Introduction to Chehel Dokhtar Tower
Damghan Chehel Dokhtar Tower is an exquisite and brilliant gem in Damghan city and Semnan province, which attracts visitors with its large dome at the very first moment. The stunning tower is in the courtyard of Imamzadeh Jafar in Damghan. Fortunately, the builders of the valuable structure have built it in a way that it is still very durable after more than a thousand years of construction, and you cannot see any damage in it. According to the documents and texts recorded, the tower, like many medieval buildings, which were tombs, shrines, or memorials, was built as a family tomb. The tower contains a small door that opens to the south, and above it, there is a plaster inscription. The inscription is in Kufic script, and it seems that its founder’s name is engraved.
Its exterior benefits from geometric and calligraphic patterns used in schools, mosques, and tombs in the 10th and 11th centuries AD. All this magnificence is due to the hands of artists, masters, and architects of the past and present, who had significant impacts on the reconstruction and repair of the decorations of the valuable heritage of Persia.
Background of brick construction in Iran
Archaeologists believe that the 9 and 10 centuries are reputable as one of the most significant historical centuries in Persia in terms of architecture and construction of buildings and structures like towers. By using brick decorations, the buildings have been able to make the simplicity and coldness of the bricks used in the construction of the establishments attractive and warm in the eyes of the viewer artistically and elegantly. The art of brickwork was a combination of simplicity and magnificence, specific to a period in the history of Persia. Most of the tombs and mosques built during this period, such as the Isfahan Grand Mosque, Tomb Tower of Pir-i Alamdar, and the Chehel Dokhtar (Forty Girls) Tower of Damghan, are decorated with the art of brickwork. Brickwork in the building can show the artistry and taste of the men who built the work. Taste and art that appears by presenting the decorative views following the shape and general structure of the building mesmerize the viewer.
The attractiveness and the art have been well implemented in Damghan Chehel Dokhtar Tower and have reached their peak and perfection. Also, in the ancient work, using the Kufic script instead of the image for decoration brought an adornment with unique holiness to the Forty Girls Tower.
Introduction to the Damghan city
Damghan city is one of the historical cities of Semnan province, which has valuable historical monuments. Damghan is a stunning land, including a long and ancient history with other parts of Iran. In such a way, it should be in the group of the most ancient Parthian cities in Persia. Also, the Tarikhaneh Mosque, the oldest mosque in Persia, is in Damghan. Damghan, like many historical cities in Iran, is full of historical and tourist sights and attractions. “Chehel Dokhtar Tower” is a clear example of valuable monuments and historical monuments in Persia and one of the sights of Damghan. There is a brick tower, which is one of the most prominent symbols of the city in the centre of Damghan. “Forty Girls Tower” is a 15-metre-high brick building. The design and construction of the old tower are very similar to “Toghrol Tower” in Tehran and “MIL RADKAN Tower” in Khorasan Razavi. According to the outside tower inscription, an engraved of the builder’s name in Kufic script, archaeologists have dated the historical monument to 1054 AD. Although it is difficult to read the line, you can read it clearly, which indicates that it was built in the 10th century AD.
The architecture of the Chehel Dokhtar Tower
The general plan of the tower is a circle in which the cylindrical body is made using the principles of mathematics and accurately, and caused natural disasters have not forced the slightest damage to the body of the tower. Not only did the builder uses elegant bricks in the tower construction, but they worked on each brick artistically and magnificently so that the viewer thinks that no mortar was used for gluing and placing them. The tower has a door that is 2.5 meters high and about 2 meters wide, which is a small vestibule embedded in the body. Also, at the entrance, there is a crescent-shaped arch mounted on small narrow cylindrical columns, which exist on either side of the entry. Small columns perched on a rectangular base 25 cm high. These columns have been magnificently and dramatically decorated, each using small pieces of the brick swamp into the main mortar. In the main view of the tower, contrary to its cylindrical shape, the diameter of the tower body decreases from the bottom to the top. The design inside the tomb is circular, and its body is cylindrical like the exterior. The dome-shaped cap covers the tower, and you can see a blocked hole in the centre of the dome. Also, the whole body has a plaster cover, and the floor contains a brick cover. Inside the tower is a simple tomb that does not fit the tower building, so there is the possibility to add to this section after the tower construction.
The reason for naming the Chehel Dokhtar Tower
The history of Damghan Forty Girls Tower dates to the Zoroastrian fire temple, and the date of its construction goes back to the pre-Islamic period. But some people of Semnan believe that 40 girls built the tower, who had given up worldly ties, with materials such as mud and clay so that they could find solitude in it and engage in worship. But there is another story about 40 girls in the Samanid court fleeing and traversing the lands to reach a safe place. Enemy troops follow them but fail to capture the forty girls until they disappear forever. Based on these stories, many towers or castles are named Forty Girls. You can hear the story not only in Iran but also in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and even Turkey, Georgia, and Ukraine, so there are towers with the same name in these countries.