Introducing the style of Azerbaijani theosophists tomb construction



In the Islamic era, Mausoleums were considered as the most important after mosques. Constructing these buildings dates from the fourth century after Hijrah, coinciding with the establishment of the earlier post -Islamic dynasties in East and North East of Iran. This tradition continued in later Islamic periods in two basic rectangular and Tomb tower types. The significant point about these buildings is the relation between structural and ornamentation characteristics of the decedent person. One of the most important periods of constructing mausoleums in Islamic period in Iran is Ilkhanid period. Since Azerbayjan was the centre of the Ilkhanid dynasty and Mongol emperors were interested in Islamic theosophism, Ardebil region was regarded as one of the significant centers of Sufism. It seems that during this period, a special style of burial architecture was shaped the principles of which were rooted in the Sufisim of Sheikh Zahed Gilani and Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardebili. We can name this new style as the style of mausoleums of Azerbaijani theosophists that combined early Seljuk tomb towers in Damghan And Mazandaran and late Seljuk tomb towers in west Azerbaijan with basic specifications of Ilkhanid architecture and local architecture of the region. Among remarkable samples of this style are mausoleums of Sheikh Safi al-Din in Ardebil, Sheikh Heidar in Meshkinshahr and Barda Turbatsi in the republic of Azerbaijan. Many of these tomb towers such as the tomb of Sheykh Safi Aldin Ardebili underwent basic changes in Safavid period especially in tile works and paintings ornaments and changed its nature of early Ilkhanid architecture. All three mausoleums which wer the subject of the present study belong to tomb towers which are the most common type of tombs in Islamic period of Iran. In terms of overall architectural characteristics, these tombs are influenced by the style known as Azeri. Due to the significant role of mysticism in evolution of mausoleum building tradition, the present study has paid attention to different aspects of the architecture and decoration of these mausoleums and is trying to determine the date of the emergence of this form of architecture in the region based on Archaeological studies to determine different aspects of Sufis mausoleums of Azerbaijan. To achieve this goal, the features of design and architectural decoration of this style is surveyed. The period during which this style was common is the first half of the eighth century and its geographical area is East Azerbaijan especially Ardebil province. One of the important features of this Architectural style is two pre-arch as entrance and exit doors which included more detailed inscriptional ornamentation and geometric frames. But the most specific characteristics of this style that culminated in the mausoleum of Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardebili, is the especial style of decoration in the exterior wall of mausoleums in the shape of Kufi inscription of Allah as continuous prayer (Zikr) of Sufis and especial design of the plan.