Prayer Niche (Mihrab) from Kashan


Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Berlin, Germany

The Museum of Islamic Art possesses one of the most beautiful Persian prayer niches of the Middle Ages. In the mosque the mihrab indicates the direction of Mecca, to which the faithful turn when praying. This example comes from the Maidan Mosque in the city of Kashan in Central Iran, famous for its sumptuous lustre tiles and wares. In keeping with the Iranian style of the time, the mihrab is flat – only the pillars stand out in half relief – the niche being represented by three nested forms. The rich decoration is dominated by Koranic inscriptions in Kufic and cursive scripts, whose blue relief stands out from the ground of brown lustre and white. The remaining surface is filled with rich arabesques, partly in relief and partly painted against the brown lustre ground. The divine word of the text is thus provided with an impressive setting. In its original location the warm light from hanging lamps and from large candles on either side of the mihrab would have been reflected in the lustre, making the inscriptions stand out. The mihrab consists of seventy-four individual moulded tiles, which underwent a first firing for the blue underglaze paintings, a second for the shimmering golden brown lustre. Of particular historical value in this mihrab are the signature of the master, al-Hasan bin Arabshah, and the date of its completion, given in words.


  • Title: Prayer Niche (Mihrab) from Kashan
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1226
  • Location: Kashan, Iran
  • Physical Dimensions: w1.8 x h2.8 cm
  • Type: Prayer Niche
  • Medium: Stonepaste body, underglaze and lustre painted
  • Inv. no.: I. 5366
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-814517
  • External link: Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyrights: Photo © bpk - Photo Agency / Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Gudrun Stenzel || Text © Scala Publishers / Museum für Islamische Kunst, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Gisela Helmecke
  • Collection: Museum für Islamische Kunst, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

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