Three mausolea, named ‘Üç Kümbetler’. It is uncertain when exactly they were erected: some specialists say they are from the 12th century, other think from the early 14th century (according to some stylistic characteristics). Two of them (on the back of the picture) are very classical in style: an almost cylindric body, adorned with blind arcs, under a conical roof. The third one is more elaborate, and shows influences from the Armenian-Georgian architecture. It is octagonal, with each of the eight sides having a triangular gable end. The roof has the form of an inverted spinning top. This one is named ‘Emir Saltuk Kümbeti’, after the namegiver of the 12th century Saltuklu dynasty (English: Saltuqid). But – since none of the building inscriptions could be found – this is hardly an indication helping dating the tombs. They were restored in 1956.
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.
Sources: ‘Türkye Tarihi Yerler Kılavuzu’ – M.Orhan Bayrak, Inkılâp Kitabevi, Istanbul, 1994.
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