The History of Iran Art





The need to perform ritual acts, to perform the prayer five times a day, and the need to gather in a place, lived not only as a prayer building but as the center of all the activities of the Islamic community, were the factors that favored the rapid construction of mosques in Iran after the introduction of Islam. Confronted with the Sassanid palaces, the first mosques were simple buildings, built with local techniques and materials. Unfortunately, none of these mosques has remained standing up to the present day, but historians have dignifiedly handed down to them, since in addition to being chosen for the five daily prayers, they held courses in grammar, philosophy, and even non-religious sciences. Furthermore, the mosque was the center of political-social gatherings, during which the population received political, military and social information and discussed various daily problems. The mosque thus gradually became part of the life of the people, with the doors always open to the people! Each mosque had at least a library, a water supply, a clinic, and even a public table. Given these functions, even the surface of the buildings gradually began to increase. The first mosques in Iran, since the seventh century, were complete buildings whose construction involved high costs; according to ancient Iranian traditions, in fact, the architectural details of the decorations and ornaments were very expensive. However despite this, the mosques did not have a constant plan.
In general, in the early centuries of the Islamic era, three types of mosques were created in Iran:

1) the domed mosque, that is a room or a square hall surmounted by a dome, built on the model of the Sassanid fire temples;
2) the simple cross-shaped mosque with an open courtyard, following the style of iwan-e madaen;
3) the mosque with the outdoor prayer hall and the arcades on the sides; this type is known as Arabic style.
However these three types have become extinct in a short time. During the first centuries of Islam in Iran, many mosques were built according to Sassanid styles and architectural models, adapted according to the needs of the Islamic religion. For example, a washing area was added (to make the ablutions), a deposit for shoes (to get into the mosque and to take part in religious rituals you need to take off your shoes). Of these mosques there is almost no trace left, even if the stories reported in the historical texts describe the beauty and the wonderful decorations. At that time in Iran there were still very skilled architects able to apply Sassanid architectural traditions and methods. For this reason, until the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, buildings were built according to this style, considered the model par excellence for the construction of each new building. The two oldest mosques left over from the first centuries are the Fahraj Mosque, a town near Yazd, which has lost its original features due to the numerous restorations and renovations it has undergone over the centuries; and the Tarikhaneh of Damghan which has fortunately preserved its original form to a considerable extent.
Tarikhaneh dates back to the 8th century. The main building, despite having undergone several destructions in the past centuries, being partly rebuilt, has remained quite intact, to the point that the original forms can be recognized in it. The plan consists of a four-sided courtyard with cross-shaped porticoes, resting on tall 3,5 meters meters with a diameter of about 2 meters. This plant, although in its simplicity, is very beautiful and the mosque can be considered one of the first noteworthy Islamic buildings. The building, despite being the symbol of grandeur and majesty, is built entirely according to the Sassanid style and the materials of the time. The radial arrangement, the size of the red bricks and the type of columns make the building similar to the Sassanid palaces, of which the example in the vicinity of Damghan is a typical example. In it, however, innovations have been made, such as the almost pointed arches, which appeared for the first time in this period. Furthermore, in its construction, even following the Sasanian model in the plan and in the building process, the religious requirements of the Muslim community were respected. It is the form of the building, rather than the materials and construction techniques, that transmit a strong effect, a part of which derives from the ritual and religious needs: the mosque does not require a complicated and particular organization and formation, its structure is reconciled rather with maximum simplicity. This type of architecture does not attach much importance to the building material, which can be stone or brick, nor to the skill and technique of the architect. In it more than anything else, one can see the reflection of the artist's spirit and the spiritual strength that guides him. This aspect arises from the social and religious ferment present in society. In Tarikhaneh, the aspects of Islamism and iraneness are mixed together and this has added to the grandeur and sumptuousness of Sasanian architecture, the spirit of Islamic modesty and humility in the presence of God. The mosque's plan is known as an Arabic plant and includes in addition to the wall in the direction of the Kaaba - called the qibla wall in which there is the mihrab - three rows of arcades parallel to the qibla wall, a row of porticoes that include the two side walls to the large prayer hall and the wall opposite the direction of the qibla, near the north side of the mosque. At the center there is an open courtyard where the faithful are stationed when their number exceeds the capacity of the main hall.
Damari's Tarikhaneh, Nain's Friday mosque and many other mosques built over the centuries up to the Zand era are these same Iranian buildings with an Arabian design. The mosques of Yazd, Ardestan and Shushtar, on the other hand, have modified forms. In the 1936, E. Schmidt discovered in the city of Ray the foundations of a large mosque built by order of the Caliph Al-Mahdi. And in 1949 R.Ghirshman discovered in Shush the bases, built with bricks, of the columns of an Arab-style mosque, without the portico on the right side and the niche. The construction of the Great Friday Shushtar mosque began by order of the Abbasid caliph in the third century of the tenth century, and ended, after a pause, between the 1119 and the 1126, during the Al-Mostarshad caliphate. The current form presents some differences with the original one. The original plan was in fact formed by a large rectangular room, built in stone, in which there were five rows of supporting columns. This mosque was rebuilt on the basis of the original plan and the ceiling has small domes resting on thick columns built of bricks. His beautiful minaret was raised in the jalayiride era. All these mosques have an Arabian plant but a type of Iranian construction. Today these mosques have disappeared so to speak, with the exception of the great Nain mosque dating back to the 10th century, the Damavand mosque and the Vakil mosque in Shiraz, where the plan is Arabic but the facade is inspired by the Sasanian architecture. porch and pointed arches. A second type of Iranian mosque was built according to the model of the Sassanid fire temples, even though the four arcades were the subject of significant modifications.

Mosques with entirely Iranian architecture

The early Iranian mosques were simple. Generally they were buildings with four porticos in Sassanid style transformed into mosques, ie buildings with four porticos in which the entrance in the direction of the qibla was closed by a wall, at the center of which was inserted a niche. The space used for the public consisted of a vast courtyard. The mosalla of Yazd is an example. These mosques were usually built on extensive grounds on the outskirts of cities. Even today, in the city of Bukhara, there are examples of this kind of mosques: a large portico in the direction of the qibla and a large adjoining space, where the faithful made the prayer by lining up in the direction of the qibla. The fact that the Iranians, after converting to Islam, transformed the previous religious buildings into mosques was quite natural. The oldest known mosque to date is the Izadkhast four-arched mosque in the Fars region, which still exists today. This mosque is in the shape of a quadriportico with the entrance walled in the direction of the qibla, and a niche made out of it. Next to it is a pulpit and a dome is built above the roof of the quadriportico. The two side walls, thinner than the wall oriented towards the qibla, have the function of closing the two side entrances. In front of the fourth portico a small courtyard has been created, almost half the same, with two entrances, one large on the side opposite the qibla and the other on the left side of the mosque. From what has been said, it is clear that the Iranians turned the existing buildings into mosques, making little changes; in the eastern regions of the country were created mosques with peristyle, in the western ones, mosques with quadriportico with the dome and in the south, mosques with peristyle to karkheh, that is with large corridors covered with cylindrical columns and with a dome at the center building. These mosques were still built according to the ancient regional architectural traditions.
In the central regions, on the other hand, there are several specimens representing an imitation of the three types mentioned. For example, in the city of Mohammadiyeh, located east of Isfahan, there are two mosques with peristyle karkheh, that is, with a wide corridor and a central dome. And in Neyriz, in the Fars region, there is a mosque with a peristyle. Later a fourth type of mosque was built, containing a peristyle, a prayer hall and a dome. This type derives from the Sassanid fortress located in Firuzabad. The Friday mosque of Ardabil is also built on the same model. The most important type of mosque is the one with four porticoes, the mosque-palace with iwan.

The mosques in pavilion or 'chahar taq'

The mosques with four arches built on the model of the Sassanid fire temples. The temples of the fire consisted of a large platform, designed to accommodate the largest number of people, at whose center rose a pavilion, open on all four sides, in which the fire was lit. After the conversion of Iranians to the Islamic monotheistic religion, the new Muslims preserved the same elements in the construction of the mosque, making only minor changes and minor changes. In practice, the wide space, ie the platform, remained, but the pavilion was moved to the bottom, with one of the sides placed in the direction of the qibla. In this side, after having walled it, a niche was dug out that housed the mihrab, while the platform was transformed into a courtyard of the mosque. When it was necessary to get more space for the faithful, around it were built rooms called shabestan. Even today in some mosques you can see the traditional platform of the fire temples. Among the pavilion mosques can be found the following examples: the mosques of the Friday of Ardestan, of Natanz, of Saveh and of Qom; the mosalla of Towraq and that of Mashad (Fig. 22); the Friday mosque of Golpayegan, the Bersiyan mosque, the mosques of the Friday of Borujerd and Isfahan; the madrasa Heidariyeh in Qazvin, the Friday mosque of Urumiyeh.
All these monuments are located in the western part of Iran. They were all endowed with minarets or however these were added later. For example, the minaret of the Ardestan mosque was added a long time later; also the minaret of Saveh's Friday mosque was probably annexed at a later date or rebuilt after its destruction. The oldest mosque of this type is the Friday mosque of Zavareh. There are other examples where the pavilion is not attached to the qibla wall, such as the mosque of Towraq, the mosalla of Mashad and many mosques of northern Khorasan and Turkestan. In the majority of these mosques, the minarets are built on the walls or in front of them, while in the mosques of Golpayegan and Bersiyan, they are part of the pavilion and are built on the column line. In the Golpayegan mosque, the minaret is located on the foundations in a south-west direction, while in the Bersiyan mosque it is located behind the building.
These mosques were built in different periods and in some cases the time between the construction date of the four-arch pavilion and the time when other members of the mosque were added is very long. For example, in the Golpayegan mosque and in the Heidariyeh madrasa of Qazvin, the main building is very old while the prayer rooms or the rooms around the courtyard were built during the Qajar era (1787-1926). Instead, this period is rather short in the Friday mosque in Isfahan. In the ancient mosque of Yazd, the pavilion is located in the middle of the courtyard, which means that it has preserved the original form of the temple of fire. In that case it is open on four sides, so the mosque is devoid of the mihrab. Undoubtedly this mosalla is an exceptional case, but exemplifies the use and transformation of ancient religious buildings in mosques. The main symbol of these mosques is the dome built on the four arches.
There are other buildings and monuments built on this model, such as the mausoleums of the descendants of the Imams or the tombs of kings and famous people, which will be discussed later in the section concerning the tombs and mausoleums.

The mosques with iwan

The iwan is an architectural element typical of eastern Iran. The Arsacids during their reign (1493-1020 BC) spread this style also in the western regions of the country. Initially the iwan, most likely, was a very large shelf, or the width of a room, which gradually expanded to become a major element of the architecture of the arsacid era and later that of Sassanide. Although the iwan was widespread in the Arsacid and Sassanid architectural monuments, in the eastern regions of Iran it was rarely used in the construction of mosques during the Islamic period. The only example in the eastern regions of the country is the Neyriz friday mosque near Shiraz in southern Iran.
André Godard argues that the reason for the lack of diffusion of mosques with iwan in the eastern region derives from the spirit of cohesion that would have permeated Iranian art. In his opinion, during the long centuries of the reign of the Arsacids and the Sassanids, this style was not used in the construction of the houses of the common people and was considered an exclusive component of the royal palaces and elités. The Neyriz mosque, whose construction date dates back to the 952-3, has a pavilion plan, with the difference that instead of the four-arched pavilion, an iwan was built on the side of the qibla wall, while other elements were added later.
André Godard has found the remains of some eleventh-century mosques in the city of Bamiyan. This city was destroyed by the Chengiz Mongol in the 1203-4. The mosques had an iwan and a courtyard in front of it with short walls. The dimensions of one of these iwan are 3 × 6 meters, and it would actually be a large niche or an open room on the sides. Over time these iwan were gradually enlarged, such as the iwan measurements of the Zuzen mosque are 13,5 × 37,9 meters. This mosque is composed of two iwan, one facing the other and a courtyard in whose eastern sector several secondary buildings were built. Other examples of this type of mosque are those of Forumed, Sabzavar and Nishapur. Feature of the mosques of eastern Iran is a large and sumptuous iwan that replaces the dome, while this is a symbol of mosques, mausoleums, shrines and places of prayer in Khorasan, Tayebad, Torbat-e Jam, Towraq and in other places. The four-iwan mosques, built on the model of the four-iwan madrasa, which became typical of Iranian religious architecture, were generated by the expansion and evolution of the mosques with a single iwan. As for the mosques of the third type, mosques with a vestibule, only two specimens are known, near the city of Nain, in the Isfahan region, whose construction date dates back to the tenth or eleventh century. There is a third example, known as the Kuhpah mosque, located on the road between Isfahan and Nain, but the changes made to the building during the Mongol domination have been so many that they have canceled the original form of the vestibule.
However, these mosques can be considered typical of central Iran, built on the model of the so-called Iwan-e Karkheh of the Sassanid era. They have the shape of a large covered corridor, in the center of which there is a cylindrical column surmounted by a dome.

The four-iwan mosques and the madrasas with central courtyard

The majority of Orientalists who have done research and studies on Iranian monuments claim that the origin of the four-iwan mosques dates back to the Seljuk era. Before André Godard demonstrated this thesis with valid motives, it was believed that the four-iwan mosques derived from the madrasas to four iwan, and therefore there were divergent opinions about which country, in particular Syria and Egypt, was the site of origin of this architectural style.
The English orientalist Creswell, in a report published in the 1922, argued that Van Berchem's thesis of considering the Syria country of origin of the four-iwan madrasas is wrong; the origin according to him would be Egyptian and date back to the fourteenth century. This is because the construction of the first Syrian iwan madrasa, known as Nassiriyeh, was terminated in the 1306, while the first four Egyptian iwan madrasa, named Zahiriyeh, was terminated in 1266 and went into operation in the same year.
These researchers confined their efforts to know Islamic art only to Arab countries, having no knowledge of Persian Islamic architecture and did not pay the slightest attention to the Islamic architecture of Mesopotamia. In the 1935, Frenchman André Godard found the remains of a four-iwan madrasa in Khorasan. This building was built by order of Khajeh Nezam ol-Molk. Godard established the date of construction of the madrasa approximately at the 1089. This was one of the numerous Nezamiyehs that arose throughout Iran in the eleventh century.
Before discussing the origin of this mosque-madrasa or other, recognized as typical Iranian mosques that mark the continuity of Iranian art for over a millennium, it is necessary to briefly mention the monuments and palaces to four iwan.
The iwan, not in the form appeared at the time of the Arsacids (149 BC-257) in the cities of Hatra and Ashur, but as a space in front of the entrance, with the roof resting on columns, appeared at the end of the fifteenth century BC nell'Apadana Dario the Great, first in the city of Shush and then to Takht-e Jamshid. The very high roof of the Apadana (about 18 -20 meters) could not consist of an arch surmounted by a dome. The arch was known and widespread in the western and southern regions of Iran and near the Sumerians. There is no specimen of a peristyle building from the pre-arsacid era in the eastern regions of the country, but it is not conceivable that the arcaded or peristyle style, without any preliminary element, was an invention of that era. This is because the Arsacids, during the period of the Achaemenids and even in the kingdom of the Seljuks, were nomads on the borders of Iran and their houses consisted only of tents. Therefore it must be admitted that already in the days of the Achaemenids or at least in the last years of their reign, there existed palaces with peristyle in eastern Iran and in Khorasan. It is however possible that their dimensions were considerably smaller than those of the arsacid palaces discovered in Hatra and Ashur.
During the Sassanid era and at the end of the reign of the Arsacids, the high iwan were very widespread, often built at the entrance of the palaces, as for example in the palace of Artaxerxes in the city of Firuzabad. An example of iwan even more impressive than that of the palace of Artaxerxes, is Iwan-e Madaen in Ctesiphon, built by Shapur I, also known as Khosrow I. The reign period of Shapur I represents a turning point for the study of four iwan buildings. The first monument of this type was in fact built during that period in the city of Bishapur in the Fars region. Roman Ghirshman discovered a large part of a palace with four iwan, whose courtyard was turned into a hall covered by a dome. He writes: "The width of the hall from a door to the front door is 37 meters, however that part where the walls adjacent to the entrance doors are located, on each side is 7,5 meters and this causes the width inside the hall is reduced to 22 meters. So most probably this section was covered by a dome and the other four narrower sections consisted of rooms covered by a roof ". So the four sections mentioned, or the four iwan, normally had a cylindrical roof. However André Godard, considering the lower measurement of the diameters of the Sassanid domes, does not consider it admissible that at the time a dome had been built with the diameter of 22 meters, as the measurement of the diameters of the uncovered domes of the Sassanid era is as follows: the dome of Firuzbad is 16,10 meters, that of Qasr-e Shirin is 16,15 meters, that of the palace of Firuzabad is 13,50 meters and that of the palace of Sarvestan is 12,80 meters. At the same time, considering the dimensions of the Iwan-e Madaen, whose internal width is 25,65 meters, the length of 42,90 meters and the height of about 68 meters, the thesis of Andrè Godard is inevitably questioned and consequently is confirmed the one advanced by Ghirshman on the dome and the four iwan of the Bishapur palace. On the other hand the measures of the domes of the four iwan palaces and the Sassanid palaces built roughly after the introduction of Islam into Iran, especially during the reign of the Seljuks - which is considered the period of renaissance of an authentic Iranian architecture - have always remained constant. The largest dome built at the time of the Seljuks is that of the mosque on Friday of Qazvin whose diameter is 15,20 meters.
In practice, there is no known building with iwan, either a mosque or a madrasa, dating back to the early centuries of the Islamic era, except for the old Nain mosque, whose hall and mihrab are based on the four-arched pavilion style. On the north side there is a courtyard with iwan dating back to the tenth century. This iwan, now restored, is very high compared to the ground of the courtyard, unlike many existing ones that are at the same level of the ground or at least on a low platform. In front of this iwan and on the façade of the hall, the first portico is symmetrically slightly higher than the roof of the hall, but it is not iwan.Se iwan appeared in the construction of madrasas and iranian mosques since the fifth century 'eleventh century, without any doubt it was already part of the buildings built before this period. This is demonstrated by the ruins of a palace discovered by Daniel Schlumberger in the Lashkari Bazar area of ​​Afghanistan. It is a four-iwan palace that dates back to the time of Mahmud the ghaznavide (999-1011). Since the origin of the iwan belongs to the area of ​​the Great Khorasan, perhaps we can also deduce the same regarding the palaces of the Samanids. The research carried out by Godard on the Nezamiyeh of Khargard, in Khorasan, made it clear that on the four sides of the central courtyard there were four iwan. The one erected on the side of the qibla was larger than the others and the width of the bases of the two sides showed that they were smaller. The one in front of the qibla was the smallest and had the shape of an entrance corridor.
The Nezamiyeh of Khargard was not the first to have four iwan. The first to be built with this type of architecture was in fact erected by order of Nezam ol-Molk in Baghdad for Shirazi, one of the most famous ulema of the time, and was called Nezamiyeh of Baghdad. A few years later another was built in the city of Nishapur for another alem named Joveini. And later others in the cities of Basra, Isfahan, Balkh, Khargard, Herat, Tus, Musel etc ...
The construction of this type of school extended, at the time of Nur ed-Din, the Sunni governor of Syria and Palestine to these two countries and then to Egypt via Salah ad-Din Ayyubi. At that time the plan and the design of the construction of the schools were well established: a square courtyard with four iwan, symmetrical two by two. Behind the iwan, of different sizes and sizes, other buildings were built for students' homes. It can be argued that in Egypt, where all four Sunni confessions were recognized and widespread, each of them possesses an iwan and its side sections. This thesis, however, is not valid for Iran, particularly for the Khorasan region, as its population was generally Shiite. In fact, the invitation of Al-Mamun to go to Mashad by the Imam Ali ibn Musa ar-Reza (peace be upon him), was made to calm the Shiites of the region. Also in the Nezamiyeh, religious student houses were built inside the courtyard and on the two sides of the iwan, while in the madrasa of Sultan Nasr in Egypt they were positioned behind the iwan and in the side buildings of the madrasa. Other madrasa with iwan were built after the Seljuq period and in them the iwan were symmetrical two by two. The madrasa Mostansariyeh of Baghdad (1235) possessed 6 iwan places asymmetrically on the sides of a courtyard of size 26 × 63 meters, while the courtyard of the four-iwan madrasa was square (or almost). The Salehiyeh madrasa in Egypt (1243) had only 2 iwan connected to each other by a corridor; moreover, the co-presence of the four Sunni confessions in a madrasa, even in Egypt, dates back to a very distant date, almost to the thirteenth century.
The Nezamiyeh of Isfahan, also a four iwan, was set on fire by followers of the Ismaili sect due to hatred of Nezam ol-Molk. Ibn Athir Jezri, an Arab historian and historian (some argue that he was an Iranian-speaking Iranian in Arabic) describes the mosque of Isfahan on Friday: "This mosque consisted of a vast courtyard, on whose south side there was a building with the dome and the name of Nezam ol-Molk was engraved on an epigraph placed on an anti-fire material. "On the sides of the courtyard there were cells for the Sufis, rooms for sleeping, libraries and other components of the old Abbasid mosque. Another historian by the name of Al-Mafruzi, in a book written in the 1031-1032 on the history of the city of Isfahan, fully describes the elements of the mosque. So what was set on fire and destroyed was part of the mosque. From an epigraph written in Cufic characters on one of the doors of the monument, we learn that in that year there was a fire and immediately after the mosque and its parts were restored. In the same year the original Abbasid form was changed to the four iwan form. And so we can think that just then the building became a structure with four iwan and assumed the function of a mosque-madrasa. There are two reasons to support this opinion: the first is that the courtyard is of the same Seljuk style; and the second is that the distance of time spent between decorating the entrance door (about 1123) and the restoration of the eastern iwan is so small that they can be considered contemporary.
It can therefore be concluded that in the 1123, when the four iwan were added to the structure of the mosque, there were certainly other buildings of this type, perhaps of smaller size, most likely Nezamiyeh. The eastern façade of the mosque has remained intact from the time of the rebuilding of the building to the present day, thus keeping the Seljuk style intact. The façade of the south side is also in the same style, but in the era of Uzun Hasan it was clad with blue enamelled majolica tiles. The iwan of the north and west side have been subsequently restored, while the facades of the rooms placed between the iwan are also of Seljuk style.
Thanks to the presence of two "national" and completely Iranian architectural elements, ie the use of the four-arched pavilion and the quadrangular courtyard with four iwan, and thanks to their dual function, mosque and madrasa, in a single complex, the mosques Four-iwan madrasa spread rapidly to other parts of Iran. Fifteen years after the fire of the Friday mosque in Isfahan, in 1137, the four iwan mosque of Zavareh was built, followed by other mosques in various other regions.
In Khorasan, considered the region of origin of the iwan, the two-iwan mosque spread: the main place on the side indicating the direction of the qibla and the other on the north side, that is opposite to the qibla. Examples include, among others, the mosques of Zuzan and Forumad. The spread of the four-iwan mosques in the eastern regions took place very slowly, with a time difference of about three centuries compared to their diffusion in the southern regions. The oldest is the Bibi Khanum mosque in Samarkand, built in XUMUM. After it we can mention the Gohar Shad mosque of Mashad, which is the oldest mosque-madrasa in the whole Khorasan region and dates back to 1406. The peak of the spread of the four-iwan mosques in Khorasan and in the Turkestan regions is represented by the timurid period. The story testifies that Tamerlano, after his entry to Shiraz, took 1419 hostage among architects, decorators and artists to put into practice in Samarcanda with greater magnificence, the principles of architecture and art already spread at that time in Shiraz. . Even the architect of the tomb of Tamerlane came from Isfahan and built it during the reign of Tamerlane himself.
The mosques-madrasas and caravansaragli of the Khorasan have not undergone great changes over the centuries, and there are not many differences with the Nezamiyeh of Khargard. It should however be remembered that in the madrasas, when the main axis was that of the qibla, the iwan of that side was larger and in this case assumed the function of a mosque and in it often there was also a mihrab, while the other iwan was used as an entrance. During the Qajar period, the entry of the mosque-madrasa was not placed inside the iwan, but in a corridor created behind one of them, with the exception of the iwan of the side of the qibla, and generally entered by a side and left the other. As a result the iwan, assuming a ritual function (collective prayers and others) became larger. When the madrasah and the mosque were not united in one complex, all the iwan were of the same size, as the Timurid madrasa of Khargard and the mosque-madrasa Shah Sultan Hossein of Isfahan.
Naturally, these types of madrasas, despite being excellent examples of Iranian religious architecture, do not constitute the only type of madrasa. In fact there are others with square courtyards surrounded by rooms and without iwan and even some that do not differ much from normal houses. Still in Khorasan and in the regions beyond its borders, there is another type of religious monuments, constituted from a low square hall covered by a dome, with a very tall iwan. These monuments are generally reserved for mausoleums. The Molana Zein ad-Din mosque in Tayyabad, the Qali mosque in Torbat-e Jam and the mosque in Towraq are examples. Some of these buildings have undergone major changes, including the mausoleum of Sultan Mohammad Khodabandeh in Sultaniyeh, the mauseleo Davazdah Imam in Yazd and the Alaviyan mosque in Hamadan. These monuments, characterized by very high domes that dominate the other parts of the building, can be considered a continuation of the four-arched pavilions. The mausoleum of Sultan Mohammad Khodabandeh is also unique for another characteristic: its dome is the first in the world to be built in two layers.
The caravanserragli (or robat), although not religious monuments, must be inserted from the point of view of the typology in the architecture of the mosque-madrasa. They are characterized by the presence of four iwan, but they also have many other sections and components. Some, like the mosques, present on the sides of the central square courtyard, four iwan, symmetrical two by two, interspersed with a series of rooms on one floor, sometimes even on two floors. In some buildings, such as the Robat-e Karim caravanserai, the rooms open directly onto the courtyard; in others, like the caravanserai of Robat-e Sharif, in front of the rooms there is a corridor that acts as a parasol. In the complex of the madrasah and the caravanserai of Shah Sultan Hossein in Isfahan, consisting of two separate but interconnected buildings, in the part of the madrasa, the iwan in the direction of the qibla, or the one in front of the southern side of the building, leads to the hall cupolas, that is, to the prayer hall, while on both sides there are the colonnaded side rooms, the offices, the sanitary facilities and the area of ​​ablutions. The rooms, built on two floors, each have a closet and are connected to each other by a corridor. Each room has a small balcony in front of the entrance door that leads into the courtyard, while the rooms of the caravanserai have no storage room. The caravanserai on the eastern side has a long narrow and rectangular courtyard that was actually used as a stable. The madrasa and the caravanserai are connected to each other by an alley-like space. All the rooms in the complex have a second door that opens onto this alley. From the alley you enter a bazaar built on the north side. At the center of the courtyard of each of the three departments, namely the madrasa, the caravanserai and the stable, a small stream of water flows. In the courtyard of the madrasa there are also four symmetrical gardens, while the courtyard of the caravanserai, although larger, is without it. Currently the caravanserai has been renovated and transformed into a large hotel called Hotel Abbassi, in whose courtyard were created gardens.
Another caravanserai, located on the road between Isfahan and Shiraz, has a completely different plant. It has an octagonal shape; on the sides, in addition to four symmetrical iwan, there are two rows of rooms, the front ones opening onto the courtyard, while the back ones lead to a corridor created between the two rows of rooms. It is very likely that the architect of the mentioned caravanserragli, who are in the villages of Deh Bid, Amin Abad and Khan Khureh, was the same. There is no trace of Deh Bid's caravanserai, but Charles Texier has developed a plant published in M. Siroux, Caravanserais d'Iran, Le Caire, 1949. The caravanserragli were built next to the communication ways and were equipped with guard towers at their corners. In the plant designed for the caravanserai of Robat-e Karim, which was almost square in shape, in every corner you can see a square hall surmounted by a large dome. The Khornaq caravanserai, located on a road east of Yazd, was also built on the same plant. The date of construction of Robat-e Sharaf dates back to the year 1116 and that of Robat-e Karim at the end of the twelfth century. In some caravanserais in mountainous regions and with cold climate, the central courtyard is covered and the surface is rather small. The very large caravansaragli have a dome over the iwan, which served as an entrance, while the caravanserragli covered in the mountainous areas are deprived. Four examples can be seen on the road between Damavand and the city of Amol and on the road between the Imamzadeh Hashem and Polur (at 3.000 altitude meters).

Mausoleums and domes

In Iran it was a widespread tradition to erect mausoleums or memorial monuments for illustrious figures, both religious and political. This tradition existed in all nations and was carried out in different ways. The kings generally built their mausoleums while they were still alive, while those of religious figures were built by the people after their death to celebrate and commemorate their spiritual nature. The first mausoleum built in Iran after the introduction of Islam was the samanid of Ismail, erected according to an ancient Iranian tradition in the 908, just before his death in Bukhara (Fig. 23-24). This monument is one of the most beautiful and original. The architectural structure is that of the chahar taq, with the four walled sides that limit the space. This project was imitated in the Khorasan regions and beyond the Jeyhun River and even in India. The building is cube-shaped and each side is about 10 meters long. A hemispherical dome covers the roof, while four small domes are built on the four corners, according to the Sasanian architectural style. At the base of the dome, there is an open corridor, equipped on each side with ten arched openings that repeats the shape of the central arch. On the upper corners there are some protruding spherical shapes reminiscent of the circular shape, similar to the sun, present in the mausoleums of the Achaemenid kings. In the upper corners of the entrance arch the geometric symbols of the moon and of the northern star are clearly visible. The exterior decorations, made of brick, are very varied. They were later taken as a source of inspiration by Iranian Muslim artists. Large columns of support are built at the four corners of the monument and the walls are slightly inclined from bottom to top to make them more resistant to natural disasters. The precise dimensions, proportioned and well calculated in all the details of the building, make it, although not colossal, one of the masterpieces of Iranian architectural art.
Among the mausoleums built imitating, even if with some modifications, this model, we can mention the mausoleum of Jalal ad-Din Hosseini, which was built about 250 years later, ie in 1153, in Usgan in the Kargand region; the mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar built in the same style in the 1158 in the city of Marv, which however has a somewhat larger and higher dome, and finally that of Hushang Shah which was built in 1431-1436 in Mandù in India, whose measurements they are much bigger.
The cubic mausoleums are not found in the central, eastern and northern areas of Iran, while the oldest monument used as a mausoleum in the above-mentioned areas is the Gonbad-e Qabus polygonal tower, located at Gorgan, at the foot of the mountain range. Alborz, in the north of the country. The height of the tower from the ground is 51 meters, the underground part is about 10 meters high. The main structure of the tower is cylindrical while the dome has a conical shape. The ten external sides rise perpendicular from the ground to below the lower ring of the dome from which the cylindrical internal shape of the tower starts. This form gives it a beauty and at the same time a particular resistance. The lower base of the cylinder is slightly larger than the upper base and this determines an inclination from the bottom to the top which gives greater resistance to the monument. The mausoleum dedicated to Qabus ibn Voshmgir was erected in the 1113 with red bricks that over time have taken the color of the pond and gold and has no decoration except two bands with epigraphs, one placed at the top and the other at a height equal to ¼ of the tower. The interior is covered with bricks and is blue in color. Some bricks are manufactured in a very particular form and are compatible with the conical inclination of the dome towards the sides. This tower is described as the oldest, highest and most beautiful of the approximately 50 tower-shaped mausoleums built in Iran. The construction of these towers with walls decorated with bas-relief engravings continued until the construction of the Bisotun tower, in the fourteenth century, obviously modified according to the period and the place of construction, for example in Jarkugan, east of the city of Radkan in the 1281 -1301, and in the city of Kashmar in the fourteenth century. The round columns were replaced by tall walls covered with decorations. Another type of tower was built with double columns. This style began with the Jarkugan tower at Robat-e Malak and was then imitated in the construction of the Qutb Menar tower in the city of Delhi, India. Some of these towers are octagonal. The oldest of these is the Gonbad-e Ali tower at Abarqu, built in the 1037. Other towers of this type were built in Qom in the fourteenth century and at the Imamzadeh Jafar in Isfahan in the 1342, but they are not as high as that of Qabus. There are also circular towers like the Pir-e Alamdar tower in Damghan and the Lajim tower in Mazandaran, built in 1022 and 1023 respectively.
Other towers have a quadrangular shape like that of Gonbad-e Sorkh in Maragheh built in the tenth-eleventh century and the mausoleum of the Shahzadeh Mohammad built in the fifteenth century. These towers vary not only in the plant, but also in the foundations. Some have no foundations and in others the foundation consists of a square or octagonal or circular platform. Some of these towers have an oval dome or high roof frames and a tent-shaped or polygonal dome. As for the height, they do not generally exceed the 10 meters, although in some cases, such as the Menar Sarban in Isfahan, you get to 50 meters.
From the tower form, the funeral monuments gradually turned into low polygonal buildings, usually of 8 or 16 sides, covered by a conical or semi-spherical dome. An example is the Imamzadeh Ala ad-Din of Jam, which could be considered in shape and size as a chahar taq. Another example is the Imamzadeh Mohammad of Sari, which has a pointed dome even if it starts with a base of 16 sides that climbing towards the top becomes clearly conical. These monuments present the style and architectural features of the era in which they were built and in some of them we can see the sincere genius of local architects. The Gonbad-e Ali tower in Abarqu, for example, which dates back to the year 1057, is built with large, rough but well-ordered stones. The base of the walls ends with a long protruding moqarnas, all surmounted by a semi-spherical dome with a sharp point in the center. Other towers are built with bricks. Since the eleventh century, the style of the brick façade facade has been diffused as decoration of the building, and of the work with bas-reliefs enriched by various geometric designs. In the last years of the same century the surfaces of the towers were enriched with framed epigraphs and bounded by a lattice of protruding bricks and blue enamels which, together with large Kufic inscriptions, exalted the grandeur of the monument, such as the mausoleum of Mumeneh Khatun to Nakhjavan in Armenia.
From the fifteenth century, in the processing of the frames of the roofs of the towers, the bricks were replaced with majolica tiles. The towers of the city of Maragheh and Gonbad-e Sorkh are considered among the masterpieces of those built in bricks. The tower of Gonbad-e Sorkh has a cubic shape, with two sharp arches on each outer side, provided, at the top, with two small windows, perfectly decorated with decorated bricks. The roof is covered by a semi-spherical dome resting on octagonal bases. The thick columns at the four corners and the overall appearance of the monument remind the visitor of the mausoleum of Ismail in Bukhara. The construction date of the tower is the 1148, while the Gonbad-e Kabud tower was built in the 1197. Each side of the tower has the shape of a pointed arch covered with blue majolica tiles and a pointed frame whose edges are white epigraphs on a blue background, which make it special. This combination, together with the robust columns that support the frames, give it strength and strength. In other towers of the city of Maragheh, the coating of white and blue majolica tiles contrasts effectively with the red color of the bricks.
From the fifteenth century onwards the construction of a different type of mausoleum dedicated to the descendants of the prophet of Islam spread. These monuments resemble the Sasanian royal palaces, where the central hall, which leads to the courtyard through an iwan, has the character's tomb at its center and is covered by an oval-spherical dome, often in two layers. The hall is connected on three sides to the rectangular courtyards, such as the ancient building of the shrine of Imam Ali ibn Musa ar-Reza (peace be upon him) in Mashad, Masumeh's mausoleum (peace be upon her) in Qom , the mausoleums of Shah Cheragh Sayyed Amir Ahmad, of Sayyed Mir Mohammad, of Sayyed Ala ad-Din Hossein and of Ali ibn Hamzeh in Shiraz, that of Hamzeh ibn Mossa al-Kazem and of Hazrat Abd ol-Azim Hasani in the city of Rey . These sacred monuments have domes covered with golden bricks or majolica tiles with geometric designs and arabesques (islimi) and the internal walls and ceiling covered and decorated with majolica tiles and beautiful mirror work. These decorations are generally found starting from the tenth, eleventh and twelfth centuries.
Other monuments worthy of mention are the towers that were used to commemorate and celebrate famous people, and the minarets, which are very different from each other, like the minaret of Jam in Afghanistan, built by Sultan Ala ad-Din Ghuri to commemorate one of the his victorious wars. The construction date of the minaret dates back to the 1150 and its height is about 18 meters. The monument is built on three floors with well proportioned and calculated dimensions and dimensions. On the roof there is a guard room. Each floor has its own frame of moqarnas. The entire surface of the building is adorned with frames of various shapes, circular, rectangular and oval, inside which are executed bas-relief plaster work separated from each other by epigraphs in cufic characters. The most beautiful epigraph of the tower shows the Koranic text of the sura of Maryam which includes 973 words. The overall appearance of the tower is perfect, but it seems that the moqarnas of each floor, ended in now collapsed platforms of which there is no trace. The minaret is built on a large rock on the slopes of a mountain and overlooks the Hamun region.
Throughout the northern region of Mazandaran and in the middle of the valleys of the Alborz mountain range to the north of Iran, numerous towers are scattered accompanied by small mosques whose simplicity gives them a special charm. The most beautiful minarets were built from the fifteenth century onwards. Also in the center and in the south of Iran there are numerous small towers with a conical or pyramidal shape. These are composed of many convex blocks ending at the top of a cone or pyramid. The precise date of construction of these monuments is not known but should date from the seventeenth century onwards.
Of the art of the Ghaznavid period in the western part of Iran and the Buyidi era in the center and in the south of the country there are not many monuments and many traces left. Even the Ghaznavids, like the Samanids and the Buyids, placed great importance on architecture, science, art and literature. Their court was the gathering center for scientists, poets and artists. In reality it can be said that the cultural and national revival of Iranian art did not concern only the period of the Saffarids and the Samanids, but it began at the time of the Saffarids and then extended during the reign of the Samanids. At the time of the Ghaznavids and the Buyides, there were many political and religious initiatives undertaken in two opposite parts of Iran. Later, during the reign of the Seljuks, the Iranian literary and artistic renaissance went beyond the borders of the country and extended to other Islamic countries, even to Africa.
Only the ruins of the Lashkari Bazar which was built on a site of about 14 sq. Km are left of the flourishing ghaznavid period; in reality it was a new large citadel, composed of a large central square, a 12.800 square meter building, a large central courtyard and some secondary courtyards, a hall for ceremonies (in imitation of the Apadana room of Persepolis and Palace of Firuzabad), a mosque, a bazaar, numerous private houses of important court figures, gardens, villas, and finally some streams and fountains. All this constituted a complex previously designed on a single axis, demonstrating the fact that plants they had been prepared before construction began. It should be noted that in this complex, most of the houses and buildings were built in the style of four iwan with four entrances similar to smaller iwan. The decorations of the complex which include plaster bas-relief work and wall frescoes executed according to the Sassanid style, are currently severely damaged. The residential buildings built in this complex with four entrances, dating back to the second half of the tenth century and the beginning of the eleventh, are a clear sign of the fact that the mosques and schools to four iwan, before expanding throughout Iran and beyond their borders, they were widespread in the eastern part of the country.
From the period of the reign of Mahmud and Masoud ghaznavidi only two towers remained, not as important as the Gonbad-and Qabus tower, but with beautiful decorations. The palace-mausoleum of Arsalan Jazeb in Sangbast is one of the best preserved. The building is built on a quadrangular platform, according to the Sassanid style, with semi-spherical domes and a minaret; most likely he also had another minaret, as the existing one is built on a corner of the monument. Its surface is covered with tiles and ends with some small moqarnas inserted before the little room built on the roof of the minaret. The palace is equipped with four acute arched Iranian style entrances; the cubic form of the hall, eliminated the corners together with the arches on the sides of the gushvareh (the term literally means "earrings"), supports the semispherical dome, which is higher than that of the tomb of Ismail in Bukhara (Fig. 25) .
In reality, with the exception of a mausoleum tower, nothing of the period of Masud's reign remained, even though history testifies that he had other buildings similar to Lashkari Bazar built. Only a part of the Friday mosque of Isfahan and the domed mausoleum of the Davazdah Imams of Yazd of the 1037 remained of the Buyides period, whose architectural style introduces the grandiose architecture of the Seljuk period. In this building the problem of the arrangement of the dome on a quadrangular base is solved much better than the other monuments mentioned so far. The dome is a bit 'low, but the corners of the cube of the building representing a technical improvement, have transformed it into a multilateral complex. The triangular gushvarehs of Ismail's mausoleum are coarse and resistant. In the Sangbast monument they are taller and therefore less solid, while in the Davazdah Imam mausoleum another noteworthy solution is used. The inside of each corner is formed by three arched frames, reinforced with a relatively deep half dome and connected to two frames less than a quarter of the dome. All these elements are joined to the outer side and upwards and support the dome. This solution is very simple and courageous and was perfected in the Seljuk period, becoming the reference base for the construction of the Islamic domes.
During the reign of the Buyides, many mosques and libraries were built of which no trace was left, as they were destroyed during the Mongol attack on Iran. According to historical evidence, the large library of Azod ed-Dowleh in Shiraz had 360 rooms, each different in shape, decoration and style. Hospitals were also built, of which Estakhri spoke in his works, particularly that of Firuzabad.

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