Mysterious Signs on Khaju Bridge

Mysterious Signs on Khaju Bridge
Mysterious Signs on Khaju Bridge

Khaju Bridge - variously known as Pol-e-Shahin, Pol-e-Shiraz and Pol-e-Rokneddin - was built across the Zayanderud River in Isfahan, during the reign of Shah Abbas II (1632-1666), as stated by Dr. Kaveh Farrokh (PhD) in his official website.

The bridge, which is 133 meters long and 12 meters wide, served variety of purposes. It was frequently crossed by travelers from all walks of life, from the ordinary folk to the more distinguished travelers, including Safavid nobility. The bridge also formed part of an engineering system for supplying water to maintain nearby parks and fill up water storages.

Even the bridge’s small inlaid stone pieces are designed in detail. Under the bridge and within the riverbed, ceramic orbs filled with saruj, a mortar native to Iran and Afghanistan, were set to reinforce the structure and seal the foundation.

On festivals, the arches of the bridge were shut by wooden boards. This raised the water surface and turned Zayenderud River to a lake reflecting the lanterns and fireworks; and Khaju Bridge tolerated the weight of the entire lake.

It is unclear who built the bridge over the ruins of the earlier Teymurid bridge. There might have been ancient bridge even before the Teymurid bridge, since the Shiraz-Isfahan royal road ran along the site in Pre-Islamic times.

By taking a look at the stones at lower levels of the bridge, one can find peculiar signs or signatures carved by masons of the bridge. Some believe these signatures were carved to determine the amount of work accomplished by each mason, to be referred later as a basis of payment.

Others maintain that the signs are derived from the Greek alphabet. In the Jey district of Isfahan there are the remains of Sassanid castles built by Greek masons. In Safavid times, the stone blocks of the castles were removed from their original place, transferred to the river side, and used as construction material for the bridge.