عنوان مقاله [English]
The gravestones containing the angelic motifs and other forms in Isfahan’s New Julfa cemetery have been a treasured repertoire and context for the artists and stone carvers to hone their skills in applying different proportions, compositions, and shapes over several centuries from the Safavid era through the contemporary times. Such cemeteries always represent the prevailing attitude towards deceased ancestors whose corpses were bestowed to one of the four natural elements to be purified. The emergence of tombstones is one of the consequences of burial rituals as a process of getting settled in an eternal shelter that was considered to provide protection not only against the environmental degradations, but also in dealing with the fear of the afterlife. In the city, a cemetery or graveyard is built when tombstones accumulate in one area. In Isfahan, many historic districts contain separate graveyards; such as Towqchi, Takht-i Foulad, Darb-i Imam, Dar-ul Batikh, Jewish and Armenian cemeteries. New Julfa cemetery is one of these historic sites that was built to serve the needs of the Armenians who immigrated to Isfahan during the Safavid times. Through an interplay between the geometrical shapes, curved and straight lines, the patterns and motifs of its tombstones demonstrate a symbolic relationship between the humane and divine forces. The depiction of angelic motifs on tombstones, as the messengers and bearers of good news for the deceased spirits, is a significant aspect of this cemetery, in which different shapes and dimensions were formed based on the ancient Iranian as well as Armenian-Christian beliefs. Additionally, definite geometrical relationships in the making of tombstone frames and their proportional characteristics can be found here. Therefore, this research aims to investigate the relationships between the proportions and composition of tombstones containing angelic motifs in the Armenian New Julfa cemetery and to trace their previous roots in other ancient Iranian and Armenian-Christian motifs. Therefore, this paper will attempt to represent compositional and proportional formulations for the tombstones containing angelic motifs through categorizing their formal characteristics, proportional dimensions and the techniques used in the site’s tombstone frames. Furthermore, a typical categorization of the tombstones’ angelic motifs, as well as a comparative study with the Islamic motifs of Takht-i Foulad cemetery will be done. The questions in this research are: 1) What specific proportions could be seen between dimensions of the frame of angelic motifs and that of the tombstones in general? 2) How do framing, composition and depth of the angelic motifs appear in this cemetery? 3) What notions can be deduced from the roots of the angelic motifs in the Armenian tombstones? 4) Apart from the angelic motifs, what other pictorial elements have been used in this cemetery? To answer these questions, this study will retain a geometrical approach and an analytical-descriptive method to investigate these tombstones. In addition, data were collected through field research and bibliography.
Considering the historic and artistic significance of the graves in this cemetery, it is necessary to maintain the gravestones which are already in good shape, as well as to restore the damaged ones, with focus on the possibilities of stone degradation due to the environmental and human factors. Moreover, the scarcity of studies about the geometrical features and significance of other proportional characteristics in these tombstones, demonstrating the deft skills of the artists and stone carvers, will be suggested in the future in-depth studies so that a repertoire of forms can be created as an invaluable source of inspiration for the contemporary artists and stone-masters. The findings of this study indicate that the angelic motifs of the Armenian New Julfa cemetery are not only influenced by the Armenian-Christian, as well as the ancient and Islamic Iranian arts, but also have benefited a lot from the ancient Greek ethnic motifs. In addition to floral and cruciform patterns, other shapes such as the depiction of a crown, ring, church dome, lamb, column capital, or the portrait of the deceased (both in the old and contemporary tombs), and written inscriptions (in Armenian, Latin and Farsi) have been common in the composition of these tombstones as well. All in all, there is a specific quality in the tombstones and frame proportions containing angelic motif. The placement of angelic motifs on the burial headstones and proportions of the area over the tombstones were variable. No similar proportions were observed between the overall frame and the one containing the angelic motif. Even though similar proportions were seen between the headstone frames, they were not similar to the golden ratio. At last, these frames can be categorized into four main groups: triangular gables (lachaki), quadrilateral cruciform-shaped, singular, and paired-symmetrical. The stone-carving method has been reliefs, engraved in three levels (shallow, deep and very deep), and the framing seems to be formed using the elliptical and pointed arches as well as the rectangular frames.