This famous mausoleum was constructed by the late Abbasid caliph al-Nasir li-Din Allah for his mother, Zumurrud Khatun, at the end of the twelfth/sixth century AH. In European sources, it was misidentified as the tomb of Sitta Zubayda, the wife of Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid. Located in an expansive cemetery, this brick tomb exhibits a nine-layered, cone-shaped muqarnas cover capped by a small cupola that rises to great height from an octagonal base, similar to the Imam Dur in Samarra. Hazarbaf decoration covers the exterior of the base while each façade is partitioned into four sunken square panels, two on the bottom and two on the top, themselves featuring decorative brickwork. Today, the tomb is entered from a square-planned, domed structure that was built to replace an earlier one. From this area, a staircase rises up to the base of the muqarnas dome while a tight corridor just over one meter large leads to the octagonal burial chamber. The light inside the vault emanates from small holes cut in the muqarnas dome producing a glowing effect.
The mausoleum has been restored periodically throughout its lifespan.
Khalil, Jabir and Strika, Vincenzo. The Islamic Architecture of Baghdad; the Results of a Joint Italian -Iraqi Survey, 18-22. Napoli: Istituto Universitario Orientale, 1987.
Michell, George. ed. Architecture of the Islamic World; Its History and Social Meaning, 247. London: Thanes & Hudson, 1978.
Ettinghausen, Richard and Grabar, Oleg. The Art and Architecture of Islam 650-1250, 296-297. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1987.