Note about the Construction of a “Takiyah-khanah”


This large piece of paper, constructed of a number of separate sheets pasted together, includes four lines of writing in nastaʻliq script. At the top appears the number 786, which in the abjad (letter number) system is equivalent to sum total of the letters appearing in the bismillah (in the name of God). In other words, the number 786 at the top of the page functions as an initial “In praise of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent,” immediately before the text's main contents. The four lines immediately below state that a certain Muhammad ‘Ali ordered the construction of a building intended for the dhikr (commemorations) services and matam (mourning) ceremonies of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn. Such a building is called a takiyah or takiyah-khanah, and is used for the staging of taʻziyah (Shiʻi passion plays) reenacting the events at Karbala in 680. Takiyahs were built by Shiʻi communities in Iran and India during the 19th and 20th centuries. One of the most famous takiyahs was ordered built by Muʼavin al-Mulk in Kermanshah (southwestern Iran) in 1895−96. A lavishly decorated and multipart complex, it was constructed for a variety of religious events and performances linked to Imam Husayn’s martyrdom.

Last updated: September 30, 2016