The Eşrefoğlu Türbesi (mausoleum) was built together with the mosque, a caravanserai, a bedesten (market hall) and a hamam (Turkish bath). The whole külliye (complex) took some five years to be built (1296-1301), ordered by the Eşrefoğlu prince Şerafettin Süleyman Halil Bey. The (recently restored) tomb became his resting place after his death in 1305.
Many Seljuk (and later Seljuk-style) mausolea are a stone evocation of the pre-islamic funeral hills of the nomads of Central Asia. During their lives, prominent clan members had their funeral hill (‘kurgan’) prepared; when death came, a circular tent was erected on top of the kurgan, and the deceased’s body was laid out, in order to be greeted a last time by the clan members. After this greeting period, the body was placed in the burial chamber inside the kurgan.
A ‘tent-style’ Seljuk Türbe has two parts: a circular or polygonal room with a pyramidal or cone roof, where a cenotaph sarcophagus can be visited and honoured; this is the part referring to the funeral tent. Beneath this ornamented construction the real burial chamber (‘cenazelik’ or ‘mumyalık’) is to be found, where the deceased’s remains were buried; this is the part referring to the burial hill.
Correspondent: J.M.Criel, Antwerpen.
Source: ‘Türkye Tarihi Yerler Kılavuzu’ – M.Orhan Bayrak, Inkılâp Kitabevi, Istanbul, 1994.