A few kilometers east of Ashgabat, next to modern Anau, the administrative center of the Ahal velayat, lie the magnificent ruins of the Seyit Jamal ad-Din mosque.
Once there was a complex consisting of four structures: the mosque itself, the buildings above the tombstone in front of the mosque, and two large buildings with high domed halls. Day after day, over several centuries, time was wasting it, and the earthquake of 1948 completely destroyed it, leaving only ruins to its descendants. The majestic religious building was and remains a place of pilgrimage, attracts the attention of researchers and tourists.
In the inscriptions on the main facade of the mosque, where the name of the ruler of Khorasan Sultan Abu-l-Kasim Babur (1446-1457) is mentioned, there are such words: “This building was built during the reign of the Sultan the Great, the ruler of his people, asylum of countries and epoch of Abul Kasim Babur Bahadurkhan, may the Most High perpetuate his power and his kingdom. ” Other inscriptions say that the “House of Beauty” was built on its own funds by a certain Mohammed in the years 1455-1456 in memory of his father. This person was the vizier Muhammad Hudaydot, who chose a place to build near the grave of his father, Jamal al-Din, a native of Anau.
The mosque, built of baked bricks, went out onto the main courtyard with a wide pointed arch in a high portal. Behind him was a square hall spanning 10.5 m, covered by an elliptical dome. The portal was oriented to the north, and in the depth of the room in the thick of the southern wall was a mihrab decorated with tiles. The eastern and western groups of buildings were surrounded by a spacious courtyard in front of the mosque portal, their domed halls (about 7 m in diameter) on two floors were surrounded by small rooms. At the northern facade of the mosque there were two high two-tier minarets, as if continuing the lateral foundations of the portal.
The most valuable was the mosaic decoration of the portal with the image of two dragon-azhdarha heads facing each other. Their yellow bodies wriggled on a dark blue mosaic background with a small vegetative ornament, which started from the jawed mouth of each fantastic creature. A similar decor on the facade of a religious structure in Central Asia is a unique phenomenon; today its fragments are kept in the Museum of Fine Arts.
An exhaustive explanation of the origin of this story on the portal of the Anau Mosque has not yet been found. Archaeologists, cultural scientists, art historians know the use of dragons in their design elements, whose origins go back to the history of Oriental art, but the decorative art of the Turkmen people is clearly visible in the decoration of the Anau mosque.
There is a legend about the emergence of the Seyit Jamal al-Din Mosque: “During the reign of the just and wise Queen Jemal, a pillar with a large bell was installed near the fortress wall of the city. Every traveler in need of help could ring a bell and receive it. Once the townspeople heard a particularly alarming beep. Running at the city gates, people saw that a huge dragon-azhdarha had called. At the same time, he with a gesture pointed to the mountains, then to the two masters with axes and saws standing in the crowd.
The wise queen ordered the masters to follow the dragon, which began to retire to the mountains. There they saw another dragon wriggling in terrible agony: he swallowed a large horned mountain goat, whose horns were stuck in the dragon’s throat. Brave masters entered the serpent’s open mouth, sawed off the horns, saving the dragon from torment. Then the first dragon led the craftsmen to a cave full of treasures, and allowed them to collect as much as they could carry.
The next day, early in the morning, the residents were awakened by the ringing of the bell. When people opened the gate, they saw two dragons, who brought many treasures in gratitude for their salvation. Putting gold and precious stones at the feet of the queen, the dragons retired to the mountains. The wise ruler ordered for these funds to build a large mosque and on her portal to depict dragons that gave untold wealth. Perhaps their images served as amulets for residents, but for us they still remain a mystery…