An Architectural Heritage: The Ganj-Ali Khan Bath

Document Type : علمی - پژوهشی




Coming up under this title in every issue of SOFFEII is the result of a team work by students in the course on the introduction to Islamic Art and Architecture. An exercise of this course is a complete documentation of a building from the Iranian Islamic period. The purpose of the documentation is to bring the students into direct contact with the buildings of the past and drawing their attention to its spaces and details. In other words, it is to make an aquaintance with the traditional architacture of this country.The selected building for this issue is the "Ganj-Ali Khan" bath in the city of Kerman. This building which is among the most important historical buildings of Iran was built during the Safavid dynasty in an invaluable historical complex. During the previous years, the Ganj-Ali Khan bath has been restored and rehabilitated into a museum.The documentation of this building has been concluded by Mr. Mohammad-Reza Esmaeilzadeh, Mr. Mohammad-Reza Seirafi, Mr. Mohammad-Reza Motahari and Mr. Shahram Behzadpour in the accademic year 1363 (1984 A.D.).Introduction:In the previous issues this article has presented different examples of the traditional architecture of Iran such as mosques, religious schools, tombs,traditional houses and Bazar related buildings. Commodious buildings are another group which need to be discussed in the present series.These buildings, Whose numerous examples may still be seen in our old cities, have different varieties. The importance of these buildings which include public baths, "Ab-anbars", mills, ice-houses, etc. is not denied by anyone so, it should be noted that the existance of our cities depended on the preservation and efficiency of such buildings. Although the architectural design of these buildings were based on their function, the tastes of their traditional architects turned them into buildings of artistic value. As a result, although they may seem to have lost their traditional function in the propagation of the modern urban instalations, their rehabilitation is a necessary task.Commodious buildings were generally built by dominant rulers or genorous people for common use and it seems that this causes a fraction of their importance. Dr Bastani Parizi in his discription of the "Ganj-Ali Khan" "Ab-anbar", Which is near to the "Ganj-ali Khan" bath has written: "It is close to 400 years that the inhabitants of Kerman Have been taking water from this "Ab-Anbar" and praying for the well being and good health of its founder."The Ganj-Ali Khan BathThe Ganj-Ali Khan bath is situated among a complex built by Ganj-Ali Khan, the dominant ruler of the city of Kerman, in the first half of the 11th century H.G. (15th century A.D.).The complex is composed of a large "Meidan" and its encirculing bazzar, a "carvansaria" (beleived by some to be a madrasseh), a small mosque, an "Ab-Anbar", a bath, a coinage mint and a "Char-souqe". These buildings which have different functions, in general are regarded as commodious buildings set around the "Meidan" in order of making a consecutive complex. According to the plaques, the date of the construction of this bath is 1020 H.G. (1584 A.D.). Its architect Ostad Mohammad soltani, a traditional architect of Yazd, present's this date using "Abjad" numerals through theinscription of the following phrase:"None has yet seen such a bath in the world"Architectural Characteristics :In resemblance to the other public baths of Iran, the Ganj-Ali Khan bath is divided into two main sections. The "sarbineh"(1), a complex of linked spaces, and the "Garm-Khaneh"(2) which is constituted of public and private sectors, "Shahneshine"s (3), "Choleh-hauz" (4), "Khazineh"s (5), a prayer hall... ect. These two main sections are delicately linked by a "Miandar" (6). This architectural element not only linkes the two different spaces, but also its keeps their high and low Temperature at the required level. It also excludes the possibility of a direct view from each sector into the other. The main enterance of the bath plays a simmilar role between the "Sarbineh", the cloakroom and the exterior spaces. Although the decoration of the portico which is situated on the axis of the "Meidan" invites all who visit this complex, its design blocks the direct view inside the bath and greatly reduces the exchanges of temperature between the inner and outer spaces of the bath.The "Sarbineh" is the main section of the building and therefore the architect has made every effort to design a magnificent and beautiful area, by making use of order and a caluculated composition of tiled surfaces, a wide variety of colors and designs, multi-shaped ceilings, different shades of marble, the sound of running water produced by the fountains in the pools and beautiful lighting; the architect has created a peaceful and magical surroundings. The "Sarbineh" consists of one large central room surrounded by smaller areas. The central section has a high ceiling and a pool in its center while the surrounding have higher floors and lower ceilings. These are as inter-connected. Therefore although the "Sarbineh" seems to be one single space, it actually consists of many smaller rooms and quiet corners suitably designed for socializing, resting or praying.All the rooms in this bathhouse have been designed as carefully as a jeweller cuts precious stone. 'Ibis purity and perfection can be seen not only in the plan of the bathhouse but also in the shape and space of all the different rooms and sections. Most of the ceilings worked out by "Rasmi bandi". The "Rasmi" of each ceiling is different except for a few smaller rooms which have been similarly designed to create symmetry that acids to the order of the building. In contrast to the order seen in the internal areas of this building the external walls have been designed with less order or arrangement.All the rooms recieve light through the ceiling. The skylights have been expertly designed lending a variety of shade and light to the different rooms. The interesting point about the lighting is that all the skylights have been placed in the center or on the circumference of each ceiling conforming completely to the geometry of the ceiling. The placement of a pool in the center of the room acids to its beauty and importance.Other than the above mentioned items which are all related to the architectural design of the building, There are many technical points to take into consideration. Such as:-The exchange of cold and warm air between inside and outside.The water circulation system inside the "Khazineh", "Garm-khaneh", "Sarbineh", the different pools and fountains,- The heating system,- The insulation used for the reservoirs and the water heating system.The efficiency of the "Hamm" depends on such technical elements.Space definition :1- Sarbineh : A cloak room2- Garm-Khaneh : The Main space used for washing the body.3- Shahneshin : Private chamber4-  Chaleh-houz : Garm­khaneh complementary space, with cold water pool5- Khazineh : a bathing pool.6- Miandar : an airlock.Note :* by M.E. Bastani-Parizi, Assatir Pub., Tehran, 1362

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