Burana tower

Burana tower is a historical-architectural monument devoted to Karakhanid khanate, dated by end of the X century-beginning of the XI century. It is situated at 15 km from Tokmok town. Burana tower was at the territory of Balasagun town (Kuz-Ordu town) with Burana settlement and citadel. This archeological site had a citadel, mausoleums, mosque, church, bath-house. The rich collection of archeological treasures was found. That was the flourishing area of the Karakhanid Dynasty. The tower built by red bricks, current highness of 25 meters, bottom diameter is 9 meters, top diameter is 6 meters. Inside of the tower small stairs till the top. According to the inscriptions found at that area and chronicles of Mukhammed Khaidar, Burana built for Balasagun Legislator Imam Muhammad. Kalyan Minaret at Bukhara (Western capital of Karakhanids) was built in 1127, with a highness of 46.7 meters. It says, the same architect of Karakhanids – Usto Bako built both of the Minarets – Burana and Kalyan.

Balbal stones

Burana before restoration works

Another famous archeological site is Ak-Beshim (VI-XII century), 6 km from Tokmok town. During the archeological investigations found remaining of ancient buildings, household accessories, coins. Two Buddhist temples of VI-VII century at the southern part of the site found with sculptures, art, and accessories. Ak-Beshim settlement recognized as the remaining of famous medieval town Suyab – the settlement of Sogdian merchants along the Silk Road.

Archeological excavations

Burana tower practical restoration done in 1973-1974 years. Before that here organized careful and detailed investigations near Minaret and the whole territory of Burana settlement. Based on that research works there specified dating of the tower, planned restoration works and pointed out main restoration activities. At the ancient time that was 40 meters high building from burnt red brick with an octahedral pedestal of 5,4 meters. Minaret based on the quadratic stylobate, north part faced by capstone blocks.

Archeological excavations done by the Historical Institute of the Academy of Sciences by Vinnik D.F. showed that stylobate passed on for basement with a depth of 5,6 meters from the ancient ground. Top of the Minaret destroyed by seismic impetus, western part destroyed by climate effects, octahedral pedestal destroyed, because of no hydra isolation. First, restore and conservational works held in 1927-1928 by N.M. Bachinski and M.M. Loginov, due to their work Burana Tower saved till our days. However, that works changed the artistic appearance of the minaret. Ornamented basement part changed to a plain setting of the bricks, the top part also distorted by the rough and wrong round outline of a minaret.

Restoration works at Burana tower

The main targets during the restoration – set up the archaic height of octahedral pedestal, architect and ornamentation of the saved parts of the basement, body, and top, reinforcement of basement and pedestal. Architectural forms of minaret were not rich, the main things were its decorative and ornamental specialty. If restoration works would be aimed at the recovery of the minaret highness, that used modern plain bricks, for rebuilding the upper side, that changed the art and original ornamentation and architect. That was taken the decision to restore permanent minaret as it is. Top of the minaret was destroyed during the earthquake of XIV-XV centuries, thus the current Burana Tower as it is after that time. Special brickworks of the building restored due to the holes made for brick places and covered by “ganch” – a mix of gypsum and clay for mortar. All eight sides of octahedral, its arch type decisions restored. Also supposed that octahedral inside had several wooden balks to kept the body of the minaret. Because of the western wind and climate conditions, all western parts of the minaret suffered more, so that minaret deformed and leaned into the south-west. That deformation cannot be liquidated, for that need rebuilding till the pedestal. It wouldn’t be leaned more. Architect-restorers strengthened it with a new build in plain brick round built on arches and body with strong mortar. Western part arches also filled by mortar or bricks to made pedestal stronger. The new items of restoration became a modern ladder with entering court to the minaret. In ancient times maybe that used moved-up stairs or entrance via the gallery, nobody knows how it was. Of course, better was not to build in stairs, but the usage of minaret as architectural and sightseeing place needed it. The framed ladder not imitating ancient, and showed us as new construction and not artificially belonged to the tower.

We will surely pass by this significant architectural and historical site, the World heritage-listed site.


Written by Aisha Mambetalieva.
January, 2019.

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