A Comparative Study of Oral and Documentary History: The Great Grand Mosque of Yazd

By Sedigheh Golshan.

Published by The International Journal of Arts Theory and History

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This article presents a comparative survey of oral and documentary history of the Great Grand Mosque of Yazd—a masterpiece of Persian-Islamic Architecture—that the Zoroastrian community still reveres in secret. The historical survey indicates that the mosque was first constructed as a complex in two distinct periods: before and after the Mongolian invasion. The primary buildings, Atiq-Juma-Mosque of Dar-e-Deh and the Old Grand Mosque, were constructed up to the twelfth century. The New Grand Mosque was built in the fourteenth century behind the wall of the former mosques on the Qibla side. Later, the three mosques were combined to form the Great Grand Mosque of Yazd in the seventeenth century. The research is based on important references, such as the manuscripts of pious foundations dated from the fourteenth century, Jame-al-Khayrat, and the historians of the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries. The building is used as another important, physical source of information. Drawings of the mosque were reconstructed in chronological order based on historical texts and compared with the results of the previous studies of the mosque that had been conducted by Maxime Siroux (1907–1975). The oral history of the mosque is confirmed by contemporary academic opinions, as the mosque was constructed next to or on the site of a Zoroastrians’ fire temple. The resemblance of the layout and dimensions of the mosque to pre-Islamic Sassanid Architecture, such as the palace-temples of Sarvestan and Firouzabad in Fars Province, led to the hypothesis that the mosque was not built on barren land. The hypotheses are examined based on the layout of the building, leading to the conclusion that the mosque was actually constructed on the remnants of a sacred Zoroastrian fire temple, which was actually in use until the twelfth century AD.

Keywords: Arts Theory and History, Great Grand Mosque of Yazd, Zoroastrian Fire Temple

The International Journal of Arts Theory and History, Volume 8, Issue 4, December 2014, pp.1-27. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 3.117MB).

Sedigheh Golshan

Associate Professor, Department of Architectural History and Conservation , Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Tehran, Iran (Islamic Republic of)