The history of stained glass is not conclusive without mentioning the impact of the Middle East. Predating the era of religious panels in the stunning Gothic cathedrals we know today, stained glass was, according to legend, conceived in Syria.
According to Architectural Glass Concepts the legend tells of an Umayyad prince watching the light through the heavy shade of a walnut tree and wanting the same effect and beauty in his home, and ordering his artists to recreate it. By creating, carving and fitting coloured glass into geometric windows, they imagined and brought stained glass windows into being.
Stained glass has evolved through inventions and culture, spanning continents and centuries. Raw glass production began in the first centuries in Deir Abu Magar, Cairo where the Abu Magar monastery is believed to hold the earliest form of stained glass design behind a slatted wooden door.
In the Middle East, the earliest works of stained glass windows were hard discs of glass spun to create a swirly, textured effect and were arranged in a pattern held together by gypsum and placed in Coptic monasteries. Cold-painted glass in carved surroundings of Umayyad palaces, gothic windows of Crusader castles and coloured panes placed in stucco in a mosque were also part of the first stained glass formations.
The stained glass structures that stand in the Middle East today are the result of years of beautiful craftsmanship. The ‘Pink Mosque’ pictured below, was constructed in 1876 and completed in 1888 in Shiraz, Iran as instructed by Mirza Hasan Ali Nasir al Molk, a lord of the Qajay dynasty. Every day, the mosque is enlightened by every colour of the rainbow due to its richly coloured stained glass windows, which illuminates the stunning Islamic architecture.