Persian-Zoroastrian Nationalism in the First Pahlavi Period Architecture

Niar A. K.

ART-SANAT, vol.11, pp.255-274, 2019 (ESCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 11
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.26650/artsanat.2019.11.0012
  • Journal Name: ART-SANAT
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.255-274
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


The geography of Iran throughout the history of humanity has hosted different civilizations with their products and among these, the architectural products have been the dominant facts. After Islam, especially with the Seljuk Turks, these architectural products continued to increase in number and develop in terms of form, were interwined with neighboring geographies like Afganistan and Centeral Asia until the 19th century. Since the second half of the 19th century, initiatives based on the colonial policies of Great Britain began to operate strongly in the state of Turkic Qajar that was the last native monarchy authority in Iran. These influences of Great Britain had almost taken Iran under its authority and begun to weaken the state's power. By the time 1857, the Turkic-Mughal state was abolished by the East Indian Company (established by Great Britain in India in the previous centuries) and new fields of Indo-European colonialism were opened. Thereupon Indo-European Nationalism that was the product of European romantic assimilationist mentality, strengthened its authority first through the East Indian Company and later through British India with activities such as "Constitution Movement" in Iran. So by these interventions the state of Qajar was overthrown and the modern Iranian nation-state -known as Pahlavi- was established in 1925. The new nation-state system created suitable groundwork to economical activities and construction bids of the "Zoroastrian Parsis of India" who had strict ideological and organizational relations with British India. After destroying the majority of the architectural products belonging to the Qajar era because of -as they say- "representing the obscurantism", the Pahlavi state reverted to the pre-Islamic architectural elements of Iran, from the Forouhar symbol of Zoroastrian religion to the exterior appearance of the Achaemenid and Sasanid architectural products to decorating the facades of buildings by passing them through the ideological filter of the established nation-state. This forming or revivalism was implemented in two different ways: 1. Buildings where the facade elements of Achaemenid-Sasanid architecture were used symbolically. 2. Buildings where the facade order of the Achaemenid-Sasanid architecture were imitated exactly.