Tag Archives: Islamic Architecture in Iran

Tomb Tower inside IRAN

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Tomb Tower inside IRAN

It is generally accepted that after the much celebrated Gonbad-e Qābus was constructed in the northeast of Iran in 1006 AD, there appeared so many other tomb towers in other parts of Mazandaran province, other areas of Iran, and Central Asia to Anatolia, where Turks moved and ruled under the devotion of Islam.

Gonbad Qabus Tower

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History of Tomb Towers in Iran

Construction of tomb towers within the Iranian territory began after the advent of Islam. Although there are much speculation and theories relating these structures to the pre- Islamic times in Iran when the so-called Chartaqi (four-domed) buildings were built.

gonbad aali tower

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Clearly, the early shrines during the Islamic era were also the four-sided domed structures but during the later parts of the 10th Century AD, the recognition of the tomb towers prevailed over these structures.

The preference of the tower to the four-cornered buildings went so far that we can witness different important types of tomb towers between the years 1000 to 1200 AD.

A major part of these tombs was built for the emirs, army commanders, governors, and so like. In addition, a few family members of the Caspian coasts dynasties also built their own tomb towers.

Building Material of Tomb Towers in Iran

Most of these buildings are made of high – quality baked bricks assembled in a variety of decorative patterns. Usually in the shape of fixed spores and inscriptive bands placed either over the sole entrance door of the tower or below the dome where occasionally the niches and other decorative elements enhance their splendor. They are normally covered with polyhedral or conical domes.

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The architecture of Tomb Towers in Iran

Simplicity in their external facades and emphasis on the alone slender Mille (pole) is the feature that enhances their visual impact on the visitors. In fact, the visual error intensifies their height influence.

Although most of these early towers only bear heights of 15 to 20 meters,  they seem to be taller. Among them, Gonbad-e Qābus and Toqrol towers in Ray are actually very tall buildings.

tabriz jameh mosque

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During the Ilkhanids not much was added to the development and existing tradition although the tomb towers of this period reflect the current methods of the time.

Similar to its preceding period and as the distinguished flanged towers of Bastam, Varamin, and east Radkan show the general trend was still toward slender proportions.

While at later times this school of work was not the dominant approach and instead the more massive octagonal bodies with their sixteen sides bands covered by polygonal domes became more in use.

We can rarely find tomb towers during the Timurids era and in fact, these kind of buildings were no longer popular then as they were previously.

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Gonbad Qabus Tower

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Gonbad Qabus Tower

Gonbad-e Qābus Ibn Voshmgir is located in Golestan Province (northeast of Iran), Gonbad-e Kāvus town. And to the north of the town and the northwest corner of the National Park, on top of a mound of 10 meters height. Also known as Mil-e Qābus, Borj-e Qābus (Tower of Qābus), and Maghbar-e Qābus (the Mausoleum of Qābus).

It is located 3km from the southwest of the ruins of the ancient town of Jorjan or Gorgan. One of the most magnificent structures of the early Islamic centuries, this structure is still standing out amongst the chaos of urban life and constructions, catching the eyes of beholders even from kilometer distances.

Gonbad e Qabus Tower

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Description of the property

One of the most noteworthy, most magnificent tomb towers in the north of Iran is Gonbad-e Qābus, with its outstanding proportions and significance. Built-in Gorgan in the 4th century AH (1006 AD), it is considered to be a milestone both as a landmark of the city and also the grave of its founder, Qābus.

The structure well plays the role of a prototype in the whole area. The inscriptions along the top and bottom of the tower show that the structure was constructed under the rule of Qābus himself. The interesting point is that inscriptions record the years of its construction both in Hijri and Yazdgerdi calendars.

The structure is 52.8m high on an artificial hillock of 15m height. 10 buttresses surround the cylindrical body of the tower. Owing to its uniquely ordered design, the structure is the first of its type is of great rigidity, in a way that none of the tomb towers built afterward, could match its proportions and scales.

Geographical Context

Gonbad-e Qābus is located in the northeast of Iran, Golestan province, Gonbad-e Kāvus town. Based on the environmental division of Iran this province is within the temperate area of the north of the country.

Golestan province shares borders with Turkmenistan to the north, Semnan province to the South, Khorassan to the east, and the Caspian Sea and Mazandaran to the west.

The south and east borders of the province are lined by mountains, which are the extensions of Alborz stretching east-west. They begin at the border between Mazandaran and Golestan (Galugah) and stretch in a crescent to reach Ala Dagh, Binalud, and Hezar Masjed mountains in Khorassan in the southeast of the province.

Gonbad e Qabus Tower

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Gonbad‐e Kāvus information

Covering an area of 5071 km2, Gonbad-e Kāvus is located in the east of Golestan. Bordered by the Republic of Turkmenistan to the north, towns of Ali Abad, Aq Qala, and Gorgan to the west, towns of Kolale and Minudasht to the east, and towns of Azad Shahrand Ramian to the south.

Topographic morphology of Gonbad-e Kāvus mainly includes mountains and plains. Steppes cover the lands between Gorgan Rud [river] and the borderline of Turkmenistan located inDashli-Boroon district.

These lands are the most important winter ranges in the area. The climate is temperate and mountainous across the heights of Azad Shahr and Ramian. But as one draws closer to the borders of Turkmenistan along the north of Gorgan River, the climate change for plain temperate to semi-arid. The rainfall also decreases northwards and westwards.

Geographical history

The present town of Gonbad-e Kāvus is a rather young one since the well known historic city of Jorjan, demolished during the Mongols’ invasion. Once existed 3 km from the center of the new town, nearImamzadeh Zeid [the shrine of Zeid] during the 5th and 6th century AH.

In fact, until the early years of this century, there existed no towns within the site of the destroyed one. Thus, there was an interval of about 5 centuries between the demolition of the old Jorjan and the birth of the present-day Gonbad-e Kāvus, which began to emerge somewhere around the 1300s AHS8.

The only remaining evidence of the glory of the ancient city of Jorjan in today’s Gonbad-e Kāvus is the tomb of Qābus Ibn Voshmgir. Which in fact was the main reason for the new town to be founded. In older days, the town had seen times of being known as Hyrcania (Hyrcana), Varkâna, Jorjan, and Gorgan among other names.

The present-day town was established in the year 1305 AHS/ 1926 AD, under the rule of the Pahlavis. Following the orders of Reza Shah the city was planned and built and was named Gonbad-e Kāvus. Kāvus being the name of a mythical Persian King and Qābus from Gonbad-e Qābus, to render homage to Qābus Ibn Voshmgir.

The original plan of the town was developed by German experts based on the principles of urban design. The town thus enjoys well-designed intersections, and there is no trace of the old narrow streets. The historical town of Jorjan or Gorgan has located 3 km of the southwest of the present-day Gonbad-e Kāvus.

Gonbad Qabus Tower

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Climate

Gonbad-e Kāvus is located in the east of the basin of the Caspian Sea and is among the most distant areas influenced by the Caspian climate with the characteristics of maritime air masses. The general altitude of the area where Gonbad-e Kāvus is located is 50 meters. While in some parts it is over 2000 meters where the dominant climate is more of maritime and mountainous systems.

Thanks to the dominance of the west winds, the moisture from the sea are distributed across the area, and as Alborz mountain chains along the south of the basin capture it, the moisture cannot move southwards toward the inner plateau of Iran. However, as one moves eastwards along the Caspian shore, the weather turns less moist and arider. The air masses that influence the area under consideration are as follows:

1. In winter: continental polar air mass; Source region: Siberia. Maritime polar air mass, from the west and northwest; the Mediterranean from the west; scarce instances of continental tropical from the south, source region: Arabia to Sahara

2. In summer: continental tropical from the central Iran or southwest; maritime tropical from the Atlantic and the Mediterranean; maritime polar from the Black Sea and the Caspian; continental polar from the North

Features of the mausoleums and tomb towers

Burial structures are undoubtedly among the most prominent creations of Islamic architecture. Thousands of tourists visit the Taj Mahal or the Mamluk rulers’ tombs in Cairo. Whoever traveling in the north of Africa or Near East can easily spot hundreds of small worship places. Which are in fact the burial site of a saint or a hero along the roads, on hilltops, in the cemeteries of towns and villages, or even on farms.

Such structures are given a variety of names based on the builders. That is, whether they constructed by the untrained hands of the villagers or are the exquisite outcome of some masters’ sweating. The same tradition has been followed across the territory of Iran for centuries. From the great Tomb of Cyrus the Great in Pasargadae to the present day mausoleums and tombs built for the prominent and influential individuals.

Tomb towers, of which Gonbad-e Qābus can be considered the origin and the most outstanding, are also regarded as a type of mausoleums.

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Gonbad Aali Tower and Its Similar Architectures

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Gonbad Aali Tower

Gonbad-i- Ali Tower at Abarquh is in central Iran. This octagonal tomb consists of a tower of rubble masonry, rather than the traditional brick. And features a bold three-tiered muqarnas cornices, also of rubble, that once probably supported a pyramid roof.

gonbad aali tower

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Further use of advanced mathematics in medieval Islamic architecture of Iran, especially the period between the Seljuk and the Timur dynasties. It is evident in the height of the towers and entrances, and the two shelled domes, used in the mosques of various cities.

gonbad aali tower

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The Architecture

The lofty minarets, with their ambitious construction and rich geometric and epigraphic decorations, were designed and constructed with immense skill. Construction techniques have not been studied thoroughly. But the continued ability of these slender towers to resist earthquakes suggests that their builders employed some sophisticated method. Perhaps wooden tie beams, to give tensile strength to the structure.

gonbad aali tower

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Other Architectures Similar to Gonbad Aali

Other examples are the Masjid-i-Jameh at Tabriz and Masjid-i-Jameh at Varamine. The first one “consisted of a single immense Iwan of brick 99 feet wide, about 213 feet deep, to the springing of now collapsed vault. About 82 feet tall, shows an immense sahn5 with center pool and single-aisled porticoes.

While the latter had a small dome behind the main portal completes the portal iwan, the dome chamber is articulated, as is all else. By squinch filled with muqarnas in brick, which signals the transition from the square to the octagon.

tabriz jameh mosque

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Jameh Mosque of Yazd

Among a large number of examples of the close relationship between Iranian medieval architecture and geometry, there is the entrance of the Friday mosque, Masjid-I-Jame, at Yazd, situated near the center of this large city.

This Friday Mosque is notable for its exceptionally narrow pishtaq surmounted by twin minarets. The interior of the dome has an almost complete tile revetment. And the elimination of the rear wall of the iwan in the qibla side ensured, for the first time, that congregation in the court yard could see it.

Jame-mosque-Yazd

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The upper galleries produce a considerable lightening of the dome chamber, both visually and structurally. And a more complex succession of solids and voids. The same considerations are found in the transverse vaulting of the prayer hall.

The principal entrance to the mosque, which is composed of an iwan and the minarets from the 14th century, is exceptional in that it is the tallest entrance in Islamic architecture of Iran. The height achieved in this part of the structure would not have been possible without structural mathematical analyses. The height is stresses further by the ascending line molding of the minarets.

yazd jameh mosque

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The purpose of the tall towers or minarets was to create the sense of reaching to God. This sense could be embodied in the structure by narrowing the entrance as much as possible, and by making it as tall as possible, with the help of mathematical calculations.

Conclusion

By reviewing examples of medieval Iranian architecture, one becomes aware of its close relationship to scientific fields such as mathematics, geometry, cosmology, and astrology. This relationship made it possible to achieve perfection, monumentality and poetic beauty. It is wisdom within the art.

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Islamic Architecture in Iran

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Islamic Architecture in Iran

Architecture through the ages, has embraced a wide variety of arts and sciences. By using mathematics, Iranian architecture has achieved a high level of beauty and perfection. This is especially evident in the Islamic Iranian architecture of the Middle Ages (10th to 14th century). During this period there were astonishing and glorious achievements of this endeavor – that is – the application of mathematics in architecture.

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The specifics of Iranian Islamic Architecture

The transition of a square into a circle by using triangles is one of the characteristics of Iranian architecture from the pre-Islamic period. Later, Iranian architects used this process to create a more complicated and elaborate form in the design of their buildings. The center point of the square, marked by the intersection of two diagonals, is the most important point of in its transition to a circle process.

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This called for a further geometrical solution in the corners in order to create the desired forms and volumes. In order to create vast varieties of forms. Which achieved by the turning, rotating, and twisting of a simple square, use of circles and triangles was common and widely used in much of the medieval Islamic Iranian architecture.

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Towers architecture in Iran’s Islamic Architecture

It is evident that advance Geometry used by the prominent architects at that time. “The techniques of tower construction established in earlier centuries continued and spread under the Seljuq Sultan. Which were their governors, and their neighbors. The cylindrical brick shaft of a variable taper decorated with brick patterns and inscriptions of varied quality and complexity.”

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Usage of advanced mathematics continued into the Khanids period. “Its apparent feature was a more immense scale. The structural load-bearing components of monuments were concentrated. A large ratio of height to the interior width of the chamber was displayed.”

For example: “ the weight of the double-shelled dome of the mausoleum of Uljayto in Sultanieya central Iran (45 meters high with a diameter of 24.5 meters). It is concentrated on a small number of supporters. Without the use of any shoulder or buttress.” So it needed to be calculated prior to its construction.

 

Islamic architecture in Iran

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Geometry Specifics in Iran’s Islamic Architecture

Geometry used not only to solve structural problems but also in the details of the designs of various structures. These range from the immense high entrances of Friday Mosques in important cities, to entrances of ordinary homes.

The more modest residential architecture conceals private and common-use areas of the houses. The layout of such houses varied according to climate, culture, tradition, and aesthetic tastes.

In order to satisfy these demands, and the placement of these structures within an urban setting, the architects had to rely on mathematics in order to achieve the best results.

Islamic Architecture in Iran

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Mathematics in Iran’s Islamic Architecture

The mastery of advanced mathematics among the architects and the application of this knowledge in the various aspects of design led to the creation of amazing and admirable architecture.

There is no doubt that only those architects who acquainted with advanced knowledge of geometry, algebra, and astrology, as well as, poetry and philosophy. Could design such architectural elements that protected the structural stability while achieving perfection of beauty. Characteristic of medieval Iranian architecture in Iran. This level of balance and elegance would not have been attained without the mastery of mathematics by the creators of the work.

The ratio of height to the diameter of the towers or minarets in medieval Iranian architecture shows another aspect of the use of mathematics in architecture.

The Tower of Gonbad-I-Qabus near Gorgan (in northern Iran), is a unique example of such a case. While this tower “reaches the amazing height of sixty-one meters, its diameter is only seventeen meters.”

This mathematical relationship helped the architect to create the sense of “the ascension from earth toward heaven.” This effect achieved by narrowing the diameter of the tower where the entrance is placed, in comparison to the height of the structure.

 

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