Legend about the building of the mosque Bibi-Khanum - Turkestan Travel
Bibi Khanum

Legend about the building of the mosque Bibi-Khanum

Bibi-Khanum was Temur’s favourite wife and the most beautiful woman in his Harem. When Temur left for one of his campaigns, she had the idea of giving him a gift and at the same time immortalising her name – to build a grandiose mosque that would surpass all existing buildings in size, splendour and decoration. Lest the craftsmen and workers doubt that she had the means, the ruler ordered them to be shown the piles of gold and jewels destined for construction. The work began to bubble up. She commissioned a young architect to do the work, who fell in love with the queen’s beauty.

The mosque is almost finished, the only thing missing is a huge portal arch. Bibi-Khanum visits the buildings more often and urges the architect. He is in no hurry, however, because he knows that he will never see the mosque again once he has finished his job.

In the meantime, Temur lets it be known that he will return soon. Bibi-Khanum eagerly awaits the completion of the construction. But the impudent architect sets a condition: the mosque will only be completed if the queen allows herself to be kissed. The queen is furious because the architect has forgotten who she actually is! But the architect is unforgiving. Then Bibi-Khanum decides to resort to a trick: she orders the eggs painted different colours to be brought. “Look at these eggs, they all look different, but inside they are all the same. That’s how we women are! I will give you any of my slave girls you want.” To this the architect had two glasses brought, one of which he filled with clear water and the other with white wine. “Look at these two glasses, they look the same. But when I drink one I don’t feel anything, when I drink the other it burns me. Love is like that!”.

Meanwhile, Temur is already approaching the capital. Bibi-Khanum is beside herself with annoyance: the surprise she has long cherished and almost prepared for her husband must not come. The ruler does not dare to allow it. She consents to a kiss. But during the kiss she covers her face with a pillow (the other is a palm); the kiss was so hot that it left a mark on the beauty’s cheek.

And so Temur drove to the capital, his rapt look presented in all the splendour of the Friday Mosque – a gift from his beloved wife. Imagine Bibi-Khanum’s embarrassment when her astute husband discovered the stain on her cheek.

Death awaited the architect. So he climbed one of the minarets of the mosque he had built with his disciple. The warriors rushed up, but when they reached the top, they only met the student. “Where is the teacher?” they asked him. “The Teacher made wings and flew to Mashhad,” he replied. This is the legend.

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