great constructed the chung cư royal city of Fatehpur Sikri, located 26 miles west of Agra, in the late 1500s. The most famous example of Mughal architecture is the Taj Mahal, the "teardrop on eternity," completed in 1648 by the emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal who died while giving birth to lớn their 14th child. The extensive use of precious & semiprecious stones as inlay and the vast quantity of trắng marble required nearly bankrupted the empire. The Taj Mahal is completely symmetric other than the sarcophagus of Shah Jahan which is placed off center in the crypt room below the main floor. This symmetry extended khổng lồ the building of an entire mirror mosque in red sandstone to lớn complement the Mecca-facing mosque place lớn the west of the main structure. Another structure built that showed great depth of Mughal influence was the Shalimar Gardens.


As Muslims, the Timurid rulers did much lớn promote Islam, building mosques and sponsoring scholarship. However, Muslims were always a minority within the Mughal Empire. Non-Muslims were at times treated harshly; both Babur & Aurangzeb destroyed Temples. Akbar, however, fused Christianity, Hinduism và Islam into a single God-centered religion, Din-i-Ilahi. At other times, their rule was marked by a high degree of religious tolerance when non-Muslims held high positions of state, no tithe was levied on non-Muslims và many people participated in religious festivals of traditions other than their own. Without denying that persecution of non-Muslims did occur under Timurid rule, Dutt says that "many Hindu và Muslim scholars studied each other"s religions, while the common people existed peacefully."<19> Many Timurid rulers were advocates of the Sufu doctrine of wahdat-al-wajud, the "unity of God & the created world, which was given creative expression by a new breed of poets."<20>


Life under Timurid rule was for much of the time politically stable, with many citizens enjoying peace and prosperity within secure borders. Perhaps the Timurids greatest achievement was their fusing of Persian & Indian forms, as Dutt comments, "the fusion of two cultures gave rise to lớn new styles of art, architecture và music & to a new language, Urdu."<21>

The positive aspects of the Timurid legacy still contributes khổng lồ interfaith harmony in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, but the negative aspect fuels inter-community (communitarian) hatred & even violence. Lessons can be learned from the legacy of Timurid rule on how to govern multi-racial, multi-religious societies.

Rulers of the Timurid Empire

Timur (Tamerlane) 1370-1405 (771-807 AH)—with Suyurghitmiš Chaghtay as nominal overlord followed by Mahmūd Chaghtay as overlord và finally Muhammad Sultān as heirPir Muhammad bin Jahāngīr 1405-1407 (807-808 AH)Rulers of HeratShāhrukh 1405-1447 (807-50 AH) (overall ruler of the Timurid Empire 1409-1447)Abu"l-Qasim Bābar 1447-1457 (850-61 AH)Shāh Mahmūd 1457 (861 AH)Ibrāhim 1457-1459 (861-863 AH)Sultān Abu Sa’id Gūrgān 1459-1469 (863-73 AH) (in Transoxiana 1451-1469)Yādgār Muhammad 1470 (873 AH)Sultān Hussayn 1470-1506 (874-911 AH)Badi ul-Zamān 1506-1507 (911-912 AH)Muzaffar Hussayn 1506-1507 (911-912 AH)

Herat is conquered by the Uzbeks under Muhammad Shaybani

Rulers of SamarkandKhalīl Sultān 1405-1409 (807-11 AH)Mohammad Taragai bin Shāhrukh-I 1409-1449 (811-53 AH) (overall ruler of the Timurid Empire 1447-1449)"Abd al-Latif 1449-1450 (853-854 AH)‘Abdullah 1450-1451 (854-55 AH)Sultān Abu Sa’id Gūrgān 1451-1469 (855-73 AH) (in Herat 1459-1469)

Abu Sa"id"s sons divided his territories upon his death, into Samarkand, Badakhshan và Farghana

Sultān ibn Abu Sa’id 1469-1494 (873-899 AH)Sultān Mahmūd ibn Abu Sa’id 1494-1495 (899-900 AH)Sultān Baysunqur 1495-1497 (900-902 AH)Mas’ūd 1495 (900 AH)Sultān Alī Mīrzā 1495-1500 (900-905 AH)

Samarkand is conquered by the Uzbeks under Muhammad Shaybani

Rulers of Mughal Empire

Zahiruddin Babur Mirza 1526-1530 (933-937 AH)—established Mughal Dynasty in India (Mughal Empire)Nasiruddin Humayun Mirza 1530-1556 (937-963 AH)—ruler of Mughal Empire, son of BaburKamran Mirza 1530-1557 (937-962 AH)—ruler of Kabul và Lahore, son of BaburAbul Qasim Muhammad bin Kamran 968 AHSuleiman Mirza 936-92 AHShahrukh III 983-87 AH—son of IbrahimBahadur Shah I (Shah Alam I) 1707-1712—son of AurangzebJahandar Shah>>, b. 1664, ruler from 1712-1713Furrukhsiyar, b. 1683, ruler from 1713-1719Rafi Ul-Darjat, ruler 1719Rafi Ud-Daulat (Shah Jahan II), ruler 1719Nikusiyar, ruler 1719Muhammad Ibrahim, ruler 1720Muhammad Shah, b. 1702, ruler from 1719–1720, 1720-1748Ahmad Shah Bahadur, b. 1725, ruler from 1748-1754Shah Jahan III, ruler 1759Shah Alam II, b. 1728, ruler from 1759-1806Akbar Shah II, b. 1760, ruler from 1806-1837

Heads of the Timurid Dynasty

Bahadur Shah II (1857–1862)Shahzada Muhammad Hidayat Afshar, Ilahi Bakhsh Bahadur>> (1862–1878)Shahzada Muhammad Sulaiman Shah Bahadur (1878–1890)Shahzada Muhammad Kaiwan Shah Gorkwani, Suraya Jah Bahadur (1890–1913)

Mirza Salim Muhammad Shah Bahadur>> (1913–1925)

No recognized head of the family (1925–1931)

Shahzada Muhammad Khair ud-din Mirza, Khurshid Jah Bahadur (1931–1975)

Mirza Ghulam Moinuddin Muhammad, Javaid Jah Bahadur (1975-Present)



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