Emma R. Usmanova & Irina P. Panyushkina
The Mausoleum of Jochi Khan as Legacy of the Sufi Movement in Central Asia
(65th Meeting Astana, 2023)
The new chronology of the mausoleum of Jochi Khan, based on radiometric dating and architectural research, casts doubt on the cultural identification of the monument. The re-examination of the original sources emphasizes how much the history of the mausoleum is shrouded in myths. The earliest reference of the name to the mazar dates to 1582. The first excavation of two crypts inside the mazar performed by G. Patsevich in 1946. A. Margulan declared the mausoleum the burial place of Jochi Khan and his wife. Although Jochi Khan, as member of the Genghis Khan family, was buried by the sacred Mongolian custom. The statesman of the Mongol Empire, he was a “pagan and Tengrian”. If not Jochi Khan, then who is buried in this fine piece of early Islamic architecture? In the religious landscape of Central Asia in the XIV-XV centuries dominated by Sufi orders. The order of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi was the most successful in its teachings. In recognition, mazars are built over the new and old graves of Sufi missionaries (e.g. Yasawi Mausoleum in Turkestan, Zangi-ata mazar near Tashkent). The construction of the mazar, known today under the name of Jochi Khan, happened in the late XIII to early XIV centuries and renovation in the late XIV to early XV century in the Timurids era. The renovation significantly elevated the importance of mausoleum. The portal was raised, the second outer dome was built and lined with blue glazed tiles, thereby emphasizing the high status of the buried. The pommel on top of the dome was adorned with bull or cow horns. The dome was supported by an unusual 17-point-star-shaped drum. Since quantity reflects quality in Sufi numerology, it probably symbolizes the age of the appearance of Yasawi in Turkestan. If so, the mazar backs the legacy of the Sufi movement in Central Asia and validates the admixture of pre-Islamic and Islamic rituals in the Turkic-Mongolian culture of the Golden Horde.