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Abbasi Jame Mosque (Emam) A Vast Origin of the Islamic Architecture Clad by a Turquoise Glaze

On the southern side of 'Naghsh e Jahan" Square in Esfahan, the primary space of the portal comprises two complementary parts with an area of 580 square meters. One can stay for a while to look at the existing elements of transition, functioning as a mediator between the secular and the spiritual space of the square and the mosque. The first one is an octagonal pool, with two longer sides, which hints to the Eight Islamic Secondary Precepts of Religion (Foro-e-Din) that two of its items, saying prayer and fasting are the most important ones as though elaborately emphasized. The plan and the view of the transition zone (the space in the gate-way) is similar to the figure of a person who receives a newcomer with open arms. While gradually moving forward, the daylight gets milder because of a 27-meter high portal which causes one to see a wider optical angle along with having a more positive state of being (What a wonderful provision for an entrance to the spiritual site with a broader vision and mentality!).

Above the portal and on the dark blue-tiled bands, three separate inscriptions elaborate on The Fourteen Innocent Ones (Chahardah Ma'soom; Mohammad Fatima and, 12 Emams peace be upon them), and the motivation of the king for building the leading mosque, as well as some details about the managers of the project. At the end on the portal, the name of Ali Reza Abbasi, the calligraphist, and the date of (Portal) completion (1616 A.D.) are inscribed. On the lower afore-mentioned bands is the name of the greatest architect, city planner, and designer of Esfahan of the Safavid era, Ali Akbar Esfahni whose elite creativity provoked the famous Farsi saying: "Esfahan Nesfe Jahan” (Esfahan, half of the world). That is why many Europeans gave the title Michael Angelo to the architect.
There are twin minarets flanking the portal, 42 meters in height, topped with a palm of brass signifying that the portal with an embracing gesture to convince one to move forward, a spiritual magnet that attracts only on minds and hearts. One may regard a brass palm as a single concept; however, refers to the Five Holy Persons (Panj Tan) in Shi'a belief inclusive of the prophet Mohammad (p.b.u.h), his son-in-law Emam Ali(a.s.), his daughter Fatima(s) and his grandsons Emam Hassan (a.s.) and Emam Hussein(a.s.). Thus, in Shi’ite regions, it is customary to use a palm instead of installing a crescent moon on top of minarets.
The chief glory of the Royal Mosque gateway is its Stalactites. This summarized a particular Islamic tendency to develop structural features for decorative effect. In general, pendentives are the signs of hierarchy in the universe in Islamic architecture and call attention to an original point from which, all the elements (Stalactites) are derived. They do not actually play any structural role, as lightweight decorative elements. On three orthogonal panels, there are three pairs of peacocks. The design of the bird is the exceptional real creature allowed to be used in a mosque as an ornamental pattern in nature implies Cosmos in Persian Culture, The marble plinths as decorative elements to increase the stability of the footings exploited from a mine in the area of Ardestan (a city about 100 km. from east of Esfahan).

Abbasi Jame Mosque or Imam mosque Isfahan

On the top of marble platforms, on both sides, there are two marble vases in which over each one a turquoise triple spiral tile ends at a unique point on the apex of the main arch. The spiral is reminiscent of the tree of life: the number three signifies humans and animals, plants, and solid bodies as the representatives of all kinds of creatures, and the unity of point on the apex refers to the unity of God as the main origin. The gateways are made of plane-tree wood (1.7 meters by 4 meters each) Covered by a thin layer of silver decorated with carvings and filigrees. There are some carved lines of Farsi poems on them and on the lower parts, the date of completion (mosque) and an extraordinary incident about the approval of the mosque prayer niche direction (Qiblah), engraved in a Farsi Poem as follows:
It is narrated that after the building of the mosque, all sorts of rumors were going around. Some people criticized Ali Akbar Esfahani (the architect) for his plan not exactly facing Mecca. To convince them that there was no falsity, he invited the claimants into the mosque at a certain time. He guided them towards the main dome chamber (southern porch), and then he opened a tiny wooden door on the top of the main prayer niche and shouted: "whoever is doubtful of the Qiblah precise direction can look through the door to see the 'Masjid-ol Haram' (The holiest place in the whole world for the Muslims, Ka'aba, thousands of kilometers distant from Esfahan). Everybody looked through it and could see the Sacred Mosque. Suddenly a state of spirituality and passion filled the atmosphere and even the rivals of Ali Akbar changed into his real followers at once.
Another important incident about the land possession of the mosque that is worth mentioning is about an old woman who did not want to sell her property. Despite the fact that the courtiers were ready to pay a fee much more than its real value, she refused. When the king heard about it, he gave the order to stop the project until she announced her readiness to sell her house Alter entering the mosque, one observes a monolithic stone basin of 13 meters in diameter used for drinking water or lemonade (sharbat) to quench the thirst of new-comers. It could cause a more relaxed and comfortable entry for deeper and more sincere communication in the house of Allah. As she passes through one of the dim cloistered lobbies towards the courtyard, s/he rotates at a 45-degree angle automatically. Each lobby functions as a transition zone for the connection of the Jam-e-Mosque (facing Qiblah) and the square with a 45degree deviation between their centerlines because the longitudinal axis of the square is in line with the Local Climatic Axis to absorb the maximum radiation of the sun's energy.
In the mosque, one can find a flower garden on the doors, walls, domes, and minarets. A garden decorated with unearthly leaves and branches (arabesque designs), so they have lasted so long. Four centuries have passed, but still, no autumn or winter has been able to shed the glorious and heavenly designs of these gardens. In the introduction of the poetry book of Golestan (flower garden) composed by Saadi (1287 A.D.), the great poet states:

No use bunch of rose put together,
Take my Rose-Garden a page of leather,
Rose life of pretty, not more than someday,
This Rose-Garden book charming everyday.

Interior view of the winter mosque, built as a typical hypostyle mosque

This is a sincere invitation to study his poetry book. Regarding the fact that in the 13th century the majority of people were illiterate, his Golestan was useful only to a limited number of the people in that era; however, the transcendental garden organized by Ali Akbar Esfahani uses by so many people of all levels to take the endless advantage of it with a high spirit, and only the Lord knows how profound the changes and influences of the mosque are on minds of those entries here. The mosque like a celestial garden enjoys at least a hundred million pieces of floral designed mosaics as the ornamental elements everywhere. To make mosaics the four main elements of earth, water wind, and fire are merged with the soul of human beings (as the superior of the creatures) for obtaining a heavenly cover and designs to give the tangible mentality of a promised paradise before the dazzling eyes of visitors. (M.SH)
The central courtyard precinct covers an area of over 3910 square meters each side having four different high-rise porches functioning as a connecting element between the inside and outside. Like the other traditional buildings hundreds of years ago, the mosque also follows a plan called; the Four-Porched style. The style has some advantages in accordance with the climatic diversity of Iran; hot summers and cold winters, low levels of humidity, high elevation, and relatively low latitude. In other words, the southern porch keeps cool in summer because of relatively orthogonal sunshine. The northern porch keeps warm in the wintertime by the absorption of the oblique radiation of sunlight. In the morning and afternoon, in spring, and autumn, the western and the eastern porches welcome visitors with the best temperature at the site.
On both corners of the southern side, there are two smaller courtyards on the western and the eastern corners in which the former called; the summer and the latter, the winter theological school. Each one has a rectangular plan With 1950 square meters of the area around which a number of classrooms and dormitories can be seen.
The most important part of the mosque is located on the southern part, the main dome on both sides, there are two hypostyles with an area of 20 by 40 square meters. To tolerate the heavyweight of the vaults, some huge columns made of unified blocks of stone were fixed together with spherical-molten lead injected between the joints with a flexible function, that dissipates the energy of earthquake due to the successive cycles of shear force loadings by acting as a spring. Another interesting point about the area is that the distance between the adjacent columns is more than 10 meters, which by computing the axial force of the columns in terms of the weight of the ceilings, there would be an approximate load of 60 tons as an indication of the expertise of the designer. Next to the hypostyle towards the main space (below the main dome), there is a high-based double dome with a net area of 500 square meters (22.5m x22.6 m) that from the standing point to the peak of the inner dome is 38 meters and from the same (datum) point to the peak of the outer dome is 52 meters high. On the assumption that the two peaks are one meter thick, the hollow space between them is about 13 meters.
One of the most fantastic phenomena of this mosque is the breathtaking echo in the dome chamber, below the main dome. For each impact made it echoes back 18 times the reaction initially. As one approaches the center of the dome, the number of reactions decreases but the range of amplification increases. Perhaps the designer wanted to remind us of this Farsi saying:
The claims times the real owning of each person becomes equal to a constant measurement (the fewer claims, the more contents).

Below the peak of the dome may be the mystic and monotheist architects who wanted to create an atmosphere intended to speak to our hearts with these
Do well your tasking, while your lives,
Turns back all, actions throughout times.
Although our world consists of a set of our actions and their reactions fortunately because of the intervening (sometimes lasting long) between them some individuals disregard the undeniable connections and commit improper actions against themselves or others. The art of the existing echo here, which functions as a spiritual laboratory is to eliminate the intervals and keep eyes open and minds cautious about the facts of the instant evolution of one's bad habits.
Universe akin, to mountainous rages,
Each voice is bouncing through all ages. This sound like an atmosphere at a site, saturated with development and awareness which is humming a celestial writer's (M.SH) Farsi poem:

Huge dome of which, show of the world,
Pole of appealing, soul of sincere board,

Outer dome alike heart shaping form,
Echo below dome, rising heart storm.

The dome structure is based on the mental model that our mystic poets have for centuries simulated about the world (a blue dome). The power of imagination given to a selected group (elite), but possibilities arranged by the great architect, makes sense to everyone of any level of understanding.

Since when this chalice showed a panoramic view,
Replied as early, built this heavenly dome of blue.

In the same place, a very brilliant pulpit (Menbar) with 12 steps weighs about 6 tons hewn out of one marble block, or monolithic, as another unique element of the mosque is leaning against the wall. The profile of the outer dome is cardioid (heart profile), but the section of the inner dome is parabolic, in which the former is assembled over the latter and the total weight is tolerated by the neck of the dome. At this position because of the different profiles of the two domes, the summation of the horizontal image of their rights which are opposite in direction designed very precisely, so that they neutralize one another and a static equilibrium among the opposite and lateral shear forces on the neck of the dome maintains.

In the shallow recess, there is a prayer niche of 1.1 meters in depth for the prayer leader which is much deeper than the normal size. On some occasions where the large population lined up outside the mosque in the square, its level is about 80 centimeters deeper, on the other hand, unlike Christian altars which are higher than the level of the followers, Islamic as the simulated form of the tomb of the prayer leader are designed deeper so that in the mind of the leader, secularity decreases and cause spirituality to dominate during a couple of times a day. A Farsi poem describes the feeling as:

High-level cute, as if a humble,
Fruit laden branch, is an earthly example.

While holding the prayer, a person called; Mokaber, could stop in the center (below the dome) and call out the different phases of the prayer which could cover 15000 square meters area of the mosque, so that second conducted sound waves would be amplified over the top of large pool (283 square meters) in the courtyard. Due to the existing difference between the temperature over the pool and around it, a kind of suction and pressure across and behind the waves produced, which caused a swift attraction of them to the gate of the mosque, and then one more person could repeat the call to the mass congregation in the square. This is why with two Mokabers tens of thousands could say their prayer in proper harmony with one prayer leader. In each of the hypostyles, there are two subordinate prayer niches. The total number of prayer niches in the mosque is eleven and they used during the day in different seasons by different Muslim groups with a particular prayer leader. On the left extreme of the western hypostyle, a template which displays 1/16of the whole coverage area of the outer dome as a typical pattern for the renovation of the inlaid mosaics set up. Faded over the course of centuries because of intense radiation of the sunlight, snowfall, melting and freezing cycles, tiles need to be repaired. To Cap this area, it needs 25,000 pieces of mosaics to be renovated. After multiplying 25,000 by 16 sectors the total number of 400,000 given for 1,200 square meters coverage area as the surface of the outer dome. To reproduce, assemble and install such numbers of mosaics on the outer dome by one professional labor who working 8 hours a day, it takes about 150 years to finish. Hence, one can see how many tile workers were busy producing the initial patterns for about one hundred million pieces in a short period of 27 years (1611–1637 A.D.).

This rough estimation reveals the huge building campaigns headed by the great architect. History goes that after building the baked and mudbrick walls of the mosque as a royal project one day the architect invited the authorities and measured all the areas, especially the height of the walls, with some gold chains and signaled them. A day after he disappeared for seven years. During that time, the king tried to resume the stopped project, but no one could continue, so the project stayed idle. Meanwhile, a reward for the head of the architect was determined because he was accused of conspiracy, but nobody could find him. Seven years later he appeared suddenly. The next day, the king and the authorities along with Ali Akbar went to the mosque with the golden chains. After fixing them on top of the walls, they found amazingly that up to one Zar (104 centimeters) the chains were on the earth, so by this method, he could show a considerable settlement on the walls, and foundations of the heavy and high-rise walls of the mosque had subsided. So it was proved that no conspiracy existed at all, but his professional responsibility encouraged him to risk his life to donate this evergreen garden to mankind. Verily, if the modern world had such personalities right now, who were pioneers of morals, they could be regarded as the paragon of virtue in each field. What an ideal world it would be!
In the summer, theological school (southwestern corner), a prismatic stone with a right-angled triangular top, its hypotenuse exactly faces the north-south direction called; the Sundial of the mosque, every day the shadow of the hypotenuse tends to zero at noon when the sun is in the middle of the sky. This particular direction was determined after precise computation of the latitude longitude, astronomy, geometry, geography, and trigonometry.
Finally, based on the view of some experts, in the mosque there are some visible, unique elements that can be expressed as follows:
The six peacock designs at the portal, the triple-spiral tiles, the marble vases the wonderful double dome, the echo of the dome chamber, the huge bulk of marble stone used, the endless number of mosaics with their various patterns the huge prayer niche, and the marble pulpit, the precious stone basins, and the unique proportions ineffable, can not be described, but they should be felt. We will conclude this discussion with one more line of the Farsi poem:

If could not, one draw, one sea, no matter,
Thus quenches the thirst, by one cup of water.

Here is a simile, you were given only one glass of water out of the sea of mysticism and secrets of the mosque.

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