The Emperor Humayun's Garden Tomb



Muqarnas is "suspended ornamental vaulting, also called “stalactite” vaults; usually concave and arched but sometimes rendered as flat niches."1 At Humayun's Tomb, muqarnas of various styles can be found in the top of the iwans, around the dome's drum, above the corner niches on the plinth, and around the ceilings inside the tomb.

Muqarnas is a very prominent feature of the Gur i-Amir, the mausoleum of Timur in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. The tactile red, white, and blue ring of muqarnas around the ceiling of the entrance chamber of Humayun's Tomb is of the same star and niche pattern as muqarnas in a niche inside of the Gur i-Amir.

The muqarnas around the dome's drum and above the plinth's corner niches are like rows of small decorative brackets. With the exception of the ring of muqarnas in the entrance chamber that shares its pattern with muqarnas from the Gur i Amir, the muqarnas around the chamber ceilings inside the mausoleum are shallow white niches with red outlines.

The most noticeable muqarnas on the exterior of the mausoleum is in the top of the tomb's iwans, and it is monochromatic masonry that has the same pattern as the muqarnas inside the tomb.

1. D. Fairchild Ruggles, Islamic Gardens and Landscapes (Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), 226.


Click on the images to display them in full size.
Plinth Muqarnas
The Muqarnas Above the Corner Grave Niche Spandrels
Light muqarnas with bold outlines can be found in almost every corner of every chamber's ceiling of the tomb, and bold blue, white, and red muqarnas can be found around the ceiling of the entrance chamber.
Dome Muqarnas
Around the top of the dome's drum, there is a muqarnas strip that looks like hundreds of ornamental brackets side by side.

Additional Information

A formal bibliography is posted on the outline page.