The roof of the SW eivan is covered with Kufic inscriptions picked out in darker glazed bricks in the squinches which form the vault. A number of these are listed below as they re-occur repeatedly throughout the mosques in Isfahan.
This symbol represents the name of God, or Allah, in Kufic.
This symbol represents the name of Mohammad, the Prophet of Islam, in Kufic.
This symbol represents the name of 'Ali in Kufic. 'Ali was the name of the Prophet's son-in law and according to Shi'ite belief, his rightful successor, although the Sunnis count him as the fourth Caliph. He is credited with the invention of Kufic script, and 'Ali Reza, the greatest of Iranian calligraphers, said that his skill in calligraphy derived from his first name.
The panelwork on the sides of the eivan deserves especial interest as does the decoration on the vault of the eivan
The Porch was started under Nizam Al Mulk and there is an inscription commemorating this inside. Another inscription attached to the peak of the archway within the porch informs us of the extensive repairs carried out during the time of Ouzun Hassan Bahadur Aq-Quiunlu. This is given in translation by Pope as follows.
The most just, the most glorious Sultan, Abu'n Nasr Hassan Bahadur - may God preserve his kingdom and Sultanate! ordered the restoration of what was in seriously bad condition in this majestic Masjed-e-Jami and the renewal of this high roof after its dilapidation, in order to save it from ruin; [done] out of his own resources in the year 1475 (880 H.) p. 1070
However the same author has pointed out the untrustworthiness of such inscriptions which generally greatly exaggerated the munificence of the donor. He suggests that refurbishment rather than re-design took place and that the basic framework of the building is likely to date from the previous century. The central arch is supported on two lateral arches which are connected at their bases to the side walls and at their points to the sides of the central arch. The elaborate system of squinches has then been laid on top of this skeleton.
Through the arched doorway you can enter the severe and awe-inspiring prayer chamber he built while on the other northern side of the courtyard, beyond the northern eivan, you find one of the great jewels of this period, the exquisite prayer chamber of his rival, Taj Al Mulk.
Last Updated: 13 April 2001