Masjid-i Jami'-i Turbat-i Shaykh Jam
Torbat-i Jam, Iran
The Friday mosque of Torbat-i Jam, commonly known as the New Mosque (Masjid-i No), is located on the west side of the Shaykh Ahmad-i Jam Shrine Complex. According to an inscriptive tile on the east iwan, the architect of the mosque was Hajji Mahmud-i Zayn-i jami-i Shiraz. Bearing the date of 1442, this inscription further indicates that, as mentioned in the literary sources, the mosque was commissioned by the Timurid Amir Jalal al-din Firuzshah (d.1444-5), under whose patronage the Firuzshah Madrasa and Gunbad-i Sabz were also erected to the north side of the shrine. The increase in the local population was probably the motivation for building a new mosque in the village.

Square on the exterior and measuring approximately 30 meters on a side, the mosque consists of a rectangular courtyard measuring 17 by 13 meters surrounded by columned halls of varying depths. The eastern arcade is only one bay deep, while the arcades on the north and south are two bays deep. The western (qibla) hall, which is four bays deep, encompasses a domed cruciform sanctuary that opens to the court through a shallow iwan. Facing this iwan is a slightly deeper iwan of similar size that abuts the dome chamber of the shrine complex. The two iwans, together with the domed sanctuary, mark the qibla direction, extending the main axis of the complex, formed by the grand iwan and domed chamber (gunbad), into the mosque plan.

The mosque is accessed from the east through a doorway in the east iwan that opens into the shrine’s dome chamber. The courtyard arcade is also connected to a small court known as the Saracha Khanqah on the northeast and to the Old Mosque (Masjid-i Atiq) on the southeast. In the western section, the cruciform sanctuary is spatially separated from the flanking columnar halls. It is composed of a square domed hall surrounded on all sides by rectangular recesses, forming four smaller bays at the corners. Framed by a pishtaq, the eastern recess forms the qibla iwan of the courtyard. Two small doorways in each of the lateral bays of the chamber open to the flanking columnar halls. The interior is lit by three similar windows, two on the lateral arched bays and one above the mihrab. The bays of these halls and arcades surrounding the courtyard are covered with groin vaults whose ribs spring from the octagonal columns.

The mosque is constructed of baked brick and currently shows no specific decoration. In terms of vaulting, the cruciform sanctuary is remarkable and perhaps represents the only original component of the mosque. The central chamber is covered by a system of intersecting arches, typical of Timurid architecture. A semi-dome covers the qibla niche, while the lateral niches are covered with tunnel vaults with similar "arch-net" (rasmi-bandi) designs in the interior.

The mosque has been heavily restored. The north and south arcades were destroyed in the early twentieth century and were recently reconstructed. However, the innovative form of the sanctuary, designed by the last known Shirazi architect of the Timurid court in the fifteenth century, marks the mosque as one of the significant examples of the Timurid architecture in Khurasan.


O'Kane, Bernard. Timurid Architecture in Khurasan, 217-222. Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, 1987.

Golombek, Lisa. "The Chronology of Turbat-i Shaikh Jam." Iran: Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies IX (1971): 27-44.

Golombek, Lisa and Donald Wilber. The Timurid Architecture of Iran and Turan, 349. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988.

Torbat-i Jam, Iran
Associated Names
Part of Site
1442-1445/845-848 AH
Style Periods
Variant Names
Masjid-i Jami'-i Turbat-i Shaykh Jam
Friday Mosque of Torbat-i-Jam
Congregational Mosque
Masjid-i Jadid
Masjid-i Jami' Turbat-i Shaykh Jam
Building Usages