Goharshad Begum

Goharshad Begum
Empress consort of the Timurid Empire
Tenure 1405–1447
Born 14th Century
Samarkand, Timurid Empire
Died 19 July 1457
Herat, Timurid Empire
Burial Goharshad's Tomb, Herat
Spouse Shah Rukh
Issue Ulugh Beg
Mohammed Juki
Maryam Soltan
Sa'adat Soltan
Qutlug Torkan Aga[1]
Full name
Goharshad گوهرشاد
House Timurid
Father Giāth ud-Din Tarkhān
Religion Islam
Abbasid Ivan in Atiq yard, Imam Reza complex, Mashad. Iran. Photo is supplied (taken) by Zereshk.
Akhangan tomb, where Goharshad's sister Gohar-Taj is buried. The architecture is a fine example of the Timurid era of Persia.

Goharshād Begum (Persian: گوهرشاد Gowharšād; meaning "joyful jewel" or "shining jewel"; alternative spelling: Gawharshād) was a wife of Shāh Rukh, the Emperor of the Timurid Empire of Herāt. She was the daughter of Giāth ud-Din Tarkhān, an important and influential noble during Tīmur's reign. According to family traditions, the title Tarkhān was given to the family by Genghis Khan personally.


Gohar Shad was married to Sharukh probably in 1388, certainly before 1394 when their son, Ulugh Beg was born. It was a successful marriage, according to the ballads of Herat which sing of Shahrukh's love for her. But little is known of their first forty years together, except what concerns her buildings.[2]

Along with her brothers who were administrators at the Timurid court in Herāt, Goharshād played a very important role in the early Timurid history. In 1405 she moved the Timurid capital from Samarkand to Herāt.

Under her patronage, the Persian language and Persian culture were elevated to a main element of the Timurid dynasty. She and her husband led a cultural renaissance by their lavish patronage of the arts, attracting to their court artists, architects and philosophers and poets acknowledged today among the world's most illustrious, including the poet Jami. Many exquisite examples of Timurid architecture remain in Herāt today.

Tomb in Herat

Later years

After the death of her husband in 1447 Goharshad maneuvered her favorite grandson to the throne. For ten years she became the de facto ruler of an empire stretching from the Tigris to the borders of China. When she was well past 80, she was executed on 19 July 1457 on the order of Sultān Abū Sa'īd.

According to legend, Goharshād once inspected a mosque and a religious school (madrasah) in Herāt accompanied by two hundred female attendants, after it had been cleared of its students, all of whom were male. One youth remained, having fallen asleep in his cell, and was discovered by an attendant and seduced. When Goharshād found out, she ordered that all two hundred of her attendants be married to the students. This legend epitomizes the liberal Islamic tradition in Afghanistan stretching back centuries and whose symbol is Goharshād.[2][3]

Burial place

Goharshād's tomb is located next to the madrasah that she had built, of which the minaret remains until this day.


A women's university in Kabul that opened in 2003 bears the name of Goharshād

Goharshād had a mosque ("Masjid-e Goharshād") built in 1418 in Mashad, Khorāsān. Her sister, Gohar-Tāj also has a tomb in Khorāsān.


  1. Manz, Beatrice Forbes (2002). "Gowhar-šād āḡā". Encyclopaedia Iranica. Retrieved 16 September 2014.
  2. 1 2 Byron, Robert (1982). The Road to Oxiana. Oxford University Press. p. 220. ISBN 9780195030679.
  3. Taliban, by Ahmed Rashid, Yale University Press 2001, p. 112f.
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