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The symbolic usage of stone beyond its function as a construction material: Example of residential architecture in Iraqi Kurdistan

Sardar S. Shareef ORCID logo and Rafooneh M. Sani ORCID logo
From the journal Semiotica


This study examines the symbolic use of stone beyond its basic function as a construction material in architecture. It investigates the meaning of stone using Iraqi Kurdistan residential architecture as a case study. The theoretical framework of the study is developed through the content analysis method, by applying Hershberger’s basic model of meaning, and by exploring Krampen’s writings on semiotics in architecture. The relevant theoretical framework was tested through systematic physical observation of selected houses in Iraqi Kurdistan and by using the inductive reasoning method. The study recognises that stone, beyond being a construction material, conveys the symbolic meaning of “power,” “wealth,” and “belonging” in contemporary houses of Iraqi Kurdistan. Based on that, a meaningful situation model was created to evaluate the phenomenon. The model can also be useful in analysing similar cases and research situations.

Corresponding author: Sardar S. Shareef, Department of Architectural Engineering, Cihan University-Sulaimaniya, Sulaimaniya 46001, Kurdistan Region, Iraq; and Faculty of Architecture, Eastern Mediterranean University, Famagusta, via Mersin 10, North Cyprus, Turkey, E-mail:


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Published Online: 2020-11-27
Published in Print: 2021-01-27

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