Ideological Origins of Naghsh-e Jahan Square

Document Type : Research Article



Nowadays our cities require communal spaces more than anything else. Squares have played a role of communal space in the city since long time ago. Presence of Iranian square with its own feature in Iranian cities is an inalienable necessity. We can search these features in the historical squares at the top of which Naghsh-e Jahan is. Discovering the ideological origins of Naghsh-e Jahan features can lead to the design principles of a governmental square. Different theories have been presented about why such a square was built. Some considered it as  the rival of Atigh square in Isfahan and some noted it as evolution of the two former Safavid squares (in the former Safavid capitals, Tabriz and Qazvin). But the verity is something beyond these claims. A few articles and books have been published hitherto about the each of these monuments’ design. For example an article about some common features of the three Safavid squares has published. But Naghsh-e Jahan square is not only the evolution of the two former ones and it also has deep ideological origins. Research method of this paper is Interpretative- historical. This point of view interprets the resemblance of the monuments at the same culture. The existence of some features of Naghsh-e Jahan in Saheb-abad and Saadat squares confirmed their common ideological origins since historic, cultural, political and geographical link reduce the possibility of randomness in this resemblance. The time of construction of Sheikh Safi Al-din-e Ardebili’s shrine - who was the disciple of Safavid kings - was before Safavid squares. Naghsh-e Jahan was built on the order of Shah Abbas I. He had a great devotion to Sheikh and went to visit Sheikh’s shrine repeatedly. The comparison of the Shrine and the three Safavid squares lead to some common religious features. These common features was extracted from historical texts and tried to be closer to their original ones. The concepts and ideological origins could be understood by classification, analysis and study of the common features. The classified common features are as follows: 1. The location in the city 2. The direction of the building and the location of Ivan 3. Illumination and fireworks in the Iranian garden 4. Bazzar, mosque and the Moharram rituals 5. Display of military power 6. Naghare-khane. 7. Extent, proportions, geometry and the walls. The features with governmental origins and also a flavor of religion were obtained: The link between nation and government as a new Safavid feature, Ivan of the power in the west, The new bazaar and mosque in the competition with Atigh Bazaar and mosque and Performing Moharram rituals as a new Shiite feature in the square comparable to a great Tekkie. Ultra-human extent, display military power in the game of Polo and pride in military power with a flavor of religion. Features with religious origins and also a flavor of government were achieved: The direction of square in accordance with the movement of the sun, the presence of trees, water and fire as sacred elements of ancient culture of Iran, Naghare-khane. The proportion of 1 to 3 close to proportion of Khiaban as a new feature of Safavi, Geometry and symmetry and spatial hierarchy and enclosement. Contrary to presented theories, Naghsh-e Jahan had unique features in its time. Many of its features have been owned to the concept of power and religious thoughts. It pioneered Saheb-abad, Saadat and Atigh. All of the royalty and governmental elements were collected in this square. What was necessary to boast was displayed in this square. In general, the Safavid governmental squares signify the similar desire of a powerful government. This new desire has been established in this period of time and can be named as Safavid Bar-e aam (levee). In addition to the stabilization of the king power, the safavid square version relayed the link between the king and the nation. Naghsh-e Jahan could be used as a symbol of governmental square for the display of governmental authority. Although after that time a square such as Naghsh-e Jahan didn’t build and Tupkhane squares prevailed, it is possible to consider the Tehran Baharestan square as an updated case of governmental square that could have signs of Naghsh-e jahan with the flavor of Islam and nation.