Thursday, April 21, 2016

Nasīr al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran

By: Faezeh Ensafy

The mosque is called by many different names. Mostly known as the “Pink Mosque”, it is also called the “Mosque of colours,” the “Rainbow Mosque” or the “Kaleidoscope Mosque”. This is a space where light and worship intertwine. The mosque comes to life with the sunrise and colours dance throughout the day like whirling dervishes. It reflects on the ground, walls, the arches and the towering spires. It even reflects on the visitors as if a colourful ball is hit by the first sun ray and explodes to thousands of butterflies all around.
The original name of the mosque in Persian is Masjed-e Naseer ol Molk. Wikipedia mentions it as an ordinary Iranian mosque; however, the interior hides an impressive piece of architecture and design. Built by the order from one of the lords of the Qajar Dynasty, Mirza Hasan ‘Ali Nasir al-Mulk, it took 12 years to complete in 1888. Its interior reveals a magnificent masterpiece of design with stunning colours.
Once the sunlight hits the stained glass, the entire building is flooded by a vibrant rainbow of colours. In popular culture, the mosque is also called Pink Mosque, because its tiles are beautifully decorated with a pre-eminently pinkish rose colour.
The production of coloured glass in west Asia existed around the 8th century, at which time the scholar nicknamed the father of chemistry Jābir ibn Hayyān wrote his book Kitab al-Durra al-Maknuna (The Hidden Pearl). In it he gave 46 recipes for producing coloured glass and described the technique of cutting glass into artificial gemstones.
Japanese photographer Koach was blown away by the mosque's beauty which is best appreciated in the morning light, explaining: “You can only see the light through the stained glass in the early morning. It was built to catch the morning sun, so that if you visit at noon it will be too late to catch the light. The sight of the morning sunlight shining through the colorful stained glass, then falling over the tightly woven Persion carpet, is so bewitching that it seems to be from another world. Even if you are the world’s least religious person, you might feel your hands coming together in prayer naturally when you see the brilliance of this light. Perhaps the builders of this mosque wanted to show their “faith” through the morning light shining through this stained glass.

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