Mir Ruzadar Shrine Restoration
Kurcha, Balkh, Afghanistan
Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme

Rebuilt on the foundations of an earlier building on the orders of the Timurid King Shah Rukh, who visited the site shortly before his death, the Mir Ruzadar Shrine consists of an octagonal single‐shell dome preceded by a rectangular vestibule entrance flanked by a pair of symmetric staircases leading to the roof. Mir Ruzadar was a Sufi mystic who, according to local legend, refused to suckle his mother’s breast as a child, thus being called Ruzadar (one who fasts). The underside of the dome above his grave is decorated in stucco, reflecting a geometric combination of stars and polygons, finished with hand‐painted floral patterns. The external elevations of the building are a combination of flat relief arches and recessed niches rising to the total height of 6.5 meters.

Conservation work commenced in 2014 with the removal of accumulated earth and the dismantling of ad hoc repairs followed by the consolidation of building foundations, including measures aimed at preventing rising damp and water penetration. Damage to the masonry walls of the building, caused by differential settlement, was consolidated with injections of lime grout and the construction of new brick foundations. A reinforced- steel ring beam was retrofitted at the intersection between the dome and the drum where large cracks had formed as a result of deformation in the masonry walls. In order to protect internal decoration, a secondary brick-masonry shell was constructed above the original dome with sufficient space between the structures to allow for ventilation.

Precast gypsum screens were created and installed in existing openings at the base of the drum in order to prevent pigeons from entering the shrine. The roof of the shrine was finished with a layer of lime concrete and paved with durable fired bricks. The main elevations of the Shrine were cleaned and damaged sections were repaired using techniques that distinguished new work from the original brickwork. Internal work focused on the careful removal of lime-wash paint inappropriately applied to decorative sections of the dome. Gypsum panels that had become detached from the dome were consolidated and anchored to the masonry structure using bamboo and stainless-steel anchor bolts. Visible cracks were structurally stitched and filled with gypsum slurry, before a final layer of gypsum plaster was applied to large areas of internal walls.

In addition to the conservation of the shrine, a complex of tombs located adjacent to the Shrine were consolidated and decorative colour-glazed tile panels located on its walls were conserved.

Kurcha, Balkh, Afghanistan
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Associated Names
Associated Collections
Constructed in the late 15th-century
Restoration from 2014-2015
Style Periods
Variant Names
Mir Ruzadar Shrine Restoration
Mir-i Ruzadar Shrine Restoration
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Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme