The Concept of the domed pavilion is a very old one and is central to Persian architectural tradition. In its simplest form it consists of a room with four arches forming the walls surmounted by a dome. The words, chahar taq, mean, in Persian, "Four Arch". Thec concept was the basis of pre-Islamic Sassanid architecture and undoubtedly has links with the early concepts of sanctuaries within which the fire burned and which needed to be seen from all sides. Evidence of its archetypal importance can be found in the layout of parks, palaces and even towns as is evidenced by the analogous concept of chahar bagh, the four Gardens onto which you could look from the centre of a four arched pavilion.

The coming of Islam gave the old concept a greater symbolism. The very design of the Persian mosque, with its central copurtyard surrounded by four eivans, as opposed to the traditional Arab hypostyle mosque, in which there was one principal eivan which faced onto three cloisters, is evidence of the persistence of the concept.

In addition the increasingly gnostic tendencies of Islam, which can be attributed in the main to the influence of the Sufis, began to use the concept as a hook on which to hang some important concepts. Under this paradigm the relationship between heaven and man is symbolised by the squaring of the circles or the transition from the single point of the circular dome to the square of the room below.


Last Updated December 20, 1998