A spontaneous trip to Iran (Part 2 of 3) - Chehel Sotoun

Part 2 - Three places

Taking a picture of the photographer outside the tomb of Saadi.

During our trip we visited a couple of places that has played a big part of the Iranian culture and history. Therefore I’d like to describe some of them a bit more specific.

First a list of the dynasties of Iran till the revolution 1979:
Safavid Dynasty (1501-1736)
Afshari Dynasty (1736-1802)
Zand Dynasty (1750-1794)
Qajar Dynasty (1781-1925)
Pahlavi Dynasty (1925-1979)

Chehel Sotoun

When Helia teaches Persian dance she often refers to the sources of paintings from the Safavid and Qajar Dynasties. These are to be seen in lots of books and not least on internet, but to be able to see the original paintings from this period of time is a whole other story. Some of them are preserved in Chehel Sotoun in Isfahan, completed in 1647. The name means “40 pillars” and refers to the entrance of the building which has 20 pillars. Together with the mirror image made by the pool in front of the entrance it makes up for its name of 40.

Cooling water in the pool outside the entrance.

The 20 pillars and the mirror ceiling.

Posing outside the entrence.

 Before we entered the into the big hall with the paintings Helia stopped me and calmly asked “Are you ready for this?”. We entered the hall and it was – the least to say – magnificent. Gigantic paintings covered the walls and knowing the fact that these were made during the 17th century – and thereby survived the Afghan invasion during 18th century – was indescribable.

Helia tells us about the painting that shows a banquet where Shah Tehmasp invites the Indian prince Humayun.

Two of these paintings represented big battles of the Safavid Dynasty with kind of brutal details, swords, blood and decapitated heads. Others represented pleasant banquets where regents from different countries were dining and enjoying the music and dance. One of these banquet paintings was extra interesting. It shows a banquet where Shah Tahmasp invites the Indian prince Humayun that fled to Iran in 1543.

The beautiful walls and ceiling beside the painting of the battle of Karnal in 1739.

Details of the painting of the battle of Karnal.


I now realise that this will be longer than I expected.
Therefore, this Part 2 will be devided into three smaller parts...