Dar al-Fonun

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One of the first secular institutions of higher education, established on the European model, in Iran.

The Dar al-Fonun (Abode of Arts) was founded in 1851 in Tehran, Iran, by Mirza Taqi Khan Amir Kabir, one of the chief reform-minded ministers of the long-ruling Qajar dynasty king Naser al-Din Shah.

As elsewhere in the Middle East, the establishment of the school was stimulated by the desire to import European science and technology, especially military technology, and to train army officers and civil servants. Dar al-Fonun's teachers were usually Europeans. Its first cadre included seven Austrians who were hired to give military training in the cavalry, infantry, and artillery divisions, and courses in engineering, medicine, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and mineralogy, as well as foreign languages. The first efforts at translation of Western books into Persian as well as the publication of the first Persian textbooks is also associated with the Dar alFonun. The students of the Dar al-Fonun were usually sons of the aristocracy, some of whom, upon graduation, were sent to Europe to pursue further education, and who came to assume important positions later in their careers.

See also Amir Kabir, Mirza Taqi Khan; Naser al-Din Shah.


Keddie, Nikki R. Roots of Revolution: An Interpretive History of Modern Iran. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1981.

parvaneh pourshariati