Madrasa-i Nizamiyya
Khargird, Iran

One of the earliest madrasas built by Nizam al-Mulk, the Madrasa al-Nizamiyya stands in a solitary location near the village of Khargird. With a difference of about twenty years, both Godard and Herzfeld dated this monument to the second half of 11th century. The French archaeologist Andre Godard has suggested that Nizamiyya maybe the oldest example of a four-iwan plan type, which he believes originated in the region of Khurasan. Before its application at a monumental scale, the four-iwan plan type was used in domestic construction.

With the exception of the remains of the south iwan, this building is completely in ruins. Two parallel rows of piers, connected at their tops with arches, and a mihrab remain from the south iwan. The openings between the piers connect the space of the iwan to adjacent rooms, in which are the remains of two small mihrabs. Traces left from five windows at the top of the piers enabled Herzfeld, who visited the monument in 1925, to postulate the existence of a second story into which these windows originally looked. Heaps of debris remain in-situ from structures that once defined the east and west sides of the courtyard. The numerous alterations made to this building have made reconstructing a complete plan very difficult. The short walls (visible in one of the old photographs) enclosing the iwan are later additions.

Wrapping the three sides of the iwan, above the arch of the doors, is an inscription in tall Kufic style (82 cm.) with floriated stems. Its contents are historic and include the name of the patron and the date of the monument, which have not been preserved. In the inscription are also included the two titles (Arabic: laqabs) of Nizam al-Mulk: Kiwam al-Din and Radi Amir al-Mu'minin (the champion of the commander of the faithful). Conferred on him by the caliph al-Kaim, these titles have allowed the historians to date this building. A last piece of information included in the inscription is the name of the trustee, Sheikh Sadid al-Dawla under whose supervision the construction for the monument was completed. This inscription was removed from its location on the building by the Iranian preservation committee, and is now kept in the museum of Tehran for its protection.

Only a few patches of the monument's decoration survive, and the mihrab retains some of its decoration. Carved terracotta chain and floral patterns decorate the profile of the pointed arch of the mihrab as well as its concave tympanum. Herringbone patterns formerly covered the mud brick core of the monument.


Godard, Andre. The Art of Iran, 287, 292. New York, Washington: Frederick A. Praeger, 1965.

Hatim, Ghulam Ali. Mimari-i Islami-i Iran dar dawrah-i Saljuqian, 77-78. Tehran: Muassasah-i Intisharat-i Jihad-i Danishgahi, 2000.

Herzfeld, Ernst. "Damascus: Studies in Architecture - II." Ars Islamica 10 (1943): 16-19.

Khargird, Iran
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1068/460-461 AH
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