The Ilkhanid Revetment Aesthetic in the Buqʿa Pir-i Bakran: Chaotic Exuberance or a Cunningly Planned Architectural Revetment Repertoire?

In: Muqarnas Online
Ana Marija Grbanovic University of Bamberg, Germany

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The Pir-i Bakran mausoleum (completed by 1312–13; Linjan, Isfahan) is considered to be a typical example of exuberant Ilkhanid architectural decoration. In the 1970s, the International Association of Mediterranean and Oriental Studies (IsMEO) undertook significant research and restoration work on the mausoleum. After their efforts were interrupted by the onset of the Iranian Revolution, restoration activities were continued by the Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization. Almost four decades later, questions concerning the mausoleum’s history, function, decorative program, patronage, and craftsmen—as well as the identity of the deceased—nonetheless remain unresolved. The mausoleum’s tile and original polychrome stucco decoration also require further scholarly attention.

This article proposes a new view of the mausoleum’s decorative aesthetic and contributes to our understanding of the Ilkhanid architectural legacy. The article argues that, rather than being a haphazard application, the aesthetic characteristics of Pir-i Bakran’s revetments were determined by multiple undertakings executed according to specific decorative principles. Moreover, the mausoleum’s decorative program illustrates a rapid change in Ilkhanid decorative principles and aesthetics. I also propose a hypothetical timeline of mausoleum’s constructive and decorative undertakings, and reconsider its function and political significance. 

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