Gunbad-i 'Ali
Abarquh, Iran
Built at the summit of a small desert hill, this monument is located three kilometers to the east of Abarquh, along the road that leads to Yazd. The patron for this monument is Firuzan, member of the local Firuzanid dynasty in Abarquh. He built this monument in 1055 for his father, Amid ad-Din Shams ad-Daula, and his mother, whose name is not known.

The tomb consists of an octagonal chamber that sits on a low base with eight unequal sides and a tall, projecting muqarnas cornice. The four longer sides of the base are coplanar with four sides of the octagonal chamber above. The chamber tapers inward on the exterior so that the structure is wider at the bottom than it is below the cornice. The entrance to the chamber has been located on the northeast side of the building. The structure is now domed, but the extension of the cornice beyond this dome suggests that it was also capped by a pyramidal roof, as was customary of tombs in this region.

The tomb is constructed almost entirely of rubble masonry with brick used only in the inscriptions and in the construction of the interior dome. The walls are left plain while the cornice and the entrance receive most of the decorative treatment. The cornice of the monument is a three-tier muqarnas, which tapers outward. Below the muqarnas is a band of Kufic inscriptions in Arabic containing the name of the builder and the name of the person to whom it was dedicated.

The entry is set inside a deep niche crowned by a semi-vault and placed within a rectangular outer frame. The entrance is flanked by two columns, of which only the cavities remain. Inside the niche, above the doorway, is another inscription, written in Kufic style that refers to the patron's mother as "seiyyeda", although her full name is not decipherable.

Unlike the tombs in Maragha, this tomb has no crypt. The interior of the octagonal chamber is bare, and except for the remains of a plaster mihrab, is faced with the same rubble construction seen on the outside. A band of niches, two on each side, decorate the walls below the drum. The transition to the drum is achieved with eight simple squinches located at the corners of the octagon. Four openings in the dome and a window on the side of the chamber illuminate the interior.

Sources:

Hatim, Ghulam Ali. Mimari-i Islami-i Iran dar dawrah-i Saljuqian Tehran: Muassasah-i Intisharat-i Jihad-i Danishgahi, 2000. 193-198.

Hoag, John D. Islamic Architecture. New York: Rizzoli, 1987.
Location
Three kilometers east of Abarquh, Abarquh, Iran
Images & Videos
Associated Collections
Events
1055-56/447 AH
Style Periods
Variant Names
Gunbad-i 'Ali
Gumbad-i 'Ali
Alternate transliteration
Ali Tomb
Translated
Gunbad Ali
Variant
Gunbad-e Ali
Variant
Building Usages
tomb
funerary