A Study on Decorations (Chinese Knotting) Used in Monuments of Masouleh Historical City, Case Study: Kasha-Sar Olia

Document Type : Original Article


M.A. in Architecture, Department of Architecture, College of Art and Architecture, Khalkhal Branch, Islamic Azad University, Khalkhal, Iran, Member of Young Researchers Club.


Geometric designs (both normal and abnormal) and purely geometric interlaced patterns involve mental imaginary forms which are essentially superior to the perception- based naturalistic images. The patterns were not aimed to capture the reality perceived through the eyes, but they were supposed to create a glimpse of astonishing beauty in the artist’s creative mind or soul. Due to avoiding utilization of human figures and abstaining from idolatry, decorations have specific geometry in Islamic art and architecture. One of the striking characteristics of the knots (girih) that has caused to dynamicity throughout its thousand-year history is its regeneration and diversification of the diverse geometric properties. Girih tiles are used in Islamic art and architecture. Iranian Chinese Knotting is one of is one of traditional fields and professions that depends on geometrical patterns and on the first encounter, the spectator, is subconsciously affected by its discipline. Geometrical patterns, which are the source for the art Chinese Knotting, usually contain a polygon star in
the middle (the Shamseh) and some other geometrical figures so that they can cover the remaining space. Chinese knotting is not specifically a certain decoration or a means of conveying the emotions of the artist, but also the point of making them regarding to two ways: acting on the basis of their own knowledge and guiding others towards this knowledge. When a spectator looks upon the works of Chinese Knotting, they’re first affected by its beauty and especially its discipline, but after some more contemplation they are driven into the art’s mystical meanings. Girih tile is a part of Islamic architecture and art while its different types are used in the following arts: Wood carving, tiling, plaster, Khātam , brick work, mirror work, stone work and in carpentry as fences, door and window, wooden decorations and wood carving of Minbar and in blacksmith Iranian architecture. Girih tile is an intelligent interaction of aesthetics and function. Islamic artists have applied local materials in accordance to the functional requirements and cultural issues of each region. The valuable examples of this art are observed in historical city of Masoule located in the mountainous area of Masoule in Gilan (Iran). Wood is one of the highly applied materials in traditional architecture of Gilan with its different types. One of the greatest arts is seen in the historical city of Masoule with Girih tiles. Wood is used in this region due to its climatic condition and the need to a good thermal isolation against heat and cold weather. Also, wood is the first material being
applied in openings. Girih tiles decorations in this historical city are abundant in the buildings while their main façade is to the south. One of the advantages of using Girih tiles in openings of this historical city is to control the direct light in 
different seasons of year. The aesthetic aspect is on the second priority. The beauty of Girih tiles, their coordination and part to total tendency in all openings have improved the unity and beauty of the historical buildings of Masoule. Sash window, other meshes and Telar with combination of decorative plants in the façade of buildings in Masoule have increased the aesthetics of this city. Historical city of Masoule is a good model for sustainable architecture and its final aim is respecting the culture and friendly relationship with nature and improving the life style of its residents. In the current study, the effort was concentrated on categorizing the designs (Chinese Knotting) used in the neighborhood of upper Kash-e Sar in Masouleh. The factors that affect the designs have also been inspected. The results show that 13 types of Chinese Knotting exist and that the most used pattern in this decorations is the pattern of eight-and-four. These results also show that the four fundamental parts of Chinese Knotting of Masouleh have been modeled on cultural,
religious and natural elements. The four common elements of the Chinese Knotting of Masouleh are as follows: The Shamseh (the sun), the eight leaved lotus (symbol of the circle of nature), Chalipa (the symbol of the four main elements, existence) and the circe (symbol of eternity, although in this particular design it is the symbol of trees and nature). The methods of the study were a field-based and direct inspection of the structures. Also the inspection of the decorations (Chinese Knotting) was done using library research methods.


Amraei, M. (2012). Sash Window, Light Overlooking Window, Tehran: SAMT Publication Organization.
Bozorg Bigdeli, S., Saeed, A., Gandomani, H., & Mohammadi Kalesar, A. (2007). Immortality Symbols (Analysis of Circle Symbol in Religious and Myth Texts). Myth Researchers (Gohar Goya). 1, 79-89.
Cultural Heritage of Masouleh. (2007). Masuleh, Rasht, Ilya Publication.
Eslah Arbani, E. (2005). Gilan Book, Vol. 1. Tehran. The Young Researchers Group.
Hasanpour Loumer, S. (2014). Architectural Design of Tourist Residential Complex Based on Environmental Design and Green Architecture Criteria in the Historical City of Masouleh. Hasan Sattari Sarbangholi Advice and Counsel Sahar Tofan MS Thesis. Islamic Azad University, Khalkhal Branch, Architecture, Khalkhal, Iran.
Hyacinth Louis, R. (2012). Les Provinces Caspiennes de la Perse: Le Gilan (4th ed., Vol. 1). Rasht, Iran: Taati Press.
Imeni, A. (2010). Symbolic Presentation in Islamic Architecture Decorations. Tehran. Informing and Librarian, Mah Honar Publication.
Khazaei, M. (2008). Shamse. The Role of Mohammad (pbuh) in Islamic Art of Iran. Tehran. Tehran Publications
Kiyanmehr, g., & Khazaei, M. (2006). The Concepts and Numerical in Girih Tiles Art of Safavid. Informing and Librarian. 91, 26-39.
Moshir, H. (2009). Cross Global Work. Irna Journal. 28, 22-23.
Mohamadianmansoor, S., & Faramarzi, S. (2012). A Comparison between Quasiperiodic Order of Shah Gereh and the Quasicrystal Structure of Silicon: HONAR-HA-YE-ZIBA HONAR-HA-YE TAJASSOMI, 4(50), 85-95.
Makinejad, M. (2009). Iran Art History in Islamic Era. Architecture Decorations. SAMT Publications.
Nematgorgani, O. (2002). The History of Light in Architecture and Lighting in Islamic Art of Iran. Art Culture. 35, 316-323.
Pandi, K. (2009). Masouleh of Negin of Iran. Rasht, Taati Press.
Sattari Sarbangholi, H., & Hasanpour Loumer, S. (2015). The Ornamentations of Girih Tiling in Buildings of the Khanebar Neighborhood in Masouleh: HONAR-HA-YE-ZIBA HONAR-HA-YE TAJASSOMI, 19(4), 55-66.
Shafiepour, A. (2006). Sash Window in Traditional Architecture of Iran. Culture and Art (Art). 68, 164-183.
Tehrani, M. (2007). Introduction of Girih Tiles Skylight in Traditional Architecture of Iran. Journal of Growth of Art Training. 11, 50-55.
Vafi, M. (2002). Window in Residential Architecture in Safavid Era. Isfahan. Culture and Art. 52, 119-143.
Zomarshidi, H. (1986). Girih Tiles in Islamic Architecture and Handicraft. Tehran: Academic P