Islamic Art

Goharshad Mosque

Goharshad Mosque is a former free standing mosque in Mashhad of the Razavi Khorasan Province, Iran. The mosque now now serves as one of the prayer halls within the Imam Reza shrine complex.

Interior of the mosque

It was built by the order of Empress Goharshad, the wife of Shah Rukh of the Timurid Dynasty in 1418 CE. The architect of the mosque was Ghavameddin Shirazi, who is responsible for so many of Shah Rukh's great buildings, with the architectural and decorative manpower supplied from Shiraz and Isfahan.

High valuted ceilings of the mosque, completely decorated with mosaic

The mosque underwent some renovations during the Safavid and Qajar eras. It has four iwans ( a rectangular hall or space, usually vaulted, walled on three sides with one end entirely open) and a courtyard measuring 50 m × 55 m , as well as several shabestans ( an underground space, often a common feature of Iranian architecture).


Worth mentioning is the majestic, double layered dome of the mosque which underwent renovations after the 1911 bombings by the Russians. The first and the greatest surviving, Persian monument of the fifteenth century is the beautiful mosque of Gawhar Shad (1418) now abutting the shrine of the Imam Reza in Mashhad. Its portal continues theSamarkand style of arch within arch, enriched by a succession of bevels and reveals that give it depth and power. The thick, tower-like minarets, merging with the outer corners of the portal screen, extend to the ground and, together with the high foundation revetment of marble, give the ensemble the impression of solidity necessary to support its exuberant colour. The entire court facade is faced with enamel brick andmosaic faience of the finest quality.


The full scale of colours includes a dominant cobalt blue and turquoise, white, a transparent green, yellow, saffron, aubergine and mirrorblack - all tones fluctuating through several shades. The patterns lucid and vigorous, are artfully adapted to their decorative role, whether for eye-panels, or dome ornament meant to be effective at a thousand feet.


Monotony, difficult to avoid in such a large area, and a distracting intricacy that might compete with the essential architectural forms are both forestalled.


This is accomplished by the energy of the faience floral patterns and brick geometrical schemes; by the emphatic rhythm of the arcades, open galleries and deep recesses; and especially by the contrast of the iwans.

Pakistan Art



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