Gawhar Shad commissioned this congregational mosque as part of her extensive renovation program for the shrine of Imam Riza. Located immediately to the south of the mausoleum, accessed through the dar al-siyadah, the mosque is of the familiar four-iwan courtyard form. The depths of the iwans are irregular, a response to the location of existing buildings within which it was inserted. Two round minarets that rise from the ground, flanking the southern iwan, constitute an innovation in Persian architecture as minarets in Iran were previously positioned above the parapets. A blue faience dome that was rebuilt with poured concrete in the 1960's surmounts the southern iwan.
The mosque is known for its tile mosaic decoration, an art form that peaked during the Timurid period. On a high base of marble revetment, panels of enamel brick and tilework are arranged in two stories that run around the courtyard, capped by a band of calligraphy designed by Gawhar Shad's son Baysunghur. Vivid, energetic floral patterns in tile and geometric schemes in brick are used in alternation, emphasizing the strong rhythm around the courtyard.
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Byron, Robert. "Timurid Architecture." In A Survey of Persian Art from Prehistoric Times to the Present, edited by Pope, Arthur Upham and Phyllis Ackerman (assistant editor), Vol. 3 Architecture, Its Ornament, City Plans, Gardens, 3rd ed., 1119-1164. Tehran: Soroush Press, 1977.
Golombek, Lisa and Donald Wilber. The Timurid Architecture of Iran and Turan, Volume I. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988.
Hutt, Anthony. . "Iran". In Architecture of the Islamic World, 251-258. George Michell, editor. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1978.
O'Kane, Bernard. Timurid Architecture in Khurasan. Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, 1987.
Pope, Arthur Upham. Persian Architecture. New York: George Braziller, 1965.
Pope, Arthur Upham. "The Safavid Period". In A Survey of Persian Art from Prehistoric Times to the Present, edited by Pope, Arthur Upham and Phyllis Ackerman (assistant editor), Vol. 3 Architecture, Its Ornament, City Plans, Gardens, 3rd ed., 1165-1225. Tehran: Soroush Press, 1977.
Saadat, Bijan. 1976. The Holy Shrine of Imam Reza, Mashhad (Astan-i Quds). Shiraz, Iran: Asia Institute, Pahlavi University, volume III.
Published by the Asia Institute in Shiraz in 1976, "The Holy Shrine of Imam Reza, Mashhad" summarizes the findings of an architectural survey headed by architect Bijan Saadat with associate architect Riccardo Sardarelli and assistant architect Piero Degl'Innocenti. It consist of four volumes:
Volume I: Nine folding plates and legends (ArchNet files FLS1272 and FLS1273, containing the plan and eight cross-sections respectively). Volume II: 79 photographic plates with captions Volume III: Historic and architectural description in English, bibliography and glossary, 57 pages Volume IV: Historic and architectural description in Persian, 76 pages