Gunbad-i Pir-i Alamdar
Damghan, Iran
The Tomb of Pir-i Alamdar is located in Damghan close to the Masjid-i Jami, or the great mosque. Similar in appearance to early Seljuk tombs such as Mil-i Radkan and tomb towers at Lajim and Resget, this simple tomb consists of a cylindrical chamber crowned by a dome. Its low hemispherical dome sets it aside among contemporary tombs that are mostly crowned with conical domes. Also absent in this tomb is the crypt, which is seen commonly in later tombs, and especially in those located at Maragha. The entrance faces southwest.

The upper section of the chamber is adorned with nine decorative bands on the exterior. Most prominent are two wide bands with labyrinthine geometric patterns that frame a band of Kufic inscriptions in Arabic. The inscription contains the name of the builder, Abu Harab Bakhtiar, and the name of the person buried inside, Hajib al-Said ibn Ja'far Mohammad ibn Ibrahim. Narrow bands with variegated brick patterns separate the three wide bands, and three more narrow bands mark the bottom of the decorative section. A thinner sawtooth band precedes the three-tier corbelled cornice. The dome, set in from the edge of the cornice, is visible only at a distance.

The entrance to the burial chamber is set inside a niche with a rectangular frame. The rectangular doorway is crowned by a semi-vault and pointed arch, and flanked by two columns. The semi-vault is inscribed with Kufic writing, topped by checkered and chain brick patterns. The archivolt and spandrels of the arch are decorated with diamond patterns. The decoration is executed in stucco and brick.

Inside, the tomb tower is covered with plaster. A wide band of inscription in highly stylized Kufic style wraps the interior below the dome; it contains Quranic verses from Sura Az-zamar.


Pope, Arthur Upham, ed., Phyllis Ackerman, assist. ed. A Survey of Persian Art from Prehistoric Times to the Present. Vol. 3, Architecture, Its Ornament, City Plans, Gardens, 3rd ed. Tehran: Soroush Press, 1977.

Uqabi, Muhammad Mahdi, ed. Dayirat al-ma arif-i binaha-yi tarikhi-i Iran dar dawrah-i Islami, 377-378. Tehran: Awzahi-i Hunari-i Sazmani-i Tablighat-i Islami, 1997.
Damghan, Iran
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Associated Names
1026-1027/417-418 AH
Style Periods
Variant Names
Gunbad-e Pir-e Alamdar
Alternate transliteration
Funerary tower of Pir-e Alamdar
Building Usages