Here is the English abstract of Dr. Saeid Mehrpouya's (Ph. D. Candidate of Architecture, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran) speech at the first series of scientific lectures of the international conference on Theology of Pilgrimage titled "Theology of Pilgrimage and Art" which was held online on Tuesday, July 11, 2023.
Theology of Architecture and Pilgrimage; From the Spatiality of Pilgrimage to the Embodiment of Architecture in the Reading of the Transformations of the Architecture of the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza
Architecture is an artistic endeavor to create an environment, a tool to meet needs, and a cultural craft that narrates its social origins. Religious architecture is a type of architecture and an intermediary for expressing complex cultural, religious, historical, and symbolic concepts. Sacred places such as temples, pilgrimage sites, sacred natural objects, tombs, etc. are created as a result of the manifestation of the sacred place. Shrines and mausoleums are among the sacred places, and pilgrimage is the most important behavior performed there. Pilgrimage can be seen as the direct action of the pilgrim in the sacred place, often accompanied by intention, travel and movement towards the shrine, presence in it, observance of pilgrimage rituals and customs, and the performance of religious rites and ceremonies. Mausoleum architecture and pilgrimage have a reciprocal relationship; mausoleum architecture forms the place of pilgrimage, and pilgrimage rituals shape the formation of the mausoleum. Thus, pilgrimage is a spatial phenomenon. This relationship is one of the examples of the relationship between the theology of pilgrimage and architecture. On the other hand, the agency of humans and their bodies in performing pilgrimage rituals and the presence of the sacred individual's body in mausoleums generally make the pilgrimage an embodied phenomenon. The study of the relationship between the three main components of pilgrimage, namely the object of pilgrimage, the shrine, and the pilgrim in the holy shrine of Imam Reza, the most important religious structure in Iran, and the investigation of its architectural transformations, show that its initial architectural form has influenced the formation of pilgrimage rituals. Moreover, it is shown that the traditions of pilgrimage, the pilgrim’s form of presence, and the position of the Imam’s body (object of pilgrimage) have played a significant role in the holy shrine’s architectural transformations.
Translator: Mahdi Qasemi