year 5, Issue 10 (2-2016)                   mmi 2016, 5(10): 47-62 | Back to browse issues page

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Hoseyny H. The Fourfold Divisions and their Origins in the Iranian Architecture and Urbanism. mmi 2016; 5 (10) :47-62
Art University of Isfahan ,
Abstract:   (8118 Views)

The fourfold division archetype is one of the distinguishing characteristics of Iranian architecture and urbanism in the times prior to and after the Islamic periods. However, its philosophy of existence has so far remained obscure. Therefore, the subject matter in this paper will be searching for its origin as well as analyzing the dimensions of its design. Therefore, the objectives of this research are tracing the most significant monuments and cities in Iran which contain the fourfold division pattern, as well as, knowing the reasons and characteristics of their application. It is, however, clear that examining this subject will be useful in better perceiving some of the ancient Iranian intellectual and philosophical principles underlain in the architecture and urbanism of the past in Iran; and subsequently it is helpful in surmounting the obstacles in the path of rebuilding the elements belonging to the vernacular architecture and urbanism. The methodology of this study is based on the historical and analytical research; in which, while extending an interdisciplinary approach, we have attempted to introduce new concepts of design framework for architecture and urbanism. According to the findings of this study, the fourfold division pattern in pre-Sassanid Iran has been formed under the influence of a sacred orientation, based on the Sun rising in the East and the mithraic cross-shaped symbol. Mithraism, therefore, has had a significant role in this architectural orientation, and subsequently, during the Sassanid period, as people believed in the two celestial deities who were visualized in the form of the Zoroastrian holy stars, also other directions such as the North, South and West, were considered important. In the Islamic era, however, due to the ideological shift and consigning the original philosophy of the fourfold division to total oblivion, this form continued to exist while bearing new symbolic notions, often originated from Quran, Hadith and esoteric sources of Sufism, and eventually became an enduring feature in the architecture and urbanism of Iran.

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