Location – Sughd region, Isfara district, Chorkuh village. 20km south of Isfara, on Isfara River, near the entrance to Vorukh Valley.
Transportation – Isfara-Chorkuh bus departing from Isfara bus station; taxi.
The HazratiBobo complex is situated in the north-eastern part of present-day Chorkuh village and consists of various religious constructions in a straight line facing north and a saint’s tomb (mazor). The local population call the saint “Hast-i Podshoh”, “Hast-i Amir”, or “Amir Hamza-i Sohibkiron” (Sohibkiron means “Master of lucky star constellation”). Neither scholars nor older residents of Chorkuh know exactly which of these titles is the real one or who is buried in this mazor, which has been thoroughly looked after by worshipers. The mazor is situated in Langar quarter, and is therefore often called MazoriLangar. This place is also known as “Chorkuh Mausoleum”.
Many local people believe that the mazor was built overnight and supposedly Saint HazratiBobo, a legendary hero and commander, and King of kings Amir HamzaSohibkiron (Amir HamzaHastiPodshoh) is buried in it. It is not known whether any Saint is in fact buried there or not.
To the left of the mazor building entrance there is a room with a four-column ayvon (veranda) from the 18-19th century. It has ornamental decoration and wall and ceiling paintings, and apparently served as an overnight refuge for pilgrims or for conducting ceremonies such as khudoi (sacrifice). To the right of the entrance is a mosque. In the courtyard there is a wooden 3-storey minaret. Modern buildings and a mud fence surround the building complex. According to the oldest residents, the mazor courtyard was once filled with tombs, i.e. it was a cemetery. However, in the mid-20th century almost all the tombs were destroyed because people attending the mosque sometimes fell into cemetery pit-holes. The Mazor itself consists of two types of buildings. The original 10-12th century building is a wooden ayvontype mausoleum with carved columns, a frieze with Kufi inscriptions, a covered ceiling, eight covered consoles and a set of plates decorated with ornamental carvings. It is now under the roof of a relatively new construction, i.e. “a ceiling under a ceiling”, with a gap of several meters between. The Mazor has two front doors: the main one from the north and the other from the south-west.
This is connected to ancient Tajik superstitions that after death people’s souls turn into snakes, fish, flies, moths, and butterflies, which will supposedly fly or creep into a room to see their relatives. The consoles also portray a bird carrying a branch in its beak. Such birds with branches, ribbons or rings in their beaks are found in Tajik fairy tales and in Panjakent and Varakhsh (ancient Samarqand) wall paintings.
Chorkuh’s woodcarvings contain features of artistic and building techniques of pre-Islamic fine art, though there is a trend to stylization of pictorial scenes and its transformation into ornamental art. It is still not clear why this building was constructed. It is assumed that there was some tomb here even before Islamic times, the cult of which was extended to a Muslim saint, and а mausoleum was erected much later than the burial.
One thing that is clear is that this monument, a masterpiece of folk arts, which organically fuses ancient pre-Islamic traditions with more modern ideas in an intricate, unique, woodcarving masterpiece, is without equal in Central Asia’s woodcarving history.
Earlier, in various parts of Central Asia, individual carved items had been found amongst ruins, but Chorkuh is unique in that the whole premises complete with all of its elements — columns, beams, purlins, ceiling bars and plates — were preserved. A detailed study of the carved Chorkuh complex and an interpretation of the Kufi inscriptions holds the answers to a great many questions from historians, architects and arts critics concerning yet-to-be-discovered aspects of historical Tajik folk art.