The staircase in Ali Qapu Palace, Isfahan.
i was bedazzled by the Naqsh e Jahan Square which houses 4 of the most extraordinary monuments: The Shah Mosque, Lotfullah Mosque & the Bazar and of course Ali Qapu palace.
I came to Ali Qapu after visitong the mosques and realised that awe and wonderment hadn’t been exhausted in tje world’s most beautiful mosque!
The gates of Ali Qapu palace ( Qapu itself means gate) are a reference to Hazrat Ali. There is a reference that the gate came from Hazrat Ali’s shrine in Najaf and eere this sanctified or because it was named after him.
Whatever be the case the gate is accorded a kind of venerated and divine status. Apparently anybody who took refuge behind the door could not be dislodged.
This if a criminal took refuge here he ritjer left after being pardoned or if he passed away from starvation!!
Anyway, my story is about its glorious tiled staircase. It had me bewitched.
Tiles have been used extensively for decoration in Iran. In fact in Central Asia.
Under the Safavids this art became even more refined.
The major producer of tiles was the city Kashan and so great was its fame that Persian toles were called Kashani: a reference i found in Asar us Sanadid in relation to Neela Gumbad.
The tiles used here are called haft rangi ( seven colours : tho it doesn’t necessarily mean that they all have 7 colours.)
The technical term is Cuerda Seca OR Dry Cord).
This was the term given to tiles made with
complex polychrome technique.
This was a cheaper and less time-consuming method to mosaic-tile setting and was forst used in the beginning in the late fourteenth century: The Ikhanid period.
This allowed several colors to be combined on one tile. The colors did not run together as they were separated by a painted line of manganese mixed withgrease which burnt
itsellf out in the kiln itself, this leaving a matte line ( Cuerda Seca).
The dark lines of the cuerda seca replaced the black outlines, while the palette is large though usually set on a dull yellowish-green background .
Which brings me back to this exquisite staircase!