Most of the buildings referred to in this study are located around Lake Van, but a few are located in Harput and Pertek in the province of Elazığ and I will start to begin by discussing these.
1. Sarày Hâtûn Mosque.
The Sâre Hâtûn Mosque in Harput is mentioned by Evliyâ Çelebi, who describes this mosque as being without a minaret. The name is spelt similarly in the “Ma’muretü I-'Aziz Salname (Elazığ Almanac) and by A.Gabriel. Most modern writers spell the name as Sara Hatun or Sârâ Hatun.
The local people pronounce it as “Sata Hatun” with all four short vowels, and also refer to the mosque as the Uzun Hasan Oğulları Camisi. According to local hearsay the sons of Sultan Uzun Hasan built the mosque.
But the truth is that the original name of this mosque was none of these, but Saray Hâtûn named after the mother of the Ak Koyunlu ruler Hasan Han or Uzun Hasan Beg. Sâre, as it is known was the name of Abraham’s wife, but a name rarely used by the literate sector of the population, and never by the Turkmens. Saray on the other hand was a popular woman’s name. Timur’s (Tamerlane) wife was named Saray-Melik (meaning : palace o! the ruler), and Kara Koyunlu İskender Beg had a daughter named Şâh Saray Begüm.
Sarày Hâtûn was the daughter of Pir Ali Beg, one of the sons of Kutlu Beg, a member of the Ak Koyunlu dynasty. She was also the niece of Kara Yülük Osman Beg, founder of the Ak Koyunlu state. Saray Hâtûn married Ali Beg, the eldest son of Osman Beg, and of this marriage were born Hasan Beg, his elder brother Cihangir and the other children.
Saray Hâtûn was a woman of political ability, who governed Harput for a time and as the envoy of her son, Uzun Hasan Beg, negotiated with the Kara Koyunlu ruler Cihanşah Mirza, the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II and the Memluk Sultan Kayıt Bay.
There can be no doubt that the mosque in Harput was named after Saray Hâtûn. The fact that it is known as the Uzun Hasan Oğulları Camisi (Sons of Uzun Hasan Mosque) and the belief that it has been built by the sons of Uzun Hasan; the fact that Sarây Hâtûn governed Harput; and the absence of any other woman candidate, whether named Sâre, Sara or Saray, all point to this conclusion.
The mosque has been extensively repaired and restored, and detailed information about the building is given by A. Gabriel in his above mentıoned work.
2. Çelebi Beg Mosque in Pertek.
Today Pertek is a town in Tunceli province, north-east of Elazığ. Çelebi Beg Mosque is one of two historical mosques in Pertek, and dates from 976 (1569) or 996 (1588). Nothing is known about either Çelebi Beg or his father Ali Beg, except that they were members of the Koca Hâcılu tribe of the Ak Koyunlu confederation. The greater part of this tribe remained among the group of Ak Koyunlu known as Bozuluş, which did not migrate to Iran. But it is not known why the Koca Hâcılu beys lived in Pertek, which in the second half of the XVIth century was under the rule of a branch of the Çemişkezek dynasty.
3. Ahlal and the Kara Koyunlu.
Ahlat (Ahlat), as those who have visited this area will know, is the most beautiful town of Lake Van’s shores, and in the past there was a continuous struggle between the dynasties to take possession of it. Only one dynasty never succeeded in ruling Ahlat, and that was the Kara Koyunlu. This disproves the contention by one Turkish scholar that the tomb and zâvıye of Kara Koyunlu Kara Yusuf Beg are in Ahlat. Whereas, as is well known, they are in Erciş. It is even reported that the soldiers of Timur’s son Şahruh who passed nearby in 1420 a few months after Kara Yusuf’s death, disinterred the body of the Kara Koyunlu ruler in Erciş to see if he was as tall and broadly built as reported, and confirmed that indeed he was. The Memluk envoy, İbn Âcâ, refers briefly to the zàviye of Kara Yusuf in Erciş where he stayed as a guest on his way to Tabriz in 1471. İbn Âcâ reports that the building was of exceptionally sound construction.
One of the tombs in Ahlat is that of Erzen Hâtûn, and this is also wrongly attributed to the Kara Koyunlu . The late Abdurrahim Şerif reports the date on the inscription of this tomb as 707 (1307-1308), while Albert Gabriel gives the date as 799 (1396-1397). There is no way of even making a probable guess as to which is the true date. If 799 is the correct date then city was at this time ruled either by Hâkân. the ruler of Âdilcevaz or by the governor of the ruler of Bitlis. Whichever may be the case, it seems likely that Erzen Hâtûn was a Turkish lady, since the custom of naming women after place names is an exclusively Turkish custom, and Erzen as a city of importance was situated between Siirt and Silvan. Another piece of evidence in support of this view is that it was more common among the Turks for women to have charitable buildings erected and for tombs to be built in their memory.
4. Usta Şakird’s Kümbet.
This kümbet has all the grace of a jewellery box and it would be unthinkable to leave Ahlat without mentioning it. It is also named as the Ulu Kümbet (Great Kümbet) although. The Usta Şakird no bore inscription, A. Gabriel dated it to the second half of the XIIIth century. Küçük Şeyh Hasan, the grandson of Çoban Beg, who seized the pover of the Ilhànids in 1340, had a mascid built in Tabriz in 1342. And this was known as the Ustâd u Şâgırd. We know that at this time Ahlat was under the rule of Küçük Şeyh Hasan and it seems very likely that the kümbet in Ahlat and the mosque in Tabriz were built by the same persons. Ustâd u Şâgird means “the master and his apprentice" and the connection with the name Usta Şakird can hardly be a coincidence. On the basis of this evidence we can date the Usta Şâkird Kümbet nearer to 1340.
5. Bayındır Beg’s Türbe.
The splendid turbe of Bayındır Beg who conquered Ahlat from the ruler of Bitlis after a six-month siege in 1472, is also in Ahlat. Bayındır Beg’s courage earned him the title of “koç” i.e. the ram i.e. valiant. Bayindir Beg’s father was Rustem Beg. But he is not Rustem Beg, son of Maksûd Beg who ruled between 1492-1497 as is believed. He is the son of Murad Beg and grandson of Kara Yülük Osman Beg, founder of the Ak Koyunlu state.
6. Ram Figures Appeared during The Mongol Period, In The XIVth Century.
From Ahlat we go to Âdilcevaz to visit the tomb of Emir Celâleddin Hızır Şâh Beg, the Celayirid governor of Ahlat in 1360. According to the inscription on his tomb, he died in 1384. It can be presumed that Hizir Şah lost Ahlat to the ruler of Bitlis and retreated to Âdilcevaz. Even the words "es-şehîd, el-mazlûm” could refer to the fact that he fell in a battle against the ruler of Bitlis. Whatever the truth on the matter may be it is interesting that Hızır Şah is known as “the koç”, this title being given him by the Celayirid Sultan Uveys after Hızır Şah delivered up Timurtaş son of Melik Aşraf of the Çobanids, a bitter enemy of the Celayirids . As you have seen the title of the koç is written on inscription of the gravestone of Hızır Şâh Beg.
Another comtemporary, Emîr Koç Hüseyin of the Çobanid, was bearing the same title.
On the other hand we know that there are a good many gravestones in the shape of ram in Eastern Anatolia, Iran and Soviet Azerbaycan Republic. Some of the gravestons in Iran are in the form of lion. European travellers who visited Iran during the Safavides and later said that this type of tombs have belonged to the brave men. A few of the gravestons have inscriptions of which the oldest ones are written in the XIVth century. Such was the lion formed gravestone of the Celayirid ruler Sultan Uveys (d. 1374). But ram and lion formed gravestones are not seen in the central and western parts of Turkey.
In short it can be said that in XIVth and XVth centuries the word, of koç, is given to brave men as a title. This custom continued to exist in Iran until XIXth century.
7. Erciş, the Original Homeland of the Kara Koyunlu.
In the pre-Ottoman period, Erciş was the second largest city in the region of Lake Van which was also frequently known as Lake Erciş. Erciş was the homeland of the Kara Koyunlu tribe. Yet none of the architecture of this period has survived in this town to the present day; not even the zaviye built by Kara Yusuf Beg, which is described as an exceptionally sound building by a travaller in the XVth century. The reason for this total eradication has been a combination of frequent earthquakes and the destructions made by the Safavid ruler Şah Tahmasb.
On the road from Erciş to Van is a kümbet inscribed with the date 863 (1458-1459), which has been claimed to be the tomb of Yar Ali and the other children of Kara Koyunlu İskender Beg. Yar Ali however, was killed far away, in Horasan, the land of the Çagatays, in 1449, 9 years previously. An accurate reading of this inscription tells us that the kümbet built by the great Emir Rustem, son of the late Emir Devletyâr, who lived during the reign of the Kara Koyunlu ruler Cihanşah over the graves of his brothers and his relatives Emîr Yar Ali, Şah Şah
Şah Ali and their mother, Kadem Paşa Hâtûn.
It is understood that Emir Rustem son of Devletyâr was governor of Erciş in 1458-59, He was not a member of the Kara Koyunlu ruling dynasty, but one of the beys of the Kara Koyunlu state. Kara Yusuf Beg had a wife named Kadem Paşa who, as Yusuf Beg’s favourite, accompanied his husband when he went out from Tabriz to encounter the Çağatay ruler Şahruh Mirza. However, it is very likely that the Kadem Paşa Hatun whose name is mentioned in the inscription is another woman.
As for Rustem’s father Devletyâr there was a Ceiayirid emir bore this name.
8. Van Ulu Cami.
One study assumes that Van Ulu Cami is of Kara Koyunlu construction, dating from 1389-1400 during the time of Kara Yusuf. But the chronicles do not support this view. All sources, including the chronicles written in the name of Timur, tell us that in 787 (1385) the city was ruled by İzzeddin Şîr, ruler of Hakkâri , who the same year defended Van castle against Timur’s attacks until he realised that the situation was hopeless, appealed successfully to Timur for pardon and received yarlig (an imperial edict) showing his reinstatement. This dynasty also received mulk-nâmes from the Ilhanids in Uygur script, izzeddin Şir was defeated in battle against Kara Yusuf, when he returned to his cuuntry after the death of Timur (1406) and lost his independence. Following his death, his son Melik Muhammed and Emîr Şemseddin of Bitlis swore allegiance to Şahruh, for which they were killed by İskender Beg, the son and successor of Kara Yusuf, and the city of Van and its environs was incorporated in 1425 into the domain of the Kara Koyunlus. Prior to this neither the Kara Koyunlus nor the Mongols had governed Van, which in the XIVth century was describted only as a fortress.
9. Halime Hàtün’s Kümbet
In Gevaş which on the southwest shore of the lake Van is the tomb of Halime Hâtûn whose inscription has been incorrectly transcribed.
According to the inscription the kümbet was constructed in Muharram 760 (January 1358) by Seyyid 'Abdulmelik 'İzzeddin for Halime Hâtûn. In the middle of XIVth century the ruler of Hakkâri was 'imâd- eddin Mücellâ, the son of Esededdin, whose paternal uncle was İzzeddin Şîr.
The Halime Hâtûn’s kümbet has been ascribed to the Kara Koyunlus, although as pointed out above, there was no question of the Gevaş region being ruled either by Celayirids or inhabited by the Kara Koyunlu in the XIVth century. Thus this hypothesis cannot be supported as well.
10. Zeynel Beg Kümbet in Hasankeyf
Hasankeyf today is a small town between Diyarbakır and Cizre, but in the Middle Ages this was a major city called Hisn Kayia. The inscription on a kümbet here tells us that it belongs to Zeynel Beg. This Zeynel Beg has been accepted as the son of the Ak Koyunlu ruler, Uzun Hasan Beg. But it is impossible to confirm this view, for our sources informes, unanimously, that Uzun Hasan Beg after taking Hisn Kayla in 866 (1461-62) from Eyyubids gave it to his elder son Halil Mirza. Hasan Beg’s younger son Zeynel Beg was appointed governor of Kirman in Iran in 1469. In 1473 Zeynel Mirza fell in the Otluk Beli battle and his severed head was taken to Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. There is no record that the body of Zeynel Mirza was recovered, and have been buried somewhere.
The inscription on the kümbet is as follows:
1) Hâzihi ravzatus-Sultâni’s-sa id ve’l- Hâkâniş-şehid
2) Zeynel Beg İbnu’s-Sultân Hasan Bahadur Hân etâba’llahu serâhu.
“This is the tomb of the lucky Sultan and martyr Hâkân Zeynel Beg, the son of Sultân Hasan Bahadur Han May God bless the soil in which he rest.”
This is clearly spurious, since the titles of sultan and hâkân were used only by kings and emperors. Princes were called by the titles beg and mirza, Zeynel Beg was the governor of Kirman when he died in 1473 Hisn Kayla was still administered by his brother.