Squaring the Circle

After Ardelan & Bakhtiar

The symbolism of chahar taq is important. The room with its four walls and four eivans is a powerful symbol of man's space on the planet and in his society. It reminds us of the four directions, the four seasons and the four elements, thus emphasising the materiality. Under the sufic numbering system of 'abjad' the number six was associated with the body, and thus through the addition of the roof and floor the association of the room with man is even more complete.

The Dome, on the other hand represents the Universe and the Universal being, through the circle and the point. By placing the dome above the room the relationship between God and Man is symbolised and the transition from one to the other is associated with the alchemical notion of squaring the circle, for it is this that will transmute the soul of man.

Within the place delimited by the chahar taq the Persian architect places a focal point for reflection. In the mosque this is a mehrab, in the pavilion he places a central fountain and in the garden a pool.


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25-January-95