Rab'-i Rashidi
Tabriz, Iran
Although little remains of the Rab'-i Rashidi, it is historically regarded as having been a prominent multi-functional complex and academic institution in Il-Khanid Persia. Rab'-i Rashidi was both an academic foundation and a suburb located a few kilometers east of Tabriz. It is named after its patron and founder, Rashid al-Din Fadl Allah Abu al-Khair, who had it built in 1300. Rashid al-Din was a powerful figure in the time of the Ilkhanate ruler Ghazan Khan (1295-1304). Not only was he Ghazan's vizier, but he was also a writer and historian, author of the "Jami' al-Tawarikh," a retelling of the Mongol conquest of Persia. As vizier, he was able to fund the entire undertaking with his own resources.

Also known as the Rashid Foundation or Estate, the main function of the Rab'-i Rashidi was that of a university city, and its main purpose was the study and copying of Rashid al-Din's own writings. The main components of the foundation were a library, a hospice, a hospital, a khanqah, and a tomb with winter and summer mosques. The tomb was originally that of Rashid al-Din, built by his son Muhammed Ghiyath. However, due to what is believed to have been a conspiracy of lies, Rashid al-Din was executed under the false pretext that he had poisoned Ghazan Khan. This turn of events was further compounded by rumors that emerged during the reign of the (allegedly senile) Miran Shah (1404-1407) that Rashid al-Din had been Jewish; consequently, his remains were exhumed from his tomb at the Rab'-i Rashidi and moved to a Jewish cemetery.

In addition to the components of the foundation, the estate also served as a residential quarter. It contained caravanserais, shops, baths, storehouses, mills, factories, and thirty thousand houses. The entire complex was surrounded by a wall that Ghazan Khan had begun building to enclose the entire city of Tabriz, and later by a second one that enclosed its suburbs.

Since his reputation had been tainted and his foundation plundered, the Rab-i Rashidi began to decline after the death of Rashid al-Din in 1318. Although Rashid al-Din's son Muhammed Ghiyath attempted to expand the foundation after his father's death, he too was put to death in 1336, and the foundation was again looted. A ruler by the name of Malik Ashraf later took over the site in 1351 and expanded it further by building fortifications, mosques, hospitals and schools.

Today, the historical elements of the Rab-i Rashidi can no longer be identified. All that remains are some masonry bases of the fortifications that were built either during the 14th century, or still later, by Shah Abbas in the seventeenth century. The most prominent of the masonry bases still extant has a rectangular projection, believed to have been the foundation for an astrological observatory that is mentioned in Rashid al-Din's writings. Also found on the site were mosaic fragments that may date from Rashid al-Din's time up until the Safavid period.

Sources:

Blair, Sheila S., and Jonathan M. Bloom. The Art and Architecture of Islam, 1250-1800, 51. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994.

Raby, Julian, and Teresa Fitzherbert, eds. The Court of the Il-khans, 1290-1340. Oxford; New York : Oxford University Press for the Board of the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford, 1996.

Wilber, Donald N. The Architecture of Islamic Iran: The Il Khanid Period, 129-131. New York: Greenwood Press, Publishers, 1969.

Lunde, Paul and Rosalind Mazzawi. "A History of the World." Aramco World Magazine 32, No. 1 (Jan./Feb., 1981). Saudi Aramco World Website.http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/198101/a.history.of.the.world.htm. [Accessed April 18, 2005].
Location
east of Tabriz, Tabriz, Iran
Events
1300/699-700 AH
Style Periods
1256-1353
Variant Names
Rab'-i Rashidi
Rashidi Quarter
Variant
Rab-i Rashidi
Variant
Danishgah-i Rab'-i Rashidi
Variant
Rashidiyah
Variant
Building Usages
tomb
funerary
hospital
health care
khanqah
religious
mosque
religious
hospice
social welfare