What is it about?

We discovered and documented a decorative vaulted ceiling belonging to a commercial plaza in the Bazaar district of Tehran. The plaza belongs to late 19th century, commissioned by the Persian prime minister (chancellor) of the time, and based on a number of clues, most likely by an outstanding builder of the time, Us Hassan Qomi. The plaza is still in use, however they have remodeled it with a flat drop ceiling that has concealed the lavish vault. We photographed the vault from the modern-day attic, and reconstructed the stellar plan from the pictures. We also rendered a very minimalist 3D model of the load-bearing structure behind the decorative ceiling and ran some simplified load assignments to measure the loads running down to each pier/column. Our other contributions to the topic include a background on how mathematical aesthetics found central role in Islamic arts, a brief history on the evolution and morphology of Islamic stellar vaults, and yazdi-bandi in particular, and a review of the state of knowledge on the subject.

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Why is it important?

1) Scholarship into the subject of Islamic stellar vaults has much to catch up with. 2) The most referenced classical sources on Persian architecture stop at the end of the Safavid period, leaving the far richer heritage of the 18th and 19th centuries to complete oblivion. 3) In addition to the scholarly blackout on Qajar architecture, much of Tehran's cultural heritage has been razed in the past mere decade or two to a corrupt power class, who with strong political ties can violate every statute, replacing priceless historical heritage with malls and condominium towers. For these reasons, our effort to document this architectural edifice before its destruction, and the key role it plays in completing that historical picture of Qajar architecture becomes important.

Perspectives

I came to know my co-author in 2015 over a brief stay in Tehran, when he was conducting his research on the evolution of yazdi as a general subject. We have been cooperating on similar subjects since, and much more is to come hopefully from our work together. Much is to be published in the areas of Islamic stellar vaults. This work requires a number of complimentary papers to fully explain the origins and typology of these vaults, and we are hoping to be able to delve into those areas in due time, though such papers may even be a bit overdue.

Reza Hashemi Nik
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

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This page is a summary of: Documentation of the Yazdi-Bandi Vault at the Plaza of Sadr-e-A’zam, Tehran, International Journal of Architectural Heritage, January 2019, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/15583058.2018.1553076.
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