Seljuk Minarets of Esfahan, Decorated City Guides
Minarets were used as observation posts or watchtowers and guided desert caravans towards the cities both in pre-Islamic as well as the post-Islamic periods. Nowadays they stand high and proud in the cities and their outskirts. They are of great significance both architecturally, and with their brick ornamentations, aesthetically.
The name minaret comes from the word “Nar” meaning fire and originally during the Zoroastrian time was used for keeping that everlasting and sacred fire. Later in the Islamic period, they were used as a point from which to call the faithful to prayer. Cheheldokhtaran, Sareban, and Ali Mosque Minarets are amongst those that will be briefly described.
- Cheheldokhtaran Minaret
Cheheldokhtaran means “Forty Girls” however; the reason for this name remains an intriguing mystery. It is located in an ancient quarter of Jubareh and reaches as high as 40 m. This beautiful and simple minaret has fine brickwork embellishments and has a brick inscription introducing the founder and giving the date of construction as 1107.
- Sareban Minaret
one of the most beautiful minarets of the Seljuk dynasty in Iran is to be found in a quarter called Jubareh and is close to another Seljuk minaret, Cheheldokhtaran. It is approximately 54 m high. The decorations on this minaret are in seven parts, starting from the bottom, the first layer is of simple brickwork whilst the second and third layers are of magnificently decorated bricks. The fourth layer is the first crown of the minaret with fine pendentives and turquoise tile work combined with inscriptions in brickwork. Again, the fifth layer is of brick, the sixth is the second crown of the minaret and the final, seventh layer is the apex. The date of minaret construction goes back to the late 11th century.
Ali Minaret is built next to a mosque with the same name in Harun Velayat Street and dates back to the late 11th century. It is the remnant of a Seljuk Mosque. It is 52 m high and is decorated with very fine brickworks and turquoise tile inscriptions, enhancing its beauty. The adjacent current mosque belongs to Safavid dynasty (16th century).
Rahrovan Minaret is located in Rahrovan Village, 8 km to the east of Esfahan. It seems that it was a single tower and used as a lighthouse for the caravans who entered the city at night. It is like the other Seljuk minarets, decorated with magnificent brickworks and contains a turquoise tile inscription. It is dated between 1179 and 1278.
-Sultan Bokht Agha Dome and the twin Dardasht Minarets
In Dardasht Quarter close to bazaar, there are two attached historical monuments from the Muzaffarid period (14th Quarte dasht Minha Dome Century). One is the resting place of Sultan Bokht Agha, an Injuid (Al-e Inju) Lady who was Sultan Mahmud's Queen. Her gravestone gives the date as 1376. The height of the dome is 18 m; it is decorated with bricks inside and faience mosaic with geometrical patterns outside. The twin minarets are relics of a building functioning as a school or a caravanserai in the Muzaffarid era. The only remains of which is the portal with azure and turquoise tile decorations.
-Dar oz-Ziafeh twin Minarets
in the middle of Kamal Street, there is a high-rise portal with two minarets belonging to Muzaffarid era (14th century). The exact function of these is not known but it seems most likely that these are remnants of a caravanserai from the same period. The minarets are 38 m high and are ornamented with very fine tile works on the apex Bagh Ghushkhaneh Minaret literally means the garden where falcons were housed. Hence the name for this minaret since it was close to one of these gardens where falcons were bred for hunting. The minaret is built over an octagonal base and reaches a height of 38 m. Tile works and other ornamentations of this building belong to the Ilkhanate (14th century) style and are the ruins of a mosque called “Baba Sukhteh”.
- Monar Jonban (Shaking minarets)Shake a brick minaret, that never falls
Six kilometres to the west, beside the road to Najaf Abad are the famous shaking minarets. The whole building is in fact the tomb of Sheikh Abdullah Karladani, whose epitaph gives 1315 as the construction date. The minarets were however, annexed to the building in the early 18th century (late Safavid dynasty). The monument's fame is due to the obvious vibrations of the whole structure when one of the minarets is shaken. In fact, by shaking one minaret, the other one starts to shake and the whole building consequently shakes as well. One reason for this interesting phenomenon is the structure of the minarets. It can be said that the minarets are so designed and constructed that there is enough strength in their structure to bear the kinetic dead load, which is inflicted on them. It is a gap of about 3 cm between the minaret's stem and the main construction that causes the minarets to shake freely and make an impact on the main construction. Some square-shaped wooden frames have been used in the structure of the minarets. They also play a role as flexible supports in the body of minarets. Though wonderful, the Shaking minarets are not the only example with this feature, it is also found with the minarets of the portal of the Oshtorgan Masjed Jame (35 km west) which were built contemporarily.
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