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Forumad Village Mosque, A Mosque full of Carvings

Forumad Village Mosque, is one of the artistic wonders of Persia and the first historical monument of Semnan province.
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Introduction to Forumad Village Mosque

Mosque, temple, shrine, and every religious building left from the past is a magnificent work that shows the peak of art and architecture of the people of that period. One of these buildings is Forumad Village Mosque. The plastering, the high arches, and the decorations left over from different eras are just some of the unique attractiveness that invites us to visit the historical mosque. Forumad, a stunning village with a history of several thousand years, is one of the functions of Meyami city, the easternmost city of Semnan province, which has great historical importance since its location on the Silk Road. Forumad Village Mosque is a significant and rare historical monument in Iran due to its exquisite tiles, carvings, and plastering related to the 10 to 13 centuries. The building is reminiscent of contemporary architecture with the unique turquoise tile decorations besides the plaster and brick adornments. The mosque is one of the artistic wonders of Persia and the first historical monument of Semnan province and is about 900 years old. The mosque contains a plan of two Iwans and date back to the time of the Khwarezm-Shah dynasty. Next to the Grand Mosque is the tomb of Ibn Yamin Forumadi, a 14th-century poet.

History of Forumad Village Mosque

Forumad Village Mosque was built on the remains of a Zoroastrian temple, according to some narrations, which probably date back to the early years of the arrival of Islam or the Seljuk period. This mosque holds different plastering in the three periods of the beginning of Islam, Seljuk and Ilkhanid. Forumad Mosque has no inscriptions or historical documents. But experts, considering the architectural style, high Iwans, and the absence of minarets, which is the Khorasani style architecture, consider it to be one of the works of the early 12 century A.D and the Khwarezm-Shah dynasty. But scholars such as André Godard, a French architect and archaeologist, and Donald Wilber have a different view. By examining the architectural body and the initial decorations of the building, which is under a layer of brickwork of the late Ilkhanate period, they attribute the history of the building to the Seljuk period.

In the inner bodies and outer walls of the south Iwan, several decorative layers indicate a change in the architectural structure of the early Seljuk building during the Ilkhanate period. Natural disasters such as earthquakes or the completion and addition of new parts to the building caused these changes. There is an inscription above the Ilkhanate Mihrab of the construction on the south Iwan, which is not very legible now. In the description, a person named “Ali Ibn Mohammad Al-Mahmoud Al-Jami Al-Shahristani” is introduced, who was probably the architect of the structure or the builder of the south Iwan and its decorations.

The architecture of Forumad Mosque

The area of ​​Forumad Mosque is about 820 square metres, and it has the Two-Iwani plan. There are also two smaller Iwans on either side of the Iwans, a Shabestan on the east side of the south Iwan and probably a symmetrical Shabestan on the west side. There are two Iwans on both sides of the courtyard and a square domed room on the west side of the north Iwan. On the north side of the building, the entrance is decorated richly and magnificently with brickwork, plaster, and several inscriptions. The mosque owned a large dome that collapsed about 100 years ago. On the north side of the Forumad Mosque, there is the entrance to the mosque, which contains unique decorations, like brickwork, plastering, and inscriptions. This entrance form is such an Iwan with a Tudor Arch, also in the inner margin of which two columns exist with a brick facade.

The base of the columns is placed on the platform on the sides of the entrance, and their top end is in a cube-shaped capital. There are damaged plastered inscriptions with the theme of Quranic verses in Naskh script in the arch of the entry. There is a small gate one and a half meters high at the end of the entrance, which seems to have been made smaller and shorter in later periods.

The courtyard and Shabestan of the Forumad Mosque

Crossing the entrance, we reach a small rectangular space (Hashti) about two and a half meters wide and six meters long, from which we enter the courtyard and the side Shabestan. The bazaar aqueduct and the existence of two waterways in the western and eastern walls show that this part was also a bathhouse. Now, a covering of a brick arch, much of which has collapsed, covers the space. There are connections between the courtyard and the Iwans from the north and south, and the west and east lead to the remains of Iwans, which have stunning decoration with plant and Arabesque motifs. The courtyard is about 16.5 by 12.5 metres in size, bounded by three conical arches to the west and east, and probably led to the Shabestans (prayer hall) next to the mosque.

Today, the base of the columns of these Shabestan is available, and the rest destroyed by time. The western Shabestan of the Farumad Grand Mosque has been destroyed by time. There are two porches on both sides of the courtyard and a domed room on the west side of the north Iwan.

The south and north Iwans of Forumad Mosque

On the principal axis of the building, two high Iwans face each other in two directions, north, and south. The walls, arches, ceilings, and fronts of the Iwans are full of Arabesque, plant, and geometric designs. Also, the brickwork and plastering, muqarnas or earrings, and Qur’anic inscriptions dazzle the eyes of every viewer. Both Iwans include decorations with brickwork and Rayhani script inscription. The arch of the two Iwans is the same size and is about six and a half metres, but the depth of the two Iwans is different. The depth of the south Iwan for functional and structural reasons is about 11 metres and 30 centimetres, while the depth of the north Iwan is seven metres and three centimetres. Also, the height of the south Iwan is slightly higher than the north Iwan. Of course, the unique and specific decorations of the south Iwan are the most significant aspect of its advantage over the north Iwan. There are 12-sided shapes on the sides of the south and north Iwans, on top of the little Iwans and the Iwans’ bases, that look like the sun. Other decorative motifs in the Iwans are a mix of Quranic inscriptions in Kufic and Rayhani scripts and thin Arabesque and Khatai scripts.

You can see these inscriptions in the arches and the Mihrab of the mosque. Under the interior vault’s base of both Iwans, plastered inscription strips are magnificently visible. They have repaired the roofs of the Iwans, but not their Muqarnas.

The Mihrab of  Mosque of Forumad

Experts say that the Forumad Mosque contains two Mihrabs, one of the Mihrabs had a pleasant atmosphere in hot summer weather, and the other was good in winter. Mihrab is inside the south Iwan of the Forumad Mosque, which contains decoration with turquoise and azure blue plaster with embossed structure and Arabesque motifs that will delight the eyes of every spectator. On the south Iwan, in addition to the mentioned Mihrab, on the second eastern Iwan, there is another Mihrab with specific patterns and motifs, which was probably proper for the winter cold.

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