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The Kumbet (Tomb) of Halime Hatun

About 2 km to the north of the Gevaş district on the shore of Lake Van there is an old graveyard that has been in use ever since the Seljuk period. One of the most impressive pre-Ottoman grave monuments is the Kumbet of Halime Hatun, which is in the same graveyard. This monument was recently repaired and changes made to the entrance to the crypt. It attracted the attention of a number of travellers who visited the area in the last century, prompting W. Bachmann to make a serious study of it. However, the fırst scientifıc study of this monument was carried out by Prof. Dr. Oktay Aslanapa.

The dodecahedral body of the tomb rests on a cubic base, the bevelled corners of which act as a transition to the dodecahedral profıle of the main body. The smooth, dodecahedral profıle of the main body is the same on the inside. There is rich ornamentation on the body, which also boasts windows and niches triangular in profıle. The horizontal line linking the base with the body of the monument is ornamerıted with two decorative bands and ovolo moulding between the bands.

Each of the twelve faces of the body of the monument is made of independent panels. In the decoration of the panels, each of which lie on an inward-sloping, narrow mouldings forming a frame, it can be seen that symmetry was the main priority. The long, thin panels terminate in a Bursa arch. In each of the panels on the east, west and south sides there is a window and in the panel on the north side, a door leading to the mesjid. On the upper part of the panels where the portal and windows are located there are rosettes in square frames. Extending as far as the feet of the arches framing the panels is a decorative band which creates a second frame inside the panel. On the spandrels of the stalactite halfdomes of the portal and the windows there are fıve rosettes each. The corners of the window niches are bevelled and the bevelling is ornamented with spandrels geometrical bands. The lintels above the windows are adorned with interlace patterns imitating cal- ligraphy and floral ornamentation. The surfaces of the blank walls between the windows are similar to each other; they are ornamented with triangular profıled niches set inside panels terminating in an oyster shell at the top and bottom. The long, thin niches, which are not particularly deep, are framed with wide bands of geometrical ornamentation.

The part of the monument near the eaves is ornamented with bands of different widths. An inscription containing a verse from the Koran lies between two bands of floral ornamentation and runs right round the body of the structure. Immediately above these three bands, which are separated by narrow mouldings, is a band containing two rows of muqarnas. The dodecahedral, pyramidal spire is faced with cut stone and it protrudes slightly over the body of the structure. A series of arcades of three lobed blind arches adorn the spire.

The door on the north side of the body of the monument is plain. The corners of the main niche of the portal are adorned with helical grooved engaged colonettes. The row of muqarnas overhanging the main niche of the portal resembles those on the windows. There are no small niches on either side of the portal. The rectangular band of ornamentation surrounding the portal is narrower than that around the windows. The rosettes in the spandrels of the windows are repeated on the portal as well. An inscription plaque has been placed on top of the lintel over the doorway. The mesjid floor of the monu- ment is dodecahedral on the inside as well. A transition to the hemispherical dome covering the mesjid is achieved by small squinches shaped like oyster shells placed in the corners. The interior walls, as opposed to those on the outside, are completely plain.

During the most recent repairs the level of the ground in front of the entrance to the crypt on the east side of the structure was lowered and a protective wall built. It has been observed that kumbets of the Seljuk period in the Van area all have extremely high bases and the upper floors of those around Ahlat are too high to be reached without the aid of stairs. There is evidence that the base of the Halime Hatun tomb was also high when it was fırst built. In order to open up the area around the door leading into the crypt, which was half buried because of a rise in the level of the ground around it, earth was removed to reduce the level and one of the loop-holes of the crypt was revealed. It is obvious that a loop-holes intended to be buried in the ground would not be adorned with a Bursa arch and a band of floral ornaments and the fırst probability to come to mind is that the level of the ground around the monument rose gradually in the course of the centuries. Similar loop-holes are visible on the north, south and west sides of the crypt.

It is obvious that the roof of the crypt was rebuilt during the most recent repairs. H.F.B. Lynch, who saw this grave monument at the beginning of November, 1893, stated that “the door of the crypt has disappeared, the vault is cracked and the crypt full of rubble.” The entrance to the crypt discovered during the last repairs is located at the north end of the east wall of the base. No trace has been discovered of the graves in the crypt, which has coved vaults.

It was stated that in each of the panels adorning the exterior walls of the body of the monument there are fıve rosettes and one right at the top of each panel. The rosettes at the top of the narrow panel and within the half domes are examples of flowers depicted in an almost natural, that is, non-stylised way. Similar ornaments can be seen on a number of Seljuk monuments, right from the earliest years. Each of the ornaments on the upper part of the panels framing the windows and portals has been carved in a different way. The floral ornaments in a square frame are arranged radially. On either side of the stalactite halfdomes on the windows and portal there are fıve rosettes, the top thre of which are arranged as a drop ornament and decorated with floral ornaments. One striking element of these patterns is that the ornamentation seen in these rosettes is not radial but arranged symmetrically according to a vertical axis.

It can be seen that the Kumbet of Halime Hatun possesses a number of local features as far as form is concerned. The first feature to attract one's attention is the dodecahedral prismatic form of the main body and the dodecahedral pyramidal roof covering it. This is the fırst of its type which can be dated. Generally, another feature of monuments of this type in the Van area is the triangular profıled niches on their facades.

The muqarnas adorning the eaves is a feature encountered in grave monuments in Eastern and Central Anatolia. They also display a band of calligraphy running right round the building under the eaves. The striking feature of this band is the fact that it lies between two floral ornamented band, for generally speaking the bands seen on monuments of this rype are geometrically ornamented. The fact that floral ornamentation is widely used on this monument indicates that it was built comparatively late in the period under discussion.

The single-ine inscription on the lintel over the south window gives the name of the architect. The inscription, which is surrounded by an inclined mouldings is in a poor state of preservation and almost illegible. According to the inscription the architect was Esed, son of Pehlivan Hevend of Ahlat. We know of this architect from his other works, namely a number of grave monuments in the graveyards of Ahlat Meydan and Taht-ı Süleyman. The grave monuments he carved are dated between 1317 and 1327. The fact that no work of his bearing a date later than 1327 has been found could indicate that he ceased to carve gravestones at that point because of more important commissions on a larger scale. On two of the four gravestones bearing his signature is the name Esed bin Hâvend and on the other two, Esed bin Ustad Hâvend. The adjectival name Pehlivan (wrestler) has been added. to the signature oıi the, Halime Hatun monument.

On the lintel over the door of the mausoleum there is a two-line inscription in Arabic, mentioned above. It tells us that the mausoleum was built for Halime Hatun by Melik İzzeddin and completed between August and September, 1335. We have not been able to obtain any information about Halime Hatun and Melik İzzeddin, the persons mentioned in the inscription. Prof. Oktay Aslanapa reminds us that the Celâyirli family ruled the area at the time and suggests that Melik İzzeddin could have been one of the Karakoyunlu beys. However, bearing in mind that no Karakoyunlu or Celâyirli ruler of this name is known, it is probable that Melik İzzeddin was a local notable.

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Photo Information
  • Copyright: Abdurrahman Aksoy (midyat) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 64 W: 63 N: 261] (2545)
  • Genre: Lugares
  • Medium: Cor
  • Date Taken: 2002-01-16
  • Categories: Ruínas
  • Versão da Foto: Versão Original
  • Date Submitted: 2007-04-15 11:35
Viewed: 2583
Points: 8
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Additional Photos by Abdurrahman Aksoy (midyat) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 64 W: 63 N: 261] (2545)
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