(Persia Digest) - Sheikh Safi-e-Din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble is a historical complex which consists of the shrine of Sheikh Safi-e-Din Ardabili, and some of the elders, sheiks and kings of the Safavid period, such as Shah Isma'il I (the first king of Safavid), the wife of Shah Isma'il (mother of Shah Tahmasb), and it is considered a symbol of Iranian architecture.
The shrine of Sheikh Safi-e-Din Ardabili, known as Gonbad Allah Allah, is one of the most famous works of architecture and wonderful manifestations of Iranian art in the eighth century AH. This structure looks octagonal inside and cylindrical outside. The diameter of the grave is 6 meters and the height of the tower to the tip of the double-shell half-onion dome of the shrine is about 17 meters.
Stucco, plant decorations and calligraphies of Qur'anic verses have made the inside of the structure very attractive. Particularly the wooden box with Khatam-kari inlay and vitreous enamel of the tomb are among the exquisite arts of the eighth century AH in Iran. The shrine of Shah Isma'il I is regarded as one of the most magnificent parts of the Sheikh Safi-e-Din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble in terms of artistic decorations. It is located between the tomb of Mohiuddin Muhammad and Gonbad Allah Allah.
In the other part of the structure, the tomb of Mohiuddin Muhammad (Haram-Khaneh), son of Sheikh Safi-e-Din Ardabili is located, which consists of a corridor and two square and rectangular spaces.
The Porcelain House (the Old Khanqah) is another monument of this complex which is considered one of the most prominent examples of Iranian art in terms of architectural style and decorations of the 11th century AH. The plan of the structure is very amazing, the outside of the Porcelain House is in the shape of a symmetrical incomplete octagon, and is connected to the inside with two narrow entrances in the north to Dar al-Hafez Hall (Ghandil-Khaneh). The interior is a quadrangle room measuring 18 x 18 meters, and on each side there is a polygonal niche in the form of Nim Hasht (half-eight).
This mansion was built on the decree of Shah Abbas the Great, designed and engineered by Sheikh Baha'i, the Safavid scholar, and the porcelain gifts from the Emperor of China to Shah Abbas were preserved there. Most of these dishes are stamped by Shah Abbas with the following statement: I, the king of the wilayah, Abbas, bestowed upon the Shrine of Shah Safi. Part of this treasure was transferred to St. Petersburg in the second term of the Iran-Russia War in 1828 by Russian commander Paskevich, signaled by Griboyedov, Russia's ambassador to Qajar Persia, which is currently kept in the Armitage Museum. Due to the opposition of the Ulama and the elders of the city, the Russian occupants transferred the books to Tbilisi under the condition that they return the books back to Ardabil after copying them, but after a while moved them to the Library of St Petersburg. A portion of the remaining porcelain, along with a few pieces of carpet and a few documents and books, were transferred to Tehran in 1926 and 1935 and delivered to the Museum of Ancient Iran.
Also, an exquisite carpet belonging to this structure, which is now kept at the Victoria and Albert Museum, was listed among the 50 world masterpieces. This list, published by the British Sunday Times, selected this exquisite carpet among thousands of precious art and history masterpieces in the world.
It is said that when the tomb was in need of repairs in 1893, this carpet was sold by some people for 80 tomans and was transported to London. In London, the Robinson brothers bought the carpet and sold it to the V&A Treasury.
The monument of Sheikh Safi-e-Din Shrine was registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2010.
Photos: Reza Zare / IRNA