Cover photo by Hossein Farahani

Cover photo by Hossein Farahani

From the preface of the book:

The second volume of the Ganjnameh series is dedicated to the mosques of Esfahan. Esfahan, or nesf-e jahan (literally, ‘half the world,’) is a true embodiment of ‘half’ of Iranian architecture.
The multitude and diversity of architectural works still remaining in this city is stupendous, and one can only admit that from this aspect, no other city is comparable to Esfahan.

In this volume, we become acquainted with multiple examples of mosques from various periods of history which have survived in Esfahan—whether large or small, sumptuous or simple, and belonging to different eras. Admirable among them are the Imam Mosque and the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, which are the masterpieces of mosque architecture, and also the Seyyed and Hakim Mosques, with no less significance. There are also smaller mosques, each representing its own particular architecture, like the simple Sorkhi Mosque, the elaborate and elegant Sheikh ‘Ali Khan Zanganeh Mosque, the historic ‘Ali Mosque, the Rokn al-Molk Mosque with its altogether distinct plan, and the Aqa-Noor, Rahim Khan, and Lonban Mosques.

Bringing these mosques together in a single volume bears several advantages, the most important being that, although all the buildings introduced are of the same function, architecturally they are highly diverse, and each expresses itself in a different manner. Yet, this diversity does not go as far as disintegrating their unity and severing the inherent link between them. In other words, although each one of these monuments is the outcome of the taste, creativity and innovative power of a master architect living in times and conditions of his own, they all emanate the same aura and bear traces of harmonious and unified principles. It is as though every architect who created one of these masterpieces has been but the person who, in accordance with his time’s demands and possibilities, brought about alterations and developments to his ideal mosque, while allowing for the general principles to remain unaltered for the mosque to be recognizable as such.

Their constituent elements are the limbs of a unique body. All the mosques have shabestans, eivans, domes, courtyards, and portals. All these elements are integrated into a particular and determined order. Nevertheless, each mosque has a different space and a novel expression. It is as though each one, in its own tongue, were singing a unique song— a song that is never to be repeated again. This harmony in diversity is conspicuous not only in the general design and spatial arrangement of the mosque, but in its constituent elements as well. The shabestan has a clear meaning and spatial model, but it has acquired a different visage in each mosque. The same is true in the case of portals, domes and eivans. This harmony and uniformity, coupled with evolution and diversity—in the overall building as well as in its constituent elements—is the entire story of our architectural history. It is for this very reason that the presence of a lively and dynamic architecture can be seen within the framework of a prospering design tradition over a long historic period, and lessons can be learnt from it for sure.

Kambiz Haji-Qassemi
Summer 1996

Note on the Second Edition

There are eighteen of the most significant mosques of Esfahan introduced in the second volume of the Ganjnameh series. However, it is obvious that this number does not count toward a complete reflection of the body of all mosques in this city. According to different sources and documents, these only sum up to one-fourth or one-third of the whole number of mosques standing yet, most of which have not, unfortunately, been thoroughly introduced elsewhere. What is more to this regret is that numerous unidentified historic monuments exist within and on the fringes of this city, falling into decay, and many others that are not even named in different books or texts.

Due to various considerations, the number of mosques introduced in this edition has not been increased. However though, many of the known historic mosques especially in the periphery of Esfahan are well worth investigating in a series such as this, among them Barsian Mosque (400s AH), Seen Mosque (500s AH), Aziran, Kaj, Dashti, and Gonbad Azadan Mosques (700s AH), ‘Ali Qoli Aqa Ensemble, Pudeh Mosque and Khuzan Jame‘ Mosque (1100s AH), and Mahalleye No Mosque (1200s AH).

Modifications in the second edition of Ganjnameh: Esfahan Mosques include more accurate, digitized architectural drawings, new and added digital photographs of monuments, in addition to revised and improved texts to be more fully and factually representative of the monuments. 
Furthermore, the new edition is prepared for researchers and enthusiasts in an optimized layout and a more elegant print.

Kambiz Haji-Qassemi
Spring 2014

The photography of this volume’s new edition was done by Hossein Farahani with the highest number of photos and the other members of Ganjnameh’s photography team in 2009 and 2010. The photos were taken digitally. Some photos of the previous publication of the book which were slid films were reused for the recent one due to the buildings’ destruction and substandard reconstruction. Amir Hasan Beigi, Nematollah Shojaee and Khashayar Niroumand are the other members of the re-photographing team. Behnam Ghelich Khani and Moeen Mohammadi were analogue photographers of the book.

Some pages of volume two; Mosques of Esfahan