Takht-i Fulad Cemetery
Takht-i Fūlād (Persian: تخت فولاد) is an old cemetery in the southern bank of the Zayanderud river in Isfahan with an area of 75 hectares.
Because of its vastness, many well-known figures buried in it, and its historically valuable monuments, Takht-i Fulad counts as an important cultural and historical site in Iran. The cemetery is also known as Mazar Baba Rukn al-Din (the mausoleum of Baba Rukn al-Din).
Joshua the prophet, Baha' al-Din Muhammad al-Isfahani (al-Fadil al-Hindi), Haj Aqa Rahim Arbab, Jahangir Khan Qashqa'i, Mulla Isma'il Khwaju'i, Jalal Taj Isfahani, Ayatollah Shamsabadi, Banu Amin, the martyr Ayatollah Ashrafi Isfahani, and many other scholars, ascetics, and mystics are buried in this cemetery.
There are different accounts of why this cemetery came to be known as "Takht-i Fulad" (Steel Throne). Some of them lack any reliable sources; for example, on one such account, Imam al-Hasan (a) built a steel throne in this cemetery in order to disable the spell of the Jews. But it has been called into question.
Mazar Baba Rukn al-Din
Takht-i Fulad is also called "Mazar Baba Rukn al-Din" because the burial place of the 8th/14th century mystic and Sufi, Baba Rukn al-Din, is located on the western side of the cemetery.
People Buried in Takht-i Fulad
Joshua the Prophet
Although the history of Takht-i Fulad is believed to date back to the period of Oljaitu, the alleged existence of a grave known as "Lisān al-Arḍ" (Arabic: لسان الأرض, literally: the tongue of the earth) on its northeastern side ties it to a very far point in the past. Lisan al-Ard is identified with Joshua, an Israelite prophet. People have for long visited the place on nights before Fridays to pray and worship. Some people take Lisan al-Ard to date back to the Daylamite period. In the periods of Daylamites and Ziyarids, important events happened in this place; for example, the well-known fireworks of Mardavij, the son of Ziyar, in the Sadeh festival of 323/935 which led to his murder.
Mystics and Ascetics
Mystics and ascetics of 5th/11th to 9th/15th centuries built worshipping places and hermitages for themselves in this area. For example, Kamal al-Din Isma'il al-Isfahani (d. 635/1237-38), the well-known poet, was killed by the Moguls in a hermitage in Takht-i Fulad.
In 7th/13th and 8th/14th centuries, a number of great mystics—who were usually known as "Bābā" (father) or "'Amū" (paternal uncle) at the time—resided in Takht-i Fulad. The best-known of them was Baba Rukn al-Din. Adjacent to Baba Rukn al-Din's grave were connected chambers in one of which—known as "Chilla Khana"—ascetics stayed in isolation for 40 days and nights.
Prominent Figures and Thinkers
In the contemporary period, monuments have been constructed for some prominent figures and scholars, including for Baha' al-Din Muhammad al-Isfahani (al-Fadil al-Hindi), Ayatollah Haj Aqa Rahim Arbab, the philosopher Jahangir Khan Qashqa'i, Mulla Isma'il Khwaju'i, Jalal Taj Isfahani, Ayatollah Shamsabadi, and Banu Amin.
In the Period of Oljaitu
Takht-i Fulad has been a cemetery since the period of Oljaitu (703/1303-4 - 716/1316) and until the end of the Safavid period, it was known as "Mazar Baba Rukn al-Din" as well.
In the Safavid Period
In the Safavid period, Takht-i Fulad was one of the twelve cemeteries of Isfahan. 400 tekyehs and buq'as were constructed in this cemetery, including the tekyeh of Baba Rukn al-Din, tekyeh of Mir Findiriski, tekyeh of Mirza Rafi'a, and tekyeh of Khatunabadi. In this period, a street was constructed parallel to Chaharbagh Bala (Chaharbagh 'Ulya 'Abbasi) towards the road to Shiraz which passed through the tekyehs of Takht-i Fulad. Chaharbagh near this street, as well as its waterfalls and ponds and many other Safavid works in the area were destroyed in the Afghan attack and in the early period of the reign of Muzaffar al-Din Shah Qajar (1313/1896 - 1324/1906).
In the Qajar Period
In the Qajar period, Muhammad Husayn Khan Amin al-Dawla made a street from the south of Khaju Bridge to the gate of Takht-i Fulad, which came to be known as "Chaharbagh Amin Abad." Today the street is called "Fayz".
In 1294/1877, Takht-i Fulad was one of the two cemeteries of Isfahan with an area of over one fourth of parasang (a historical unit of distance).
In the Pahlavi Period
From 1921 to 1929, Takht-i Fulad cemetery had a smallgreen area—the Sa'adat Abad garden was located on its northern side. A vast cemetery, tekyeh of Mir Findiriski, and Lisan al-Ard monument were located on its northeastern side, and the Musalla mosque was located on its western side. The mosque of Takht-i Fulad which was built after 1921, has an area of over 80,000 square meters. In 1939, the mosque and seminary school of Rukn al-Mulk were built on the western side of the gate of Takht-i Fulad, which used to be the passage of caravans of Fars.
From about 1956 to 1971, more parts of the city were extended towards the area of Takht-i Fulad. Changes occurred in this area in the last 50 years, including: change of architecture and urbanization, the falling of Takht-i Fulad within the urban area, residence of many homeless people near the graves and the Tekyehs, and construction of new buildings and monuments in it.
During years, many tekyehs and graves of Takht-i Fulad were destroyed, including tekyeh of Nawwab, the grave of Fadil Ardistani, a Safavid scholar, the grave of Diya' the poet and tailor, the grave of Dami the poet, the cellar of the progeny of Mir Muhammad Sadiq Musawi Khwaju'i in the south of tekyeh of Khatunabadiha, and the grave of Mulla 'Abd al-Qadir 'Ashiqabadi, the well-known mystic of the late Safavid period. Areas of these sites either turned into houses and shops or into streets. Important changes in this cemetery in the last few years include the transfer of the remnants of Mulla Muhammad Sadiq Ardistani's grave from Khaju Bridge to tekyeh of Kaziruni and the construction of a telecommunication center across from the tekyeh of Agha Bashi.
In the Present Period
Since when the cemeteries inside the city were abandoned until 1984 when the city's cemetery was built in Bagh Rizvan, Takht-i Fulad was the only cemetery in Isfahan. However, today only martyrs are buried in this cemetery.
The present Takht-i Fulad leads from south to Sa'adat Abad and Sajjad streets; from west to Jahangir Khan Qashqa'i street; from north to tekyeh of Mir and Shahid Mustafa Kiyani alleys, and from east and southeast to another part of Sajjad street. Some tekyehs and graves are outside this limit. Between tekyehs and graves of Takht-i Fulad are numerous residential houses as slums. In recent years, Eid prayers are performed in the Musalla mosque by Ayatollah Shaykh 'Abbas 'Ali Adib. The spiritual background, ritual events and worships, mosques, pilgrimage places, and the huge musalla under construction with a big building, a peculiar architecture, and very tall minarets are evidence of a special concern about this area at present.
Artistic Works in Takht-i Fulad
Takht-i Fulad contains various artistic works, including architecture, moldings, tiling, calligraphy, lithography, poems and chronograms, miniatures, drawings, and paintings from different periods in Isfahan.
- Architecture and tiling: the mausoleum of Aqa Husayn Khwansari, the resting place of Muhammad Kazim Walih, the resting place of Mirza Rafi'a Na'ini, the mosque and seminary school of Rukn al-Mulk, and tekyehs of Haj Muhammad Ja'far Abadi'i, Baba Rukn al-Din, and Mir Findiriski are noteworthy in this regard.
- Calligraphy: the tombstone of Walih the poet and calligrapher with his own handwriting; lithography of the tombstone of the prince's mother with the handwriting of Muhammad Baqir Isfahani (Samsuri), and an inscription by Mir 'Imad Hasani in the tekyeh of Mir Findiriski, the lithography of the chronogram of the Musalla mosque with the handwriting of Mirza 'Abd al-Rahim Afsar, the inscription of the façade of the Tekyeh of Haj Muhammad Ja'far Abadi'i with the handwriting of Mirza Fath Allah Khan Jalali, and inscriptions of the following monuments and Tekyehs: Baba Rukn al-Din, Mirza Rafi'a, Shahshahani, and the Mosque of Rukn al-Mulk.
- Poem: poems by poets such as Wala, Muhammad Tal'at Isfahani, Sulayman Khan Shirazi (Rukn al-Mulk), Tughrul, Mani, and Mulla Muhammad Husayn Diya' Isfahani are included in the artistic works of Takht-i Fulad.
- Paintings: an old painting in this cemetery is a portrait of al-Shaykh al-Baha'i and Mir Findiriski by Sayyid Husayn in the chamber of the resting place of Bakhtiyari heads, and two portraits of Rukn al-Mulk on the tiles adjacent to his resting place in the Rukn al-Mulk mosque.
- Lithography: a unique lithography in Takht-i Fulad is the tombstone of Aqa Muhammad Bidabadi by Muhammad 'Ali and the tombstone of Shaykh Muhammad Taqi Najafi Isfahani the author of Hidayat al-mustarshidin by Muhammad Rida the son of Muhammad 'Ali, and the tombstone of Husaynquli Khan Ilkhan Bakhtiyari in the tekyeh of Mir, and a lithographed inscription on the gate of the Musalla mosque of Takht-i Fulad. The small maqsura (an enclosure near the mihrab) of the Musalla mosque, dating back to the Ag Qoyunlu period or two centuries before that, was unfortunately destroyed in a recent renovation of the mosque.
- Other arts: other valuable art works of the cemetery in different periods include miniatures, drawings, making impressions on graves of prominent figures and other graves, some of which refer to the occupation of the deceased, and calligraphies on hundreds of tombstones.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from تخت فولاد in Farsi Wikishia.