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Tomb Of Hafez, Shiraz

Amir Chakhmaq Square, Yazd

The Art and Architecture of Simultaneous Rules of Safarids, Taherids, Samanids, Buiids, Ziyarids, Ghaznavids, Qurids

From the forth/tenth to the seventh/thirteenth centuries, the power of the secular caliphate was challenged by Persian and Turkish dynasties. Although the reign of the Turk Saljuqs did not cover the whole period, but their power and authority and its subsequent progress was one of the most important characteristics of this era.

The first dynasties to assert themselves were Persian. They arose where the Arab impact had been least felt, in the north-east of the Islamic territory or the secluded areas in south of the Caspian. Though Muslims, they felt themselves heirs of the Old Persian culture. The world of the pre-Islamic Persian king, indeed, had for them a resonance and glamour comparable with that of Troia and Rome for the medieval west.

The ascendency of Shia Buiids from the west and parts of Iraq lasted until they were displaced by the Saljuqs in 477/1055. As early as the third/ninth century, the Samanids who were descendants of a noble family from Balkh, established themselves in the east as virtual rulers in Mawara'al-nahr that is across the river Transoxiana, and made Bukhara their capital. Their state was extended by lsmail b. Ahmad (279-295/892-907) to Khorasan, the great north-eastern province of Persia.

With all the attribute and honor that endured towards Persian culture, they were forced alike Caliphs, to increase their power and authority with the help of recently converted Turks. The Turks, who are most probably considered belonging to the Mongols and the Finns tribes, appear to have originated in the steppe lands of southern Siberia, where many Turkish peoples live today. Such peoples were often nomadic, and belonged to tribal confederations in which authority was to an extent shared among members of a ruling family. For centuries, they had tended to move south or west towards more settled and fertile lands, and they appeared in the histories of other nations under the names such as the Hiung-Nu, Saka, Scythians or Huns. Furthermore, they invaded China, India, Persia and Europe.

The name Turk was known to the Byzantines by the sixth century, and it is found on inscribed stones of the first/seventh and second/eighth centuries by the Orkhon River, south of Lake Baikal. Also, another Turkish tribe known as Uighurs established a state with a high level of culture in the mid first/seventh century. Before their contact with Islam, the Turks adhered to various religions, a primitive Shamanism, Buddhism, Manichaeism and Nestorian Christianity, but by the fourth/tenth century the westerly groups were being penetrated by Sunni missionaries. Samanids were weakened in the 349/960s when their Turkish governor of Khorasan, Alptegin, set himself up virtual independence in Ghazneh, and the Samanids were extinguished by a clash in 389/999 with the Turkish state on their eastern marches, that of the Qarakhanids (the black, or great lords).

Greatest of the Gaznavids was Mahmud b. Sabuktagin, who ruled from 378/988 to 421/1030 and whose Muslim first name and Turkish patronage rejects the changing in time. From Ghazneh, in south-eastern Afghanistan, he was able to conduct aseries of campaigns in a new direction, into India, taking control of the Punjab and ranging as far as Gujarat. As a devoted Sunni, he challenged the Shi'i Buiids, and in 420/1029 he destroyed their library at Rey. Enriched by the spoils of north India, Ghazneh became attractive, and among others the poet Firdausi sought the patronage of Mahmud. It appears that his attempt was unsuccessful. However, Firdausi's great epic, the Shah-Nameh, probably completed in 400-401/1009-1010 and telling of the kings of Persia from the beginning of civilization until the Islamic conquest, came to be accounted as the greatest monument of Persian literature. Shortly after the death of Mahmud, the Ghaznavids suffered their first major reverse, defeated in 431/1040 in the battle of Dandanqan by the Saljuqs, who had earlier been in the service of the Qarakhanids. In the sixth/ twelfth century the Ghaznavids came into dispute with the Qurids, a dynasty from central Afghani tan. Ghazneh was destroyed in 556-557/1161 and the Ghaznavids were forced to south-east in Lahore, which also they were obliged to yield to the Qurids in 583/1187.

The Qurids inherited the Ghaznavid interest in India, and in 588/1192 they defeated Prithvi Raj, a Rajput prince, 612/1215 by the Khwarazm-Shah, the representative of a dynasty descended from a Turkish slave of the Ghaznavids, who ruled in Khwarazm around Khiva in Soviet Uzbekistan and who in 607/1210 had defeated the Qarakhanids of Samarqand. The empire of Khwarazm­ shah was brief, the last, Jalal al-Din Mingirinni, being murdered in the course of an epic pursuit by the Mongols in 629/1231.

Those with true Persian blood fought against Baghdad in a cultural way. With the support of Safavids, Taherids, Samanids and Buiid they tried to revive the Persian magnificent past and history among the nation. Therefore, art with the Sassanids' elements and style started to flourish again in Persian art. It was after this period. That constructions and structures changed drastically. In the category of the art of bookbinding, the manuscript of the Koran in the field of applying curvature lines such as “naskh” and “thulth" writing and also marginal illustration were developed in many ways. A page of the Holy Koran, which is related to the Qaznavid era, shows the "Surah Fath" which is one of the examples of the art of book binding and it is kept at the Metropolitan museum of art, New York.

The newly harmonic proportions were established in Aghlam-e-Settah by lbn Moqleh the most well-known calligrapher of this period and was continued by his apprentice Ali-ibn-al-Bawwab. One of his best known works is a Koran that was completed in Baghdad in 391/1001. The headings are in “thulth” and text in naskh: The opening chapter of the book, (front piece), Sureh”of “Fatihah al-kitab”, announces seven verses, and a roundel in the right margin, indicates the beginning of the fifth verse. The second Sureh is that of Baqarah. This Koran in kept in Chester Beatty library and Oriental art gallery in Dublin.

The plan of a mosque with an open court and four “eivan”s which gets deeper toward Qibleh was still used in this era. During this time, main changes appeared in the construction of “eivan”s buildings, concrete columns were not used any more, and the bricks were used instead of tablets.

Therefore, Columns were attached to each other by wall sand semi-circular or pointed arches were created on the columns. In the ruin mosque of Shiraz (258/871) the same structure with a wooden roof and brick columns, was applied.

Also in Jamei mosque of Isfahan (143-145/760-762) the same use of brick columns is considerable and the minarets of this mosque face Mecca.

In the construction of smaller mosques, Persians also used their nationalistic elements from Samanids' era. Damghan mosque with pointed arches and brick columns is a good example of this type of structure. Even today, the remains of a ruined castle with a balcony related to the Samanids' era can be seen in old Tisfun (near Tigris River). It is possible that this castle was still efficient during the first Islamic period and had inspired Abbasid's architectures. Furthermore, this castle inspired architectures to build balconies. Despite the fact that the Umavids used decorative elements in their stone ornaments, during the simultaneous reigns of Persia, brick with plastering on the facades that originated basically in the Sassanid period became more popular. Only a few ruins left in Persia show the influence of these styles. The Jame mosque of Naiin, which was built in the tenth/fourth century, hold a distinctive type of Buiids' stucco and plasterwork which is completely noticeable according to other buildings. From Neishabour excavations it appears that this technique had influenced the house-building methods and even affected eastern parts of Persia as well.

 There is not enough information about the birth of Islamic painting, only a few were discovered in Syria, Persia and Iraq. But even from these inadequate discovenes, the value and success of painting and wall decorations can be easily seen. 37 ln the years between 1355/1936 to 1358/ 1939 an exploratory group from Metropolitan museum found few samples of these paintings and wall decorations from the beginning of Islamic era that belonged to Samanids' in Neishabour. This opened a new chapter in Islamic art history. These paintings, which were found from different buildings, can be divided into two groups.

The first group are those paintings which are in single color and the second group are those which have been painted in multicolor. A fine example of the first group, kept in Tehran museum, is a riding hunter wearing a belt, helmet, and valuable clothes and holding a sword with a round shield. It is drawn with dark lines and painted with watercolor. At the left side of his ankle we see a hawk and beside his saddle a hunted animal probably a hare is shown. The masterly drawing of the galloping horse and the hunter's clothing reminds us of the Sassanids drawing and painting style. At the same time the detail drawings of sword and helmet shows the influence of middle Asian techniques on Persian art.

In multicolor paintings; man and devil, organic decorations, vases and palm trees are shown. And also Greek elements are noticeable in the way men and women and their clothing are painted. Colors are mainly black and white, blue and red all in different tones. The primary examples of the usage of these colors which later turned out to be a defining factor of Islamic architecture, were plaster niches found in Neishabour, and four of them are preserved at the Metropolitan museum, also they are dissimilar in shape and size, and the patterns and decorations are also different. There is no doubt that these plaster niches were a part of the moqarnas that was usually used underneath the dome. The ornamentation of these niches is a combination of vaulted shapes, vases, various leaf designs and half cut palm leaves. Blue was used for the background and black in drawing the designs.

Many of stone craving, stucco decorations, and marquetry that existed in the Simultaneous reigns, from the point of view of studied basics and Islamic factors are considered amazing and essential. Mainly because in these works we can see the first signs of foliated patterns and floral decorations, which was completed in fifth/eleventh century. In imitating Sassanid art samples, Muslim craftsmen invented new decorative elements which became charactristics of early Muslim rules of Abbasids method in Persia. Naiin mosque is a good example of Al-Buiids plaster moulding and stucco with Vaulted shapes, decorative palm.

The most plaster moulding found in Neishabour, belongs to ruins in Tapeh-Madreseh and Sabz Pooshan, and the most complete plaster works were found in a monument in Sabz Pooshan, Neishabour and includes Muqarnas “eivan”s in the southern-west of courtyard and a room, with a dome shape roof next to it.

Early Islamic pottery works have various forms, and shapes. Even those utensils which were made for the lower class and ordinary people or peasants had many enhancing elements. Glazing and enamel were used only for excellent items and mainly for counties. Other styles such as drawing and painting in different colors were used in Middle East for all sorts of potteries. Irregular excavation made it hard to classify potteries of early Islamic period. In many cases dealers did not reveal the sources and excavation locations. Overall, we can divide Abbasids' pottery items in six groups, which include the following:

 

1. Pottery with Elevated Decoration and Monochromic Glaze

2. Pottery with Carved Decoration and Poly chrome Glazing

3. Pottery with Under-glazed Painting

4. Pottery with Luster Painting

5. Pottery with Decoration on Glaze

6. Pottery without Glazing

For more information see: History of Art and Architecture of Iran

/Types of Art & Architecture of Iran/Visual Arts/Pottery

 Refrences:

-Shayestehfar. Mahnaz. (2007). an Introduction to Persian Islamic Art. Iran. Institute of Islamic Art Studies. P.25

 

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