The history of the art of tile and pottery in Iran goes back into ancient time. When agriculture came into existence and cultivation started on Iran’s plateau by primitive races of this land, people made utensils of baked clay in order to meet their needs. Iranian pottery (sometimes known as gombroon) production presents a continuous history from the beginning of Iranian history until the present day.
Fingerprints of primitives in Iran can be seen on relics. The first earthenware was mainly of two types: black utensils and red ones, both were hardly complicated products.
Gradually simple earthenware was decorated with by geometric designs. Studying the designs shows us that ancient Iranians were skilful also in designing earthenware and represented their works in a lively and gracious manner. Iran can be called the birthplace of designed earthenware utensils. Designing earthenware in Iran started about 4,000 BC.
Earthenware of those times had been baked more carefully in newly-made kilns. Shapes and forms of these potteries indicate invention of the pottery rotating instrument may be of that time.
Artists produced a variety of utensils like piped pots, bowls and jars to store corn and grain. Among excavated potteries belonging to those eras, some primitive earthen statues in the form of animals and birds have also been found which presumably had ornamental value more than anything else.
In Iran pottery manufacture has a long and brilliant history. Due to the special geographical position of the country, being at the crossroads of ancient civilizations and on important caravan routes, almost every part of Iran was, at times, involved in pottery making. Yet, recent excavations and archaeological research revealed that there were four major pottery-manufacturing areas in the Iranian plateau. These included the western part of the country, namely the area west of the Zagros mountains (Lurestan), and the area south of the Caspi-an Sea (Gilan and Mazandaran provinces). These two areas are chronologically as far as is known today, the earliest. The third region is located in the northwestern part of the country, in Azarbaijan province. The fourth area is in the southeast, i.e. the Kerman region and Baluchestan. To these four regions one may also add the Kavir area, where the history of pottery making can be dated back to the 8th millennium BCE.
Tabriz is the capital of one of the most famous provinces of Iran, The Azarbaijan or Aturpatgan. It is the land of Azargoshnasp temple; The fire temple of the Kings and the Nobles of Iran. It is perhaps the birth place of Zaratushtra.
Tabriz, Being the provincial capital of East Azarbai jan ( Aturpatgan ), has slightly more than 1,700,000 population and was the second largest city in Iran until the early 1970’s. Tabriz has been the capital city of Iran on numerous times throughout the old history of this country. Tabriz is located in a valley to the north of the beautiful Mount Sahand.
The city has a long and turbulent history although the early history of Tabriz is shrouded in legend and mystery, the town’s origin is believed to date back to distant antiquity, perhaps even before the Sassanian era (224 - 651 A.D.). The oldest stone tablet with a reference to Tabriz is that of Sargon the second, the Assyrian King. The tablet refers to a place called Tauri Castle and Tarmkis. The historians believe this castle was situated on the site of the present day Tabriz. It was the capital of Azarbaijan in the 3rd century A.D. and again under the Mongol Ilkhanid dynasty (1256 - 1353), although for some time Maragheh supplanted it.
During the reign of Aqa Khan of the Ilkhanids, as well as under the reign of Ghazan Khan, Tabriz reached the peak of glory and importance. Many great artists and philosophers from all over the world traveled to Tabriz. In 1392, after the end of Mongol rule, the town was sacked by Tamerlane. It was soon restored under the Turkman tribe of the Qara Qoyunlu, who established a short-lived local dynasty. Under the Safavids it rose from regional to national capital for a short period, but the second of the Safavid kings, Shah Tahmasb, moved the capital to Qazvin because of the vulnerability of Tabriz to Ottoman attacks. The town then went into a period of
decline, fought over by the Iranians, Ottomans and Russians and struck by earthquake.
Tabriz was the residence of the crown prince under the Qajar kings, but the town did not return to prosperity until the second half of the 19th century. The greatest boost to Tabriz came with the opening up of Iran to the West at the turn of this century, when it became the main staging post between the interior of Iran and the Black Sea and,for a short time, the economic capital.
In 1908 it was the center of a revolt against Mohammad Ali Shah, which was only put down with the brutal intervention of the Russians. In the second Iran- Russia War the city was occupied by the Czar troops.
However, it was returned to Iran following the signing of Turkmanchai Treaty, a peace and trade settlement that ended the Iran-Russia War of 1826-1828.
House of Constitution
The Iranian Constitutional Revolution originated in Tabriz and culminated during the reign of Mohammad Ali Shah of Qajar dynasty (1779-1925). Sattar Khan and Baqer Khan were the two most prominent leading figures behind the movement. Tabriz was occupied by Russians several times in the first half of 20th century, including most of both world wars. A railway line to
the border at Jolfa, built by the expansionist Russians, was of little importance until recently, but it has increased in significance in the ‘90s as a result of Iran’s friendlier relations with its northern neighbors.
With a very rich history, Tabriz used to house many historical monuments. Unfortunately, many of them were destroyed in repeated invasions and attacks of foreign forces, negligence of the ruling governments, as well natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods.
What remains now mostly dates back to the Ilkhanids, 6 the Safavids, and the Qajars. Some of the monuments are unrivaled masterpieces of architecture.
There are many factories and great industrial and productive sites in Tabriz which have changed it into one of the industrial centers in the country. The most important factories are as follows: Tractor, machinery and ball-bearing manufacturing factories, refinery and so many other centers such as carpet weaving sites.
Ark or Citadel of Tabriz
Ark-e Tabriz in Persian (also called Masjid-e Alishah,
Arg-e Alishah) is the impressive remainder of a great and imposing building in the town. The Arg, a huge and crumbling brick citadel, is a notable landmark that was built in the early 14th century on the site of a massive mosque which collapsed over 500 years ago, and which must been one of the largest ever constructed.
Inside the Citadel there is nothing except two arches and an indication of the position of the mehrab; Ali Shah’s court has been covered with ignoble buildings, the sanctuary walls have been rebuilt and propped up, and it is hard to believe that any part of this place was ever a mosque.
The Constitution House is located next to the Tabriz grand bazaar, on Motahari Ave. During the years which led to the Constitutional Revolution and afterwards, the house was used as the gathering place of the leaders, activists, and the sympathizers of the movement, among them Sattar Khan, Baqer Khan, Seqatoleslam and Haji Mirza Aqa Farshi.
The two-story building was constructed in 1868 by Haj Vali Me’mar-e Tabrizi. It has numerous rooms and halls. The most beautiful part of the house is a skylight and a corridor decorated with colorful glasses and mirrors.
Strolling in the center of Tabriz, one is reminded very forcibly that it is a commercial city: one cannot miss its very large and 15th-century covered bazaar.
It is already much diminished in its variety of goods, but still a great place for getting hopelessly lost amid its dusty architectural splendors. Its architectural style, numerous caravansaries, mosques, and schools have added further beauty and glory to this complex.
Bazar of Tabriz
Exact information on the history and origin of the bazaar is not available; however, historical buildings such as the Jam’s Mosque, Talebieh School, and Sadeqieh School indicate that the complex is one of the oldest structures of the city. The present structure of bazaar dates back to the closing years of the Zand dynasty (1750-1779 A.D.).
From the earliest days of Christianity there has been a sizable Armenian community in Tabriz, and the city boasts a number of churches, including one mentioned by Marco Polo on his travels.
Nowadays, Tabriz has six churches, the most important of which are: Saint Serkis Church, located in Armenian quarter of Tabriz, Baron Avak, which was renovated in 1845; probably the most interesting and the oldest but substantially rebuilt Church of St. Mary (Kelesa-ye Maryam-e Moghaddas) which was completed in 1785, on the corner of North Shari-ati Ave.
and Jomhuri Ave; Able Mary Church which was built in 1910 and is on Miar Miar quarter of Tabriz.
The Blue Mosque (Persian: Masjed-e Kabūd; Azerbaijani: Göy məscid) is a famous historic mosque in Tabrīz, Iran. The mosque and some other public buildings were constructed in 1465 upon the order of Jahan Shah, the ruler of Kara Koyunlu.
The mosque was severely damaged in an earthquake in 1779, leaving only the entrance iwan. Reconstruction began in 1973 by the late Reza Memaran Benam under the supervision of Iranian Ministry of Culture.
However, the tiling is still incomplete. The Blue mosque of Tabriz was built upon the order of Jahan Shah the ruler of Kara Koyunlu dynasty which made Tabriz the capital of his Kingdom. His Kingdom covered major parts of modern Iran, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. He was killed by Uzun Hassan (the ruler of Ak Koyunlu) and buried on the only parts of the mosque that survived.
The mausoleum was built in the southern section of the mosque and is entirely covered with high marble slabs on which verses from Quran are engraved in Thulth script on a background of fine arabesques. The roof of the mausoleum and the main dome chamber of the mosque collapsed during an earthquake in 1779 A.D. and was rebuilt in 1973 thanks to the efforts of Reza Memaran Benam (a famous architect from Tabriz) under the supervision of the national organization for preservation of ancient monuments.