4.614 | Fall 2002 | Undergraduate

Religious Architecture and Islamic Cultures

Lecture Notes

12. Religious Architecture of the Ilkhanids

Previous Lecture | Next Lecture


The Ilkhanids: Il-khan (Subordinate of the Khan) was the title assumed by Hülegü (1256-65), after he became the Mongol ruler of Iran and Khurasan. The Ilkhanids eventually converted to Islam and adopted the Iranian culture. It was from that period that the material culture of Iran flourished after the severe blow caused by the Mongol invasion.

Dargah: A Persian term for entrance vestibule, it became an important element in Timurid architecture and developed into monumental proportions along very symmetrical lines.


The Mihrab of Sultan Oljeïtu at the Isfahan Masjid-i-Jomeh

(1310). A most unusual, carved stucco mihrab added onto a structural wall along with the whole vaulted oratory, called the winter hall.

The Mosque of Ali Shah in Tabriz

(1315): Considered the largest iwan mosque of its time, this huge vaulted structure overlooking a large court with a big central pool (possibly meant as a reflective pool) was seen as the Islamic challenge to the legendary Iwan-i Kisra.

The Mausoleum of Sultan Oljeïtu at Sultaniyya

(1307-13). Intended as a major component of a larger complex, this octagonal structure with eight slender minarets and a huge, blue-glazed dome is not well understood. Oljeïtu had the idea of transforming it into a mashhad for Ali and his son al-Husayn when he converted to Shiism but then changed his mind again and made it his own, and plastered the interior. The buidling shows the striving for verticality and the perfection of pre-existing traditions.

The Masjid-i-Jomeh at Varamin

(1322-26). Built under Abu Said, the son of Oljeïtu, this mosque is a very symmetrical composition which displays the ideal four-iwan plan. Its Dargah announces later developments.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2002
Learning Resource Types
Course Introduction
Image Gallery