Gawharshad Begum was a powerful Empress of the Timurid Dynasty who lives on as a symbol of women’s power in the region centuries later. Married to Emperor Shahrukh Timurid, she was a powerful ruler in her own right. She moved the capital of the dynasty from Samarqand to Herat, making it a center for culturalrenaissance. She was integral in changing the empire’s architecture. The world-renowned Gawharshad Mosque in present day Iran and Gawharshad Madrasa and Mausoleum in Herat are two of the many historical sites built under her guidance and vision.
Gawharshad was a leader in promoting culture. She generously patronized artists, philosophers, architects, musicians and poets, including female poet Mehri Herawi and one of Persian poetry’s most renowned, Jami. Gawharshad was a skilled politician. Prevented from ruling directly- despite her wisdom and experience, Gawharshad installed her favorite grandson as the puppet king after her husband passed away, and ruled the kingdom for more than ten years.