Translator: MAJID JAMAL ZADE
Extracted from Rasekhoon
Art of SAFAVID era:
One of the brightest periods in Iran's art after Islam is the SAFAVID period. In 907 Lunar (1502 AD) Shah ESMAIL established the SAFAVID dynasty. In this period, industrial and artistic centers in Iran increased, at the beginning of the dynasty establishment, Tabriz was the capital, and for this reason it became the center for the activities of artists such as calligraphers, gild workers, painters and bookbinders, as well as artists who worked in other techniques and industries, and artists working in textiles and cloth weaving.
In the late 10th century, at the time of Shah Abbas, the capital was transferred from Qazvin to Isfahan. With selecting new capital, the city was expanded as one of the most glorious cities in the east. Markets, palaces, mosques, gardens, bridges were incorporated into the city map. At this time, all religious buildings were decorated with tile decorations. The buildings of the Sheikh LOTFOLLAH mosque, main door of QEISARIYEH and the Imam (Shah) mosque in NAGHSHE JAHAN square were decorated with mosaic tiles. Painted square bricks, known as "seven colors" bricks, were used on widespread scale. The design of the tiles and their colors has given a special adornment to the monuments of this period. Not only the walls, but the domes, the porches, the vaults of the entrances and the minarets adorned with tiles and mosaics. The construction of large façade with clear tiles and corbel dome in the SAFAVID era had great progress. The composition of great facade and the minarets on the sides of it with courtyard of the four porches and the surrounding buildings and the dome's placement in a manner that is consistent with the entire building has reached the perfect level in the SAFAVID era. With regard to Iran's security, during this period, great and excellent buildings were built such as the great palaces of ALI QAPU, CHEHEL SOTUN, Eight Paradises and Ashraf Hall in Isfahan, and the monument of Prince Hussein, ALIQAPU facade and CHEHEL SOTUN in Qazvin. The walls of these palaces are covered with beautifully colored and colorful paintings, and surrounding is associated with the paintings of the famous painters of that period. Ceilings and walls were often decorated with woodcarving.
Wooden decorations had a major role in non-religious buildings, and they used a greater amount of gilding works and lacquer paintings. Their plans were closely related to miniature art. Carving and woodturning, especially in the doors and ceilings, were special art in this period. Painting on the doors and walls of ALI QAPU palace, Ashraf palace and CHEHEL SOTOUN, mirroring, have been used as a new kind of interior decoration, such as the mirror house.
In general, the tenth and eleventh centuries (lunar), were flowering period of the Iranian Islamic arts, and Isfahan, was one of the most important and beautiful cities of this period. The city's large buildings are often decorated with beautiful designs. When Shah Abbas placed Isfahan as his capital city, he designed a new map for the city: he built the great and famous CHAHAR BAGH Street and ordered to grow trees on two sides of the street. This street reaches the great bridge on the ZAYANDEH ROUD. In the middle of the city, there is the great square which is called as NAGHSH JAHAN. The Imam (Shah) mosque is located in the south, ALIGHAPU palace in the west, the Sheikh LOTFOLLAH Mosque in the east QEISARIYEH Market in the north of NAGHSH JAHAN square. This field was made for polo and the stone gates made for this game are still on the two sides of the field. On the four sides of this vast square, two hundred shops are built in two floors.
The mosque of Imam (Shah), is located on south of square and is one of the masterpieces of the eleventh century, in terms of its architectural design, tile work, carvings, and the magnificence of its dome and its high minarets. The inscription on the head of the mosque is of mosaic tile and written in THULUTH by ALIREZA ABASI and dates back to 1025 AH. On it. The architect of this mosque was "Master ALIAKBAR ISFAHANI" and the steward of the building "MOHEBALI BEIGALLAH".
ALIGHAPU with its long porch is in the west of the square. ALIGHAPU has a frontage and six floors building, and in each floor, there is decorating, fillet and painting. It`s long porch with its wooden columns and mosaic ceiling is very interesting.
The Sheikh LOTFOLLAH Mosque, which is located on east of the square, has a beautiful dome covered with tiles, and its design is a large vine or arabesque and has a perfect fit with the shape and size of the dome. The mosque's corridor, which leads to seraglio and its magnificent sanctuary, has very beautiful brickwork and stony lattice windows. Tile works inside seraglio include seven colors tiles and beautiful mosaics works, mosaic sculptures, and turned train of turquoise tiles and lattice tiled windows, a variety of designs, orange and azure colors, gave glory and beauty to seraglio. Interior ceiling of seraglio, with diamond design and the special minor works used in it, is astonishing. The altar of mosaic tile and corbel work are also most important works of art in case of tile industry and mosaic work, they are masterpieces.
The market facade, the northern part, in addition to the beautiful tile work, has beautifully decorated parlors, partly including war pictures of Shah Abbas with Uzbeks and king ceremony parlors.
The CHEHELSOTUN palace, with 20 tall wooden columns in the porch, and a mirror hall with a painted ceiling, gilt, carvings, fillet and excellent paintings, is one of the most famous palaces of this period.
The Palace of Eight Paradises also has a great architectural significance in terms of garden landscape. The palace was intended for sumptuous celebrations. The renowned beauty of the palace is due to the use of marble sandstones and corbel work arches and paintings of its special sight paintings and tiles. The mirror work of this palace has been another factor in the beauty of the building.
The Ashraf Hall consists of a large hall and two rooms next to it. The significance of this building, except architecture and large cross ceilings, is due to corbel work and the paintings and gilt pictures of roof and its alcove.
The CHAHARBAGH School with entrance façade door and dome and two large minarets draws attention to its style of painting and tile work. The beautiful building of this school and caravanserai, and the bazaar, are built on CHAHARBAGH Avenue.
By the order of Shah Abbas, throughout Iran, large caravansaries are often made of bricks and sandstone. In this period, due to two important religious and economic aspects, a large number of caravanserai were built. The caravanserai styles are mostly based on four porches, but other types such as triangle, octagonal, circular, mountainous and miscellaneous are among these buildings. From the caravansaries of this period we can name of MAHYAR in Isfahan, the BISTOON Caravanserai in Kermanshah, the king`s mother Caravanserai and Sheikh Ali Khan in Isfahan and Amin Abad.
In the SAFAVID period, also a large number of bridges were built. The architecture of these bridges is very impressive in terms of beauty and bridge making style. The bridge of Allah Verdi Khan or bridge 33 is located at the end of CHAHARBAGH Street in Isfahan city in two floors on the ZAYANDEROUD River and is 300 meters long and 14 meters wide. On both sides of the main road, a covered aisle is built for pedestrians.
The KHAJU Bridge, built on the ZAYANDEROOD River, is renowned for its architectural design and tile work. The length of the bridge is 132 meters and its width is 12 meters. This bridge is more than a vessel for crossing the river. In terms of proportion and show, it has a great beauty. These bridges are designed not only for passage but also for stopping, and there are places for fun and stop. Throughout the bridge, there are small and beautiful booths which are decorated beautifully with tiles and wall paintings.
From SAFAVID era, there are many other monuments in Iran, like the complex of Sheikh Safi's tomb in Ardebil, parts of the ASTAN QUDS RAZAVI complex in Mashhad. The current monument of Sheikh Safi's tomb which includes a grave collection of kings and princes of the SAFAVID period and several other buildings called the CHINI HOUSE, mosque and GENATSARA, sanctuary, monastery, lighthouse, martyr place and other belongings. The tomb is a cylindrical shape which is covered with short dome and round the tower from outside has a large brick inscription and the name "Allah" is tiled on it. The holy place of QODS RAZAVI is a pilgrimage place for all the Muslims throughout the world for centuries and consisted of numerous complexes. The golden dome of the building has two coatings, and its outer is cover with gold. This dome has an inscription which is written by ALIREZA ABASI who was a calligrapher in ABASI dynasty period. There are two gold minarets on the Abbasid porch and the southern porch. Gilt of old porch has been made by NADER SHAH AFSHAR, and hence it is known as "NADERI porch".
The shrine is a quadrangular building, each side of which is about ten meters and is covered with tiled brick adornments. These tiles are one of the most beautiful types with magnificent designs and golden works. In general, some of the finest decorations and mirror work, and the example of tile works, can be seen in the three consecutive historical periods in that holy place, because GOHARSHAD Mosque was built during the TIMURID, old courtyard, during the SAFAVID period and the new apron in the QAJAR period.
With a general attitude toward the arts of this era, it must be admitted that during the SAFAVID period, once again a new and bright era rose in Iranian art. The great art of Iran, as some thought incorrectly, is not exclusive to the pre-Islamic era, but in each era, an art rose which was beautiful and complete in its kind. In the tenth century, Iranian artists gained new benefits and results. In that period, the carpets which were woven were unexampled. According to American Prof. Pope: "Some rugs and carpets of this period are woven with gold and silver threads, and the main color of the border is usually distinguished by its background color. What Greeks could say, who were wonder about the glory of the Iranian garments if they saw the garments of Iranian princes during Shah Abbas's time? The creatures made of gold and silver looked soft like water in motion, and they had such beautiful designs with appropriate spaces, not only magnificent, but also glorious.
By the guidance of artists such as BEHZAD, MIRAK, Sultan Mohammad and Reza ABASI, colorful painting in coloring, beauty, and the fit of the lines reached the level of perfection and brilliance. The delicacies in visualization and thought, joy and radiance and skill were combined and one of the most famous and most ancient arts reached to a new level of excellence. In addition to the art of painting, carpet weaving, painting, and textiles, we should also pay attention to the pottery and metal ware of this period.
They have said that Shah Abbas SAFAVID was very much interested in hard pottery collection and ordered that special rooms should be built in ALIGHAPU of Isfahan and the tomb of Sheikh SAFIULDIN in Ardebil and prepare places to hold the dishes in the wall.
In this period, pottery utensils were brought from China regularly, and Iran's utensil artists mimicked them. According to SHARDEN, a French traveler: "Iranian dishes, in this period are not less in terms of smoothness and clarity compare to Chinese utensils." The choice of blue and white colors in the SAFAVID period, for most of the dishes, as well as outstanding designs on drawings and covering them with glazed green and azure blue and the diagrams are the main aspects of this tendency.
In the metalwork of SAFAVID era, based on the ancient traditions and skill of the metalworkers of this period, adroit artists were appeared. Gold artifacts, silver, and bronze were very much booming, and iron and steel were sometimes also dipped in gold and silver. Designers and painters created new standards in their style by inventing new ways. In silver work and engraving of dishes, bases of candlesticks or THURIBLES, Persian poetry texts in beautiful NASTALIGH lines were replaced with Arabic inscriptions.
AFSHARIYEH and ZANDIYEH dynasties:
The appearance of Nader Shah AFSHAR ended SAFAVID dynasty. Although he has been given much attention in the political world. But in this period there is no significant progress in the art world; only goldsmith work, gold and enamels have been advancing. There are also some exquisite Qurans which are attributed to the Nader times, the Sun Palace and the observation towers of KALAT city are the architectures of this period.
Shortly after Nader's death, Karim Khan ZAND settled in Shiraz, and built great buildings in that city which are famous in his name. Among them are Karim Khan ARG, mosque, bathhouse and a market. The tile features of this period, is the use of a kind of rose-colored flower that was not seen before. The decoration of the building was made of brick tiles and white background. Face of official characters, acting scenes of ROSTAM, the national hero, hunting and the prospects are seen in tile works.
QAJARIYEH and Contemporary:
In the QAJAR period, a new way was created in the architecture, and the architects of this time were the followers of the SAFAVID architects, the architecture art of this time is very weak compared to the SAFAVID period. Only during the long rule of NASERODIN SHAH, due to the influence of Western art, architecture art and also fine industries such as fillet, mirroring and tile work improved, and to a degree, our architects imitated European art at that time. More Iran's relationship with the west has led Iranian architects to focus on certain aspects of Iran's architecture and mix it with western architectural elements by clear view and special attention and create works that are artistically pleasing.