The two pictures above illustrate the extent to which the skill of developing mosaic tilework to cover curved surfaces developed between the mid 15th and early 17th centuries. The sequence above shows a detail of the tilework on the reconstructed dome of the Darb-e- Imam, the dome of the Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque.
By the time of Shah Abbas, a new consciousness had emerged within Persia. There was a universal language, and with that came an appreciation of the historical context within which the Safavid culture had developed. This picture of an archer with the body of a lion, which is to be found on the main entrance to the bazaar in Isfahan shows the extent to which the Achamaenid model of telling the truth, riding a horse and being able to shoot with a bow and arrow, had taken root, first in the form of the Parthians, and, as in this illustration, in the form of a myth, with all the ability to reproduce naturalistic forms within the constraints of mosaic.
The image of the archer is also of interest because it shows the Safavid absorption with astrology. The archer is a symbol of Sagittarius, the Zodiacal constellation, which was felt to be the sign of Isfahan. Its placement here at the entrance to the bazaar testifies to the continuing strength of belief in this system.
Last Updated December 19, 1998