The Most Beautiful Job In The World.
Despite the internecine wars in the last several decades, Afghani artisans continue to restore some of their most beautiful architectural structures in the world. Artistically, both the internal and external facades of a building like the Jama Masjid at Herat in northwest Afghanistan, is majestic to look upon. The tile work is intricate and stunningly dazzling. It was built by the famous Sultan Ghayas-ud-Din Ghori, who laid its foundation in 1200 AD, and later extended by several rulers down the centuries from the Timurids, to the Safavids, to the Mughals and the Uzbeks. It was the city’s first congregational mosque and was built on the site of two smaller Zorastrian fire temples that were destroyed by earthquake and fire. Though many of the glazed tiles have been replaced during subsequent periods, the Great Mosque in Herat was given its present form during the closing years of the fifteenth century.
After the Anglo-Afghan wars, much of the mosque was left destroyed. A programme launched in 1945 rebuilt walls and rooms, and replaced expensive materials from all over the medieval Timurid and Mughal Empires with locally available materials. Overall, the mosque’s multiple reconstructions and restoration programmes have left little to authenticate as original. However the inscribed Ghorid portal remains, south of the existing main entrance to the mosque. This article is about the artisans involved in this continuous reconstruction task.
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