Bastani Parizi and Social History in Ḵātun-e Haftqal’a

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To find the origin of the word dotar in many monuments including towers, castles and minarets we go to “ātun-e Haftqal’a” (the lady of seven castles) of Dr. Muhammad Ebrahim Bastani Parizi that has provided the most plausible answer to this question.

ātun-e Haftqal’a” includes many articles like “Nādar-e dorān” “to take lesson from l-e Mozafar”, “Māria”, “ to fight with corruption” “innocent sinners”, “a tulip of plain” “ trace of women in Qādesia” “from Rāhbar to Golestān Palace”, “dorre-ye Nādere”, “to refresh” (ostokhān sabok kardan). “ātun-e Haftqal’a” (castles and other dotar buildings of Iran) in more than 250 pages is the ninth article of this book.

One of the characteristics of Bastani’s historical works is their grandiose titles tinged with fantasy. Undoubtedly imagination is one of the means Bastani applies to narrate the dark angels of history; however, all his narrations and analyzes are based on reliable resources and documents.

Proposing exact questions to attract his readers is one of the features of Bastani Parizi’s historiography. He is not the claimant of applying interdisciplinary approaches; however, he employs them in “ātun-e Haftqal’a” as in many other articles to have an inclusive answer to his questions. He applies two sciences of linguistics and architecture to discover unknown aspects of social history.

bastani parizi


Bastani applies an inductive approach attracting the attention of readers. Specifying that “moral and spiritual manners as well as traditions have critical impacts on naming certain monuments” (250) Bastani explores the roots of word dotar in different monuments including castles, bridges, shrines and temples. His dynamic fluid mind takes reader to all parts of Iran in ancient and medieval time. Therefore, readers are required to follow him up in every direction in order not to lose in the amazing world of numerous known names now changed into fundamental questions. 

To answer his question Bastani takes readers to all parts of Iran in medieval time from Transoxiana to Greece in Mediterranean area (166). Bringing numerous examples of the word dotar in social buildings amazes readers in such a way that Chehel Dotar tower in Damghan changes into a single example among myriad historical buildings named with dotar, its derivations, and equivalents. Towers of Dotar Širāz (151), Bāku (152), urāsān (152), Miyāna (153), Arāq (153), Šuštar, ānaman in Kermān, Šahrestānak, Qom and Nāyin (154), bridges of Miyāna, Koru Dotar Lorestn (172), Behbahān (173), districts of Rayy (173), spring of Kāzerun, Bibidotar shrines in Lār, Dome of Chehel dotaršan (175), Buara (176) and Yazd (178) are just some examples brought in ātun-e Haftqal’a. Regarding his great interest in Kerman Bastani has dedicated a more detailed chapter to tower of Kermān (156-164).

Bibi (181-182), Nane (205-282), Bānu (210 & 243-251), Mār and Mādar (251-259), Dāye and Māmā (259-261), āhar (263-264), Zan and Pirzan (264-280), proper names like Širin (280-282), Soleimān and Belqeis (261-263), Nāhid and nāhitā (283-291) are some other words studied by Batani. Moreover equivalents of dotar in Kordi (186-187), Durhā in Batiāri (187-188), dade in Luri (188-189), Lāku in Gilak (192), ātun in Turkish (193) accents are examined.

The critical exact question proposed by the historian about the origin of dotar in many Iranian monuments is the thin string connecting all parts of the article. After applying inductive approaches providing readers with numerous evidences, Bastani employs a deductive approach finding the common characteristics of these buildings as follows:

  1. 1.Being on mountains, 2. Being constructed in pre-Islamic time particularly in Sassanid era, 3. Having sacred features (194).

Regarding these common features, Bastani proposes his plausible hypothesis that the word dotar and its derivations or equivalents refer to nāhitā and feminine aspects of ancient Iranian religion prior to the advent of Zoroaster. Nāhid  or nāhitā  associated with fertility, healing and wisdom is a “tall beautiful woman… with goodness, courage and purity ( 196). She is the angel of water” “Four elements of earth, air, fire and water are the religious principles of Iranian people. There even were special Izad and angels like the angel of water to protect these elements” (194). His hypothesis is founded on linguistics and the Iranian mythology.

Social history addressed in ātun-e Haftqal’a is one of the main concerns of Bastani Parizi. Bastani regards history, not as pre-Islamic and Islamic eras but as connected tunnels through which currents of circumstances flow. It seems that this is the historical continuity that leads Bastani to social history. By word dotar and its derivations his dynamic mind flows from the medieval era to the ancient time to rest in nāhitā temple.    

In Bastani’s viewpoints social history is not limited to ordinary people but it is also shared by political agents. The Iranian ancient kings highly honored Nāhid and constructed many nāhitā temples. The Šuš temple constructed by Ardešir II (404-359 BC) and the Cyrus tomb in Pāsārgād are specified as two examples of the Iranian king’s attentions to nāhitā (191).

nāhitā was honored not only by women and girls (214) but also by men who felt relaxed under “her strong gentle arms” (191). Dr. Bastani chose to be buried not in Kerman or beside his educated friends in Qet’e-ye Honarmandan but beside his wife always honored by him. It can be claimed that “there is always the trace of a woman” (Bastani Parizi, 2001, 218-219& 330-331) in Bastani’s life and death.

 Bastani Parizi, Muhammad Ebrahim (1989). ātun-e Haftqal’a, Majmu’a Maqālat-e Tārii, Tehran: Ruzbahan.

Idem (2001). Mār dar Botkade, Tehran: Elm.

     Bastani Parizi 2  

      Maryam Kamali

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