Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/788

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

are extremely beautiful in their decay. The Seljuk architecture is Persian with a development of its own." Here are mosques, or temples, and a palace constructed with sun-dried brick, which are declared by this high authority to be beautiful even in their decayed condition.

A somewhat similar development was reached in Peru, but with different materials. Squier, in his Land of the Incas, describes the palace of Chimu, where the adobes, or sun-dried bricks, were covered with stucco, on which beautiful arabesques were produced in relief.[1] From these ornaments he calls one of the great apartments the "Hall of Arabesques";[1] of which he speaks in warm admiration, and adds, "No description can give an idea of the character of these rilievos." In describing other ornamentation of the same kind, he says, "Here, as elsewhere, there are traces of color."[2]

I understand that the higher developed condition of this style of architecture in Persia was attained by covering the mud walls with glazed tiles. The tiles, it must be understood, were covered with ornament.

The interior of a mud building may also be decorated with glazed tiles; but in Persia gatch, or gypsum, is plentiful, and where ornament is required it is much used. In an old tomb, at Sarrakhs, I saw some particularly good ornament in this material; and it appeared to me to be all hand-work. I chanced to come upon one room that impressed me with the capabilities of this manner of decoration. It was at a place called Mazinan, on the first march eastward within the Khorassan frontier. There appeared to be the remains of more than one town here; I strolled over to that which was nearest, and found that it was all formed of mud. The mass forming the mound was artificial, for I found bits of red burned bricks or vessels imbedded in it. The top was a curious maze of rooms, courts, stairs, and roofs, much of it in a tumble-down condition. The solid mass of mud or earth was about twenty feet high, and the houses were above that; still, they were not all on the same level, for I went up and down short flights of steps. The whole was of mud or sun-dried bricks. The mud must have been carefully put on at first, but the high finish was produced by gatch, or gypsum. There were very handsome niches all round the walls, and the fireplace had been elaborate, but some act of destruction had taken place, and the fragments lay on the floor where they had fallen. The ornament was simple; there were some slight moldings on the space between the niches. Lines had been drawn into the gypsum, and an ornament

  1. 1.0 1.1 Peru, or the Land of the Incas, p. 135.
  2. Ibid., p. 154; also at p. 411.