With all its inevitable imperfections, Brick & Pattern
begins with the preliminary observation of a renewed popularity of
the architectural use of bricks, in the context of which craftsmen
and artists have been able to raise walls, adorned with patterns
derived from their creative minds, and of the fact that these
patterns are different enough from those used in the past eras, as
to constitute a class of their own.
Since times immemorial, bricks have been inseparable elements of
wall construction, thus acquiring a particular status in the history
of architecture as the building material par excellence. Ever
since they were invented in Babylon, the manufacture of bricks,
whether sun-dried or fired, became current practice, developing
steadfastly throughout the world.
Clay earth is available in the most regions of the planet, providing
the best building material, which all of the people soon put to good
use, first mixing it with water and trampling it into a uniform
paste, and then molding it into rectangular blocks, which they left
to dry in the sun, and later on took to kilns for firing. The hard,
durable latter form could be readily used in building houses or
other monuments. Thus, the most simple building materials available
to rich and poor alike were none but raw bricks (Khesht) and
fired ones (Ajor).
It is generally believed that the art of brick manufacture
originated about 5000 BC. The inhabitants of the banks of Nile had
noticed that the layer of alluvial deposits left behind every year
by the tumultuous waters soon dried and cracked into large and small
"cakes", about 4 to 5 centimeters thick, which could be
used to construct walls. From there, thanks to the incessant
eagerness of man's mind for progress and innovation, it was put a
step to begin casting mud into regularly shaped molds, letting the
blocks dry hard in the sun, and utilizing the resulting bricks
instead. And soon again, searching means for making these more
solid, cattle dung was mixed with the clay mud; later on, in order
to prevent the bricks from cracking, while losing their water
contents, cut straw was added, in about the same proportion as clay
earth, its myriad blades acting as tiny "reinforcement
rods" (the straw was first dipped in water, which softened in
fibers, making the mixing process easier on skin).
Ever since fired bricks were invented, they have constituted one of
the principal building materials, which were soon used in huge
quantities, in all parts of the constructions. Scholars unanimously
believe that the undisputed master artisans in this field were from
East. Those early architects were faced with an arduous task, when
they came to adopt appropriate dimensions and proportions for the
molds to be used. In other terms, this was an artistic problem,
which required reflection. The alluvial "cakes" of the
Nile banks had been used as such, roughly stacked atop one another,
whereas in making bricks, whether raw or baked, thought was to be
given to the proper alignment and interlocking of individual bricks,
to their resistance under load, etc. The best model adopted was the
cubic two-widths-long, which has made in various sizes all over the
world. With such proportions, bricks could be laid to overlap by
half of their length. As for their thickness, this varied in the
course of time. At first, bricks tended to the quite large, and
proportionally very thick, but gradually thinner bricks appeared.
These were in turn subdivided into various fragments, each bearing a
name of its own, itself varying from region to region. Moreover, for
want of widespread literacy, these appellations were propagated
orally, undergoing inevitable alterations in different regions.
Eventually, they were transmitted from bosom to bosom, from
generation to generation, and it was only when the cultures of
various countries could be recorded in written form that they became
Although building was crude, primitive activity in ancient times,
the advent of bricks compelled men to think better, and build
better, taking advantage of the breakthrough the new material made
possible. as soon as fired bricks were produced, providing
unprecedented solidity, master builders at large began experimenting
with their possibilities.
Iranian architects also made the best use of them. In Susa (Shush),
the prosperous capital of Elamites, brick architecture soon
prevailed. The archeological excavations made on this pre-historic
site have uncovered illustrated ceramic ware, which speak to the
long-lasting importance of the region, as well as clay tablets
dating back to 1700 BC, which include various documents and
Darius the Great, from Achaemenian dynasty, had the Palace of Susa
erected in 494 BC. This brick monument was an expression of the
great civilization, which had arisen in western Iran and
transfigured the country. Thus it appears that, throughout the
world, bricks have long formed the base of every building, of all
its fabulous contents.
Situated in semi-tropical region, with average temperature around 40
degrees Celsius, Iran nevertheless displays sharp variations of
temperature between its northern and southern regions, and therefore
building materials have to be chosen in accordance with the local
An unfortunate trend of facing buildings with stone slabs became
popular all over Iran for a while, regardless of their low
resistance to temperature variations, which caused them to rapidly
burning hot in summer and freezing cold in winter. Used empirically,
with low level of technical know-how, these proved unfit for the
Meanwhile, relying on the progress of technology, manufacturers
active in various fields began experimenting with all source of
natural and synthetic materials with which to face buildings. But
their products, notwithstanding the propaganda campaigns which
accompanied them, failed to yield good results and were soon
abandoned. And yet again bricks, the traditional building material
of every land, replaced them all.
Thus, after a while, a renewed interest in bricks appeared, but this
time, the artists' tastes had evolved. Brick facades proliferated in
various cities, and architects were able to give vent to their
creativity in decorating interior and exterior of the buildings with
this material. 122 pictures, an anthology of traditional and
contemporary brick compositions is presented here.
Since times immemorial, bricks have essentially been molded blocks
of clay earth mixed with water and eventually hardened by the fire.
But, the evolution of this process varied from country to country.
In Iran, bricked were first baked in cylindrical pit kilns, which
were soon replaced by tunnel kilns. These remained in use until the
advent of modern technology, when all kinds of quite different
baking methods are used.
It is also notable that, relying on advanced chemical technologies,
efforts are being made for producing bricks of desired colors, which
also be more solid as well as resistant to corrosion.