Maqbara-i Khwaja Atabak
Kerman, Iran
While an absolute date for this monument cannot be determined, an inscription on the gravestone inside the chamber is connected with an atabek of Kerman, Ala al-Din Bazqesh, placing the monument in the first half of the 12th century. The entrance is located on the southeast side of the chamber. This monument has an octagonal chamber, previously crowned by a double dome. Due to the many earthquakes which Kerman and regions to the south of it receive, the original domes of the tomb have not survived. The inner dome, however, has been restored. The collapse of the domes has damaged the interior decorations and one side of the monument is completely destroyed.

The exterior of this tomb is built primarily from brick. Shallowly recessed rectangular panels decorate the lower two thirds of each wall. Each panel is framed by a rectangular border, which is decorated with intersecting ribs and small pentagons. The upper part of the exterior is laid in plane brick and is separated from the niches below by a narrow groove wrapping the chamber. The corners are indented, causing each face of the building to read as an isolated plane. Faience had originally been used to decorate the exterior of the monument. This medium also appears in other Seljuk structures such as Gunbad-i Surkh in Maragha and the tomb of Mu'mina Khatun in Nakhchivan, which date from the same period. The entrance is crowned with a shallow three-tier muqarnas carved from brick, and framed by a rectangular border containing pentagons and interlaced star patterns.

Contrary to the octagonal exterior, the inside of the chamber is a square, of which only three sides remain. A consistent series of receding planes, carved from stucco, decorate the entire surface of the interior. These planes are similar in all sides: a shallow niche consisting of a pointed arch and two engaged columns is framed by a wide rectangular band with geometric patterns. Defining the extent of each wall is a rectangular frame inscribed with large Kufic writings. The arch within the inner niche has a double profile, with the outer edge decorated with recurring star and hexagonal patterns. A line of inscriptions in Thuluth with a floriated background outlines the inner profile of the arch. A basmala written in a stylized Kufic is placed above a panel of decorations in the rectangular bottom half of the middle wall. This area is treated differently on each wall; and on the qibla wall, it contains a highly ornate mihrab with inscriptive rectangular frames. This mihrab contains the gravestone of Khwaja Atabek. Small pieces of mosaic as well as marble are used in the decoration of the inside of the mihrab.


Hatim, Ghulam Ali. Mimari-i Islami-i Iran dar dawrah-i Saljuqian, 211-212. Tehran: Muassasah-i Intisharat-i Jihad-i Danishgahi, 2000.

Hillenbrand, Robert. Studies in Medieval Islamic Architecture Vol. II, 270-271. London: Pindar Press, 2006.

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, 17. Tehran: Awzahi-i Hunari-i Sazmani-i Tablighat-i Islami, 1997.
southeast side of Kerman, close to the Masjid-i Bazaar-i Kerman, Kerman, Iran
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1100-1150/473-544 AH
Style Periods
Variant Names
Mausoleum of Khwaja Atabak
Tomb of Khwaja Atabak
Building Usages