Date of Graduation

8-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Geography (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Geosciences

Advisor

Thomas Paradise

Committee Member

Fiona Davidson

Second Committee Member

Spencer Allen

Abstract

Sacred architecture is a complex conglomerate of different ideals of a faith. Within modern terms, the Baha’i faith is an excellent example of modern sacred architecture. Within ancient times the architecture of temples and shrines oftentimes had celestial alignments meant to connect the adherent to the gods. With this in mind, the Baha’i faith is evaluated with the use of cartography, celestial measurements, orthophotography, and archival research to evaluate the significance of the Baha’i sacred architecture and the symbolism embedded within it. The Baha’i faith came out of Persia during the 19th century and relocated to Israel late in that century. The faith itself is comprised of four founding leaders of the faith known as The Bab, Baha’u’llah, ‘Abdul-Baha, and Shoghi Effendi. After the death of Shoghi Effendi the faith institutionalized and became an elected body governing the adherents and discerning religious law. Baha’i symbolism borrows many symbols from other faiths as well as creating their own. The main symbols of the Baha’i faith are the haykal, stretched haykal, nonagonal star, octagonal star, and ring-stone symbol. These are often incorporated within the sacred structures of the faith. Furthermore, the Baha’i temples reflect the local inhabitants of the country in which the temple is located and incorporate local traditions and styles in the architectural design. Celestial alignments can be found within the structures of the Baha’i faith. Overall they are not a dominant part but are seen in the Samoan Temple and Indian temple. This could be due to the Baha’i incorporation of local religious practices or the metaphorical Sun spoken of by Baha’u’llah.