Sasanid Empire

The Sasanians were the last pre-Islamic Iranian dynasty who ruled an expansive empire stretching across western and central Asia. The Sasanians called their empire Eranshahr, the Empire of the Iranians. Much of the material culture that survives is court art, that is, luxury objects and royal monuments created and used by the empire’s ruling and elite strata of society.
This essay briefly introduces the Sasanian Empire through a handful of key monuments. It provides insight into how Sasanian rulers perceived their place in the world, and how they conveyed this understanding to both denizens within the empire and to those beyond its frontiers. It also illustrates how the Sasanians materialized their artistic values while simultaneously building bridges both with an Iranian past and with their contemporary neighbors of Rome, China, and Central Asia.

A hallmark of royal Sasanian architecture is the ayvan (referred to as an iwan in the Arabic), a vaulted space closed on three sides, and open on the fourth. Sasanian-era architects designed palatial complexes around a central ayvan that the Sasanian Shahan Shah utilized for courtly events and spectacles. At the Sasanian capital of Ctesiphon, on the Tigris River near present-day Baghdad, Iraq, stands perhaps the most famous ayvan, known as the Taq-e Kesra, the Arch of Khosrow. The ayvan is still the largest vault of unreinforced brick in the world, raising 35 meters in height and stretching over 25 meters in width.

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Seljuk Empire

Seljuks from East to West or From Khorasan to Anatolia

Geography where seljuks state has appeared and its neighbours should be known for determining  formation and interaction of Seljuks state organization. Early date of Seljuks family who are known to be Kınık tribe of Oghuz turks starts with Yengikent and Cent cities where are winter center of Oghuz yagbus which govern northern and southern parts of Seyhun river which pours into Aral Lake and northern sections of Aral Lake. Cend city which is located in Muslim Samani state and where population is muslim and commercial activities are intense is the city where Seljuks has accepted islam region. Even though circumstances has become harder  Seljuks supported Samani state which was almost ruined and resisting karakhanids  by the end of X. century.  Nur town which is located at upper side of Samarkand and Buhara at center of Maveraünnehir as award for this support.  They maintained this support until ruin of Samanis. In following period Seljuks tried to survive between tow super powers of Ghaznavids and Karakhanids. Then they captured Ghaznavid land Khorasan and founded their state. (1040). Seljuks and then Karakhanidss always brought down Ghaznavids which were ruling Afghanistan and Northern India in their controlling struggles.

Seljuks ruling spread to Iran, Iraq, Syria, Eastern and Southern Eastern Anatolia by conquests which has started just after foundation. There were many big and small states or emirates  Iran during conquest. These were made obedient during Tuğrul Bey period. In Iraq thee was Abbasid State which was under invasion of Shii Buveyhi state. Seljuks which has entered into Baghdad terminated buveyhi domination and maintained collapse of this state. Even though relations between Abbasit Khalifat was friendly at the beginning, it did not continue with such manner and sometimes crisis and stresses have occurred.

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The name Shahsevan means “Adherents of the king”. According to available resources Shahsavan tribes are survivors of Turkish tribes from Asia minor that have come to Azerbaijan-Iran in the fourteenth century. one thing is clear: the history of the Shahsavan tribes goes back to the Safaviyeh kings era, they were organized by Shah Esmael (II) Safavi for authenticating the status of the Turkish tribe Ghezelbash. Shah Abbas established the Shahsavan tribe, meaning King Lovers to deal with the rebel tribes Qizilbash too.

The Tree of Life


In Anatolia there is no other motif carrying so many different meanings than the bird motif. While birds like owls and ravens imply bad luck, doves, pigeons and nightingales are used to symbolize good luck. The Bird is the symbol of happiness, joy and love. It is the soul of the dead. It is longing, and expectation of news. It stands for power and strength. It is the imperial symbol of various states founded in Anatolia.

In Catalhoyuk birds resembling eagles and vultures are described as animals attacking human beings. The eagle called Horos in the language of the Hittites later took on a legendary meaning. There is a relief of an eagle with two heads on the sphinxes standing at the two sides of the entrance door of Alacahoyuk. The theme of a double headed eagle holding a couple of hares in its claws was later used on the sign of the Seljukian State.

In his lines “We took off, became birds and flew, Thank God!” mystic poet Yunus Emre is expressing the feeling of getting near to God. He describes death by the words “The bird of life has flown off”. By saying “Life is a bird in its cage”, Ministrel Karacaoglan states that the bird flying away from its cage is death. Various bird motifs used on Anatolian weaves are illustrated below:


It is believed that some people possess a power in their glance which causes harm, injury, misfortune and even death.

Evil eyes are various objects that reduce the effect of evil glance, thus protecting the ones who carry them. Blue beads, wild mustard, garlic, sea shells, old coins, lead, mercury, the shell of a small turtle, silver and gold ‘Masallah’ motifs (inscription of the word meaning ‘God save him’ on gold or silver) are used with this purpose.

‘Muska’ is a written charm which is believed to have a magical and religious power to protect the possessor from dangerous external factors. It is generally carried in triangular cases.

Various form of amulet and evil eye motifs including the Solomon’s Seal which is called a star amulet in Anatolia are illustrated below:


The cypress is depicted as a variation of the tree of life motif, which represents everlasting life. The cypress is used in rituals with the dead, but symbolizes the eternal life that comes after death.

The cypress was the most popular tree used in Persian gardens, and accordingly, was represented in garden carpets. The oldest known living cypress in the world is 4000 years old, in Yazd Province, Iran.


Brilliantly painted manuscripts. Exquisitely detailed miniatures. Fine silks. Complex, ornate palaces. The art of the Safavids is simply magnificent.
The Safavids were a dynastic family that ruled over modern-day Iran. They sustained one of the longest running empires of Iranian history, lasting from 1501 to 1736. At the height of their reign, the Safavids controlled not only Iran, but also the countries we now know as Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Armenia, eastern Georgia, parts of the North Caucasus, Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan, as well as parts of Turkey, Syria, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Soon after the Safavids rose to power, they established Twelver Shiism (the largest branch of Shi’a Islam), as the official religion of their dynasty. This distinguished the Safavids from their neighboring and rival empires—the Ottomans (to their west in Turkey), and the Mughals (to their east in India). The Ottomans and Mughals adhered to Sunni Islam. While Shi’a and Sunni share many core Islamic beliefs, the main difference has to do with who succeeded the Prophet Muhammad upon his death in 632. The Sunnis believed the leader should be elected amongst the people, while the Shi’a believed the leader should follow the lineage of Prophet Muhammad’s family.
Safavid art and architecture reflected this adoption of a Shi’a identity. They invested a great deal of their capital into the building and decoration of shrines of Shi’a saints. This encouraged pilgrimages across the great stretch of the Safavid empire, in places such as Karbala and Najaf, two cities in central Iraq. Shi’a Islam is still the official state religion of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Safavids are therefore widely known for bringing this historic change to the region. However, the original ancestral line of the Safavids was a religious order of Sufi mystics that lived in Ardabil, a city now in Azerbaijan (Sufism is the mystical branch of Islam that originated during the Umayyad caliphate).

The Safavid Empire was one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Iran (16th,17th century). The arts in this period show a far more unitary development than in any other period of Iranian art. One of the unique artistic accomplishment in that era since Islam is tile working; however, History of tile (glazed brick) manufacture in Iran, goes back to prehistoric period.

Safavid art is well known for a new style of decoration, incorporating textile of flowers included the introduction of pale red, yellow colors alternating with blue patterns into ceramic dishes and table wares. There’s also a great range of tile pieces where luster is applied over-glazed on a white or blue glazed ground. Most of the decoration motifs on the tiles relates to natural flora and plants. Tile working has an important position among the various artistic features in Iranian architecture.

in the Safavid period, the motifs and symetric and geometric patters are applied either on wood door frames, colored glass; or as mosaic panel on dome tileworks, wall or ceiling decorative paintings.

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Jameh Mosque of Isfahan

Most cities with sizable Muslim populations possess a primary congregational mosque. Diverse in design and dimensions, they can illustrate the style of the period or geographic region, the choices of the patron, and the expertise of the architect. Congregational mosques are often expanded in conjunction with the growth and needs of the umma, or Muslim community; however, it is uncommon for such expansion and modification to continue over a span of a thousand years. The Great Mosque of Isfahan in Iran is unique in this regard and thus enjoys a special place in the history of Islamic architecture. Its present configuration is the sum of building and decorating activities carried out from the 8th through the 20th centuries. It is an architectural documentary, visually embodying the political exigencies and aesthetic tastes of the great Islamic empires of Persia.
Another distinctive aspect of the mosque is its urban integration. Positioned at the center of the old city, the mosque shares walls with other buildings abutting its perimeter. Due to its immense size and its numerous entrances (all except one inaccessible now), it formed a pedestrian hub, connecting the arterial network of paths crisscrossing the city. Far from being an insular sacred monument, the mosque facilitated public mobility and commercial activity thus transcending its principal function as a place for prayer alone.
The mosque’s core structure dates primarily from the 11th century when the Seljuk Turks established Isfahan as their capital. Additions and alterations were made during Il-Khanid, Timurid, Safavid, and Qajar rule. An earlier mosque with a single inner courtyard already existed on the current location. Under the reign of Malik Shah I (ruled 1072-1092) and his immediate successors, the mosque grew to its current four-iwan design. Indeed, the Great Mosque of Isfahan is considered the prototype for future four-iwan mosques (an iwan is a vaulted space that opens on one side to a courtyard).

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