The mihrab of the Friday Mosque of Kerman

I found only two objects of note. One was the mihrab-panel in the Friday Mosque

Byron, on the 24th of March 1934, is in Kerman. There, he visited also the Jabal-i Sang. In his travelogue, he gives just a short mention of the Friday Mosque of the city, yet, in this short passage, Byron underlines the beauty of the mihrab of the mosque, that, he says, displays a “fourteenth-century mosaic”. In fact, this definition is not really accurate.

The Friday Mosque of Kerman was established in the 14th century. Its construction was ordered by Amir Mubarezeddin Muhammad-i Muzaffari-i Meybodi Yazdi under the Muzaffarids. The mosque, set in a prominent position of the city, was built in 1350. It is the earliest surviving example of Muzaffarid architecture and displays an ideal four-iwan plan.

View of the courtyard of the Friday Mosque. Photo by Marie-Thérèse Ullens de Schooten (archnet).

The beautifully-decorated mihrab Robert Byron is talking about does not date to the 14th century. It was added at a later date, in the 16th century, to the qibla wall, that dates back to the original construction.

The mihrab is a half-octagonal niche surmounted by an half-dome with muqarnas tiers. The decoration is made of mosaic tiles. The mihrab is framed by rectangular tiers with inscription bands. The rectangular frames are flanked by rectangular panels made of glazed tile mosaic and decorated with arabesques. What catches the eye is the total lack of decoration in the lower part of the mihrab, on the surfaces of the half-octagonal niche, compared with the lavish decoration of the half-dome and of the frames that surround the mihrab.

The mihrab. Photo by Robert Byron (archnet).

Generally speaking, the Friday Mosque of Kerman is worth noticing not only for its mihrab but also for the plan and the decoration that can be found in every part of the mosque. Nevertheless, it seems that Byron was much more interested in the mihrab: he took only two photos inside the mosque, both of them featuring the mihrab and its beautiful decoration.


Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom, The Art and Architecture of Islam, Yale University Press, New Haven 1994, p.  16.
Lisa Golombek, “The Safavid Ceramic Industry at Kirman”, in Iran, 41 (2003), pp. 253-70.
George Michell, Architecture of the Islamic World: Its History and Social Meaning, Thames and Hudson, London  1978, p. 225.
Donald N. Wilber, The Architecture of Islamic Iran: The Il-Khanid Period, Greenwood Press, New York 1969, pp. 182-3.

And of course,


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