This is the Mama Hatun Kümbet, a grave monument for a Seljuk princess. She had supported Saladins conquests in these areas with her troops. It was built by Sesi Muffada ("the cross-eyed"), a prince from Ahlat at the Van-lake. It consists of the actual grave (türbe) and a circular wall around it. It was closed, but I took several shots through the grate at the entrance.
This is the türbe in its small court. The lower floor holds the sarcophagus, the top floor a prayer room with its own mihrab. Note the entrance it not in line with the entrance from the wall that surrounds it.
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.