Khwaja Abu Nasr Parsa (d. 1460) was a spiritual leader of the Naqshbandi order and a theological lecturer in Herat. While there is no epigraphical evidence identifying his shrine as the site of his tomb, art historians Golombek and Wilber have identified an unmarked tombstone in front of the portal as the khwaja's grave marker. Another unmarked tomb found in the crypt is thought to belong to the patron of the shrine. The tile kufic inscription around the dome's drum, with the date 1598, was probably placed after the structure was rebuilt. The shrine was restored most recently in 1974-75.
The plan of the shrine is a chamfered square enveloping a cross-shaped dome chamber aligned with qibla along the southwest-northeast axis. Its elevation is dominated by the monumental portal screen and dome. The long sides of the exterior were carved with eight-meter-deep rectangular iwans, while the chamfered corners had bi-level, five-sided porches; the roofs of the iwans and the upper porches have largely collapsed, exposing the octagonal substructure of the circular drum.
The towering portal screen frames the northeast iwan and is bound on both sides by engaged cabled columns with bulbous bases. Its top section, now collapsed, had an arched gallery that rose taller than the dome. The bi-level porches flanking the portal are topped with minarets, of which the shafts remain. Stairs entered from the corner porches give access to the upper porches, the minarets and the roof. Only fragments have survived of the blue and white mosaic faience and the inscriptive tile bands that once adorned the portal screen and its flanking porches. The dome, its muqarnas base and its drum are also covered with plain, floral and inscriptive tiles dominated by shades of blue.
A small wooden door leads from the northeast iwan into the dome chamber, crowned by a tall umbrella vault. The four arched niches that animate the walls of the chamber at the ground level are doubled in number at the gallery level with the addition of corner arches supporting the dome's pendentives. Sixteen windows placed at the rim of the vault illuminate the interior. The dome chamber has a small mihrab niche on the southwest wall, facilitating its use as a prayer hall.
The crypt directly below the dome chamber has a low vault supported by intersecting arches and pendentives. A column was added later to support the crown of the crypt vault. The platform with tombstones before the main portal was also added at a later date.
Byron, Robert. "The Shrine of Khwaja Abu Nasr Parsa at Balkh." Bulletin of the American Institute for Persian Art and Archaeology IV, no. 1 (1935): 12-14.
Byron, Robert. "Timurid Architecture: General Trends." In A Survey of Persian Art: from Prehistoric Times to the Present III, edited by Arthur Upham Pope and Phyllis Ackerman, 1119-1144. Tehran: Soroush Press, 1939.
Golombek, Lisa, and Donald Wilber. The Timurid Architecture of Iran and Turan, 295-296. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988.
Knobloch, Edgar. The Architecture and Archaeology of Afghanistan. Stroud, Gloucestershire, Charleston, SC: Tempus. 2002.
O'Kane, Bernard. "The Uzbek Architecture of Afghanistan." Cahiers d'Asie centrale 8, (2000): 130-143. e
"Shrine of Khwaja Abu Nasr Parsa". Website of Society for the Preservation of Afghanistan's Cultural Heritage (SPACH). http://spach.info/ephotosbalkhkhwajaparsa.htm. [Accessed August 19, 2005; inaccessible September 27, 2013]
Shrine of Khwaja Abu Nasr Parsa (Translated)
Khwaja Abou Nasr Parsa Mosque (Alternate)
Ziyarat-e Khwaja Abu Nasr Parsa (Alternate transliteration)
Khodja Abu Nasr Parsa Ziyarat (Alternate)
Khoja Abu Nasr Parsa Ziarat (Alternate)
Khvajeh Abu Nasr Parsa Mosque (Alternate)
Green Mosque (Variant)
Abu Nasr Parsa Mausoleum (Alternate)
ca. 1460/865 AH; restored 1974-1975/1393-1394 AH; restored (on-going) 2012-2016