Coffeehouses, Urban Spaces, and the Formation of a Public Sphere in Safavid Isfahan
Type
journal article
Year
2016
This essay examines the urban topography, physical structure, and social context of coffeehouses in Safavid Iran (1501–1722), particularly in the capital city of Isfahan. Through a reconstruction of the architecture and urban configuration of coffeehouses, the essay shows how, as an utterly novel institution, the coffeehouse opened up a new sphere of public life, engendered new conceptions of urbanity, and altered the social meaning of urban spaces. The essay will specifically focus on the drinking houses that existed in the Maydan-i Naqsh-i Jahan and Khiyaban-i Chaharbagh, the grand urban spaces of seventeenth-century Isfahan. The remaining physical traces, together with textual and visual evidence, permit us to reconstruct Isfahan’s major coffeehouses. This analysis not only reveals a less-appreciated aspect of urbanity in the age of Shah ʿAbbas (r. 1587–1629) but also elucidates the ways in which the public spaces of Safavid Isfahan contained and shaped novel social practices particular to the early modern age.
Citation
Emami, Farshid. "Coffeehouses, Urban Spaces, and the Formation of a Public Sphere in Safavid Isfahan." Muqarnas: An Annual On The Visual Cultures Of The Islamic World, Vol 33 (2016): 177-220.
Parent Publications
Associated Sites
Copyright
Farshid Emami
Country
Iran
Language
English
Keywords
cafes
public spaces
public squares
Social life and customs