Sunday, February 17, 2013

Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque



The Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran hit the front page of Reddit this week all thanks to its fantastic use of color. The traditional Shia mosque was built  from 1876 to 1888 and thrives as an active place of worship as well as a protected historical site to this day. 

Islam has a tradition of aniconism, the prohibition of depictions of  sentient living beings because it is considered a from of idolatry. These liturgical prescriptions have led to Islamic art and architecture focused on the abstract, with color and texture both playing large roles in the visual vocabulary. 

Geometrical patterns became the popular motif in Islamic art and were and still are considered visual contemplation of the complexity of the universe around us. The circle sits at the center of all Islamic patterns and from there it breaks out in to more and more complex puzzles of geometry with triangles, squares and hexagons all with intricate color of their own. Thus the interior of the Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque is a riot of color, an abstract visual cornucopia of specific cultural nuances with deep ties to Islam.


While the mosque is built with some wood, the majority of the amazing colors and textures are wrought in ceramic tile and colored glass which at the time of construction were in common use.  Persian rugs in the image below  not only contribute to making the tile floors more comfortable for kneeling upon but  also add colors and patterns all their own. The continuous shine of the teal floor glistens in the sun light while the rugs add  beauty and practicality to the space. Interestingly the rugs and the architecture conform  to a traditional pattern and proportion  allowing for a the  alignment of carpets and runners to fit precisely between the columns.   



The beauty and resonance of each of the design elements are all focused on creating a reverent atmosphere inside the mosque. Its so nice to see  color play a role unifying beauty and blessing throughout the world.


- Emily Eifler, Writer, Colour Studio
- Jill Pilaroscia, Principal, Colour Studio



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