Study – Influences of Sassanid Empire in the Islamic Art and Architecture

One of the empires that influenced the Islamic aesthetic is the Sassanid Empire. The influence of the Empire was widespread ; not only it was apparent in the home of the civilization that is Persia and its surroundings, but the influences can also be noticed and seen throughout the Islamic empire to a certain extend.

A short introduction of the Sassanid Empire

The Sassanid Empire, also known as the Sassanian Empire, was the last Pre-Islamic empire of Persia, under the rule of the Sassanian Dynasty from 224 to 651. It succeeded the Parthian Empire and was recognized as one of the main powers in Western Asia and Europe alongside then Roman and Byzantine Empire. During the time of the Empire, it encompassed the areas of Central Asia that includes Iran, some parts of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, The Caucus area of Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Dagestan, parts of Turkey, Coastal areas of the Arabian Peninsula that faces the Indian ocean and the Persian Gulf Area.The Sassanid Empire witnessed the peak of Ancient Persian Empire, and considered one of the most important historical periods of Iran. The cultural and aesthetic influence of the Sassanid Empire not only affected the Arabic/Islamic empire, but also played a prominent role in European and Asian Medieval art.

A Sassanid coin, Hormizd I, Afghanistan issue copying Kushan designs.


The Influence in Islamic Architecture

The Muslim architects had taken a number of Sassanid architectural inventions ; infact, Islamic architecture borrowed heavily from the Sassanid Architecture. Domes, while not perfect in a sense, was utilized in Sassanid buildings later to be incorporated into Islamic ones. Arches were used as well and later were improved by Muslim architects. Iwans were also used and carried on by the Islamic architects to be used in Islamic buildings for example the Jame Mosque in Isfahan, Iran. Perhaps one of the greatest example of Sassanid influence on Islamic architecture is the copying of the fire temple tower found in the center of Sassanid cities. The tower was a spiral tower and copied by Islamic architects to be used as the minaret for the Great Mosque of Samarra in Baghdad, Iraq, though it is not practical to use the tall spiral tower as a place to call the faithful to prayer.

The Spiral Minaret of the Samarra Mosque in Iraq, a copy of the fire temple tower of Sassanid origins.




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