DĀMḠĀNĪ, nesba of a father and two sons from Dāmḡān who worked as engineers, builders, and stucco carvers in the early 14th century.

1. Ḥosayn b. Abī Ṭāleb Dāmḡānī was responsible for most of the superb foundation inscription in cut plaster that runs around the flanged tomb tower abutting the congregational mosque at Besṭām (Blair). The in­scription, one of the finest examples of monumental epigraphy surviving from the Il-khanid period, is com­posed of two registers, each with fifty-six panels, and is written in a stately interlaced Kufic. The panels are divided horizontally into three zones, the lower zone containing the basic shapes of the letters, which are rarely interlaced, a middle zone in which the stems of the letters are interlaced, and an upper zone in which the stems and interlacing terminate in floriations or palmettes. The inscription in the lower register iden­tifies the building as the tomb that the Il-khanid sultan Öljeitü (Ūljāytū) ordered for his infant son in Rajab 708/December 1308-January 1309; it is signed “the work of Ḥosayn b. Abī Ṭāleb, the engineer (mohandes) from Dāmḡān.” The upper register contains a koranic passage (48:1-7) and the signature of Ḥosayn’s son Moḥammad (see 3, below), who was responsible for eight more mannered panels at the end of the band, as well as other signed work at Besṭām.

2. Ḥājī b. Ḥosayn b. Abī Ṭāleb Dāmḡānī signed a stucco inscription that survives in the ruins of a small mosque abutting the Pīr-e ʿAlamdār in Dāmḡān (Combe et al., no. 5156; Blair) and, along with his brother Moḥammad (see 3, below), a band dated 702/1302-03 around the first room of the monk’s cell in the shrine of Bāyazīd Besṭāmī at Besṭām (Combe et al., no. 5155). Use of the nesba Dāmḡānī and the fact that Ḥājī worked on a small mosque in Dāmḡān suggest that members of the family were specifically recruited to work at the site of Besṭām, about 85 km away from their hometown, in order to execute the fine plaster work ordered by the Il-khanid sultans Ḡāzān (694-­703/1295-1304) and Öljeitü (703-17/1304-17) during their restoration activities there.

3. Moḥammad b. Ḥosayn Dāmḡānī, Ḥājī’s brother, executed much of the fine stucco carving added to the shrine of Bāyazīd Besṭāmī and the nearby congregational mosque on the orders of Ḡāzān and Oljāytū (Blair). Beside the band that he signed with his brother (see 2, above), he left four more signatures at the site: on the arch of the meḥrāb in the mosque adjacent to the tomb (Combe et al., no. 5329); in the upper register of the band around the flanged tomb tower (see 1, above); in the upper band around the portal recess leading from the congregational mosque to the tomb tower; and in a large band dated 713/1313-14 around the entrance corridor leading to the courtyard (Combe et al., no. 5328). Most of his work is done in a spidery cursive with punched stems, played off against a thin, angular script used for framing bands.



S. S. Blair, “The Inscription from the Tomb Tower at Basṭām. An Analysis of Ilkhanid Epigraphy,” in C. Adle, ed., Art et société dans le monde iranien, Paris, 1982, pp. 263-86.

E. Combe et al., eds., Répertoire chronologique d’épigraphie arabe, 18 vols., Paris, 1931-91.

(Sheila S. Blair)

Originally Published: December 15, 1993

Last Updated: November 14, 2011

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