Ideal Locus of the Colour Lights in Iranian Holy Architecture

Document Type : Original Article


Master of Architecture martyr Beheshti University.


Having influential affects in human life, the Colour does not seem to be an obscure concept in everyday life; rather assumed so obviously clear that everyone has an articulated comprehension of it. This is a complicated question to answer because one needs to take part in professional debates, as well as to be experienced and knowledgeable about the applications of Colour in Art. Indeed, it is in practice that the real meaning of colour manifests itself. Otherwise,
there is no comprehensive understanding of “the colour”. Colour is especially important in architecture and here I attempt to explore the inherent meaning of its application in Iranian architecture during Safavid period. It is generally accepted that in pre-modern cultures -and here, in the Islamic culture of Iranian society during Safavid era- there might be a powerful connection between art, on the one hand, and mysticism and Sufism, on the other hand. Towards a framework for therapeutic aspect of the status of colour “Iranian holy architecture” and “The secrets of colours in Imam Reza’s holy shrine” are the two main areas of the present study. Coloring is based on a mystical symbolic approach which is rooted in the symbolic epistemology. First: The great Sufism’s ideas about colour have been reviewed; such as Najm Kobra,
Najm Razi, and Ala-Dollah Semnani. Second: Re-approaching the edifices; they are reviewed in accordance to the Sufism’s thoughts. Status of Colour in Islamic episteme and Mysticism; Views of: Najm Kobra, Najm Razi, and Ala-Dollah Semnani. In order to leave out the dark corporeity of the existence light and then to join the real light, according to three Muslim theosophists (Najm Kobra, Najm Razi, and Ala-Dollah Semnani), seven colourful secret statuses should be passed. The journey symbolizes the truth that the inward world is a kind of layered truth in which each colourful layer partially possesses a status of the most truthful light: the Green. Exploring the sacred codification of the colours in Imam Reza’s Shrine in Mashhad, and based on the contemplations of the Iranian great theosophists, it is realized that different
locus in Iranian architecture (the outward world) might joy different status in the hierarchical positioning of the eternal truth. In the other words, in such building, representation of the truthful light in architecture is in coordination with the status of Qutb-i-Makan (the local pole); and this leads to the promotion of holy locus from a pure materialistic
building into an ideal, secret, sacred location. In Imam Reza’s shrine, shallow light is connected to the eternal light of Imam, therefore she/he feels an inward peace after a long, inquisitive struggle against her/his innermost darkness. This struggle leads her/him to the hierarchical lights of enlightenment, and finally, to its 7th and the top stage, named the green light. According to the Muslim theosophists, this final stage of the hierarchy, represented in  inward peacefulness enlightened with the green light, which is the sign of pilgrim’s enjoyment of the Tamkin (Locality) status. In the Tamkin status, the pilgrim totally fulfills her/his existential potentialities and God will exclusively inhabit in her/his heart. Thus, one might conclude that for theosophists, Tamkin and Nahayat (extremity) is essentially a locus rather than a status. On the other hand, pilgrim’s Izn-e Dokhul (the abracadabra pilgrim whispers in the entrance time in order to receive Imam’s admission) also shows that in her/his view the interred Imam is eternally alive and can hear pilgrims’ voice and answer them. Thus, the presence of Qutb-i-Makan or Imam, who possess the status of Tamkin, can promote the materialistic location of the shrine into a position named Makanat-al-Makan in religious language (the highest spiritual status). So the green colour can be found in the shrine, and the shrine is converted into an ideal locus of the green light. The Sheikh Lotf-Allah Mosque is the Ideal Locus of the Blue Colour/Light and the Chehel-Sotoun Palace is the Ideal Locus of the Red Light. At the end it can be stated that Comprehending the Qotb (the perfect human-being) as the enlightening existence; and according to the exclusive characteristics of the interior Qotb, each peace-making and peaceful status would manifest the material appearance (of the locus) with different colourful schemas.


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