An Analytical view on the Stucco Decorations of Ilkhanid Religious Buildings: A Case Study of Pir-i Bakran, Isfahan, Iran

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Faculty of Art and Architecture, Bu-Ali Sina University, Hamedan, Iran

2 2Iranian Center for Archaeological Research, Organization of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism, Tehran, Iran

3 PhD Student in Archaeology, Bu-Ali Sina University, Hamedan, Iran

4 M.A of Archaeology, University of Tehran, Iran


Stucco decorations are among the major decorative elements of the religious structures of the Ilkhanid period in Iran.
Typical examples of these decorations are found in the mausoleum of Pir-i Bakran, located some” 30 km” southwest
of Isfahan. Owing to the importance of the decorative technique and its great stucco decorations, several contemporary
Islamic scholars have described the mausoleum as a real museum of the stucco art; therefore, it can be a subject for
several, related scientific studies.
The present paper aims at exploring the structure and themes of the stucco decorations of this building to demonstrate that
religious ideas substantially inspired the origination and style of these ornaments in religious constructions, in particular
A descriptive method was adopted in the present study, which builds on library-based research and field observations.
Accordingly, proper photos were taken from the decorations and architectural spaces before linear drawings of the
decorations were prepared to document the data using Illustrator CS5 and Corel Draw x5 solutions. Given successful
execution of the several stucco panels coupled with proper location and composition, the results of the study reveals that
the artisans of this period with their unique ingenuity were able to employ this architectural element befittingly in this
building, turning it into a masterpiece of stucco work from the Ilkhanid period. Further, a deeper analysis of the themes,
which apart from decorative panels using floral and geometric motifs include also frequent use of sacred religious terms
and phrases, demonstrates that there was a tendency among the Iranian society under Ilkhanid to employ these themes,
and on this very basis, this period can be called one of the most important periods of stucco art in terms of rendering stucco
decorations with religious themes.