Lion keeps mystery alive in Anatolian structure
AKSARAY - Anatolia News Agency
The Alayhan caravanserai was a special place where the Seljuk sultans lodged in Anatolia. The mysterious lion figure (below) was found during restoration work. on the caravanserai. AA Photos12th century caravanserai undergoing restoration in the central Anatolian province of Aksaray features a mysterious “single-headed, two-bodied lion figure,” whose origins and history remain a mystery.
The caravanserai, which was built in the Seljuk period during the 12th century during the time of Kılıçarslan II, was one of the special places where Seljuk sultans lodged in Anatolia.
Culture and Tourism Provincial Deputy Director Mustafa Doğan said that the caravanserai, located on the Aksaray-Nevşehir highway, was one of the most important caravanserais on the Silk Road.
Figure seen in Alayhan only
The mysterious figure was discovered during some of the restoration work completed on the caravanserai, according to Doğan. “There are some striking symbols in the architectural work of the Anatolian Seljuks. There is a single-headed lion figure with two bodies in this caravanserai. But the fact that his figure is seen only in the Alayhan in Anatolia makes the symbol special and mysterious.”
The lion is a historic symbol of power but they did not know the reason why it was used in the caravanserai, Doğan said.
“Some lion figures have been seen in Turkey before and after Islam but what makes the symbol here different and special is that the lion has one head and two bodies. There are various interpretations about it. It is claimed that the power of the state increased twofold and that it symbolizes the sultan Kılıçarslan II. We also see the same lion figure in the Tirmiz Palace from the Karahanlı period. The fact that this figure was seen only in the Sultan Kılıçarslan period and used only in one structure makes us think it’s related to him, but in Anatolia, the only one is in this caravanserai. This figure can be used as the symbol of Aksaray. We know that the state was divided into west and east but the administration was singular. Maybe this figure symbolizes it. However, this has not been clearly identified by our historians,” he said.
The remains of a very large hamam are in front of the caravanserai and restoration work is also continuing there, Doğan said.