Minaret of Jam – Splendour & Multifaceted Design
The Minaret of Jam located in Afghanistan is known for its splendour and multifaceted design and the 64-meter tower is a graceful, soaring structure which is said to be in good condition till date in spite of it being constructed by baked bricks in the 12th or 13th century.
It is covered with intricate brickwork with a blue tile inscription towards the top and is remarkable for the excellence of its architecture as well as adornment, representing the finale of an architectural and artistic tradition of that region.
The Minaret of Jam is located on an octagonal base comprising of four cylindrical shafts resting one above the other and becoming progressively smaller as they tend to go higher. It is made of fired brick and lime mortar having two wooden balconies together with a lantern towards the top.
Its external is decorated in superb detail covered with brick, stucco and glazed tiles contain sophisticated inscriptions of alternating band of Kufic and naskhi calligraphy, geometric patterns together with verses from the Quran.
The complex decorations together with the inscriptions seem to be clearly visible presently which has led it to be declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tower had been constructed by Ghorid Dynasty at the height of its glory when it reigned over areas of modern Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India.
Turquoise Mountain – Legendary Lost Afghan Capital
It is presumed that the Minaret of Jamhad one been linked to a mosque which had been washed away in a flood earlier to the Mongol sieges.
Archaeologists had located physical evidence of a large courtyard building that had once existed besides the minaret. In Central Asia, it was common to build single huge towers as a means of political power. The Minaret of Jam is said to be both amazingly large and visible owing to its size though hidden from the world because of its location within the valley. The most fascinating concept of the Minaret of Jam is that it could have belonged to the lost city of Firozkoh which is also known as the Turquoise Mountain.
This city had been the capital of Ghorid Dynasty as well as one of the greatest cities in the world and the capital had been totally ruined in the early 1220s by Ogedei Khan the son of Genghis wherein its location had been lost forever to history.
The Turquoise Mountain – Firozkoh is said to be the legendary lost Afghan capital of the Middle Ages and was apparently a prospering multicultural centre. It was believed that the ancient city had been the home of a Jewish trading community, documented by inscription on tombstones that had been discovered in the 1950s.
Lasting Legacy – Christians/Jews/Muslims
The minaret seems to be very apparent from the religious point of view. One of the visitors had commented that `this chapter, called Maryam tells of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, both venerated in Islam and of prophets such as Abraham and Isaac.
It’s a text that emphasises what Judaism, Christianity and Islam have in common instead of their differences. It appears the Ghorids positioned the text here to appeal for harmony and tolerance in the land, a message that is more relevant now than ever’.
It remains as a lasting legacy belonging to a period wherein Christians, Jews and Muslims are said to live side-by-side in harmony and united by their commonalities instead of being divided by their differences.
The effect of the Minaret of Jam is amplified by its histrionic setting with a deep river valley between gigantic mountains in the core of the Ghur province. It is one of the well preserved monuments that tend to represent the extraordinary artistic creativity and the mastery of structural engineering of that time.
Its architecture and adornment seems to be outstanding with regards to art history, blending together foundations from the earlier developments in the region, in an incomparable manner as well as employing a great influence on later architecture in that region.
Outstanding Universal Value
Its graceful soaring structure is a remarkable model of the architecture and adornment of the Islamic period in Central Asia. It tends to play an important role in their future diffusion with regards to India as demonstrated by the Qutb Minar, in Delhi that begun in 1202 and was completed in the early 14th century.
Ever since the building of the Minaret of Jam which was around eight hundred years back, there were no reconstruction or extensive restoration work carried out in the area. In 1957, the archaeological remnants had been surveyed and recorded when the ruins had been first located by archaeologist. Ensuing surveys and researches have led to simple safety maintenance measures to the base of the Minaret.
Thus the characteristics which express the Outstanding Universal Value of the site, not least the Minaret but the other architectural forms together with their settings in the landscape is said to be unharmed within the limitations of the property and beyond.
The Minaret of Jam had been truly forgotten for several centuries and had only been rediscovered in 1886 by Sir Thomas Holdich, then forgotten again and once again rediscovered in 1957.
Threatened by Seepage/Erosion/Vibration – Road Construction
Presently it is threatened by seepage from the waters of the rivers where it tends to stand, together with erosion, vibrations from the road-construction in the surrounding areas which are threats of intentional destructions together with the continuation of illegal archaeological digs.
Visitors to the Minaret of Jam can climb to the top by a set of stairs that have been shaped like a double helix. The steps first end in an open chamber where the visitors can view out over the rivers and the scenery in the vicinity.
A second set of stairs can be taken to see the lantern gallery. But few visitors tend to make it to the minaret since it is a long and complex climb filled with several dangers and threats, inclusive of local bandits, abduction or execution by rebels.
The Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan is undoubtedly located in the midst of very unsafe area of the present world. With no extensive restoration coming up since the minaret had been constructed, together with little funding in conducting any repairs, it is doubtful if the minaret would be preserved or will be left to crumble into ruins.
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