Emperor Humayun's Garden Tomb

Stellate Lotus
6-pointed Stellate Symbols Inscribed by a Floral Symbol that Bloomed from a Stellate Symbol taken from a Pattern on Humayun's Tomb's Dome's Drum
Stellate Lotus
Stellate Lotus Symbol from Humayun's Tomb's Pishtaqs' Spandrels
A stellate symbol becomes a stylized flower by curving the line segments out from the shape.

Stellate Symbols

Stellate symbols, or stars, are a very visible design element at Humayun's Garden Tomb. The most visible example of this is the pair of six-pointed stellate symbols that decorate the tomb's pishtaqs' spandrels. At Humayun's Garden Tomb, six-pointed stellate symbols are placed in very visible or very important locations. The most visible of these are the six-pointed stellate symbols presented like emblems on the spandrels above the West Gate's main arches, above the South Gate's main arches, and on Humayun's Tomb's pishtaqs' spandrels. There is also a pair of six-pointed stellate symbols on the spandrels of each second story opening on Humayun's Tomb's facades.

Some of the locations of these six-pointed stellate symbols are less visible, but they are symbolically more important. This includes above the entrance to the mausoleum and around the dome’s drum. The dome’s drum is faced with a six-pointed stellate symbol pattern that is constructed with a masonry technique that involves using two different colored sandstones to build the stellate pattern into the wall's coursing and bonding pattern. The lighter colored sandstone hexagons and six-pointed stellate symbols in this pattern are embedded with a stylized flower symbol.

A stellate symbol that is inscribed by a radial symbol that sometimes resembles a flower is something that is seen elsewhere in Hindustan and in Uzbekistan. This symbol is a visible decoration on many Sultanate spandrels. This symbol has made appearances in the visual vocabulary of Hinduism as shatkonas, as can be seen in Surya's yantra.1 The gate of Din-panah, a nearby city that was planned by Emperor Humayun himself, has the same spandrel symbols that decorate Humayun's Tomb's pishtaqs' spandrels.2 In Samarkand, Uzbekistan, these six-pointed stellate symbols are disguised in a pattern while transforming into flowers that circumscribe stylized flowers in an elaborate golden web that coats the squinches inside Timur's tomb, the Gur-i Amir.3

An eight-pointed stellate symbol is made up of a central octagon with eight pointed radial extensions, so an eight-pointed stellate symbol is an octagon that has bloomed. An eight-petaled flower symbol is an eight-pointed stellate symbol that has bloomed. If viewed from above, the fountains, the pool at the bottom of the Tree Planform's chadar, the smaller guldastas, and the head of Humayun's cenotaph are all decorated with eight-pointed stellate flower symbols.

The most visible instance of this eight-pointed stellate symbol is the white marble inlay cartouche that frames every opening of the arcade on Humayun's Tomb's red sandstone plinth. A very visible feature of the Gur-i Amir's facade is a cartouche that is very similar to the white marble eight-pointed stellate cartouche on Humayun's Tomb's plinth but executed with glazed tile on brick, and the stellate symbols are inscribed with stylized flower symbols. Variations of this eight-pointed stellate cartouche is also applied to the facades of other Timurid monuments, but not as frankly.4

1. "World Cultural Heritage Sites - India 2 Booklet: Sun Temple, Konarak, Khajuraho Temples, Qutub Complex Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi," Centre for Cultural Resources and Training, accessed June 24, 2020,, 147.

2. Glenn Lowry, "Humayun's Tomb: Form, Function, and Meaning in Early Mughal Architecture," Muqarnas 4, (1987): 142-43.

3. Elaborate Golden Web of Stellate Symbols Transitioning into Flowers on the Squinches Inside the Gur-i Amir Ekrem Canli / CC BY-SA.

4. Tile Stellate Cartouche on the Gur-i Amir's Facade Adam Jones from Kelowna, BC, Canada / CC BY-SA.


A stellate symbol becomes a stylized flower by curving the line segments out from the shape.
Surya Yantra
Stellate Lotus
A Stellate Lotus Symbol at the Head of Humayun's Cenotaph
The Stellate Lotus Pattern on the Dome's Drum
Stellate Lotus
An Eight-pointed Stellate Symbol from the Marble Inlay Cartouche on the Plinth
The Eight-pointed Stellate Cartouche from the Gur-i Amir's Facade

Additional Information

A formal bibliography is posted on the outline page.
Facade Jali Railing Spandrels Engaged Colonette Engaged Colonette Engaged Colonette Engaged Colonette Engaged Colonette Engaged Colonette Engaged Colonette Engaged Colonette Kangura Blind Arch Blind Arch Engaged Colonette Guldasta Guldasta Stellate Symbol Spandrels Stellate Symbol Stellate Symbol Spandrels Stellate Symbol Spandrels Jali Jali Jali Stellate Symbol Jali Railing Jali Railing Spandrels Mihrab Blind Arch Blind Arch Spandrels Jali Spandrels Stellate Symbol Jali Engaged Colonette Engaged Colonette Kangura Kangura Kangura Guldasta