Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/206

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177
PERSIA.

The same observation applies to the statement of the writers who attribute the colonnades to Homai, the Persian Semiramis.

As to the nature of the entire edifice, some argue from the figures on the walls that it was a temple, others a palace: for these figures sometimes represent a kind of procession, in which some have thought they discovered traces of the fire-worship; at others, a monarch seated on his throne, guards, combats, &c. These opposite opinions might perhaps be reconciled, by supposing that the platform contained both a temple and a palace.

A curious specimen of the architecture of the middle age is found at the ruinous city of Sultania, in an unfinished building, begun by Sultan Mahomed Khodabund in the 14th century, as a shrine for the remains of the caliph Ali and his son Hossein, which he intended to translate thither from their former burial-place, and thus make Sultania a point of future pilgrimage for the faithful of his own empire, as Medina had heretofore been' for Musulmans in general. The sultan, however, did not live to complete his design, and his own ashes occupied the place.

The centre of this once splendid but now mouldering edifice, is surmounted by a dome upwards of 130 feet in height. The whole interior of the building presents one uninterrupted space; but to the south is a large distinct chamber, choked up with rubbish, under the floor of which, as Sir R. Porter was informed, are three immense vaulted rooms, the entrance to which is buried under the superincumbent rubbish, and in one of which stands the tomb of the founder. The inside of the whole mosque is beautifully painted, and tiled with varied porcelain. Much gilding is yet to be seen upon the upright and transverse lines of decoration, among which it is said the whole Koran is written in ornamented characters; but it requires a Musulman's eye to find it out, in the labyrinth of arabesque patterns by which it is surrounded. The whole building was formerly inclosed within a square of 300 yards. All .the proportions and decorations of this vast structure are in the most splendid Asiatic taste; but the blue, green, and golden tiles, with which it has been coated, are rapidly disappearing; yet enough remains to give an idea of the original beauty of the whole.

In illustration of the present state of architecture in Persia, we shall subjoin a brief account of two palaces erected within these few years by the reigning sovereign.

The first of these, Takhti-Cadjar, the throne of the Cadjar, is situated two miles north-east of Teheran. If it does not display that royal magnificence which characterizes the edifices erected by the Sofis, still it cannot be denied that the situation and still more the arrangement of this summer-palace render it a truly delightful retreat.