Originally at: http://www.payvand.com/news/04/jul/1019.html
July 6, 2004
The Sultanyeh Dome, one of Iranian archeological marvels, is due to be considered for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List during the 29th session of its World heritage Committee coming next year, Iranian Cultural Heritage News Agency reported on Tuesday.
The adobe dome is one of the most unique historical sites in Iran, dating back to the Ilkhanian dynasty (1256-1353 AD). “The dossier of the Sultanyeh Dome has been compiled by Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO) and been sent to UNESCO to be considered for the 2005 session of World Heritage Committee,” said Shirin Rohani, secretary of the national World Heritage Committee, adding the file as comprehensive as possible.
The mausoleum of Oljeitu Khudabanda was built in Sultaniya, near Zanjan, in 1304-13 (A.H. 703-13). The basic structure is an octagon about 80 feet (24.5 m.) across on the inside.
At the base the walls are almost 23 feet (7 m.) thick, giving a total width of approximately 126 feet (39 m.).
The interior height of the single dome is about 175 feet (about 53 m.). Andre Godard has described this monument as “… the skillful, confident work of a great builder, a consummate technician who was at the same times an artist. Here is a dome with a span of 80 feet built solely of bricks, without any buttresses, pinnacles, or shoulders of any kind, which stands simply by virtue of a perfectly conceived and constructed profile.”
Details of the original glazed tile and fine, carved stucco in the main chamber evoke speculation as to why blue was so much preferred by the early Iranian artists. This is the earliest major monument in Iran in which color has been used for massive effects. The dome was covered with tiles of turquoise, while the facade was decorated in shades of deep blue. Stalactites adorn the cornice and increase the play of light and shadow. Through the arch the elaborate patterns on the walls of the upper galleries can be seen.
The upper galleries of the mausoleum of Oljeitu present vistas of painted and carved stucco designs that glow in shades of red. The brick walls were covered with a smooth surface of hard plaster into which the patterns were cut to a depth of about three-eighths of an inch (about a centimeter) and then painted with distemper. It is extremely likely that decorative details from illuminated manuscripts were used in the ornamentation of buildings. A Koran in the National Assembly Library, Cairo, which was written in Hamadan for Oljeitu, contains patterns almost identical with the stucco decoration in the galleries shown here.
From the outside the height of the dome of the Oljeitu mausoleum is partially concealed by the bulk of the octagon. From inside, however, where the height at the center of the dome is 175 feet, the silent majesty of space is overwhelming. Fragments of the original decoration of glazed tile and stucco can be seen on the arch leading to the sanctuary.