Silk Weavings from Isfahan
Isfahan was the Central and Cultural capital of the Persian Empire of Shah Abbas throughout the 16th and 17th Century. Isfahan is already a city of ancient history and considerable wealth when Shah Abbas decides, in 1598, to turn it into a magnificent capital. It has a Masjid-i-Jami, or Friday Mosque, dating from the Seljuk period (11th-12th century), still surviving today and noted for its fine patterned brickwork. And it has a thriving school of craftsmen skilled in the making of polychrome ceramic tiles. Shah Abbas favor’s in architecture what comes to seem almost the theme of his city – gently curving domes covered in a glorious array of Isfahan’s coloured tiles. The new center of the city is a vast rectangular space, the Maidan-i-Shah (Royal Parade), designed for parades and polo. At its southern end there rises the most magnificent of Isfahan’s swelling blue domes, on the Masjid-i-Shah (Royal Mosque). The tiles are shaped where necessary to fit the curve of the dome, as are those which clad the mosque’s circular minarets. The dome is reflected in a great pool in the courtyard. On the east of the Maidan-i-Shah is a smaller blue dome, on the Mosque of Sheikh Lutfullah – built by Shah Abbas in honor of his father-in-law and used as his private chapel. There are other glorious buildings in Isfahan, but these domes have become the trademark of Persian Islamic architecture.