Friday mosque of Damghan undergoes restoration

May 14, 2021 - 17:55

TEHRAN – A new restoration work has been commenced on the centuries-old Friday mosque of Damghan, which stands tall in the north-central Iranian city.

A restoration project has been commenced on the cob walls, roof deck, and downspouts of the Jameh Mosque of Damghan that is situated in Semnan province, provincial tourism chief Mehdi Qasemi said on Wednesday.

“A budget of 1.5 billion rials (some $35,000 at the official exchange rate of 42,000 rials per dollar) have been allocated to the project to preserve the glory and exquisiteness of this historical monument.”

“The Jameh Mosque of Damghan has a shabestan (an underground space that can be usually found in Iran's traditional mosques, houses, and schools), a basement, and a minaret, which date from different historical periods,” the official explained.

The Friday mosque of Damghan is located in the northeast corner of the city. According to Archnet, while its original construction date is estimated to be the eleventh century or earlier, it was replaced by a newer structure in the Qajar period under Mirza Mohammadkhan Sepahsalar. A Seljuk minaret, still extant and original, remains on the site; it was built ca. 1058.

The mosque is oriented north-south and is centered on a large rectangular courtyard measuring twenty-eight by thirty-six meters. It is entered from a wide corridor that opens onto the northern corner of the courtyard. The southwestern (qibla) side of the courtyard is occupied by three large iwans. The larger, central iwan, flanked by two smaller iwans on either side, is seven meters wide and sixteen meters wide. Two vaulted prayer halls enclose the courtyard.

The Seljuk-era minaret is situated in the northeast corner of the mosque, rising from a base adjoining the entrance corridor. Its diameter at the base is nearly fourteen meters, which shrinks to seven meters at its top.

The minaret reaches nearly twenty-seven meters in height. Decorated with recessed bricks in highly original geometric patterns, the minaret displays all the characteristics of eleventh-century art found in other Damghan monuments.

Although originally freestanding, the minaret is now attached to the building. It contains one hundred and five steps. Its (now-ruined) brick balcony is supported by a projecting ring of muqarnas and is decorated with a chapter from the Quran. A Kufic inscription plate further ornaments the minaret. The glazed tile work on the minaret is one of the earliest examples still preserved in Iran.

The terms “Jameh Mosque” or “Masjed-e Jameh” or “Friday Mosque” are used in Iran for a grand communal mosque where mandatory Friday prayers are/were performed: the phrase is used in other Muslim countries but only in Iran does it designate this purpose.

AFM

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