Query Letter (Illustrated)

The indigenous architecture of Iran is a genre of architecture characterized by the use of sun-baked bricks ( kheshtts ), mudbricks, baked bricks, and the kaahegel mortar (--the clay mixed with water and hay which hardens as it dries and which is used for a coating on the walls and dome-like roofs,) as the main building materials. Terms such as the clay architecture or the traditional architecture, therefore, are the synonyms for the indigenous architecture of Iran. This genre of architecture has a long history and its origin goes back to the Sumerian time ( or to c. 5000 B. C. ).

Noted indigenous (or clay), architectural features include: 1) The Main Building Materials: the clay, sun-baked brick ( kheshtts ), and kaahegel (--clay mixed with water and hay and used as a mortar or for a coating);

2) Arch and dome by sun-baked bricks;

3) The traditional houses and traditional doors (Below: illustrations of two traditional houses from the inner courtyard in Yazd City);

4) The maj-moo-’ah (complex, set, or group): a group of public buildings, such as a mosque, a theological school with a library, a public bath, an exercise center (zoor khaaneh ), a drinking water fountain with a ground water reservoir (aab anbaar ), a tea-house or a restaurant, and a baazaar in one section of the city within a short walking distance apart from each other);

5) Koochehes or narrow alleyways including the clay buttresses;
6) Baadgeirs (wind-catching towers);
7) Pigeon Towers with many dovecotes;
8) Traditional tiles and tile-works;
9) Muqarnass decoration;
10) Qanat (Ghanat/ Qanaat) irrigation system;
11) Bridges;
12) Minarets and Towers;
13) Clay Ice Reservoir (Yakhdaan )
14) Caravansaries;
15) Clay Castles;
16) Palaces;
17) Art works including wall paintings in Palaces (Below: A gilded wall painting in Chehel Sutoon Palace, Isfahaan City).

A modernization process in Iran from mid-20th century, however, has caused a rapid erosion of the indigenous structure and a replacement of many architectural features with modern buildings.

The present series is a collection of the survived features of of the indigenous (or clay ) architecture in historic cities of Iran. A pictorial introduction and display of such features, therefore, are the main theme of this series.