Palace of Chehel Sutun (Isfahan)


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Palace of Chehel Sutun
The Isfahan palaces, particularly those that have survived, are exceedingly modest in comparison to the royal halls of the Sassanians or Mongols. The Chehel Sutun Palace, inside a garden with an area of 67,000 square meters, was built as an official court and a reception hall by Shah Abbas II (1647 AD). Nowadays it is located to the south of Sepah Street and continues the old talar, or columnar porch. At its simplest it is only a roof high porch constituting the faca. When attached to a royal building, it provides a huge outdoor reception hall, and is susceptible to lavish embellishments that have included mirror- plated columns, panels and stalactites, and polychrome mosaic ceilings.
The name means The Forty Columns, although there are actually 18. A reflecting pool (110 X 16 m) is provided to see the other 18. A more mundane explanation is that 40 was once used synonymouslywith many in Persian, and still is m some quarters.
.In 1721 Bishop Barnabas of Isfahan described the Chehel Sutun talar as follows: "The palace where the King held his reception is not a room or covered hall, but a very large open porch, handsome and more majestic than that of St Peter's, though not so big. It is completely full of large and small mirrors, marvelously interlaced, and some pictures with fine frames. There are in it 24 [actually 18] columns...covered with small pieces of looking-glass like the whole porch " It must be added that each column is made out of a single tall plane trunk covered with a thin layer of painted wood, adorned with glass and painting.
Walls of the main hall of Chehel Sutun are decorated with six remarkable wall paintings, four of which belong to the Safavid period, as follows, starting from the western wing, opposite the main gate:

 I. The scene of reception in honor of Vali Mohammad Khan the King of Turkistan in 1611, by Shah Abbas I
2. Battle of Chaldoran against the Ottomans in 1514 in which the Iranians fought without fire-arms, under Shah Ismail I
3. Shah Tahmasb 1, grandfather of Shah Abbas I, receiving King Humayun of  India;
4. Shah .lsmail I fightmg against. Sheibak Khan the Uzbek
5. Shah Abbas II entertaming Nader Mohammad Khan, king of
6. The sixth large painting, which is more recent, depicts Nader Shah's victory against the Indian army in 1747, at Karnal.
Some of the other smaller paintings are in celebration of the joy of living still others from Safavid and Qajar periods depict foreign personalities. In the chambers along the ivan, too, there are paintings and superb ornamental designs.
The paintings of the Chehel Sutun Palace have been created in mainly two styles: I) Iranian style, or magnification with scenes of miniatures used until then in decorating books; and 2) Foreign or European style, which became prevalent because of Iran's connections with Europe. The paintings of the main hall are in the first style, while those of the northern colonnade are in the latter




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