Culture and Art

Is the “renovation disaster” of the dome of the Imam Mosque compensable?

The members of the founding body of the Society for the Restoration of Cultural Works considered that the restoration of the Imam Abbasi Mosque in Isfahan depends on the possible circumstances, and they said at the same time: There are not many mistakes in the dome of the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque. Compared to the imam of the mosque (the Abbasid Mosque). The restoration of the dome of the Imam Mosque has serious problems, and the most appropriate word to describe its condition is “disaster.”

The publication of pictures of the dome of the Abbasid Mosque caused a sensation on social media. The story is that after dismantling part of the scaffolding installed on the dome of this building for more than 11 years, restoration problems arose. The dome experiences curves, depressions, dents, and roughness, especially at the top, as well as color variations in edges and patterns. Therefore, some restorers consider it a “restoration disaster.”

Although the General Director of the Cultural Heritage of Isfahan Province accepted these criticisms, he considered that the main cause of this disaster was the pressure and weight of the scaffolding 11 years ago and ordered the contractor to carry out repairs and said: And three ancient ruins of the Imam Mosque dome for uneven surface The defective and problematic tiles and cracks were removed in The dome 15 and 16 removed the new tiles. has been created.

Now, Fathallah Niazi – restorer and expert for the Research Center for the Preservation and Restoration of Historical and Cultural Monuments – in response to the question, can the so-called restoration disaster be resolved? He tells reporters: There is a possibility of correction. Repair can be done, but to fix the deformation (bending) the part must be readjusted and the edges replaced, which will not fit properly. Again, this is an additional cost and business. The scaffolding must be covered again. Of course, scaffolding has certain principles. Now that scaffold tension has been said to be a factor in the current state of the dome, the question must be asked, has scaffold tightening been neglected in a way that causes tension? This is one of the main problems. Why do you open your head? Scaffolding must be installed correctly to restore valuable work. You should not put pressure on the structure. It is also necessary to prepare a plan for how the scaffolding will be installed. Don’t build scaffolding in the air because the same thing will happen again.

Then he referred to the incident that occurred during the restoration of the dome of Sheikh Lotfollah, which led to a change in the color of the dome, and added: The error in the restoration of the dome of the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is very short compared to the imam. Mosque. The mistake is that they poured oil on the surface of the tiles, which quickly absorbs dust. Of course, the tiles of the Imam Mosque (Abbasid Mosque) were polished with oil and their color changed. Applying a Barzac oil finish to tiles is completely wrong and they seem to be doing it to fix their job.

Dome of the Imam Mosque

Niazi added: In any case, the errors in restoring the dome of the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque are not many compared to the Imam’s mosque. All the errors are visible in the dome of the Imam’s mosque, and it is the most appropriate word to describe its condition. It is a disaster.” But it can be repaired, only a restoration plan must be submitted, the type of scaffolding must be determined in advance, there must be two to three overseers, and the repair and restoration must be done in a principled manner, otherwise it must be the same. The disaster will repeat itself

These restoration experts emphasized: This essential disaster must be restored no matter how long it takes. It shouldn’t be that they’re just fixing dented and uneven parts. For its basic restoration, a technical committee of disinterested persons shall be formed, the members of which shall visit the dome once and submit their opinions in writing to the Minister, and on the basis of these opinions, the restoration contractor shall repair them. The Director General of the Cultural Heritage of Isfahan Province shall not contact the contractor to repair defects that he deems to damage his reputation.

Niazi pointed out that what concerns us is the damage to the historical parts of the dome, and pointed out the basic problems of this method of restoration, and said: The restorer chosen for this work ignored the formalities and it seems that he did not ask for rehabilitation. The contractor and the issue of restoration of the mosque dome are not included in the tenders organizing the program and budget. This is usually the case for the restoration of outstanding historic works, but in cases where the contractor is a first-class contractor with a reputable resume, this procedure is followed. On the other hand, when the contractor is selected in this way, considering that the cost is determined based on the contract, there should be no excuse to restore low quality.

He added: We heard that the province of Isfahan entrusted the restoration of the dome of the Abbasid Mosque / Imam to a civil engineer and that his family members are engaged in this work and work for the cultural heritage of Isfahan. Apparently, the restoration was carried out under the supervision of the Isfahan University of Arts, but the evidence indicates that there was no supervision. Currently, the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Cultural Heritage in Isfahan admits that it was not aware of the work and the restoration process, because scaffolding was installed on the dome. Of course, I don’t know how many certificates these things hold, but these words were raised. Now suppose that all these things happened, in this case there was a fatal mistake, when the great cultural and historical work is given to the contractor, local and senior supervisors should be appointed. The Ministry of Heritage should have more supervision and field visit to the project.

Dome of the Imam Mosque

Niazi said: It is clear that no one supervised the restoration from the beginning, if someone says that he did, he is lying, because if inexperienced restoration experts visit the work process, they will make fundamental mistakes.

The experts of the Research Center for the Protection and Restoration of Cultural and Historical Monuments also raised the question, based on what indications, who entrusted this contractor with the restoration of the dome of the Imam Mosque? He said: If a contractor for the imam of the mosque has diaries and records of previous work, he should let the public see them. Restoration of important monuments such as the dome of the mosque needs a restoration project, where is the mosque restoration project? The result of the restoration of the dome shows that there is no comprehensive restoration plan. Prior to commencing work, the dome must have been documented and mapped by the contractor. They have to decide in advance what materials to use, what kind of tiles to use. How do we bake tiles? Did they do a lab work on the original tiles? Do you specify the color combination of the original tiles? The density and resistance of the tiles, the level of porosity, humidity, temperature and all these things must be taken into account in the comprehensive restoration plan, and accordingly the restoration was carried out under the supervision of the Ministry of Heritage, the local supervisor. General Directorate of Heritage of Isfahan Province as well as the third supervisor of Isfahan University of Arts.

Regarding the statements of the General Director of the Cultural Heritage of Isfahan Province, the weight and pressure of 11-year-old scaffolding were considered as destructive factors affecting the result of the restoration, and currently oil containing environmental dust is used. . on them and the edges are slightly discolored, or the seam between the edges has changed color, but what does it mean that they “press on the scaffold”? Does this mean that the scaffolding caused the tensile, sagging and bending of the dome!? It means that the work is done so badly that it cannot withstand scaffolding. What kind of restoration is this?!

Niazi added: There are other serious defects in the dome of the Imam Mosque, for example, there are defects in the inscriptions, and there are defects in the color and design of the tiles. He sanded the tiles. It is also clear that Dombrata’s contractors did what they wanted in the dome. All this due to the lack of proper and principled supervision and a comprehensive restoration plan for the Abbasid Dome / Imam Mosque. Failure to comply with these two issues is the cause of all the events that can be seen in the Imam Mosque and today in the dome. Cultural Heritage says it has nothing to do with us now, we just don’t know. The Ministry of Heritage also expressed ignorance of this aspect. Our question to them is, is it not necessary to form a technical committee and invite the experts of education, the central administration, the unions and the opinions of other experts on its restoration plan to bring this remarkable work to life? 20 years ago, we had a technical committee for decoration, the design was reviewed by many experts in that committee, the contractor defended his design or corrected the defects, but there is no longer such a procedure, the consultation is covered with cultural heritage. All groups work separately and blame each other when things go wrong. We are all responsible for passing on the imam of the mosque to the next generation, and if we are to hand him over in this way, it is better not to touch him.

This restorer said: In spite of the many restorers of the first order, I do not know why they entrust the restoration of wonderful, important and precious works to an unknown group and in the end no one accepts them. The responsibility of the work and everyone is trying to blame the other imam who did not think that he would be in the media about the mosque, thought that he would hand over the work and finish it.

Dome of the Imam Mosque

The Abbasid Great Mosque, which is known today as the Imam Mosque and also the Shah Mosque, was recorded in the country’s national monuments list on January 24, 1310. This mosque is also registered in the Naqsh Jahan Square complex. UNESCO World Heritage List.

According to the description of the Director General of Cultural Heritage of Isfahan Province, the dome of this mosque was restored three times in the last century. It was completely restored once in 1316-1328, in the 1940s the dome was partially repaired, and finally completely restored in the 1980s.

In this decade, the dome was completely restored from 1379 to about 2085, when Isfahan was chosen as the cultural capital of the Islamic world and scaffolding opened, but three of the sixteen cracks were restored. As a result of 2009, scaffolding was again placed on the dome to complete the restoration that took more than 11 years until 1401. Based on these restorations, Ali Reza Al-Adhafi now claims: no original Safavid tiles remain on the dome.

It is said that more than 500,000 tiles were worked on the dome of the Abbasid Mosque/Imam. This dome is one of the masterpieces of Isfahan architecture, and it is built of two shells. The height of the inner dome is 38 meters and the outer dome is 54 meters.

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