The minaret of Nigar is the only extant component of the Friday Mosque of Nigar, a village fifty-six kilometers southwest of Kirman and twenty kilometers east of Bardsir. According to Sir Percy Sykes’s Ten thousand miles in Persia (1902), the mihrab of the mosque once had an inscription dated 1218/615. Based on this date as well as stylistic comparison, Sheila S. Blair suggests that the patron of the mosque was the Malik (regional governor) of Zuzan under the Khwarzmshah Ala al-Din Muhammad ibn Takesh (1200-20), who also commissioned the Zuzan Madrasa.
The ten-meter extant shaft of the minaret is located on the northeastern corner of the mosque. Measuring 5.80 meters in diameter, it rests on a two-meter high plinth with stellate flanges. The entrance is located on the west side and measures 160 centimeters high and 65 centimeters wide. Inside is a spiral stairway that leads to the top of the minaret.
The importance of the baked-brick minaret of Nigar lies primarily in its decorative features. Above the flanged plinth is a zone of plain brick, approximately one meter high and highlighted with light blue glazed tiles. This zone is separated from the main body of the shaft by a guard band of alternating light and dark blue glazed diamonds. Except for an inscriptive band at the height of 6 meters, the rest of the shaft is covered by interlaced brick patterns, highlighted with four light-blue tiles forming diamonds.
The most outstanding part of the minaret is its Koranic inscription (Sura 97). Executed in turquoise tiles on a terra cotta ground and measuring 95 centimeters in height, the inscription is composed of a lower register of Kufic letters whose stems are braided into a series of elongated interlaced motifs topped by split palmettes. The inscription is also bordered by guard bands of alternating light and dark blue glazed diamonds.
The minaret of Nigar is one of the few extant structures in eastern Iran from the early thirteenth century. Its ornamental features, particularly the use of a wider palette in its tile decoration, represents a remarkable stage in the development of Iranian architecture prior to the Mongol conquests.
Blair, Sheila. "The Madrasa at Zuzan Islamic Architecture in Eastern Iran on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion." Muqarnas 3 (1985), 88.
Hillenbrand, Robert. Islamic Architecture: Form, Function, and Meaning, 153, 503. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000.
Mokhlesi, Muhammad Ali. 2006. “Minar-e Nigar, Bardsir." In Majmoue maghalat-e sevvomin kongere-ye tarikh-e memari va shahrsazi-e Iran, vol. 2, 58-66. Tehran: Sazman-e miras-e farhangi, 2006.
Wilber, Donald N. The Architecture of Islamic Iran: The Il-Khanid Period, 104. New York: Greenwood Press, 1969.