Stellate symbols, or stars, are a very visible design element at Humayun's Garden Tomb. The most visible example of this is the pair of six-pointed stellate symbols that decorate the tomb's pishtaqs' spandrels. At Humayun's Garden Tomb, six-pointed stellate symbols are placed in very visible or very important locations. The most visible of these are the six-pointed stellate symbols presented like emblems on the spandrels above the West Gate's main arches, above the South Gate's main arches, and on Humayun's Tomb's pishtaqs' spandrels. There is also a pair of six-pointed stellate symbols on the spandrels of each second story opening on Humayun's Tomb's facades.
Some of the locations of these six-pointed stellate symbols are less visible, but they are symbolically more important. This includes above the entrance to the mausoleum and around the dome’s drum. The dome’s drum is faced with a six-pointed stellate symbol pattern that is constructed with a masonry technique that involves using two different colored sandstones to build the stellate pattern into the wall's coursing and bonding pattern. The lighter colored sandstone hexagons and six-pointed stellate symbols in this pattern are embedded with a stylized flower symbol.
A stellate symbol that is inscribed by a radial symbol that sometimes resembles a flower is something that is seen elsewhere in Hindustan and in Uzbekistan. This symbol is a visible decoration on many Sultanate spandrels. This symbol has made appearances in the visual vocabulary of Hinduism as shatkonas, as can be seen in Surya's yantra.1 The gate of Din-panah, a nearby city that was planned by Emperor Humayun himself, has the same spandrel symbols that decorate Humayun's Tomb's pishtaqs' spandrels.2 In Samarkand, Uzbekistan, these six-pointed stellate symbols are disguised in a pattern while transforming into flowers that circumscribe stylized flowers in an elaborate golden web that coats the squinches inside Timur's tomb, the Gur-i Amir.3
An eight-pointed stellate symbol is made up of a central octagon with eight pointed radial extensions, so an eight-pointed stellate symbol is an octagon that has bloomed. An eight-petaled flower symbol is an eight-pointed stellate symbol that has bloomed. If viewed from above, the fountains, the pool at the bottom of the Tree Planform's chadar, the smaller guldastas, and the head of Humayun's cenotaph are all decorated with eight-pointed stellate flower symbols.
The most visible instance of this eight-pointed stellate symbol is the white marble inlay cartouche that frames every opening of the arcade on Humayun's Tomb's red sandstone plinth. A very visible feature of the Gur-i Amir's facade is a cartouche that is very similar to the white marble eight-pointed stellate cartouche on Humayun's Tomb's plinth but executed with glazed tile on brick, and the stellate symbols are inscribed with stylized flower symbols. Variations of this eight-pointed stellate cartouche is also applied to the facades of other Timurid monuments, but not as frankly.4
1. "World Cultural Heritage Sites - India 2 Booklet: Sun Temple, Konarak, Khajuraho Temples, Qutub Complex Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi," Centre for Cultural Resources and Training, accessed June 24, 2020, http://ccrtindia.gov.in/ccrt_publications/Pub_WCHS2.pdf, 147.
2. Glenn Lowry, "Humayun's Tomb: Form, Function, and Meaning in Early Mughal Architecture," Muqarnas 4, (1987): 142-43.
4. Tile Stellate Cartouche on the Gur-i Amir's Facade Adam Jones from Kelowna, BC, Canada / CC BY-SA.
Broug, Eric. Draw Islamic Geometric Star Patterns. London: Eric Broug, 2015. Kindle.
Golombek, Lisa, and Ebba Koch. "The Mughals, Uzbeks, and the Timurid Legacy." In From the Mongols to Modernism, edited by Finbarr Barry Flood and Gülru Necipoglu, 811-45. Vol. 2 of A Companion to Islamic Art and Architecture. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2017.
Lowry, Glenn. "Humayun's Tomb: Form, Function, and Meaning in Early Mughal Architecture." Muqarnas 4, (1987): 133-48.
Parodi, Laura E. "The Posthumous Portrait of Ḥaḍrat Jannat ʿAshiyānī: Dynastic, Saintly, and Literary Imagery in the Tomb of Humayun." Islamic Art 6, (2009): 129-58.
School of Islamic Geometric Design. Accessed October 30, 2020. http://www.sigd.org/.