Kashan, a city where history breathes through art and architecture, is home to the Tabatabaei House, a historical gem that reflects the richness of Persian traditional residences. Built in the 19th century, this house boasts of architectural brilliance, intricate designs, and the sophisticated tastes of affluent families during the Qajar era. As one of Kashan’s most prominent attractions, Tabatabaei House invites travelers to step into a world where every corner tells a story of luxury, culture, and unparalleled craftsmanship.
History and Owners
Constructed by the prosperous Tabatabaei family, who were well-known carpet merchants, the Tabatabaei House is a testament to the family’s influence and taste. Master architect Ustad Ali Maryam, who left his indelible mark on Persian architecture, meticulously designed the abode, paying close attention to every minute detail.
The Tabatabaei House, registered under number 1504, was built in the second half of the 13th Hijri century (coinciding with the Qajar period) by Syed Jafar Tabatabaei Natanz, a merchant from Kashan, in the Sultan Amir Ahmad neighborhood.
The house’s architect was Master Ali Maryam Kashani. His students, under the supervision of Mirza Abolhassan Sani-ol-Molk Ghaffari Kashani, performed the plasterwork and painting.
Spanning 4,730 square meters, the Tabatabaei House was commissioned by Syed Jafar Tabatabaei around the year 1250 Hijri Qamari to Master Ali Maryam Kashani as the designer and builder. Master Ali, also responsible for the construction of the Borujerdis House and Amin-o-dowleh Timcheh, managed to complete the house in ten years.
Architecture and Design
The plaster designs were inspired by patterns from Persian carpets and traditional ‘gol-o-morgh‘ motifs, reflecting the homeowner’s involvement in the carpet trade, achieving a peak in ornamental execution.
The house comprises four courtyards and patios, with the central courtyard belonging to the outer section, two courtyards associated with the inner sanctum, and one courtyard designated for servants.
The inner quarters include a straightforward five-door room at the center, two courtyards on either side, and cellars cooled by wind towers, where the Tabatabaei family resided. The northwest courtyard is larger, with more rooms and a separate reception hall. A unique feature is a large cellar under the central room, offering a distinctive cool retreat during summer, due to factors like wind towers, ribbed ceilings, double-walled construction, a pond once at its center, an 8 to 10-meter elevation from street level, and a refreshing breeze from the central courtyard’s pond.
The outer section features a large hall (Shah Neshin) at the center with illuminating windows and colorful stained-glass side windows that open vertically. This room is adorned with interesting mirror work, painting, and delicate plaster latticework, resembling fine net fabric. Flanking the Shah Neshin are ornate side rooms, with a mirrored porch and fascinating plasterwork in front. Two symmetrically positioned serene courtyards with beautiful paintings are considered among the exquisite artistic assets of this region. Documents suggest a close friendship between the house’s owner and Mirza Abolhassan Ghaffari Kashani, known as Sani-ol-Molk, a distinguished artist of Naser al-Din Shah Qajar’s court, hence his oversight in the house’s plaster and painting work, significantly enhancing the house’s decor value.
From 1994 to 1996, the Kashan Tabatabaei House was entrusted to the Trustee for the Restoration and Revitalization of Historic Buildings in Kashan, supported by the Cultural Heritage Organization and Kashan Municipality. It now operates under the jurisdiction of the Kashan Municipality’s Social and Recreational Organization, with public tours available upon ticket purchase.
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The Tabatabaei House in Kashan is one of the unparalleled masterpieces of Iranian architecture. Recognized as one of the main tourist attractions in Kashan, it consistently draws many tourists and travelers to itself. The fame of the Tabatabaei House primarily stems from the intricacies and delicate details employed in its design and construction.
This structure boasts an authenticity seldom seen in historic homes. The use of special decorations, stucco reliefs, paintings, mirror work, colored glass, and more, all combine to create an extraordinary scene that can prompt the planning of an exciting and memorable trip to Kashan. If you have experienced this house, write to us about it.