عنوان مقاله [English]
Among the historical Islamic wooden works remaining in Iran, wooden doors are significant examples, ideal for the study of history of art in Iran. In addition to decorations, they have inscriptions containing religious texts and prayers that contain important information about the period they have been created in. On the other hand, Marashis are amongst the local governments of Iran, Tabaristan (present Mazandaran) during 14-15 centuries AD, which have been relatively less discussed and studied, even though there are numerous monuments remaining from that period, mostly tombs and shrines. This lack of recognition of significant artistic structures, especially intricate wooden doors from that era, is specifically addressed in this article. Also, other goals of the present research include; identifying and categorizing historical wooden doors belonging to the 14-15 centuries AD in Mazandaran and the comparative study and investigation of their evolution.
Door is always considered an integral element in buildings and historical and cultural monuments, so that today they can be considered one of the main and identifying elements in traditional architecture. One of the historical periods in which the application of wooden doors flourished in the construction of tombs and shrines, was the Marashi dynasty (760-906 AH) in Tabaristan (now Mazandaran). Shia Marashis, in order to pay respect to the deceased and descendants of the Shia Imams, built many tombs and shrines, most of them with luxurious wooden doors. Despite the fact that their overall construction method is often similar, the style and decorative motifs of these wooden doors are significant and specific. Interesting to point that, one of the characteristics of wooden doors of this period, is the existence of inscriptions containing information such as: the patron, year of construction, manufacturer, etc., on many of them. But the reason behind the study of these works in present research, in addition to their abundance and dispersion in the 9th century AH, was the diversity in their imagery and decoration.
In accordance, the main questions posed in this research are: What are the artistic characteristics of wooden doors during the Marashi period, and how can the historical evolution of the mentioned doors in the Marashi period of Mazandaran be justified?
The present research is conducted through developmental studies with a descriptive-analytical and comparative approach. Research data have been collected from library resources, document and field method and analyzed through qualitative method. The samples of the research are targeted and selected through a survey, fourteen samples have been identified and selected in a non-probable and purposeful manner: Imamzadeh Ebrahim in city of Babolsar, Imamzadeh Abdul Saleh in city of Marzroud, Imamzadeh Abdullah in city of Mahfroz Mahalla, Imamzadeh Yahya, Imamzadeh Prince Hossein and Imamzadeh Abbas in the city of Sari, Imamzadeh Ali Asghar, Imamzadeh Qasim and Imamzadeh Sultan Mohammad Taher in the city of Babol, Imamzadeh Yusuf in city of Noor, Imamzadeh Mofid in city of Neka, Shamsuddin Babelkani tomb in city of Behshahr, and the wooden door currently kept at Aga Khan Museum, Canada.
In order to prove that the works belong to the 9th century AH, first the inscriptions were studied thoroughly and then their decorations were determined and classified. After categorizing the extracted technical and visual features, the works have been compared to highlight the evolution in these works. It should be noted that historical wooden doors - at least based on the examples remained after the advent of Islam in Iran - were usually made by two techniques: One Piece and Frame and Plate. In the one-piece method, a wooden board was cut to the desired dimensions, and while keeping the two appendages at the top and bottom as a round heel (the only point in common with the frame and plate technique), other decorations - mostly engravings and carvings - were added later onto the surface of the door directly. But in the frame and plate technique - at least the oldest example of it is from the Abbasid period - unlike the one-piece technique, the panels are made up of smaller components called frame and plate. This allows the manufacturer to decorate the panels separately and then install them inside the door frames. Another advantage of this technique, which is still being applied to this day, is its high resistance against the factors of mechanical destruction of wood, such as tension, warping, contraction and shrinkage (property of absorbing and repelling moisture) and so on. The use of reliable connection of the crotch and tongue along with wooden nails can be counted as another reason for the popularity of this method of door making. The main components of the doors in this method are the frame, the plate, the round heel and the nose. An additional point in this topic is the extension of the doors outside of the general norm in order to add a skylight in the upper part of the studied doors, which are decorated in the manner of latticework and hollow porcelain knots along with carvings. It is worth mentioning that, perhaps, other doors of the statistical community of the current research also had this feature, but due to the destruction of the building or moving to another place, it is possible that their light-reflecting part has been lost.
As it can be seen from the content of this article, the Marashi Shiite government has been one of the supporters of the arts related to Shiite beliefs, and this causes the construction of shrines to suddenly flourish in the 9th and 10th centuries A.H. compared to the previous periods. In parallel, some artworks of the northern regions of Iran, including arts related to wood, have been developed and applied in buildings as architectural decorative elements, including the grave box, door, window and skylights made of mostly local wood (Azad-Sorkhdar).
Due to the variety of shapes and forms of shrines, some have more entrances and windows, which is another reason for the perceived variety of wooden doors in that period. Among other factors of the development of these arts, we can mention the element of endowment, in such a way that the religious patrons paid attention to their religious customs in addition to pursuing political goals by financing the various components of these shrines such as doors. Which resulted in, artistic carpentry becoming the generational profession of many families in north of Iran, for several centuries, and also contributing to the tradition of teamwork among artists of that area.
It is remarkable to point that, despite the civil turmoil and unrest in the Tabaristan (Mazandaran) in that period, the support for these artistic endeavors were not exclusive to a certain person or ruler, these activities and commissions for the construction of the entrance doors of the shrines did not stop either. It is possible that in the future other doors will be found and this historical diversity will be complemented more accurately.
According to the findings of this article, some important issues are worth mentioning: First, during the rule of the Shiite Marashi dynasty in present-day Mazandaran, their role in strengthening and establishing stability and promoting the art and architecture of the Shiite religion is significant and can be studied more extensively. Furthermore in this period, patrons of the arts have played a significant role in the emergence of all kinds of architectural decorations, especially historical wooden doors, as a continuous tradition, in the context of existing political, social and religious conditions. In a way that the historical journey of the discussed wooden doors, sheds light on a century of continuous support for carpentry as an art. In fact, assigning a lot of decorations to the buildings that belong to the Shiites and Imam’s descendants’ shrines represents the Shiite beliefs of the people of this region. In addition, in the inscriptions of most of the investigated works, the patron's name is clearly mentioned along with the creator and artist.
In terms of historical scope, exactly half of the works are related to the first half of the period and the rest to the second half. This can indicate the consistency of the construction of wooden works during the mentioned era. This balance is noticeable in some other visual and technical components. For example: the common pattern in the construction method and the general form of the frames, as well as the skylights above the doors, decorating the middle panel with geometric knots, covering the nose with similar geometric and plant motifs, the use of concave pavement with medium ground depth. The results of the research show that due to the serious support of the Marashis for the construction of shrines and subsequently wooden doors, a continuous movement can be detected in the construction and decoration of these doors.