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Notes on the Shaykh Lutfallah Mosque

Here we see the Shaykh Lutfallah Mosque from across the Maidan. It is now called the Imam Square (Maidan-e-Naghsh-e-Jahan) while the old name was The Shah's Square (Maidan-i Shah). This is one of the largest open squares in the world at 1700 by 525 ft (520m by 177m)

The Shaykh Lutfallah Mosque has no minarets as it was a private mosque used by the Safavid royal family members, presumably they did not need to be called to prayer.  It is also known as the "Lady's or Women's Mosque" as the ladies of the court could worship there in private.  The tile work in this mosque is exquisite.  In order to have the mihrab of the mosque facing Mecca and the Mosque still positioned as one of the "anchors" of the square, there is an angled corridor into the mosque from the square.  Although it has not been found, rumor has it that there was a private underground tunnel to the mosque from the A'li Qapu Palace for the royal family.

Religious-Architecture-and-Islamic-CulturesFall2002 LectureNotes

View of the Shaykh Lutfallah Mosque from the Maidan-i Shah side.

The Shaykh Lutfallah Mosque was begun in about 1603 under the auspices of Shah Abbas Safavi who rightly so is called Shah Abbas the Great. It was completed in 1619.

We know from the earliest building inscription that Ali Riza al-Abbasi was involved in the project. Ali Riza al-Abbasi was a calligrapher often confused with the painter Riza i-Abbasi the son of Ali Asghar. Riza i-Abbasi is one of the great artists of Persian Art tends to overshadow Ali Riza al-Abbasi but suffice it to say Ali Riza al-Abbasi was an important artist at the court of Shah Abbas. After all calligraphers were more highly valued than painters.

The mosque consists of a single domed chamber 62 foot square.

I discuss the dome in The Carpet of Wonder - the Art

Wheeler, Mortimer et al. Splendors of the East. London, England: Spring Books, 1970, detail page 52

The calligraphy in the tile border is thought to be that of Ali Riza al-Abbasi. While I could be mistaken the script used appears to be Thulth which is both traditional and appropriate in Mosques.

Note the tile and marble. The Mosque is principally tile with a marble floor and some marble trim as we see in this picture.

See also The Carpet of Wonder - Introduction, The Carpet of Wonder - the Art, The Carpet of Wonder - The Processes of Weaving, and The Carpet of Wonder - the Mosque

Thanks to the Iran Carpet Co. the producers of the Carpet of Wonder. They have been kind enough to supply me with information and the images that made this article possible. Special thanks to Mr. Yazdi and Mr. Karimi who was the Managing Director when this was written.

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