The Iran Society, founded in 1935

Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Nahid Assemi: Staging Piety – The tilework of the Takkiyya Mu’avin al-Mulk in Kermanshah

February 7 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

The Takkiyya Mu’avin al-Mulk is a building complex in the city of Kermanshah in western Iran, dedicated to the annual commemoration of the martyrdom of Husayn ibn ʿAli at the Battle of Karbala in 680, an event of seminal significance to Shiʿi Islam.  Private takkiyyas built by social elites were a phenomenon of the Qajar period, with their construction motivated by a political quest for legitimacy.

This presentation briefly explores the intersection of art and architecture, popular piety, and the politics of legitimation.  Through an examination of the building and its decorative programme, it addresses issues of patronage, Shiʿi iconography and popular religious practices during the early 20th century in Iran.  It further argues for the role of takkiyyas in the creation of a sense of community and group identity, and in the early stage of the emergent idea of nationhood at the time.

Nahid Massoumeh Assemi is an independent scholar who specialises in the art and architectural history of Qajar Iran. She is a Bahari Visiting Fellow at the Bodleian Libraries, 2023-24 and a member of the Contemporary Art Council of the Iran Heritage Foundation. She holds a PhD from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London and an MA in Fine Arts from Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris where she was trained as a classical artist. She is also a miniaturist, illuminator and calligrapher working on commission.  Her book on the Takkiya will be published later this year.

“This is a remarkable book, which I highly recommend.  Its focus is the Takkiya Mu’avin al-Mulk, and its rich decorative programmes. The author paints around these a colourful and highly informative picture of Iranian Shi’ism. Its rites and its ceremonies. In addition, he brings to life the Takkiya’s wealthy merchant patron within the setting of early 20th century Iranian society and the country’s constitutional movement.”
Professor James Allan, Oxford University


February 7
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Army & Navy Club
36-39 Pall Mall
London, SW1Y 5JN United Kingdom
+ Google Map