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Isfahan . IRANG

Takht-e-Foulad is the name for the historic cemetery in the city of Isfahan. Lisanul Arz and Baba Ruknuddin are the alternatives used previously. Like many other historic cemeteries in the world, the origin is not so clear; however, as evidenced by the tombstones and objects discovered, it can be traced to the fourth and fifth centuries AH. Also, the presence of the mausoleum for Joshua in the eastern section of the cemetery (Lisanul Arz Takya*) traces it to the pre-Islamic period. Mosleheddin Mahdavi, Researcher and Isfahanologist, writes: Centuries before the advent of Islam when Bukhtunnasr had harassed and sent the Jews into exile, Cyrus, the Achamenid King of Persia, freed them from the captivity, admitting them to the Persian soil, domiciling some in the city of Isfahan, Joshua and Shaya, two of their prophets and yet religious leaders, lived, died, and were buried there. The cemetery has stood truly magnificent and popular throughout history serving the purposes of Worship, rituals and national ceremonies (like organizing centenary celebrations in the time of Mardavij, son of Ziar), meetings, private gatherings, withdrawing from public life and learning for the purpose of mystics, scholars, scientists, and artists. Also, the area and the name highly contributed to the shape, culture, and art of the city of Isfahan. Abbas Beheshtian (1926-1987), Iranian researcher and Isfahanologist, was the first to discover the architectural remains from the Deylamid time in Lisanul Arz. Also, in a treatise titled Galdieri, there are worthwhile tips on the identification and styles of the early Islamic through to Seljuk architecture in Lisanul Arz. In the 7th and 8th centuries AH, a number of mystics and scientists (like Babaruknuddin) came to this area, lived and died there. However, researchers believe that the shaping and growing of Takht-e-Foulad following the death of Baba Foulad Halvai (959 A. H.) took on a more serious tone culminating during the Safavid time. It, however, is not precisely clear whether his nickname had been derived from the cemetery or that the cemetery's name had been derived from his name. The growth of Takht-e-Foulad cemetery gathered momentum during the time of Shah Abbas II. such that in his travel account, Jean Chardin (French, 1643-1713) cites over 400 takyas", monasteries and other buildings in the cemetery. In part of his travel account he writes "The entire area and surroundings of the mausoleums are filled with guest houses, monasteries, takyas, gardens, and two huge refrigerators. A small creek, named ab-i divist-u-panjah, crosses the area". Takht-e-Foulad was not only a cemetery but also a collection of caravanserais, residences, schools mosques, water cisterns, etc. The cemetery lying outside the city limits until the Safavid time and gradually joining the city was the last place of residence for caravans entering the city from the south Takhl-e-Foulad was absolutely huge. However, from the second half of the Safavid time, especially during the Afghan Invasion of Esfahan and then during the Qajar time, i.e. when Zill al-Sultan (son of the Nassireddin Shah Qajar) ruled Esfahan, it suffered enormous damage. Heinrich Karl Brugsch (German, 1827-1894), researcher and orientalist, writes:"Among the stones, we came upon a sculpture of a lion with a human head beholding the passers-by with eyes wide open as if he meant to tell the stories of the area and of the braveries of the generals resting there for good. The stones and mausoleums bore calligraphies, or inscribed designs of horse riders, or cypresses". Ernst Holtzer (German, 1835-1911), engineer and photographer having lived over 20 years and then died and buried in Isfahan during the Qajar time, writes: "Takht-e-Foulad is one of the largest cemeteries where there are a multitude of sculptures". Also, among the photographs that he took of Iran, especially of Esfahan, there are some of Takht-e-Foulad. Eugine Aubin (French, 1863-1931), French Minister Plenipotentiary in Iran, writes: "Across the last bridge, begins the area of Takht-e-Foulad cemetery. Long before the Safavid time began, driven by an esoteric and religious interest, Isfahanis buried their dead beside Baba Ruknuddin who had lived, died, and been buried in the same place. Following Qajar, in his travel accounts, Frederick Charles Richards describes Takht-e-Foulad in the first Pahlavi's time with the words: "The other end of Khaju Bridge finds its way into the cemetery of Isfahan (i.e. Takht-e-Foulad) where there are well-designed mausoleums with domes covered with quality glazed Iranian tiles. In 1984, burial of the dead was stopped in the cemetery, and a new cemetery named Bagh-i-Rizvan was built in the east of Isfahan. Nevertheless, the martyrs of Iran-Iraq war were buried in the eastern end of Takht-e-Foulad. In 1996, Takht-e-Foulad was registered under 1735 on the National Iranian Works List. Although most of the tombstones in Takht-e-Foulad date back to the beginning of the 10th century AH reaching into the present time, and that there are not so many left of the tombstones in the Safavid time and earlier on, Takht-e-Foulad can be looked upon as a large museum of the finest tombstones and mausoleum buildings, and as one of the world's most important cemeteries. Apart from the various Mausoleum buildings, both historic and architectural, there are a wide variety of tombstones in the cemetery. Many of them bear inscribed calligraphies, designs, and sculptures of historic, esthetic, and artistic values. Of the tombstone-inscribed designs in Takht-e-Foulad, reference can be made to those of people, animals (birds, mammals, fish), plants (tree branches, leaves, flowers, fruits). altars, cups, vases, cressets, geometric figures, job tools, ritual tools (rosaries, rings, mirrors, etc.), angels, and Arabesque, or flower-and-bird styles. Finally, we will read parts of the works of Jalaluddin Humai (1980-1900), researcher, scientist, and Isfahanologist: Takht-e-Foulad is unique of its kind, the like of which is found nowhere else in Iran: a collection of magnificent buildings, no less inclusive of fine arts than in the mosques and schools of the Safavid time. The industrial intelligence combined with the beautyloving and art-creating taste of Isfahanis has left their imprint on the cemetery, changing it into a collection of tall buildings, flower-planted gardens, lush green trees. ponds, and fresh water cisterns, that detract from the sorrow that comes on visiting the dead and stopping at the cemetery, and changing it into a cheery place. It is also a famous place for fun and promenade, a place for both asceticism and worship, for both sadness and happiness. The presence of the buildings creates a unique impact on the spirit of the men of vision. Takht-e-Foulad is the final resting place for thousands of great people having rested there in peace for some five or six centuries.