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Technical Glossary


Conqueror or warrior, often referring to Turkomans on the frontiers of Islam.  

Ghaznavids (962-1187 A.D.) 

A Turkish dynasty that ruled Khurasan, Afghanistan and northern India from its base in Ghazna. Their founder Nasir al-Dawla Sebuktigin ruled this area on behalf of the Samanid court and eventually ruled the province for himself. It was his son Mahmud of Ghazna (r. 998-1030 A.D.) who became fully independent and became known as the 'hammer of the infidels' because of his victories in the Indian subcontinent. Towards the end of his life he overruled the Buwayhids and occupied Ray and Hamadan. As a dynasty that proclaimed affinity to Persianate culture through claiming Persian rather than Turkish lineage, Mahmud insisted on maintaining a Persian administration and cultural legacy. Under his son Mas‘ud the empire disintegrated in the west and Khurasan and Khawarizm were lost to the Saljuks. With the rise of the Ghurids in central Afghanistan the power of the Ghaznavids was reduced dramatically. Architecture flourished during their rule in the cities of Bust, Balkh, Herat and Nishapur. Unfortunately most of the sites of the Ghaznavid capitals are now in ruins. In Bust, remains of the palace of Lashkhari Bazaar in the suburbs, the arch of Bust, and the Giyath al-Din Mausoleum exist, while in Ghazni, the Palace of Mas'ud III, and the Bahram Shah minaret have survived. 

Ghiordes Knot 

'Turkish' or symmetrical now used in carpets and rugs. 


Literally means a crow but in Mamluk architecture it means door hooks and latches.  


Arabic for room.  

Ghurids (1150-1212 A.D.) 

Sunni Eastern Persian dynasty that ruled from the central region of Afghanistan, which was called Ghur, lasting from the mid-twelfth to early thirteenth century A.D. They were originally chiefs of mountain tribes who had defeated the Khwarazmis in Iran and the Ghaznavids in Afghanistan and India, where their first known ruler was Izz al-Din Husayn who paid tribute to the Saljuk Sultan Sanjar. Once the Saljuks fell in Khurasan the Ghurids then established an empire stretching from the Caspian Sea to northern India. The empire ended when internal squabbles arose. Artistically the Ghurids are best exemplified by the madrasa at Shah-i Mashhad, which is remarkable for its brick and terracotta decoration and best shows the style of the period.  


Knotted geometric ornament. 




Persian for dome. It denotes free-standing domed mausolea.  


Persian for wild donkey, but also means tomb. This is why we have Gur-i Mir, or Tomb of the Amir, in Samarkand where Timur Lang is buried.