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The religious symbolism of mirror-mosaic work in Iran

By Maryam Tabatabaei Kashani


This thesis focuses upon the religious symbolism of mirror-mosaic work in Islamic Iran. Following an introduction the thesis is divided into four chapters which investigate the symbolism of light and mirrors in the Islamic tradition. Chapter one analyses the Qur'anic heritage of light and mirror symbolism by referring to famous verses (such as the "light verse") and also by investigating the Qur'anic ontology, explaining how God, the angels, man the jinn, indeed, all things can be comprehended with reference to light. Chapter two investigates the Shi'-ite tradition of light and mirror symbolism with reference to the reports from the Shi'-ite Imams. The Shi'-ite connection is pertinent to Iran because it was during the sixteenth century that Iran became a Shi'-ite state. Since then Shi'-ism has remained the dominant Islamic denomination in Iran. The third chapter turns to the mystical dimension of Islam, Sufism, which is well known for its attention to the symbols of light and mirrors. This is carried out with reference to texts of two celebrated mystics from Iran, Sahl-I Tustari and Najm al-Din Razi. Having constructed this framework that explains the prevalence of light and mirror symbolism in Islamic literature, chapter four offers an explanation as to why mirror-mosaic work is common in interior design in Iran. Moreover, the variety of styles and usages are investigated, and an explanation (based on the preceding chapters) is offered for the nature of these styles of mirror-mosaic work. Following chapter four these are copious illustrations of mirror-mosaic work in Iran, the vast majority of which are photographs taken by the author. The thesis is then rounded of with a conclusion which summarizes the findings of these chapters

Topics: BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc, NK Decorative arts Applied arts Decoration and ornament
Year: 2002
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