Yaşar Çoruhlu

Keywords: Azerbaijan, Village of Mereze, The Tomb of Diri Baba, Mereze Carpets, Shamakhi


Our field research concerning the tomb of Diri Baba on 20 July 1997 disclosed that this was architectural work was important both in terms of its floor plan and the architectural tradition to which it belonged. According to the text of the inscription tablet, the structure was erected in the year H. 805/1402-3 during the reign of Sheikh Ibrahim Khan. The architect's name on the inscription medalion has been partly effaced, so that only the father's name is known: "...bin Üstad Hacı." Over the centuries following its construction, the tomb structure suffered a great deal of damage but, finally, as a result of a restoration project undertaken in 1955, it assumed the form it possesses today. The architectural work, which stands on a slope overlooking a valley, is built of dressed stone, and it is a plain but sound structure. The vault over the central space on the ground floor of the two-storey structure is extended in all four cardinal directions, and the upper storey is a domed hall with pendentives. The upper storey also contains a cavern chamber carved out of the mother rock. From here a stairway leads to the base of the dome, with the covering of the tomb abutting the rocky outcropping. The example closest to the Diri Baba tomb in Asian Turkic architecture is the Parav Bibi tomb and small mosque in the environs of Rabat-Ferava in Türkmenistan. Nevertheless, for comparative examples of architectural works partially carved out of rock and partially supported by the mother rock, we need to look at the pre-Islamic Turkic Buddhist architecture or the Central Asian Buddhist architecture, particularly the cave temples carved out of rock.