Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sheikh Safi mausoleum, a Safavid art gallery

Sheikh Safi mausoleum, a Safavid art gallery
Tue, 04 Mar 2008 18:24:03
By Tamara Ebrahimpour, Press TV, Tehran
The Sheikh Safi mausoleum in Iran's Ardebil Province is one of the country's most beautiful historical and Islamic structures, which dates back to the 14th century.

The complex is the resting place of Sheikh Safi, the Safavid spiritual leader along with Shah Ismail I and a number of Safavid princes and generals.

The mausoleum is composed of a group of stunning architectural structures including Sheikh Safi's and Shah Ismail's tomb-chambers, the Chini Khaneh (china hall), the Qandil Khaneh (lantern hall) and the Haram Khaneh (Ladies Quarters).

The Allah Allah dome
Sheikh Safi's tomb-chamber is a cylindrical tower capped with a low dome, under which a large decorative medallion, made of colored staccato is attached.

The tomb-chamber's walls are covered with floral canvas curtains, which match the medallion's colorful patterns.

An exquisite wooden box, once decorated with jewelry, marks the late Sheikh Safi's grave.

Inside the Allah Allah dome
The Allah-Allah dome, which was built after Sheikh Safi's death, is tiled with beautiful azure ceramics covered with the word Allah. A row of white tiles adorns the blue background with Qur'anic verses.

The interior of the cylindrical structure is decorated with exquisite paintings.

The tomb of Shah Ismail I consists of a small rectangular room with a beautiful illuminated dome and staccato manuscripts.

Qandil Khaneh (Lantern Hall)
The dome is lower than Sheikh Safi's and decorated with colorful tiles and Kufic inscriptions.

The walls shine with golden floral patterns and splendid azure tiles, which beautifully reflect the sunlight.

The building has a number of blind arcades and alcoves decorated with priceless 11th century pottery.

Qandil Khaneh (Lantern Hall)
A wooden box decorated with finely engraved panels and delicate geometric shapes made of ivory and ebony lays atop Shah Ismail's tomb.

A background of red silk adorned with shiny turquoise brings out the color of the ivory.

Qandil Khaneh is a rectangular structure covered with polished stones and a stone lavabo in the shape of a petal.

The Ardebil Carpet
The building, which was once used as a prayer room, is adorned with register patterns and Qur'anic words written out with Persian tiles.

The eye-catching structure is named after the numerous lanterns, which were used to illuminate the complex.

Shah Tahmasb I (1524-76), the second Safavid king ordered the most famous Persian carpets, the Ardebil Carpets for Qandil Khaneh.

Chini Khaneh (China Hall)
The Qandil Khaneh carpets, the finest of their kind during the Safavid era, have been separated with one pair currently in London's Victoria and Albert Museum and the other in Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

Chini Khaneh (The China Hall), a domed octagonal room with four alcoves, was originally used as a meeting hall.

Shah Abbas I refurbished the original monument and changed it into a place to store his collection of Ming and Celadon porcelains presented to him by the Chinese Emperor.

A portion of this treasury was later used to fund the country's wars the Russians took some of the remaining items to Saint Petersburg, which are now housed in the Hermitage museum, and the rest were moved to museums in Tehran.

Chini khaneh was recently turned into a Safavid museum and the porcelain collection housed in Tehran museums where returned and put on display.

Haram khaneh (Ladies Quarters)
Haram khaneh (Ladies Quarters) is the oldest part of the complex, which was built upon Sheikh Safi's order about 700 years ago.

The bodies of 10 Safavid Ladies including Sheikh Safi's sister, wife and daughters have been laid to rest in the rectangular building.

Sheikh Safi's mausoleum also includes a mosque called Jannat Sara (the house of paradise), Khanaqah (the house of Dervishes), Shahid Khaneh (the house of martyrs), and Chelleh Khaneh where dervishes used to stay during their forty-day ritual recluse.

Haram khaneh (Ladies Quarters)
Despite numerous expansions and restorations, Sheikh Safi's mausoleum still attracts numerous visitors every year.
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