Mil-i Qasimabad
Qasemabad, Iran
The Minaret at Qasemabad was located in Sistan, approximately 7.24 km to the northwest of the city of Zahedan, and 3.2 km south of the nearest village of Qasemabad, for which it was named. Although it stood alone when it was recorded by G.P. Tate and Ernst Herzfeld at the turn of the twentieth century, ruins and remains of pottery all around the minaret reveal that the minaret was built as part of a larger complex, such as a madrasa. It may have also included a school and mosque. Upon visiting the site in the 1970s, Antony Hutt concluded that the minaret had collapsed sometime in the mid-fifties.

Historical references and photographs reveal that the minaret was cylindrical in shape, with a diameter at the base of 5.48 meters and tapering towards the summit. It stood on a square plinth, also 5.48 meters long, and measured 22.86 meters to the uppermost ruined fragment. When it was recorded, only a meter or two of the plinth still extended out of the ground, and the debris of ruined buildings had collected all around it. Its location with respect to the ruins of the buildings was to the south of a courtyard. The entrance faced north and gave access to a narrow spiral staircase.

The minaret had two inscription bands that encircled the cylindrical shaft. The lower band, near the bottom, was wide, with its letters measuring about half a meter in height. The second, further up towards the summit, had smaller inscription letters. Both were made of molded baked bricks set between moldings composed of three strips, two of which were of vertically placed bricks. Between the two inscription bands the body of the minaret was made solely with plain brick without ornamentation. Above the uppermost inscription band, the crown of the minaret was mostly ruined when Herzfeld undertook his survey, but evidence that it had been richly decorated with floral motifs of molded brick could still be seen.

The inscriptions revealed the names of Taj-ud-din Abu'l Fazl-i-Nasr (1103-1164), and his great-grandson Taj-ud-din Harab (1167-1215), who were rulers of the Saffarid dynasty. It is believed that the minaret was begun by Taj-ud-din, who was a Malik of Sistan during the reign of the Seljuk Sultan Sanjar (1118-57), but according to historical writings, the minaret was not complete at the time of his death in 1164. It was his great-grandson, Taj-ud-din Harab, who completed the building of the minaret before his death in the first quarter of the thirteenth century.

Made of sun-dried brick, the building of the minaret must have been advanced for its time, as its walls were only three and a half feet thick at the base. Historical photographs of the minaret taken in the beginning of the twentieth century reveal that the bottom part of the minaret had been marred up to the level that can be reached by a person of average height; the outer layers of good quality brickwork had been removed for reuse by locals. This may have been the cause of its final collapse.

Sources:

Bosworth, C. E. "Abu'l Fazl." Enclopedia Iranica Online. http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abul-fazl-in-juzani-abul-fath-taj-al-din-nasr. [Updated October 24, 2013]

Hutt, Antony. "The Development of the Minaret in Iran Under the Saljuqs," 113-20., M. Phil., University of London, 1974.

O'Kane, Bernard. Studies in Persian Art and Architecture IX, 89-101. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 1995.

Sourdel-Thomine, Janine. 2004. "Le Minaret Ghouride de Jam: Un chef d'oeuvre du XIIe siecle." Paris: Diffusion de Boccard. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P3-902629491.html. [Updated October 24, 2013]

Tate, George Passman. Seistan: A Memoir on History, Topography, Ruins, and the People of the Country, 268-271. Quetta: Nisa Traders, 1977.
Location
Sistan (Seistan), ca. 7 km northwest of Zahedan, Qasemabad, Iran
Events
1150-1225/544-621 AH
Style Periods
Variant Names
Mil-i Qasimabad
Minaret at Qasimabad
Variant
Minaret at Qasemabad
Variant
Kasimabad
Variant
Mil-i Kasamabad
Variant
Building Usages
minaret
religious