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The Style & Regional Differences of Seljuk Minarets in Persia

The Style & Regional Differences of Seljuk Minarets in Persia

Under the Seljuk rule, Persia gained a period of economic and cultural prosperity. The innovative techniques of the Seljuk period and style in architecture and the arts had a strong influence on later artistic developments. Seljuk art is a fusion of Persian, Islamic, and Central Asian (Turkic) elements, and building masonry is probably the most eminent feature of the Seljuk contribution to Islamic Art and Architecture.

The Building Technique of the Seljuk Period

In the Seljuk period, stone was the principal building material, though they also used bricks to construct small Masjids and Tomb Towers, as well as minarets. In the larger stone structures, brick was added for embellishment, predominantly placed in the upper structures and rarely in the interior. Since the 10th century CE, decorative brickwork has developed in two ways. Firstly, there are brick bonds that are constructive and laid during the structural process. Secondly, there are brick revetments, which are assembled from precast sections. The production and brick selection differ to a great extent between these two types of brickwork. However, both share a common aspect: dependence on geometry. With bonds, standard-shaped bricks are laid out in modular geometric patterns, whereas with revetments, the bricks are re-cut to fit into a unique design layout for each use.

This article is a comparative analysis of the variations in the styles of the Seljuk era manars (minarets) including samples from those seen in Isfahan and four other Iranian regions. The following questions provided the guidelines for the research:

  1. What are the contributions from the Seljuk era to the architecture of manars in Iran?
  2. What are the salient architectural features of the manars of Isfahan in the Seljuk era?
  3. What are the differences and the similarities in the style of manars between Isfahan and four other regions in Iran?

The development of style and design in Seljuk manars has had a significant effect on architecture across Iran, influencing several other structures like the tall and slender towers attached to mosques to make the azan (call to prayer).1 In Iran, manars —one of the most characteristic features of the Iranian cityscape— are known for typically having a cylindrical brick shaft, which indicated the presence of nearby mosques or other religious buildings.

the Seljuks & their successors brought the cylindrical-style brick tower, with its octagonal shape, into the newly conquered lands of Afghanistan, India, Syria & Anatolia.

Although manars are now a common feature of Iranian religious architecture, early mosques in Iran had relatively low structures – the great domes and aivans (porticos) commonly seen today, were not instituted until c.1040-1157 CE. The characteristic cylindrical form of the mosque tower was found throughout Iran, Iraq, and the Hijaz well before the Seljuks arrived there in 1037 CE. Subsequently, the Seljuks and their successors brought the cylindrical-style brick tower, with its octagonal shape, into the newly conquered lands of Afghanistan, India, Syria and Anatolia.2

That there are so many 11th and 12th century CE buildings still standing in Iran today indicates that their time of construction was a prolific one, which coincided with the arrival of the Seljuk Turks. The Seljuk arrival meant that these tall brick towers no longer had to be placed next to the mosque, they started building them next to other types of religious buildings and, occasionally, on their own.

A few manars of this period served non-liturgical functions. Some, located along major routes or at the edge of the desert (Khusraugird; Ziyar; Mil-I Nadiri), acted as signposts. Since much caravan travel was done at night, a lamp at the top of a minaret allowed the building to serve as a lighthouse (familiar in Khurasan). In a few cases, the minaret was built on top of a hill where there was no room for a mosque anyway.3

In addition to the Seljuks' contributions to the function and style of manars in Iran, the Seljuk began pairing manars for the first time. The idea further developed in the 12th century CE, when paired manars were used to add extra importance to the entrance gate of buildings (Nakhchivan; Ardistan) – something that was revealed in the pre-war excavations at the Sasanian city of Bishapur (Nakhchivan Ardistan). 4

Paired manars would later be used inside mosques to border the entrance to the sanctuary as well as to indicate direction. When the minaret was built as an integral component of the mosque, its entrance was not at the ground level but, instead, was off the roof of the mosque, which we can tell today by the existing doorways, high up the shaft of what are now freestanding manars.

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Study Cases of the Seljuk Manars in Isfahan:

The following is a survey of the literature on some of the important manars in Isfahan during the Seljuk era, with an in depth analysis of their architectural design and style.

  • Manar of Barsian, Friday mosque, 1097-98 CE - Isfahan

    The manar is a cylindrical shaft with minimal decoration, consisting of a plain base and an elongated core. At the top, is a doubled collar beneath a slightly corbelled crown. Since the boles are visible, it can be concluded that the baked-brick manar was erected with the use of exterior scaffolds. The facing bricks were not revetments, but instead were bonded into the wall. The shaft diaper has a slight clockwise twist, as seen in the plan. The ceiling is warped lintel of radiating, corbelled brick courses.5

    The manar is attached to a mosque and slightly tapered but not highly decorated except on the top, where there is a carved tier. The decoration is very simple with no inscriptions, tiles or carved stucco, unlike the lavishly decorated Seljuk manars. The manar is described by Myron Smith as a cylindrical shaft with almost no ornamentation, a plain base, a prolonged main zone and a doubled collar under a slightly corbelled crown at the top. This baked-brick manar was built using exterior scaffolds.

  • The manar of Chihil Dukhtaran, 1107 CE - Isfahan

    The manar of Chihil Dukhtaran stands in a small alleyway within the maze of streets of the Jubareh quarter of Isfahan. Much like the many tomb towers in Iran, the manar of Chihil Dukhtaran stands in solitary grandeur, and not as part of any extant building complex. The Chihil Dukhtaran of Isfahan was built in 1107-8 CE by Abi Al Fath Nahuji, along with its namesake in Damghan (1054-56 CE).6

    The manar is 21 metres tall and consists primarily of a plain square plinth, an intermediate octagon and a circular shaft with varying horizontal sections of brick pattern and a decorative ornamental cornice band. It has a rectangular window surmounted by an arch, which may have served for the call to prayer, and relieves the upper section of the shaft. The typical brick bond —with wide rising joints, alternating between bands of six-pointed stars, octagons and lozenge motifs— is relieved by decorative terracotta tile panels with Kufic inscriptions.

    The freestanding manar has three circular shafts. The brick pattern, with bands surrounding the circular shaft, is what distinguishes the decoration of this manar, in addition to the geometric patterns and panels with Kufic inscriptions. The Chilhil Dukhtaran is similar to it neighbour the Barsian minaret in its use of circular shaft and geometric patterns for ornamentation, however the manar of Barsian is characterized by the use of double bands on the top, while Chilhil Dukhtaran's bands are on its shaft.

  • Sarban Minaret, 1130-55 CE - Isfahan

    The manar of Sarban or the manar of the Camel Driver, stands a few hundred metres away from the minaret of Chihil Dukhtaran in the Jubareh quarter of Isfahan. Both are excellent examples of freestanding brick manars from the Central Iranian Seljuq in the 12th century. The Manar Sarban is 48 metres tall and measures more than twice the height of the manar of Chihil Dukhtaran, though it was built roughly two decades later. Though no inscriptions or records ascribe the Manar Sarban to any particular patron, architectural historians think it might have originally been part of a mosque complex that no longer exists. The cylindrical shaft of the Manar Sarban (1130-55 CE) is ornamented with varying brick patterns and tile inlays.7

    The manar consists primarily of a plain brick base and tiers of tapering cylindrical shafts with alternate bands of decorative brick and blue tile work in geometric patterns, and two girdles of stalactite ornament. The horizontal bands between the two cornices consist of rectangular Kufic inscriptions in the Banai style or intricate geometrical motifs with hexagonal, octagonal and lozenge-shaped patterns. Lapis-lazuli tiles decorate the cornices, while elegant brick stalactite squinches support a small platform, accessible via a spiral staircase within the minaret. Today, the minaret displays an obvious tilt to the west and damage to its delicate cornices, which raises preservation concerns.8

  • Manar of Friday Mosque of Sin, 1131 CE - Isfahan

    The high Sin manar attached to the mosque has a square base and one chamfered corner that supports a tall, tapering, octagonal plinth from which a round, tapering shaft rises. Halfway up this shaft, on the kibleh side, there is a large octagon-shaped window that faces the southeast. Slightly above this window is a second entrance. The construction technique of this manar is identical to the one at Gar. The shaft has buckled through settling at the window; otherwise, the fabric is in good condition.9

    At the top of the southeast of the square base at the bottom there is an inscription panel of pre-cast brick mosaic, containing four lines of plain Kufic. The shaft shows a long zone of decoration in a pattern of prone bricks with wide rising joints, inclined in crossing spirals, which form a 45 degree of squares with accented centres. Though the top is damaged, there is still a plain Kufic inscription band of turquoise glass brick-faience-mosaic – the glaze confined to the outer faces of the brick characters.10

    The manar has an octagonal base and a slightly tapered circular decoration with brick patterns in geometric square shape and the top is decorated with a Kufic inscription band in light blue tile. Although the shape of the shaft is similar to that of the manar of Friday mosque at Sava, the Sava manar is decorated with terracotta bands while the Sin manar is decorated with brick patterns.

  • Gar Minaret, 1121-22 CE - Gar - Isfahan

    According to D. N. Wilber, the Gar minaret is an isolated, truncated, round back brick shaft on an octagonal plinth. The rubble stone foundation —2 metres of which stands exposed— has a friable mortar of sand, pebbles, lime, and ashes. The slightly tapering plinth is 4.8 metres high. The stairway is normal, and can be entered through the southeast face of the plinth, just above what was originally ground level. The round shaft measures 5.5 m in diameter at its base. At the top, its diameter is 4.7 m, where the shell is 0.74 m thick. The brick plinth and shaft is currently 21 m tall. Just below the top, facing the kibleh, is a large window. This has a small balcony, highlighted in the plan, supported by a curved bracket. Its elevation is a niche with pointed, arched profile. There is no faience. The mortar is gac and sand. 11

    In relation to the Gar minaret decoration as described by Hillenbrand, there are four plinth faces at the top reading from east, northward with a line of plain Kufic inscription in brick-mosaic. Below this inscription, on two faces of the plinth, are wide rising brick joints with tooled gac plugs depressed 0.005m. These are inclined to form a 45 degree diagonal band of rectangular naski (type of Arabic calligraphy). The remaining sides of the plinth are faced with carefully bonded plain brick, laid with minute rising joints. The corner bricks are carefully cut to a precise angle. The shaft is decorated in a single section by a revetment of brick laid in a 45 degree band of rectangular naski, the design formed with a widening of the rising joints.12

    The photos show a tapered octagonal shaft and, above it, a circular one. Both shafts are decorated with square Kufic inscriptions in bricks patterns. At the top of the octagonal shaft there is an inscription band in Kufic. The lower octagonal portion is similar to the one found in Kirat manar in Khursan, and The Friday Mosque of Golpayegan. However, this is not a very common feature in Isfahan region.

  • Ali Mosque Manar, 1118-1157 CE - Isfahan

    The Seljuk manar rises immediately to the right of the mosque portal and is built entirely of bricks. It is about 48 metres tall and has a tapering cylindrical shaft interrupted by two balconies. Below the balconies, the shaft is decorated with a pattern of interlocking stars in recess, which changes into a finer diamond pattern in the upper half. The manar has four bands of Kufic inscriptions, three of which are highlighted with glazed tiles. 13

    The long tapered circular manar is attached to Ali mosque. The manar has two cornices on top, with blue tiles and an inscription band of brick carving immediately below. The long, elegant manar is similar to the manar of Sarban with its elongated shaft and the two circular cornices at the top although the cornice in Sarban is larger and is decorated with mouqrnas.

Study cases of the Seljuk manars in other Iranian regions

Following are four cases of randomly chosen manars from different Iranian regions, Khurasan, Mazandaran, Bukhara, and Shahrestan, for the purpose of comparative analysis.

  • Kirat Minaret, 11th century CE - Isfahan

    This freestanding minaret is a fine example of the Khursanian architectural tradition in manar- building. It has a high octagonal base, which originally supported a balcony off the shaft. The shaft is unornamented and tilts noticeably towards the north, but its octagonal base has several patterned bands similar to what is seen in earlier manars from the area. The balcony was supported on corbelled brick columns with muqarnas vaulting, strengthened by wooden beams. A number of the patterns had a stucco infill; the technique was common during the Seljuk period, but only a few traces remain today. Despite its present isolation, the existence of a balcony indicates that a call for prayer was given from the manar. Its situation on the crest of a hill, however, could also indicate that it was used as a signal and watchtower to guide caravans traveling at night and warning of coming dangers.14

    The Kirat manar is a freestanding manar, with two shafts. The lower one is octagonal and the second, cylindrical. A balcony that separates the two, which is well decorated with panels in the octagonal lower section and, possibly, stucco decoration; however, the cylindrical shaft is plain. Compared to other Saljuk manars, this one has relatively simple decorations, with only a few mouqrnas on the balcony, and does not have inscriptions, tiles or carved stucco.

    As observed by Shila Blair, this isolated minaret is a fine example of typical Khursanian architecture. It has a high octagonal base, which originally supported a balcony that was entered onto from the cylindrical shaft. Though the shaft is plain and unornamented, several patterned bands decorate the base, as is the case with earlier manars from the area. Corbelled brick columns support the balcony with vaulting mouqrnas, strengthened by wooden beams. A number of the patterns made use of a stucco infill, which was a common technique during the Seljuk period, but few traces remain today.

  • Minaret of Friday Mosque of Golpayegan, 1105-1118 CE - Golpayegan, Isfahan

    The Friday Mosque of Golpayegan was built by the Seljuk Sultan Muhammad Tapar I (1105-1118 CE), son of Malik Shah I. Only the dome chamber remains from the original Seljuk mosque, which was integrated into a monumental four-ivan mosque during the Qajar period c.1040-1175 CE.

    The mosque's single minaret is located outside the precinct, behind the qibla wall. It was also built in the Seljuk period. The minaret's octagonal base is joined by a tall cylindrical shaft, which is topped by a narrow turret placed off-centre. The base is carved with shallow niches on each side. Simple brick patterns adorn the shaft, decorated at the top by turquoise tiles.15

    The manar has two shafts: a lower octagonal one and a cylindrical shaft that is longer than a galangal base. At the top there is a turret and the octagonal base has carved niches surrounding it. At the top of the circular shaft, a blind arcade decorates the blue tiles. This manar is similar to the Karat manar with two differently shaped shafts – a design that traces back further than the Seljuk period since the Abbasid period.

  • •Sava, Minaret of Friday Mosque, 1110 CE – Saveh, Iran

    Because of its elegant structure and intricate decoration, this is the finest remnant of Seljuk minarets in Iran. It bears a number of patterned bands as well as inscriptions in Kufic and Naskhi scripts. The lower section of the minaret has been restored; however, the upper section, including the balcony supports, is long gone. The remaining shaft decoration is organized into three main zones, divided by inscriptions that are separated by a series of delicate guard hands in carved and molded terracotta. The elements of the inscription bands are interspersed with a number of stucco plugs, many of which have the name of Allah engraved.16

  • Vabkent minaret, 1196-7 CE - Bukhara

    The manar of Vabkent today stands at 38.7 m above ground level; its sharply tapering shaft dominating the small town around it. This manar has almost four metres between itself and the mosque. The Vabkent inscription has a certain artistic alteration in its proportions, emphasized by exaggerating the height of the stems. Stucco decorates the two lowest tiers of stalactites. The pattern on the top of lowest tier seems to have consisted of symmetrical vegetal elements. The top tier of stalactites shows no sign of any stucco decoration. The lantern of Vabkent and Bukhara is part of the original structure.17

    The inscription on the Vabkent manar's tapered shaft is peculiar to see on a Kufic style with high Alef and Lam. The photos support Bernard O'Kane 's observations of the inscriptions on the Vabakent manar as having certain characteristics emphasized by exaggerated stem height. Stucco stalactites decorate the two lowest tiers, the top of which is ornamented with symmetrical vegetal elements. The panels between the tiers have no stalactites. In addition, the elaborate lantern found here is unique – no other Iranian manar lanterns compare.

    The Vabkent and Sarban Minaret share some characteristics - both are freestanding manars with tapered circular shafts. The adorned mouqrnas (decorative corbels that resemble stalactites) produce similar feeling as when one observes the lantern of Vabkent manar in Bukhara.

Results of the comparison between the manars of Isfahan & the manars of four other Iranian regions

The manars of Isfahan serve liturgical and non-liturgical purposes alike. The manar of Barasian, the Friday mosque, the manar of the destroyed mosque of Sarban, the manar of the Friday mosque in Sin, and the manar of Ali mosque are all examples of manars with a liturgical function. That these manars are attached to a mosque is a clear sign of its use as a religious building and are used to chant the call for prayer. But the minarets of Chihil Dukhtaran and the Gar have secular purposes, functioning as lighthouses to guide travellers.

The shafts of the manars in Isfahan in the Seljuk era are usually built with baked bricks. These shafts stand on a circular base as in the case with the manar of Sarban, and the manar of the Friday mosque in Barasian; however, the manar of Chihil Dukhtaran has a square base and the manars of Gar and the Friday mosque in Sin have octagonal bases. Moreover, rubble stone is used for building some bases.

Not all the manars of Isfahan have decorative crowns. For example, the Sarban manar has a crown with mouqrnas underneath and the manar of Ali mosque has two balconies that crown the shaft. These crowns have bands below with inscriptions. On the other hand, the manars that have no crowns only have bands with geometric shapes made of bricks —as with the manar of Barasian— or inscriptions —as with the manar of Chihil Dukhtaran that is made of terracotta— or tile —as with the manar of Sin. These inscriptions are mostly in Kufic or in both Kufic and Naskhi, as with the manar of Gar.

The shaft is decorated with broad horizontal bands of geometric ornamentation, often separated by bands and inscriptions, which display the full range of the brick-masons' talents in terms of nonlinearity and heterogeneity as in the manars of Sarban and Chihil Dukhtaran. Subsequently, this manar has colourful, glazed tiles on top of the molded brick, as was seen in the manar of Sin.

The shaft of all the manars is circular and tapered to make the manar more solid and stable in spite of its height, which ranges between 21 metres as in the manar of Gar and 48 metres as in the manars of Sarban and Ali mosque. The brick patterns are used decoratively while providing structural support. The bricks here are placed in geometrical shapes as with the manars of Gar, Chihil Dukhtaran, Sin, Sarban and Ali mosque. The three last manars are distinguished by their blue glazed tiles.

In the four Iranian regions of Khurasan, Mazandaran, Bukhara, and Shahrestan, manars share certain similarities yet are substantially different from those of Isfahan.

The manars of the four groups, as well as the manars of Isfahan, serve both liturgical and secular functions, for example, the manar of Golpayegan in Shahrestan. The manars of Saba in Mazandaran and Vabkent in Bukhara are secular, serving as lighthouses. However, unlike the manars of Isfahan, there is an example of a double-purpose manar: although the Khurasan's Kirat manar is not attached to a mosque, its balcony indicates that it was used to host a call for prayer. Since this manar was built on a hill, it was also likely used as a lighthouse to guide travellers. In all four regions, manars were constructed with baked bricks. However, they used wood to strengthen the balcony with manars like that of Kirat or to decorate that of Golpayegan.

Sophisticated and lavish decorating styles, as those revealed in the manars of Vabkent and Sava, are used more often in the manars of the four regions than in Isfahan. The manar of Vabkent is characterized by a lantern at its top, which is ornamented with highly sophisticated mouqrnas on its top and bottom. Moreover, this manar is characterized by narrow bands symmetrical vegetal inscriptions all along the shaft. The manar of Sava has three decoration zones, which are separated by bands of inscription in Kufic and Naskhi. Some shafts have blind arcading on the top, as is the case with the manar of Golpayegan.

While the manar of Sava is decorated with some terracotta, the analyzed sample of other manars in Isfahan shows use of tiles as a decorative element. However, the manars of Isfahan and those in the four regions previously mentioned share the same shape base, which is either circular as with the manars of Vabkent and Sava or octagonal as with Kirat and Golpayegan.

Usually the manars in Isfahan and the four regions all have short lower octagonal shafts, with the exception of the Kirat. In this manar, the shaft has two parts: the lower, with a high octagonal base, and the upper, with a circular shaft separated by a balcony in the middle.

In conclusion, the manars of Isfahan are excellent examples to examine in order to understand the style and function typical of manars created during the Seljuk period. Manars in Isfahan were built to serve both religious and secular purposes, usually with baked bricks and minimal ornamentation. However, in the four other Iranian regions, the use of wood added both strength and a greater flare for lavish decoration. These two features, of wood and ornamentation, are the most blatant differences between the manars of the four regions and those of Isfahan. However, all of the manars made good use of the Seljuk's solid building techniques, which has protected them from the elements for centuries after their construction.


1 Hutt, & L. Harrow, Islamic Architecture (London:1978) color plate 6 and 7.

2 D. Wilber, The Architecture of Islamic Iran: Ilkhanid period (Princeton: 1969) 47.

3 Ibid

4 J.Bloom, Minaret Symbol of Islam (Oxford:1989) 157.

5 M. Smith, “Material for a Corpus of Early Iranian Islamic Architecture. ii. The Manārs and Masjed, Barsian (Isfahān),” Ars Islamica 1 (1936): 1-40.

6 A.Daneshvari, A Stylistic and Iconographic Study of the Persian Tomb Towers of the Seljuk Period (University of California 1977).

7 W. Blunt, 1966. Isfahan: Pearl of Persia (New York: 1966) 41.

8 R. Hillenbrand, Islamic Architecture (Cairo: 2000) 154.

9 O. Grabar, The Great Mosque of Isfahan (New York: 1990).

10 H. G. Ali. Mimari-i Islami-i Iran dar dawrah-i Saljuqian (Tehran: 2000) 107.

11 D. Wilber Donald , The Architecture of Islamic Iran: The Il-Khanid Period (New York: 1955) 119-120.

12 R. Hillenbrand, Islamic Art and Architecture (Cairo:2000)105-108.

13 W. Blunt, Isfahan: Pearl of Asia (London: 1966) 114.

14 R. Hillerbrand, Islamic Art and Architecture (Cairo:2000) 105-108.

15 S.Blair and J. Bloom, The Art and Architecture of Islam (Yale :1994).

16 G. Michell, Architecture of Islamic World (London:1978).

17 B. O'Kane, Studies in Persian Art and Architecture (Cairo:1995) 33-34.

Seljuk architecture

The beginning of the Seljuk rule in the 11th century marks a historic turning point in Islamic civilization. Arab culture had shaped the Islamic world since the Islamic expansion . The Seljuks dynasty established the political and cultural domination of Turkic peoples . The architecture of the Greater Seljuk rulers in Persia and their vassals, the Sultans of Rum , shaped an epoch of Persian architecture as well as the Islamic architecture of Asia Minor. The Seljuk building design remained a stylistic model for early Ottoman architecture until the 15th century .


In the early 9th century, the first minarets were placed opposite the qibla wall. [3] Oftentimes, this placement was not beneficial in reaching the community for the call to prayer. [3] They served as a reminder that the region was Islamic and helped to distinguish mosques from the surrounding architecture. [4]

In addition to providing a visual cue to a Muslim community, the other function is to provide a vantage point from which the call to prayer, or adhan, is made. The call to prayer is issued five times each day: dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and night. [5] In most modern mosques, the adhān is called from the musallah (prayer hall) via microphone to a speaker system on the minaret. [5]

The basic form of minarets consists of four parts: a base, a shaft, a cap and a head. [ citation needed ] Minarets may be conical (tapering), square, cylindrical, or polygonal (faceted). [ citation needed ] Stairs circle the shaft in a counter-clockwise fashion, providing necessary structural support to the highly elongated shaft. [6] The gallery is a balcony that encircles the upper sections from which the muezzin may give the call to prayer. [7] It is covered by a roof-like canopy and adorned with ornamentation, such as decorative brick and tile work, cornices, arches and inscriptions, with the transition from the shaft to the gallery typically displaying muqarnas. [7]

The earliest mosques lacked minarets, and the call to prayer was often performed from smaller tower structures. [3] [9] [10] Hadiths relay that the early Muslim community of Medina gave the call to prayer from the roof of the house of Muhammad, which doubled as a place for prayer. [3]

Scholarly findings trace the origin of minarets to the Umayyad Caliphate and explain that these minarets were a copy of church steeples found in Syria in those times. The first minarets were derived architecturally from the Syrian church tower. Other references suggest that the towers in Syria originated from ziggurats of Babylonian and Assyrian shrines of Mesopotamia. [11] [12]

The first known minarets appear in the early 9th century under Abbasid rule, and were not widely used until the 11th century. [3] These early minaret forms were originally placed in the middle of the wall opposite the qibla wall. [3] These towers were built across the empire in a height to width ratio of 3:1. [3]

The oldest minaret is the Great Mosque of Kairouan in Tunisia and it is consequently the oldest minaret still standing. [3] [8] [13] The construction of the Great Mosque of Kairouan dates to the year 836. [3] [14] The mosque is constituted by three levels of decreasing widths that reach 31.5 meters tall. [3] [14]

Minarets have had various forms (in general round, squared, spiral or octagonal) in light of their architectural function. [6] Minarets are built out of any material that is readily available, and often changes from region to region. [3] The number of minarets by mosques is not fixed, originally one minaret would accompany each mosque, then the builder could construct several more. [15]


The founder of the dynasty was of the Seljuks was the Oghuz Turkic warlord Seljuk. He was reputed to have served in the Khazar army, under whom, the Seljuks migrated to Khwarezm, near the city of Jend, where they converted to Islam in 985. [24] Khwarezm, administered by the Ma'munids, was under the nominal control of the Samanid Empire. [25] By 999 the Samanids fell to the Kara-Khanids in Transoxania, but the Ghaznavids occupied the lands south of the Oxus. [26] The Seljuks became involved, having supported the last Samanid emir against the Kara-Khanids, in this power struggle in the region before establishing their own independent base. [27]

Tughril and Chaghri

The grandson of Seljuk was Tughril, under whom the Seljuks wrested an empire from the Ghaznavids. Initially the Seljuks were repulsed by Mahmud and retired to Khwarezm, but Tughril and Chaghri led them to capture Merv and Nishapur (1037–1038). [28] Later they repeatedly raided and traded territory with his successor, Mas'ud, across Khorasan and Balkh. [29]

In 1040, at the Battle of Dandanaqan, they decisively defeated Mas'ud I of Ghazni, forcing him to abandon most of his western territories. [30] By 1046, Abbasid caliph al-Qa'im had sent Tughril a diploma recognizing Seljuk rule over Khurasan. [31] In 1048–1049, the Seljuk Turks, commanded by Ibrahim Yinal, uterine brother of Tughril, made their first incursion into the Byzantine frontier region of Iberia and clashed with a combined Byzantine-Georgian army of 50,000 at the Battle of Kapetrou on 10 September 1048. The devastation left behind by the Seljuk raid was so fearful that the Byzantine magnate Eustathios Boilas described, in 1051–1052, those lands as "foul and unmanageable. inhabited by snakes, scorpions, and wild beasts." The Arab chronicler Ibn al-Athir reports that Ibrahim brought back 100,000 captives and a vast booty loaded on the backs of ten thousand camels. [32] In 1055, Tughril entered Baghdad and removed the influence of the Buyid dynasty, under a commission from the Abbasid caliph. [31]

Alp Arslan

Alp Arslan, the son of Chaghri Beg, expanded significantly upon Tughril's holdings by adding Armenia and Georgia in 1064 and invading the Byzantine Empire in 1068, from which he annexed almost all of Anatolia. [33] Arslan's decisive victory at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 effectively neutralized the Byzantine resistance to the Turkish invasion of Anatolia, [34] although the Georgians were able to recover from Alp Arslan's invasion by securing the theme of Iberia. The Byzantine withdrawal from Anatolia brought Georgia in more direct contact with the Seljuks. In 1073 the Seljuk Amirs of Ganja, Dvin and Dmanisi invaded Georgia and were defeated by George II of Georgia, who successfully took the fortress of Kars. [35] A retaliatory strike by the Seljuk Amir Ahmad defeated the Georgians at Kvelistsikhe. [36]

Alp Arslan authorized his Turkmen generals to carve their own principalities out of formerly Byzantine Anatolia, as atabegs loyal to him. Within two years the Turkmens had established control as far as the Aegean Sea under numerous beghliks (modern Turkish beyliks): the Saltukids in Northeastern Anatolia, the Shah-Armens and the Mengujekids in Eastern Anatolia, Artuqids in Southeastern Anatolia, Danishmendis in Central Anatolia, Rum Seljuks (Beghlik of Suleyman, which later moved to Central Anatolia) in Western Anatolia, and the Beylik of Tzachas of Smyrna in İzmir (Smyrna). [ citation needed ]

Malik Shah I

Under Alp Arslan's successor, Malik Shah, and his two Persian viziers, Nizām al-Mulk and Tāj al-Mulk, the Seljuk state expanded in various directions, to the former Iranian border of the days before the Arab invasion, so that it soon bordered China in the east and the Byzantines in the west. Malikshāh was the one who moved the capital from Ray to Isfahan. [37] It was under his rule and leadership that the Saljūq Empire had reached the height of its successes. [38] The Iqta military system and the Nizāmīyyah University at Baghdad were established by Nizām al-Mulk, and the reign of Malikshāh was reckoned the golden age of "Great Seljuk". The Abbasid Caliph titled him "The Sultan of the East and West" in 1087. The Assassins (Hashshashin) of Hassan-i Sabāh started to become a force during his era, however, and they assassinated many leading figures in his administration according to many sources these victims included Nizām al-Mulk. [ citation needed ]

In 1076 Malik Shah I surged into Georgia and reduced many settlements to ruins. From 1079/80 onward, Georgia was pressured into submitting to Malik-Shah to ensure a precious degree of peace at the price of an annual tribute. [ citation needed ]

Ahmad Sanjar

Ahmad was the son of Malik Shah I and initially took part in wars of succession against his three brothers and a nephew: Mahmud I, Barkiyaruq, Malik Shah II and Muhammad I Tapar. In 1096, he was tasked to govern the province of Khorasan by his brother Muhammad I. [39] Over the next several years, Ahmad Sanjar became the ruler of most of Iran (Persia), and eventually in 1118, the sole ruler of the Great Seljuk Empire. [40]

In 1141, Ahmad marched to eliminate the threat posed by Kara Khitans and faced them in the vicinity of Samarkand at the Battle of Qatwan. He suffered his first defeat in his long career, and as a result lost all Seljuk territory east of the Syr Darya. [41] [42]

Sanjar's as well as the Seljuks' rule collapsed as a consequence of yet another unexpected defeat, this time at the hands of the Seljuks’ own tribe, in 1153. [40] Sanjar was captured during the battle and held in captivity until 1156. [43] It brought chaos to the Empire - a situation later exploited by the victorious Turkmens, whose hordes would overrun Khorasan unopposed, wreaking colossal damage on the province and prestige of Sanjar. [43] Sanjar eventually escaped from captivity in the fall of 1156, but soon died in Merv (present-day Turkmenistan), in 1157. After his death, Turkic rulers, Turkmen tribal forces, and other secondary powers competed for Khorasan, and after a long period of confrontations, the province was finally conquered by Khwarazmians in the early 1200s. [44]

The Tomb of Ahmed Sanjar was destroyed by the Mongols led by Tolui, who sacked the city of Merv in 1221, killing 700,000 people according to contemporary sources during their catastrophic invasion of Khwarazm [45] however, modern scholarship holds such figures to be exaggerated. [46] [47]

Seljuk power was indeed at its zenith under Malikshāh I, and both the Qarakhanids and Ghaznavids had to acknowledge the overlordship of the Seljuks. [48] The Seljuk dominion was established over the ancient Sasanian domains, in Iran and Iraq, and included Anatolia, Syria, as well as parts of Central Asia and modern Afghanistan. [48] Seljuk rule was modelled after the tribal organization common among Turkic and Mongol nomads and resembled a 'family federation' or 'appanage state'. [48] Under this organization, the leading member of the paramount family assigned family members portions of his domains as autonomous appanages. [48]

Various emblems and banners have been recorded as having been used by the Seljuks in different periods. Early Seljuks used their traditional emblems, but gradually adopted local Muslim signs and banners. The official flag of the empire was most probably a black flag, similar to that of the Abbasid Caliphate. The flag was decorated with signs, which were either superimposed over it, or placed above the flag. [49]

When Malikshāh I died in 1092, the empire split as his brother and four sons quarrelled over the apportioning of the empire among themselves. Malikshāh I was succeeded in Anatolia by Kilij Arslan I, who founded the Sultanate of Rum, and in Syria by his brother Tutush I. In Persia he was succeeded by his son Mahmud I, whose reign was contested by his other three brothers Barkiyaruq in Iraq, Muhammad I in Baghdad, and Ahmad Sanjar in Khorasan. When Tutush I died, his sons Radwan and Duqaq inherited Aleppo and Damascus respectively and contested with each other as well, further dividing Syria amongst emirs antagonistic towards each other. [ citation needed ]

In 1118, the third son Ahmad Sanjar took over the empire. His nephew, the son of Muhammad I, did not recognize his claim to the throne, and Mahmud II proclaimed himself Sultan and established a capital in Baghdad, until 1131 when he was finally officially deposed by Ahmad Sanjar. [ citation needed ]

Elsewhere in nominal Seljuk territory were the Artuqids in northeastern Syria and northern Mesopotamia they controlled Jerusalem until 1098. The Dānišmand dynasty founded a state in eastern Anatolia and northern Syria and contested land with the Sultanate of Rum, and Kerbogha exercised independence as the atabeg of Mosul. [ citation needed ]

During the First Crusade, the fractured states of the Seljuks were generally more concerned with consolidating their own territories and gaining control of their neighbours than with cooperating against the crusaders. The Seljuks easily defeated the People's Crusade arriving in 1096, but they could not stop the progress of the army of the subsequent Princes' Crusade, which took important cities such as Nicaea (İznik), Iconium (Konya), Caesarea Mazaca (Kayseri), and Antioch (Antakya) on its march to Jerusalem (Al-Quds). In 1099 the crusaders finally captured the Holy Land and set up the first Crusader states. The Seljuks had already lost Palestine to the Fatimids, who had recaptured it just before its capture by the crusaders. [ citation needed ]

After pillaging the County of Edessa, Seljukid commander Ilghazi made peace with the Crusaders. In 1121 he went north towards Georgia and with supposedly up to 250 000 – 350 000 troops, including men led by his son-in-law Sadaqah and Sultan Malik of Ganja, he invaded the Kingdom of Georgia. [50] [51] David IV of Georgia gathered 40,000 Georgian warriors, including 5,000 monaspa guards, 15,000 Kipchaks, 300 Alans and 100 French Crusaders to fight against Ilghazi's vast army. At the Battle of Didgori on August 12, 1121, the Seljuks were routed, being run down by pursuing Georgian cavalry for several days afterward. The battle helped the Crusader states, which had been under pressure from Ilghazi's armies. The weakening of the main enemy of the Latin principalities also benefitted the Kingdom of Jerusalem under King Baldwin II. [ citation needed ]

During this time conflict with the Crusader states was also intermittent, and after the First Crusade increasingly independent atabegs would frequently ally with the Crusader states against other atabegs as they vied with each other for territory. At Mosul, Zengi succeeded Kerbogha as atabeg and successfully began the process of consolidating the atabegs of Syria. In 1144 Zengi captured Edessa, as the County of Edessa had allied itself with the Artuqids against him. This event triggered the launch of the Second Crusade. Nur ad-Din, one of Zengi's sons who succeeded him as atabeg of Aleppo, created an alliance in the region to oppose the Second Crusade, which landed in 1147. [ citation needed ]

Ahmad Sanjar fought to contain the revolts by the Kara-Khanids in Transoxiana, Ghurids in Afghanistan and Qarluks in modern Kyrghyzstan, as well as the nomadic invasion of the Kara-Khitais in the east. The advancing Kara-Khitais first defeated the Eastern Kara-Khanids, then followed up by crushing the Western Kara-Khanids, who were vassals of the Seljuks at Khujand. The Kara-Khanids turned to their Seljuk overlords for assistance, to which Sanjar responded by personally leading an army against the Kara-Khitai. However, Sanjar's army was decisively defeated by the host of Yelu Dashi at the Battle of Qatwan on September 9, 1141. While Sanjar managed to escape with his life, many of his close kin including his wife were taken captive in the battle's aftermath. As a result of Sanjar's failure to deal with the encroaching threat from the east, the Seljuk Empire lost all its eastern provinces up to the river Syr Darya, and vassalage of the Western Kara-Khanids was usurped by the Kara-Khitai, otherwise known as the Western Liao in Chinese historiography. [52]

In 1153, the Ghuzz (Oghuz Turks) rebelled and captured Sanjar. He managed to escape after three years but died a year later. The atabegs, such as the Zengids and Artuqids, were only nominally under the Seljuk Sultan, and generally controlled Syria independently. When Ahmad Sanjar died in 1157, this fractured the empire even further and rendered the atabegs effectively independent. [ citation needed ]

  1. Khorasani Seljuks in Khorasan and Transoxiana. Capital: Merv Seljuks (or Seljuks of Turkey). Capital: Iznik (Nicaea), later Konya (Iconium)
  2. Atabeghlik of the Salghurids in Fars
  3. Atabeghlik of Eldiguzids (Atabeg of Azerbaijan [53] ) in Iraq and Azerbaijan. [54] Capital: Nakhchivan[55] (1136–1175), Hamadan (1176–1186), Tabriz[56] (1187–1225)
  4. Atabeghlik of Bori in Syria. Capital: Damascus
  5. Atabeghlik of Zangi in Al Jazira (Northern Mesopotamia). Capital: Mosul
  6. Turcoman Beghliks: Danishmendis, Artuqids, Saltuqids and Mengujekids in Asia Minor

After the Second Crusade, Nur ad-Din's general Shirkuh, who had established himself in Egypt on Fatimid land, was succeeded by Saladin. In time, Saladin rebelled against Nur ad-Din, and, upon his death, Saladin married his widow and captured most of Syria and created the Ayyubid dynasty. [ citation needed ]

On other fronts, the Kingdom of Georgia began to become a regional power and extended its borders at the expense of Great Seljuk. The same was true during the revival of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia under Leo II of Armenia in Anatolia. The Abbasid caliph An-Nasir also began to reassert the authority of the caliph and allied himself with the Khwarezmshah Takash. [ citation needed ]

For a brief period, Togrul III was the Sultan of all Seljuk except for Anatolia. In 1194, however, Togrul was defeated by Takash, the Shah of Khwarezmid Empire, and the Seljuk Empire finally collapsed. Of the former Seljuk Empire, only the Sultanate of Rûm in Anatolia remained. [ citation needed ]

As the dynasty declined in the middle of the thirteenth century, the Mongols invaded Anatolia in the 1260s and divided it into small emirates called the Anatolian beyliks. Eventually one of these, the Ottoman, would rise to power and conquer the rest. [ citation needed ]

The Seljuks were educated in the service of Muslim courts as slaves or mercenaries. The dynasty brought revival, energy, and reunion to the Islamic civilization hitherto dominated by Arabs and Persians.

The Seljuks founded universities and were also patrons of art and literature. Their reign is characterized by Persian astronomers such as Omar Khayyám, and the Persian philosopher al-Ghazali. Under the Seljuks, New Persian became the language for historical recording, while the center of Arabic language culture shifted from Baghdad to Cairo. [57]

# Laqab Throne name Reign Marriages Succession right
1 Rukn ad-Dunya wa ad-Din
رکن الدنیا والدین,
Toghrul-Beg 1037–1063 1) Altun Jan Khatun
(2) Aka Khatun
(3) Fulana Khatun
(daughter of Abu Kalijar)
(4) Seyyidah Khatun
(daughter of Al-Qa'im, Abbasid caliph)
(5) Fulana Khatun
(widow of Chaghri Beg)
son of Mikail
(grandson of Seljuk)
2 Diya ad-Dunya wa ad-Din Adud ad-Dawlah
ضياء الدنيا و الدين عضد الدولة
Alp Arslan 1063–1072 1) Aka Khatun
(widow of Toghrul I)
(2) Safariyya Khatun
(daughter of Yusuf Qadir Khan, Khagan of Kara-Khanid)
(3) Fulana Khatun
(daughter of Smbat Lorhi)
(4) Fulana Khatun
(daughter of Kurtchu bin Yunus bin Seljuk)
son of Chaghri
3 Muizz ad-Dunya wa ad-Din Jalal ad-Dawlah
معز الدین جلال الدولہ
Malik-Shah I 1072–1092 1) Turkan Khatun
(daughter of Ibrahim Tamghach Khan, Khagan of Western Kara-Khanid)
(2) Zubeida Khatun
(daughter of Yaquti ibn Chaghri)
(3) Safariyya Khatun
(daughter of Isa Khan, Sultan of Samarkand)
(4) Fulana Khatun
(daughter of Romanos IV Diogenes)
son of Alp Arslan
4 Nasir ad-Dunya wa ad-Din
ناصر الدنیا والدین
Mahmud I 1092–1094 son of Malik-Shah I
5 Rukn ad-Dunya wa ad-Din
رکن الدنیا والدین
Barkiyaruq 1094–1105 son of Malik-Shah I
6 Rukn ad-Dunya wa ad-Din Jalal ad-Dawlah
رکن الدنیا والدین جلال الدولہ
Malik-Shah II 1105 son of Barkiyaruq
7 Ghiyath ad-Dunya wa ad-Din
غیاث الدنیا والدین
Tapar 1105–1118 1) Nisandar Jihan Khatun
(2) Gouhar Khatun
(daughter of Isma'il bin Yaquti)
(3) Fulana Khatun
(daughter of Aksungur Beg)
son of Malik-Shah I
8 Mughith ad-Dunya wa ad-Din Jalal ad-Dawlah
مُغيث الدنيا و الدين جلال الدولة
Mahmud II 1118–1131 1) Mah-i Mulk Khatun (died 1130)
(daughter of Sanjar)
(2) Amir Siti Khatun
(daughter of Sanjar)
(3) Ata Khatun
(daughter of Ali bin Faramarz)
son of Muhammad I
9 Muizz ad-Dunya wa ad-Din Adud ad-Dawlah
مُعز الدنيا و الدين جلال الدولة
Sanjar 1118–1153 1) Turkan Khatun
(daughter of Muhammad Arslan Khan, Khagan of Western Kara-Khanid)
(2) Rusudan Khatun
(daughter of Demetrius I of Georgia)
(3) Gouhar Khatun
(daughter of Isma'il bin Yaquti, widow of Tapar)
(4) Fulana Khatun
(daughter of Arslan Khan, a Qara Khitai prisoner)
son of Malik-Shah I
10 Ghiyath ad-Dunya wa ad-Din
غیاث الدنیا والدین
Dawud 1131–1132 Gouhar Khatun
(daughter of Masud)
son of Mahmud II
11 Rukn ad-Dunya wa ad-Din
رکن الدنیا والدین
Toghrul II 1132–1135 1) Mumine Khatun
(mother of Arslan-Shah)
(2) Zubeida Khatun
(daughter of Barkiyaruq)
son of Muhammad I
12 Ghiyath ad-Dunya wa ad-Din
غیاث الدنیا والدین
Masud 1135–1152 1) Gouhar Nasab Khatun
(daughter of Sanjar)
(2) Zubeida Khatun
(daughter of Barkiyaruq, widow of Toghrul II)
(3) Mustazhiriyya Khatun
(daughter of Qawurd)
(4) Sufra Khatun
(daughter of Dubais)
(5) Arab Khatun
(daughter of Al-Muqtafi)
(6) Ummiha Khatun
(daughter of Amid ud-Deula bin Juhair)
(7) Abkhaziyya Khatun
(daughter of David IV of Georgia)
(8) Sultan Khatun
(mother of Malik-Shah III)
son of Muhammad I
13 Muin ad-Dunya wa ad-Din
مُعين الدنيا و الدين
Malik-Shah III 1152–1153 son of Mahmud II
14 Rukn ad-Dunya wa ad-Din
رکن الدنیا والدین
Muhammad 1153–1159 1) Mahd Rafi Khatun
(daughter of Kirman-Shah)
(2) Gouhar Khatun
(daughter of Masud, widow of Dawud)
(3) Kerman Khatun
(daughter of Al-Muqtafi)
(4) Kirmaniyya Khatun
(daughter of Tughrul Shah, ruler of Kerman)
son of Mahmud II
15 Ghiyath ad-Dunya wa ad-Din
غیاث الدنیا والدین
Suleiman-Shah 1159–1160 1) Khwarazmi Khatun
(daughter of Muhammad Khwarazm Shah)
(2) Abkhaziyya Khatun
(daughter of David IV of Georgia, widow of Masud)
son of Muhammad I
16 Muizz ad-Dunya wa ad-Din
معز الدنیا والدین
Arslan-Shah 1160–1176 1) Kerman Khatun
(daughter of Al-Muqtafi, widow of Muhammad)
(2) Sitti Fatima Khatun
(daughter of Ala ad-Daulah)
(3) Kirmaniyya Khatun
(daughter of Tughrul Shah, ruler of Kerman, widow of Muhammad)
(4) Fulana Khatun
(sister of Izz al-Din Hasan Qipchaq)
son of Toghrul II
17 Rukn ad-Dunya wa ad-Din
رکن الدنیا والدین
Toghrul III 1176–1191
1st reign
Inanj Khatun
(daughter of Sunqur-Inanj, ruler of Ray, widow of Toghrul III)
son of Arslan-Shah
18 Muzaffar ad-Dunya wa ad-Din
مظفر الدنیا والدین
Qizil Arslan 1191 Inanj Khatun
(daughter of Sunqur-Inanj, ruler of Ray, widow of Muhammad ibn Ildeniz)
son of Ildeniz
(stepbrother of Arslan-Shah)
Rukn ad-Dunya wa ad-Din
رکن الدنیا والدین
Toghrul III 1192–1194
2nd reign
son of Arslan-Shah

Architecture and Ceramics

Various art forms were popularized during the Seljuk period, as evidenced by the vast amount of surviving artifacts. [16] Most Seljuk arts are known to have been produced in what is modern-day Iran. [85] However, the Seljuk sultans also encouraged artists to settle in Anatolia as part of a recolonization and reconstruction process of several cities. [86] Many works of Seljuk art continued to be produced following the decline of the empire in the late 12th century. [85] In this regard, the timeline associated with the production of Seljuk art does not entirely match the political events pertaining to the empire and its eventual fall. [16]

Among other ceramics, the manufacture of polychrome ceramic tiles, often used as decor in architecture, were popularized during the Seljuk dynasty. [87] [88] The Seljuks pioneered the use of the Minai technique, a painted and enameled polychrome overglaze for ceramics. [88] The glazes on the Seljuk ceramics produced often ranged from a brilliant turquoise to a very dark blue. [87] The art of Seljuk mosaic tile decorating would continue to dominate the interior of many Anatolian mosques following the period of Seljuk rule. [87] The Seljuks also created ceramic house models, while other ceramic forms in the Seljuk period included pottery figurines, some of them children's toys. [89]

In the realm of architecture, mosques and madrasas were created and embellished during the period of Seljuk control. Congregational mosques were either repaired, re-built, or constructed in their entirety. [90] The Seljuk sultan also commissioned numerous madrasas to promote the teaching of orthodox Islamic sciences. [85] These developments in architectural practice are coherent with the Seljuk dynasty's focus on Islam and the promotion of Muslim orthodoxy, the combining of Sufism and Sunnism. [85] [16]

One architectural form that flourished during the Seljuk dynasty was the muqarnas. [91] Some interpretations maintain that the earliest known examples of muqarnas were constructed during the period of Seljuk hegemony, though it also remains possible that they were being developed at the same time in North Africa. [91] The layering of multiple embellished cells with divergent profiles in muqarnas creates a dome that has a seemingly-insubstantial interior. [91] The play of light on the surface enhances this visual effect. [91] Art historian Oleg Grabar argues that the effect of muqarnas domes embodies Qur'anic water symbolism. [91] Examples of muqarnas also appear in the niches of mosques built during the Seljuk empire. [92] Overall, the architecture attributed to the Seljuk period is characterized by elaborate decoration, much like the other arts produced under Seljuk rule. [93]

The Book Arts

Both secular and non-secular manuscripts were produced during the Seljuk period. [94] [95] These pieces are now limited in availability, considering their ultimate susceptibility to damage overtime. [96] But those manuscripts that have survived over the centuries provide insight into the Seljuk's involvement in the arts of the book. [96] Calligraphers and illuminators were responsible for the creation of these manuscripts, though sometimes calligraphers mastered the art of both writing and illustration. [97] By the end of the 10th century, both illuminators and calligraphers were beginning to employ various colors, styles, and writing techniques in the realm of the book arts. [97]

The Qur'an's produced during the period of Seljuk rule evidence developments in calligraphy and other changes in how the holy text was divided. [97] Uniquely, calligraphers during this period frequently combined several scripts on one page of the Qur'an, such as Kufic and New Style. [97] In addition to these changes in the text, the dawn of the Seljuk empire coincided with a newfound increase in the popularity of paper as a replacement for parchment in the Islamic world. [98] The use of durable paper increased the production of compact, single-volume Qur'an's, whereas parchment codexes often contained multiple volumes of Qur'anic text. [99] Despite this development, parchment would remain popular for the production of some Qur'an's, and multi-volume pieces continued to be produced. [98] [97] Illuminated borders continued to distinguish the Qur'ans produced during the Seljuk period and relative consistency was maintained with regard to their structure. [99]

One example of a manuscript created during Seljuk rule is a thirty-volume Qur'an (juz) created c.1050, produced by only one calligrapher and illuminator (Freer Gallery of Art, District of Columbia, F2001.16a-b). [97] As paper had just been introduced to the Islamic world, this piece is an early Islamic paper manuscript. [98] This Qur'an is bound in brown leather, dyed in pink, decorated with gold, and offers an intricate frontispiece. [97] These elements imply the care that went into the production of this text and indications of frequent usage confirm that it was appreciated. [97] It is primarily written in the vertical "New-Style" Arabic script, a sharp, vertical script. [98] The dominant use of New Style in this folio, also referred to as "new Abbasid Script," attests to the shift from the geometric Kufic script to a more legible calligraphic style, which occurred in the 10th century. [98] Scattered remnants of Kufic, used primarily to indicate volume and page number, also appear in the text. [98] The verticality of the paper in this manuscript speaks to the historic shift away from the horizontal use of paper in many Qur'ans, also a 10th century development. [98]

Another example of a religious manuscript produced closer to the end of the period of Seljuk Rule is the Qarmathian Qur'an (dispersed folio, Arthur M. Stackler Gallery of Art, District of Columbia, S1986.65a-b). [97] This manuscript's folios are illuminated with a gold border and thin, spiraled illustration, featuring vegetal motifs. [97] Despite the generous illumination, the four lines of Qur'anic text on the folio are exceptionally legible. [97] Created between the years 1170-1200, this particular folio demonstrates the evolution of New Style, as both vocalized cursive and diacritical dots appear in this later version of the script. [97] Only during the 13th century would New Style be replaced by the curvier proportional scripts for regular use. [98]

A final example of a Seljuk Qur'an that has entered into scholarship is a manuscript studied in-depth by the late art historian Richard Ettinghausen. [95] This piece was written in 1164 by Mahmud Ibn Al-Husayn and contains the entirety of the Qur'an (University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia, NEP27). [95] Unlike the two Seljuk Qur'ans discussed prior, this manuscript primarily contains Naskh script, another early Arabic script that replaced Kufic. [100] However, some Kufic calligraphy is embedded in the chapter headings. [95] This aspect speaks to how the inclusion of Kufic in Qur'ans became more of a decorative element overtime, often included in headings as opposed to the main body of text. [98] [97] The manuscript is large, with seventeen lines of text per two-hundred and fifteen sheets of paper. [95] Though not all of the Qur'an is illuminated, both the beginning and the end boast elaborate illustration, with blue, gold, and white hues. [95] Ettinghausen describes the subsequent visual effect as "brilliant." [95] The inscriptions feature detailed rosettes, vines, medallions, and arabesques, some exclusively as decoration and others to indicate the end of particular lines of Qur'anic text. [95]

Manuscript production during the Seljuk period was not limited to religious texts. Beyond these religious manuscripts, scientific, literary, and historical pieces were created. [93] One example of a secular manuscript is the Nusrat al-fatrah, a historiographical and literary account of the Seljuk period written in 1200 by Imād al-Dīn (Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation, London). [101] Meanwhile, the scientific manuscripts produced during the Seljuk period oftentimes pertained to geography, physics, mechanics, mathematics, and astronomy. [93] The former Seljuk city of Isfahan not only boasted twelve libraries that contained a total of twelve thousand volumes, but also had a renown observatory where scholars could record their astrological findings. [93] [94] Secular manuscripts from the Seljuk empire bear illuminations that often relate to the alignment of planets and the zodiac, a couple examples of common themes. [99]

Whether secular or non-secular, Seljuk illuminated manuscripts had enough influence as to inspire other relevant art forms, such as brass or bronze metal objects. [97] For example, the large Qarmathian Qur'an influenced some of the inscriptions on Seljuk ceramic wares. [97] Even mirrors, candlesticks, coins, and jugs manufactured in Anatolia during the Seljuk period would often bear occult astrological images inspired by manuscripts. [94] Occult knowledge persisted in manuscripts produced after the decline in the Seljuk's political power in the late 12th century, as the Seljuk sultanate's influence on the book arts continued in Anatolia. [94]

Historian Andrew Peacock demonstrates an interest in the Seljuks of Anatolia's focus on occult themes and its manifestation in the book arts. [94] Peacock describes this finding as something that challenges the reigning view that the Seljuks were exclusively the "pious defenders of Islam" when it came to larger systems of belief. [94] Some of the occult sciences that the Seljuks took special interest in included geomancy, astrology, alchemy. A relevant occult manuscript from a period of Seljuk influence is the Dustur al-Munajjimin, otherwise known as the "Rules of Astrologers," while another is the Daqa'iq al-Haqa'iq, or the "Fine Points of Eternal Truths." [94] The latter text captures an interest in magic and spells, with a particular focus on calling upon spiritual beings, such as angels, through ritualistic acts (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris, Persan 174). [94] The text was written by a man who wrote under a pen name, "Nasiri." [94] Interestingly, Nasiri's Daqa'iq al-Haqa'iq challenges prevailing Islamic understandings of God while encouraging piety and invoking both Sufi terms and themes. [94] For example, while incorporating a Sufi poem, the occult text speaks of supernatural bodies and disputes what Islam considers to be the accepted number of names for God. [94]

Seljuk stucco figurine (12th century)

Head of male royal figure, 12–13th century, found in Iran.

Seljuk-era art: Ewer from Herat, Afghanistan, dated 1180–1210CE. Brass worked in repousse and inlaid with silver and bitumen. British Museum.

Section of a Water Jug, Habb, 12th-13th century, Brooklyn Museum

Bowl with an Enthronement Scene,12th-13th century, Brooklyn Museum

Toghrol Tower, a 12th-century monument south of Tehran in Iran commemorating Tughril Beg.

The Kharāghān twin towers, built in 1053 in Iran, is the burial of Seljuk princes.

Friday Mosque - interior of the main prayer hall: (left) niches of the drum (right) ribs of the vault (emphasized)

In 1068 Seljuk ruler Alp Arslan invaded Byzantine territories in Anatolia and seized Caesarea in Cappadocia (today's Kayseri). In 1071 he defeated Emperor Romanos IV at the battle of Manzikert. Similar to Emperor Valerian in 260, Romanos was taken prisoner, but unlike Valerian he was subsequently freed. It is possible that Malikshah, who succeeded his father Alp Arslan in 1072, wanted to have a dome in his capital which could stand comparison with that of Hagia Sophia at Constantinople, where Byzantine Emperors were crowned.
The dome of the Friday Mosque was completed in 1080 and marks a significant achievement in the history of architecture, as the Seljuks built a large dome which rests on an apparently very light structure.

The Style & Regional Differences of Seljuk Minarets in Persia - History

11th - 13th Century

The Seljuk period in the history of art and architecture extends for approximately two centuries from the Seljuk conquest in the second quarter of 11 th century to the establishment of the Ilkhan dynasty in the second quarter of the 13 th century. During this period, the centre of power within the Islamic world shifted from the Arab territories to Anatolia and Iran, with the traditional centres now residing in the Seljuk capitals - Merv, Nishapur, Rayy and Isfahan.

In spite of the Turkish invaders, this era of Persian revival, beginning with the publication of Firdawsi's "Shah-namah ", constitutes for Persia a period of intensively creative artistic development. The sheer productivity of these centuries in the visual arts, in comparison with the art from earlier centuries represents a quantum leap forward.

The importance of Seljuk art is that it established a dominant position in Iran and determined the future development of art in the Iranian world for centuries. The stylistic innovations introduced by the Iranian architects of this period were, in fact to have vast repercussions, from India to Asia Minor. However, there is a strong overlap between Seljuk art and the stylistic groupings of the Buwayhids, Ghaznavids, etc.

In many cases the artists of the Seljuk period consolidated, and indeed at times perfected, forms and ideas that had long been known. It must be remembered that the picture is not as clear as it should be, with the massive scale of illegal excavations in Iran over the past hundred years

Seljuk minaret of the mosque at Damghan, Iran. The decorative effect achieved by the use of recessed bricks, forming highly original rhythms and geometric patterns, is characteristic of this 11 th century Persian art.

The characteristic feature of the buildings of this period, is the decorative use of un-plastered bricks. The earlier use of stucco facings on the outer walls, as well as on the inside (to conceal the inferiority of the building material) was discontinued, although it reappeared later.

Pomp and circumstance, Turkish style. Stucco relief from Rayy late 12 th century. It depicts the enthroned Seljuk sultan Tughril II (1194) surrounded by his officers. Beneath his feet is written: "the victotious, just king" and in the panel above are his titles.

With the establishment of the Seljuk Turks (1055-1256) a distinctive form of mosque was introduced. Its most striking feature is the vaulted niche or iwan which, had figured prominently in the Sassanian palaces and had been known even in the Parthian period. In this so-called 'cruciform' mosque plan, an iwan is introduced into each of the four enclosing walls of the court (See Ghaznavid Art). Such a plan was adopted for the rebuilding of the Great Mosque of Isfahan in 1121 and was widely used in Persia until recent times. A notable example is the Masjid-i-shah or Royal Mosque founded by Shah Abbas at Isfahan in 1612 and completed in 1630.

Figure decoration appeared on Seljuk pottery from the mid 12 th century onwards. At first the decoration was carved or moulded while the glaze was monochrome, though on the lakabi (painting) carved wares several colours were used. Sometimes decoration was applied onto the pot, painted in black slip under a clear or coloured glaze to create a silhouette effect. Large birds, animals and fabulous creatures form the bulk of the imagery, though on the silhouette ware human figures appear. The silhouette figures often stand-alone though it is usual for human and animal forms, whenever they occur, to be superimposed on a foliage background.

Ceramic bowl of the minai type from Kashan, Iran, dated 1187. Polychrome pottery such as this became very popular in Iran during the 12 th and early 13 th centuries. As on much pottery of this type, the drawing is rapidly executed but extremely accomplished. The subject is not clear, though winged genii are usually shown in the company of royal personages.

A clue to lost Seljuk book painting. Moulded lustre plate made in 1210 by Sayyid Shams al-Din al-Hassani for a military commander. A royal groom sleeps by a pool oblivious of the monarch's entourage, and dreams of a water sprite. The fish, water, woman and horse all relate to Sufi mystical metaphors.

The last quarter of the 12 th century saw the creation of the splendid and elaborate minai (enamel) ceramics, produced by means of a double-firing technique to set the varnish over the enamel. This type of ware, which originated in Rayy, Kashan and perhaps Saveh displays ornamental detail similar to luster-painted ware of Kashan. Some compositions depict battle scenes or episodes drawn from the Shah-namah .

Seljuk miniatures, of which few traces remain, because of the widespread destruction by the Mongol invasions, must also have been extremely ornate, like other art forms of the period, and certainly must have displayed features similar to pottery painting. The principle centre for book painting in the 12 th and 13 th centuries was Iraq, but this painting had a marked Iranian influence. Several fine examples of Seljuk Korans have survived, and they are notable for their magnificent painting on the cover often of pronounced geometric character, with the Kufic script taking the prime role.

Koran, Iran 11 th -12 th century.
This type of script is usually associated with the Seljuks of Iran and is almost invariably written over a composite foliate background. The diacritical points appear as block dots and the vowels are indicated in red. In some manuscripts, green dots indicate primary variant readings while yellow and blue ones represent specific orthographic elements or sounds or secondary or tertiary variants of the text.
This example illustrated one of the most important advantages of the Arabic script: letters can be extended vertically or horizontally without the overall balance being impaired.

During the Seljuk period metalwork was particularly widespread with extremely high levels of workmanship. Bronze was by far the most widely used metal during the 11 th and 12 th centuries (brass being a later addition). Artifacts were cast, engraved, sometimes inlaid with silver or copper or executed in openwork, and in some cases even graced with enamel decorations. In the 12 th century the techniques of repousse and engraving was added to that of inlaying bronze or brass with gold, silver, copper, and niello.

A remarkable example is the bronze bucket inlaid with silver and copper now preserved in the Hermitage Museum, Leningrad. According to its inscription it was made at Herat in 1163.

Bronze bucket or kettle, Herat, Iran, dated 1163. Height 17.5 in. The bronze surface is richly inlaid with figurative imagery in gold, silver and copper. The importance of representational art in this period is indicated by its intrusion into the calligraphy in the upper and lower registers. Although the theme of the figure decorations are entirely courtly, the bucket was made for a merchant.

Luxury tableware. Silver rose-water sprinkler with cap repousse and chased, with niello decoration and guilding. The very few pieces of Seljuk metalwork in silver point to a serious shortage of that metal.

A wide range of objects were produced at the time such as perfume burners usually in the shape of animals, mirrors, candlesticks, etc and it seems likely that some of the best craftsmen travelled widely to execute commissions with fine pieces shipped over long distances.

The Seljuk period was undoubtedly one of the most intensively creative periods in the history of the Islamic world. It displayed splendid achievements in every artistic field, with subtle differences from one region to the next.

  1. ^"The Style & Regional Differences of Seljuk Minarets in Persia". World History Encyclopedia . Retrieved 6 July 2019 .
  2. ^The Monumental Inscriptions from Early Islamic Iran and Transoxiana From Sheila Bair
  3. ^
  4. "Encyclopaedia of the Iranian Architectural History". Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization of Iran. 19 May 2011. Archived from the original on 6 April 2015.

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The Style & Regional Differences of Seljuk Minarets in Persia - History

Seljuk architecture comprises the building traditions used by the Seljuq dynasty, when it ruled most of the Middle East and Anatolia during the 11th to 13th centuries. After the 11th century, the Seljuks of Rum emerged from the Great Seljuk Empire developing their own architecture, though they were influenced and inspired by the Armenian, Byzantine and Persian architectural traditions.

Historical background
As part of the Oghuz tribal union , the Seljuks belonged to the Turkic peoples who immigrated to Transoxania in the 8th century . Under their leaders Tughrul Beg and Chagri Beg conquered the Seljuk Turks in 1034 and defeated in 1040 at the Battle of Dandanqan the Ghaznawiden . 1055 Tughrul ended with the conquest of Baghdad the protection of the Bujiden on the Abbasid caliphate . Tughrul Beg subjugated large parts of Persia and 1055 Iraq . He relocated the capital of the Seljuk EmpireRey near today’s Tehran .

After defeating the Byzantine Empire at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, the Seljuk Sultan Alp Arslan extended its rule to the west. 1077/8 Sultan Malik Şah I. Suleiman ibn Kutalmiş appointed governor of the new province of Anatolia. Its capital was Nikaia . After the conquest of Antioch in 1086, Suleiman declared independence, but was defeated and executed by Tutusch I , Malik Şah’s brother. In the course of the immigration of large numbers nomadic Turkmens originated in Anatolia, independent Emirates, including the Danischmenden , between about 1092 and 1178 the region aroundSivas , Kayseri and Malatya dominated, the Saltukiden (1092-1202) to Erzurum , the Ortoqiden (1098-1234) to Dunaysir , Mardin and Diyarbakır , and Mengücek (1118-1252) to Erzincan and Divriği . The Emirates of Danischmenden and Saltukiden were later in the Sultanate of the Rum-Seljuks , the Ortoqidenherrschaft ended with the conquest by the Egyptian Ayyubiden , the rule of Mengücek ended only with the fall of the Seljuk rule in the Mongol storm,

In the battle of Köse Dağ, the Seljuks of Rum 1243 were subject to the Mongols and had to recognize the predominance of the Ilkhan . At the end of the 13th century, the Governor of Ilatane in Anatolia, Sülemiş, revolted against Ghazan Ilchan . The weakness of the Byzantine Empire to the west and the Ilkhanid Empire to the east gave the turkish Beys the opportunity to build independent smaller estates. It arose the Beyliks , among which the Beyliks of Aydın (1313-1425) to Ephesus , Saruhan (1300-1410) to Manisa , and especially the Beylik ofOsman I , from which the Ottoman Empire was to emerge within a short time from 1299 on , gained architectural historical significance.

Architecture of the Greater Sluks

Within two to three generations, the lifestyle of at least the Seljuk elite had changed radically: originally the nomadic steppe inhabitants lived in yurts , the traditional Central Asian living tent. After the conquest of Iran and Mesopotamia, they took over the governmental and administrative structures of their predecessors. In the field of architecture, the Seljuk architects developed an independent idiom of form: they succeeded in combining well-known building elements such as the central building with dome or ivan in a coherent and harmonious way.

Role models
The architecture of the Seljuk Turks takes up models from the architecture of the Karachanides and Ghaznavids : central buildings such as the later Seljuk building types can already be found in the architecture of Karachanid. The Deggaron mosque from the 11th century in the small town of Chasar near Bukhara is made of clay and brick bricks. Its 6.5 m wide dome rests with four pointed arches on only 30 cm wide, low columns. Above each corner of the hall there are smaller, 3.6 m diameter auxiliary domes. An important example of a domed central building is the Talchatan Baba Mosque, about 30 km from Merw, The all-brick construction from the 11th or 12th century measures 18 x 10 m. He has a central dome laterally, the room is extended by smaller cross vaults. The façade is structured with niches the façade is decorated in a decorative way by different bricklaying.

The Ghaznavid palace complex in the southern Afghan city of Leşker-i Bāzār was excavated in 1948 by Schlumberger . The South Palace measures 164 x 92 m. The walls are made of mud bricks on brick foundations. He owns a 63 x 45 m large courtyard with four Ivan. Other small outbuildings are also designed according to the Four-Ivan scheme. At the south facade of the palace complex were 1,951 unearthed the foundations of a mosque. This had two side halls, each with two rows of columns north and south of a central section, whose massive rectangular brick pillars most likely have worn a dome. The front of the building was open.

Individual components
Seljuk architecture uses the same or similar components for different buildings. Mosques, caravanserais, medreses and tombs can be built as a hall or central building with or without dome, courtyard, Riwaq arcades, Ivan or minarets. Viewed individually, the individual components are derived from sometimes much older models. The architecture-historical achievement of the Seljuk architects, who with only a few exceptions is nameless, consists in the synthesis of these elements into uniform and architecturally harmonious, typical style buildings.

Dome and vault shapes
Already in Sassanidic time the system of corner trumps was known, by means of which a round dome shell can be put on a rectangular substructure . The construction of bricks , which have been transferred in a relatively thick layer of mortar, allowed a free brick construction of the dome without using a falsework . The spherical triangles of the trumps were split into additional subunits or to niche systems. These resulted in a complex play of supports and struts, ultimately an ornamental spatial pattern of small-scale elements that visually cancel the heaviness of the building.

Typical of the Islamic East was the non-radial rib vault , a dome-topped system of intersecting pairs of vault ribs. Starting from the Friday Mosque of Isfahan, this arch shape allows the ostislamischen architecture to the Safavid track time on the basis of key buildings. The main features of this vault type are:

A type dominated quadrant of crossing vault ribs, sometimes formed by doubling and entangling into an octagonal star
the elimination of a transition zone between the vault and the support system
a vaulted dome or lantern riding on the ribbed frame .
In the Seljuk architecture, the intersecting pairs of ribs still form the main element of the Baudekor.

Iranian Greater Sluks used the slender, cylindrical design of the minaret most frequently . The oldest surviving Manar of Seljuk time is that of the Tārichāne mosque in Damghan from the time of Tughrul Beg (1058). It is also the first Seljuk building to use glazed bricks. The staggered arrangement of the tiles in the tower wall creates an impressive decorative effect. The similarly designed minaret of Masjid-i Maidan in Saveh is dated by Aslanapa in the time of Alp Arslan (1061). Other Seljuk minarets are in the Friday mosques of Kashan and Barsiyan near Isfahan. For the first time, facades were also equipped with two uniform minarets.

Between about 1080 and 1160, the major Seljuk mosques were built. The Seljuk architects developed a monumental building type from the classical Islamic hall mosque, which consists of a hall over whose mihrab niche a wide dome is arched. The classic design of the Riwaq Arcade-lined court ( Sahn ) was expanded by adding four Ivan . In all buildings is a dome hall with upstream Ivan in the center. On the longitudinal and transverse axis of a cross-shaped ground plan, two ivans stand in the middle of the riwaq rows facing each courtyard. The Four-Ivan Plan shapes the design of Iranian mosques and madrassas to the modern day.

Friday Mosque of Isfahan
The Friday Mosque of Isfahan is the oldest extant mosque in the Seljuk era. The original structure was built under the Abbasidenkalifen al-Mansūr (reigned 754-775) as a classic courtyard mosque made of mud bricks . Sultan Malik Şah I (reigned 1072-1092) had the building restored and expanded. According to the building inscriptions, under Malik Şah the large mihrab dome as well as the smaller, also overcasted north hall were built. The Seljuk Grand Vizier Nizām al-Mulkand his rival Taj al Mulk built around 1080 two dome buildings along the longitudinal axis of the courtyard. Nizam’s dome rests on eight heavy, stucco-covered pillars, probably from a previous construction phase, and opens on three sides with nine arches to the prayer hall. A few decades later, the beamed ceiling of the hall was replaced by hundreds of domes. In a third construction phase, four Iwanes were erected in the center of the facades of the inner courtyard. In Seljuk and Timurid times, courtyard fronts and the interior of the Ivane were covered with glazed tiles. The geometric , calligraphic and floralOrnamentation disguises and conceals the due to the load distribution of the building conditional design. This was the basis of an architectural tradition that became the style of the buildings of the Islamic East of the subsequent period.

Great Mosques of Qazvin and Zavareh
Later Seljuk mosques were built on the model of the building of Malik Şah I in Isfahan. Again, older indoor mosques from Abbasid times were often revised. The Jameh Mosque of Qazvin (built in 1113 or 1119) has a dome that rests on simple but monumental acting squinches and strong brick walls. A calligraphic building inscription in Nashī- Schrift, which runs around the trumpet arches of the dome, identifies Muhammad I. Tapar , the son of Malik Şah , as the client .

The Friday Mosque of Zavareh in Isfahan Province (1135) combines all the innovations of the Bulgarian architecture in its design: It has a 7.5 m wide mihrab dome, four ivans and a minaret. Here the Four-Ivan Plan is realized for the first time in a Seljuk mosque. The staggered arrangement of the bricks creates geometric patterns in the area of the trumpets and in the dome itself.

Great Mosque of Ardestan
Following the model of the Friday Mosque of Zavareh numerous other Seljuki four-Ivan mosques, including those of Ardestan (1158), only 15 km away from Zavareh were built. Inside, the upper part of the brick walls inside is again a calligraphic inscription in ThuluthSurrounded. The trumpets and the 9.30 m diameter mihrab dome, which looks similar to those of Taj al-Mulk in the Friday Mosque of Isfahan, set the scene for this. The design of the trumpets, which lead from the square base into the dome, is one of the masterpieces of the Seljuk domed building. Again, offset bricks make a pattern in the brickwork. In contrast to other Seljuk buildings, here the inner surfaces of the arches between the pillars are covered with stucco and decorated with calligraphic inscriptions and stucco ornaments. In contrast to the rich interior decor, the exterior walls form a system of massive brick cubes without any ornamentation. On a square base, slightly offset by an octagonal transition zone, the dome tapers towards the top. In this mosque, northern Ivan is much more monumental than the actually more important Ivan in the Qibi direction. On the other hand, it is highlighted by two lateral, lower two-storey side windows and two minarets.

Only a few examples of this important type of building are known and preserved from the time of the Greater Luks. In 1046, Tughrul Beg established a madrasah in Nishapur . From the time Malik SAHS I. comes the Heydarieh-Madrasa in Qazvin . It has a dome hall with simple trumpets and thick brick walls. With wide arches, the upper sections of which are completely occupied by a monumental Kufic inscription, it opens on three sides. The Seljuk vizier Nizām al-Mulk (1018-1092) had some significant madrasas built as Nizāmīya (al-Madrasa al-Niẓāmīya)are known to spread his Shafiite school of law ( madhhab ) : 1067 in Baghdad, further including in Nishapur and in his birthplace Tūs . Known and archaeological researched are only two Iranian Nizamiyye-Madrasas, in Chargird (1087) and in Rey . From the archaeological findings, however, only shows that the buildings could have possessed Iwane.

The caravan trade by land required secure accommodation for people, animals and goods at intervals of one day’s journey. In Karachanidischer time (8th-9th century) developed from the building type of the Arab border fortress ( Ribat ) the caravansary . In the Ribat-i Sherif, a representative caravansary in the northeastern Iranian Khorasan, a narrow gate leads first into an arcaded entrance yard. This is separated by a continuous wall with a narrow passage from a second, longer courtyard. This has a central pool and a richly ornamented, higher main Ivan. The inner facades of the courtyard are decorated with ornaments made of relocated bricks. The courtyards are surrounded by individual rooms, each opening to the courtyard. The main rooms, for example, behind the North, are overcoupled.

Seljuk tombs ( Turkish Türbe or kumbet ) follow the construction tradition of the Arab-Islamic, mostly freestanding tomb, the Qubba . In the traditional Persian architecture grave towers with dome or conical roof ( Gonbad ) are also known. The model may be the Gonbad-e Qaboos , built in the first years of the 11th century by the Ziyarid ruler Qaboos (reigned 978-981 and 987-1012) in the northern Iranian province of Golestan .

The tower-like central buildings of the grave architecture have a polygonal symmetrical base and a slender, semicircular , pyramidal or conical roof. The inner passage to the dome takes place in the Seljuk tombs through rows of superimposed keel arches. Frequently, the tombs of the founders of religious buildings were integrated into their buildings. Well-known grave monuments of Greater Seljuk architecture are the Charaghan Tombs in the Qazvin Province between the northern Iranian cities of Qazvin and Hamadan , from the 11th century.

Architecture of the Anatolian Seljuk Turks
The Seljuk Turks were the first Islamic rulers in Asia Minor . For the first time, they introduced elements of Islamic architecture in Anatolia. They took over the construction of the Großseldschuken developed in Iran, but did not use brick and mortar, but Hausteine . Only higher upstanding components have been built in brick construction. Significant Seljuk buildings are still preserved today in the former capital Konya , as well as in the cities of Alanya , Erzurum , Kayseri and Sivas .

Contrary to the architecture of Persian Greater Sluks, Romanian-Seljuk architecture has taken its own path in Anatolia, relying rather on Syrian architectural styles: Architecturally significant building elements such as the large portals are often constructed of alternating light and dark stone blocks. This as Ablaq ( Arabic أبلق, DMG ‘ablaq , multicolored, literally. Scheckig ‘) known wall way characterizes the 12th century Syrian architecture. In the year 1109 were repairing the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus carried out with masonry in Ablaq style. Its dome had been rebuilt at the end of the 11th century by Malik Şah I., who had also remodeled the Great Mosque of Diyarbakır. The name of one of the inscribed builders of the Alāeddin Mosque of Konya , Muḥammad Ḥawlan al-Dimishqī (“the Damascene”) suggests to Aslanapa that he derived this style from the then Zengidendominated Syria could have brought to Konya. Syrian architects built II Kılıç Arslan and Kai Kaus I. the fortifications of. Antalya , Alanya and Sinop , and the Sultanhanı – Caravanserai in Aksaray .

Epoch of the Seljuk Emirates
The first known Great Mosque , built in Anatolia, was the Great Mosque of Diyarbakır, erected in 1091 by the Sultan Malik Şah of Seljuk . Among the Seljuk sultans Kai Kaus I (1210 / 11-1219) and Kai Kobad I (1220-1237), the Seljuk architecture in Anatolia reached its “classical period”. There were numerous religious foundations ( Waqf ), which served the financing of building complexes. These usually consisted of a mosque, a madrassah, were often connected to a bath (Hamam), kitchens or a hospital. The flourishing trade demanded solid and secure accommodation ( caravanserais) along the trade routes.

Early mosque buildings
The Greater Bulgarian architecture had developed a building form, which was to be stylistic for the later Ottoman architecture : The mosque with a main dome above the Mihrabnische. One of the first mosques of this type was the Friday Mosque of Siirt , built in 1129 under Mughīth al-Dīn Mahmud , a Sultan of the Grand Slav dynasty . This ruled 1119-1131 as a vassal of the supreme Sultan Sandschar West Iran and Iraq . The Great Mosque of Siirt thus represents a link to the architecture of the Iranian Großseldschuken dar. The original building had a dome, on trumpetsrested and supported by four brick piers. Later, on the east and west side each side cupolas and an Ivan were added with two perpendicular vault. The leaning minaret, now a landmark of the city, is reminiscent of the brick minaret of the Mosque of Mosul , although the minaret in Siirt is simpler and more archaic.

The Great Mosque of Dunaysir , today Kızıltepe in the province of Mardin in Southeastern Anatolia , is a major work of Ortoqidian architecture. Similar to Diyarbakir once had two-story Riwaqsa courtyard (cream) enclosed on three sides. The façade of the prayer hall had richly decorated portals and outer mihrab niches. The three ships of the prayer hall are vaulted with barrel vaults. Above the inner mihrab niche rose a dome of about 10 m in diameter, which overlapped two ships. The prayer niche is flanked by two columns with Muqarnas capitals. It has the shape of a shell under a seven-pass arch and is decorated with deeply carved reliefs. The blueprint of this mosque follows that of the Umayyad Mosque.

The Great Mosque of Harput , built by the Ortoqid Emir Fahrettin Karaslan between 1156 and 1157, has only a very small courtyard, which is three arcade arches long and two arches wide. It is bordered by two-nave Riwaqs and borders a three-aisled prayer hall. In the Koluk Mosque in Kayseri , one establishing the Danishmends from the second half of the 12th century, the Sahn is reduced to the width of a single sheet which is surmounted by a dome. Below this is a water basin.

Great Mosque of Divriği
Divriği, the capital of Mengücek, is known for its Grand Mosque and the adjacent hospital (darüşşifa) . The mosque was built in 1228 by Ahmetschah, the hospital in the same year by Turan Melek Sultan, daughter of the ruler of Erzincan , Fahreddin Behramschah. The 63 x 32 m rectangular building extends north-south. In the south, the hospital occupies about one third of the floor space, its only entrance is on the west side. The northern longitudinal wall of the hospital is also the QiblaWall of the mosque. Its prayer hall is subdivided into five naves by four rows of columns, with the central nave being significantly wider than the two aisles. From the main entrance in the north, the view through the middle row of pillars falls onto the central mihrab . The second entrance leads from the west wall into the space between the middle pillar pair. The attached to the pillared hall of the mosque hospital is a closed dome structure with four cross-shaped Ivan around the central hall. The walls are made of equal stone blocks of about 40 cm high and 40-100 cm edge length. Both buildings are UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Turkey .

Medresen of Seljuk emirs
One of the oldest Medresen from the time of the Seljuk Emirates is the Yağıbasan-Medrese in Tokat : Built 1151-57 by Danischmenden-Emir Yağıbasan, it has an asymmetrical ground plan two Iwane, opening onto a courtyard with trumpet dome. The masonry consists of raw rubble and has no further decoration in its present state. The Mas’udiyya Madrassah(1198-1223) at the northern arcade of the Diyarbakir Grand Mosque was built under the Orutuqid emir Qutb ad-Din Sokkamen (II) ibn Muhammad by the architect Dzhar Ibn Muhammad of Aleppo, with only one large Ivan, two-storey arcade on three Pages of the courtyard form a Kreuzachsengrundriss, which is based on the north portal. An example of a Medrese / Darüşşfa with an open courtyard can be found in the single-storey foundation of Kai Kaus I. , the Şifaiye Madrassahin Sivas (1217-18). The stone construction has a rectangular court lined only by the long sides of the arcade with only one large Ivan opposite the main portal. A cross axis is pointed out by further arched arches. On the right side of the courtyard is the brick-built Türbe of the 1219 deceased emir.

Mosque construction of the Rum Seljuk Turks
One of the oldest Seljuk mosques in Anatolia is the Alāeddin Mosque of Konya , begun in 1150 by Rukn ad-Din Mas’ūd and completed in 1219 by’Alā’ ad-Dīn Kai-Qubād I. The architectural design is still strongly based on the Arabian indoor mosque The central section of the prayer hall with a mihrab dome is more in keeping with the Anatolian building tradition. The floor plan is irregular, two tombs in the courtyard are not yet, as later customary, fully integrated into the building. The pillars of the flat wooden-covered prayer hall are antique spolia. The courtyard is surrounded by walls that have narrow open arches on rather clumsy pillars only in the upper quarter of the representative north facade above the portals there are wider ogive niches.

The last mosque built by the Rum Seljuk Turks in Konya is the Sahip Ata Mosque (1258). Her main portal (tac kapı) features a filigree muqarnas decor. The facade is moved displaced by, partly decorated blue glazed tile, the monumental Quadratkufischrift the names of the caliphs Abu Bakr and ‘Alī play.

A late-era mosque, one of the few Seljuk-era mosques with wooden columns and Hozdach, is the Eşrefoğlu Mosque in Beyşehir , whose faience tiles are among the masterpieces of the Seljuk style of Islamic ceramics .

The Asia Minor Medresen from the Seljuk period are usually smaller than the Persian ones. Often the tomb of the builder is integrated into the system. In addition to buildings with a central dome are also those with a rectangular courtyard ( avlu ) and a single large Ivan opposite the entrance. The Seljuk Medresen was proposed on April 15, 2014 for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Medresen in Erzurum
Two important Seljuk medrests, the Çifte Minareli Madrassah (1230-1270) and the Yakutiye Medrese (1310/11), are located in the center of Erzurum. One of the original two typical Seljuk brick minarets is still preserved. Detailed building descriptions can be found in the article about the city of Erzurum .

Medresen in Konya and Sivas
At the Sırçalı (“mosaic”) Medrese in Konya of 1242, the roughly square Ivan on the south back wall has a prayer niche and side dome rooms. Centrally located in the courtyard is a pool. The small burial room of their donor Bedreddin Muslih is located on the west side of the large entrance portal in the east.

In the Ince Minareli Medrese ( “Medrese with the thin minaret” 1260-65) in Konya is the gateway increased so far that it takes up almost the entire facade. Calligraphies in Thuluth’s scripture reproduce the first 13 verses of the 36th sura of the Koran , Ya-Sin , and the sura al-Fātiha . The inscription of the upper rosette reliefs of the entrance gate also mentions in Kufic script the name of the architect: Kelük bin-Abdullah. The inner courtyard of the madrasah is over-clad, inside the dome is lined with dark purple and turquoise tiles. Around the base of the dome runs an inscription: “Il-mülkü l’illah – God is the property “.

Like the İnce-Minareli, the Gök (“Blue”) Medrese in Sivas is also a foundation of the Grand-Seljuk Grand Vizier Sahip Ata (died 1288/1289). Originally, the building was two stories created, only the lower floor is preserved. The building complex ( külliye ) had a hammam and a kitchen (imaret), The 31.5 m wide building with a 24.3 x 14.4 m inner courtyard in the classical four-Ivan scheme has like most buildings Sahip Ata two here 25 m high minarets on both sides of the typical Seljuk entrance portal. Unusual for the Seljuk architecture are the rooms with two unequal wide, not visible from the outside and with blue glazed tiles covered domes in the courtyard behind the entrance facade. The walls of the medrese are made of limestone, the turrets and minarets of brick the main portal is complete, individual details such as the capitals of the columns are executed in marble. The smaller Buruciye Madrass in Sivas (1271) has a more symmetrical four-Ivan blueprint than the Gök Medrese.

At present, about 200 Seljuk Caravanserai are known, of which about 100 are still preserved in different condition. In the architecture of Anatolian Hans and caravanserais three types can be distinguished: A simple walled courtyard, as in Evdir Han (1215), a simple portico as in Ciftlik Han, or a hall with upstream yard, such as in Alayhan close Aksaray , in Kırkgöz Han (1237-1246) in Antalya , or in Sarıhan (1200-1250) in Avanos . In the latter, one longitudinal side of the courtyard is designed as an open arcade, the opposite side has closed spaces. A monumental main Ivan forms the entrance to the hall. In the Tuzhisari Han in Kayseri (1202) is located in the center of the courtyard, a representative Kioskbau , which is supported by four pillars on pointed arch. The passage under the pointed arch remains open in both main axes. The design of this kiosk with a prayer room or lounge on the upper floor can also be found in tombs. Steep steps to the right and left of the main axis lead to a small mescit upstairs. These rooms were mostly overcoupled. The domes are usually no longer present, rich withMuqarnas (“dripstone vaults”) decorated trumpets are still common. The outer facade of the entrance portal is accentuated by a monumental Ivan with a Muqarnas niche and two massive side columns.

The Ağzıkarahan (1231), about 15 km east of Aksaray , also has a kiosk in the courtyard. The courtyard has no ivan, instead the entrance portals are richly decorated with ornaments and calligraphy. Here, too, are closed rooms on one side of the courtyard, while the two other sides have open arches towards the courtyard. Similar to the Tuzhisari Han in Kayseri, steep stairs lead to the right and left of the pointed arch up to the Mescit on the upper floor. The undersides of the stairs are ornamented with muqarnas in the Ağzıkarahan. One of the largest Seljuk caravanserais is the Sultanhanı (1229) near Aksaray .

The oldest known Seljuk tombs in Anatolia are the Halifet Ghazi Kumbet (1145-46), part of the Külliye of the Danischmenden-Emirs Halifet Alp ibn-Tuli in Amasya . The archaic-looking building once had a pyramid-shaped roof. The niche above the entrance is the oldest well-known Muqarnas semi-vault in Asia Minor architecture. The Sufi Melik Kumbet in Divriği , province of Sivas, probably built in 1196 for the Mengücekiden -Emir Suleyman ibn Said al-Din Şahinschah (1162-1198), has a similar prismatic floor plan, but the ornaments of this structure are already much more elegant and more uniform than Halifet-Ghazi-Kumbed.

The mausoleum of Kılıç Arslan I (before 1192) in the courtyard of the Alâeddin Mosque of Konya has a dodecagonal layout . The tomb of İzzedin Kai Kaus in the darüşşifa of Sivas is ten-shaped. This monument was built by the architect Ahmad of Marand, whose name is preserved in the monumental Kufic inscription of turquoise, purple and white glazed mosaic on red brick over the main portal of the hospital. The octagonal Türbe of the wife Sultan Kai Kobads I. , Hunat Hatun, in Kayseri possesses on each wall blind arches with richly decorated gussets. The corners are adorned with small pillars resting on a muqarnas cornicerest and end in another cornice, which marks the transition to the pyramidal roof. Also in Kayseri is the Doner Kumbet, probably built around 1275 for Princess Shah Jihan Hatun. Its twelve sides are provided with blind pointed arches, over which a Muqarnas ledge leads to the tent-like roof. Although made of stone, the roof panels are cut so that they look similar to lead plates. The architectural form of this Kumbet is so similar to the architecture of the dome lanterns of Armenian churches of the 10th and 11th centuries that Hoag (2004) considers an Armenian influence probable.

Characteristic architectural forms

The functions of monumental architecture in the Seljuq period were considerably modified. Large congregational mosques were still built. The earliest Seljuq examples occur in the two major new provinces of Islam—Anatolia and northwestern India—as well as in the established Muslim region of western Iran. In some areas, such as the Eṣfahān region, congregational mosques were rebuilt, while in other parts of the Islamic world, such as Syria or Egypt, where there was no need for new large mosques, older ones were repaired and small ones were built. The latter were partly restricted to certain quarters or groups or were commissioned by various guilds, particularly in Damascus.

A curious side aspect of the program of building, rebuilding, or decorating mosques was the extraordinary development of minarets. Particularly in Iran, dozens of minarets are preserved from the 12th and 13th centuries, while the mosques to which they had been attached have disappeared. It is as though the visual function of the minaret was more important than the religious institution to which it was attached.

Small or large, mausoleums increased in numbers and became at this time the ubiquitous monument they appear to be. Most of the mausoleums, such as the tomb tower of Abū Yazīd al-Bisṭāmī (died 874) at Basṭām, were dedicated to holy men—both contemporary Muslim saints and all sorts of holy men dead for centuries (even pre-Islamic holy men, especially biblical prophets, acquired a monument). The most impressive mausoleums, however, like the one of Sanjar at Merv, were built for royalty. Pilgrimages were organized and in many places hardly mentioned until then as holy places (e.g., Mashhad, Basṭām, Mosul, Aleppo) a whole monastic establishment serving as a centre for the distribution of alms was erected with hostels and kitchens for the pilgrims.

Although enormously expanded, mosques, minarets, and mausoleums were not new types of Islamic architecture. The madrasah (school), however, was a new building type. There is much controversy as to why and how it really developed. Although early examples have been discovered in Iran, such as the 11th-century madrasah of Khargird, and at Samarkand (now in Uzbekistan), it is from Anatolia, Syria, and Egypt that most of the information about the madrasah has been derived. In the latter regions it was usually a privately endowed establishment reserved for one or two of the schools of jurisprudence of orthodox Islam. It had to have rooms for teaching and living quarters for the students and professors. Often the tomb of the founder was attached to the madrasah. Later madrasahs were built for two or three schools of jurisprudence, and the Mustanṣiriyyah in Baghdad was erected in 1233 to be a sort of ecumenical madrasah for the whole of Sunni Islam.

In the Seljuq period there occurred a revival of the hostel-like ribāṭ inside cities. Khānqāhs (monastic complexes), monasteries, and various establishments of learning other than formal madrasahs were also built.

An impressive development of secular architecture occurred under the Seljuqs. The most characteristic building of the time was the citadel, or urban fortress, through which the new princes controlled the usually alien city they held in fief. The largest citadels, like those of Cairo and Aleppo, were whole cities with palaces, mosques, sanctuaries, and baths. Others, like the citadel of Damascus, were simpler constructions. Occasionally, as in the Euphrates valley, single castles were built, possibly in imitation of those constructed by the Christian Crusaders. Walls surrounded most cities, and all of them were built or rebuilt during the Seljuq period.

Little is known about Seljuq palaces or private residences in general. A few fragments in Konya or in Mosul are insufficient to give a coherent idea about urban palaces, and it is only in Anatolia and in Central Asia that an adequate idea of other types can be obtained. Anatolian palaces are on the whole rather small villa-like establishments, but, in Afghanistan and Central Asia, excavations at Tirmidh, Lashkarī Bāzār, and Ghaznī have brought to light a whole group of large royal palaces erected in the 11th and early 12th centuries.

Commercial architecture became very important. Individual princes and cities probably were trying to attract business by erecting elaborate caravansaries on the main trade routes, such as Ribāṭ-i Malik, built between Samarkand and Bukhara in Uzbekistan. The most spectacular caravansaries were built in the 13th century in Anatolia. Equally impressive, however, although less numerous, are the caravansaries erected in eastern Iran and northern Iraq. Bridges also were rebuilt and decorated like the one at Cizre in Turkey.

The forms of architecture developed by the Seljuqs were remarkably numerous and varied considerably from region to region. Because the Iranian innovations dating from the 11th century and first half of the 12th century are the earliest and, therefore, probably influenced all other areas of the Seljuq empire, they will be discussed first.

Where To Stay

Unless you’re visiting in peak season (December and the summer tourist months) finding accommodation should be easy. There are many hotels as well as cheap pansiyons in the center of the city within walking distance to all the attractions within the city itself. Feel free to book ahead, however many of the cheapest places won’t have much of an internet presence, if any.

The majority of hotels are close to the Rumi Mausoleum though there is a spattering near the Alaadin Hill as well. Larger hotels will tend to be further out in the newer neighborhoods.