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Amir Timur Museum and Glimpse of Tashkent, Uzbekistan

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December 31, 1995
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Mirza Firuz Shah
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Architectural and Building
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Akbar III 1948-2012

Amir Timur Museum and Glimpse of Tashkent, Uzbekistan

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Iconography of the triptych The centrepiece of the museum is a monumental stucco triptych based on a modern rendition of Persian miniature painting featuring the life of Timur. The triptych, called ‘The Great Sakhibkiran – The Great Creator’, was painted in 1996 by a team of Uzbek artists collectively called Sanoi Nafis. The first panel is dedicated to the heroic birth of Timur, the Lord of the Fortunate Conjunction. According to Persian historiography, Timur adopted the imperial title of sahib-qiran, the world-conqueror, professing that his destiny is governed by the auspicious conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Venus. The astrological sign of Aries refers to Timur’s presumed birthday on 8 April 1336. However, there is no direct historical testimony confirming the exact date.8 Beatrice Manz has pointed out that the year 1336 was perhaps chosen to stress the dynastic succession of the Ilkhanid and Timurid dynasties, whereby Timur chronologically followed the last Ilkhan Abu Said, who died in 1335. The Ilkhans were a Mongol dynasty, founded by Genghis Khan’s grandson Hulegu, that ruled in Iran from 1256 to 1335. Throughout his military campaigns Timur aimed at recreating the Mongol empire and achieving recognized primacy over the Islamic world. The lower scene of the triptych depicts a cradle (beshik) surrounded by young women singing a lullaby and embroidering the cradle curtain for Timur. The idyllic landscape is marked by a poplar tree that refers to the birth of a son. The royal tent, symbol of power and prosperity at Islamic courts, makes up most of the background. It is festooned in gold and turquoise blue, with decorative motifs used in Timurid miniature painting and architecture. Yet, Timur did not have a royal origin. He was a member of the tribal aristocracy, but he was neither a descendant of Genghis Khan, nor a chief of his own Turkic Barlas tribe. That is why Timur could not claim the title of khan, a mark of sovereignty among the steppe nomads, and could not call himself a caliph, the supreme title of the Islamic world. Instead, he established himself as a supreme military leader, proud of his valour and audacity, symbolized in the triptych by a falcon perching on top of the royal tent. The central panel, called Rising, reveals Timur as a just leader, strong statesman, wise diplomat and as the founder of a mighty dynasty. The scene is framed as a majestic iwan (ceremonial gate used in Timurid architecture). The text in the cartouche just above the pointed arch is in Persian and reads: “If you are truthful, you will be saved”. Timur is seated on a gilded Solomon throne, surrounded by astronomers, scholars, poets and military chieftains. Four selected members of the Timurid dynasty are represented in the lower tier of the composition. These are (from left to right) Sultan Muhammad (1383-1403), Timur’s grandson and heir presumptive, who died before Timur but is remembered for building the ensemble at Gur-i Amir that would become the Timurid dynastic mausoleum; Ulugh Beg (d. 1449), renowned astronomer and ruler of Samarqand; Sultan Husayn Bayqara (d. 1506), governor of Herat, known as one of the most influential artistic patrons in the fifteenth century; and Zahir al-Din Muhammad Babur (1483-1530), the founder of the Mughal dynasty in India. They sit around a wooden bookstand and revere the Timurid codebook (Malfuzat-i Timuri: The autobiography of Timur, known in Russian as Ulozhenie Timura). The work is widely regarded in post-1991 Uzbekistan as the basis of statehood; it consists of two parts: Timur’s (incomplete) biography between 1343 and 1381 and guiding principles for successful governance and military tactics. It is remarkable that the artists of the triptych chose to portray not the four sons of Timur but four members of the Timurid dynasty whose accomplishments are widely known and recognized worldwide. They venerate a book that was compiled and cherished by Timur’s descendants and has been propagated throughout the Mughal and local dynastic courts as the epitome of ingenious statecraft.


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Ismail Mazari

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Very good information.

MUGHAL IMAGES

The Mughal Images immediately took a much greater interest in realistic portraiture than was typical of Persian miniatures. Animals and plants were the main subject of many miniatures for albums and were more realistically depicted. To upload your images click here.

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