TEHRAN – The Minaret of Chehel-Dokhtaran is one of the lesser-known attractions in Isfahan which is itself a top tourist destination for good reason.
Construction of the monument was completed in c. 1107 in the Jewish quarter of Jubareh during the reign of Malek-Shah who was a Sultan of the Seljuk Empire.
It is decorated with seven parts of bricks and three inscriptions written in Kufic and Naskh calligraphy.
As a whole, the minaret is a 26-meter-long mud-brick structure, consisting of a five-meter octagonal plinth with a square foundation and a 21-meter circular shaft with a window overlooking Mecca ( used to be served for the call to prayer) and intricate brickwork decorations.
German archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld believed the minaret was built near a theological school of which no trace remains today.
The reason why the minaret is called Chehel-Dokhtaran (forty virgins) is not obvious. However, in the Persian language, Chehel means “forty”, the word which is metaphorically used to describe “many”.
The stories say that the locals thought that unmarried girls would get married soon if they came to this minaret and gave nuts to a passerby!
From the Islamic period, the architectural achievements of the Seljuk, Il-Khanid and Safavid dynasties are particularly noteworthy. During this time, Iranian cities such as Neyshabur, Isfahan, and Shiraz became among the great cities of the Islamic world, and their numerous mosques, madrasas, shrines, and palaces formed a distinctly Iranian architectural tradition within the wider Islamic milieu. according to Britannica.
Iranians’ passion for using script as an artistic impression dates back to pre-Islamic times, but it was the work of Islamic-era calligraphers and illuminators that elevated its use to the art that we enjoy today. Encouraged by the Islamic preference for the art of calligraphy over the figurative arts, it developed from age to age and from style to style.
It is said that the Chehel-Dokhtaran minaret was originally about a meter longer than it is today, but its upper part has been ruined over time.