4811 meter peak of Sabalan in Meshginshahr, Ardabil, the third highest peak in Iran after Damavand and Alam Kooh, is a semi-active volcanic mountain. Some people consider Mount Sabalan as the place of Zoroastrian mission and some believe that the tomb of Zoroaster is located next to Lake Sabalan and under one of its boulders. Therefore, the natives consider it a sacred place and even swear by its name. All the peaks of Sabalan It is covered with snow and ice all year round. Summer is the best season to climb the peak of Sabalan and visit the lake. This lake is an elliptical volcanic lake with an approximate depth of 15 meters. The water of the lake is supplied by rain and melting snow of the peak. If you have experience climbing at altitudes above 4,000 meters, do not miss to see this unique lake.

The majority of churches in Iran that possess historical and artistic value were built around the eight century A.H. or the 14th century AD, and the period thereafter. Of course, this does not mean that there were no churches existing in the country before that period.
During the reign of Shah Abbas, the Safavid king, his sagacious policies caused a sizable number of Armenians from Armenia and Azarbaijan to transfer and settle in Esfahan and other regions of Iran. A place called Jolfa was built on the banks of the Zayande-rud River in Esfahan and became the residence of these migrating people. Consequently, churches were erected in that town. Meanwhile, after a short lapse of time, some Armenians moved to Gilan and some resided in Shiraz.
After the death of Shah Abbas the First, his successor, Shah Abbas the Second, also paid close attention to the welfare of Armenians and more churches were erected in Jolfa. The influx of many Europeans during the reign of the Qajars led to the flourishing of other churches, in addition to those that were constructed previously. A number of these edifices have lasted and acquired architectural and artistic significance.
Azarbaijan is host to the oldest churches in Iran. Among the most significant are the Tatavous Vank (St. Tatavous Cathedral), which is also called the Ghara Kelissa (the black monastery). This is located at the Siahcheshmeh (Ghara-Eini) border area south of Makou. There is also the church known as Saint Stepanous, which stands 24 kilometers south of Azarbaijan’s Jolfa town.
Generally, each church has a large hall for congregational prayers; its foremost part is raised like a dais, adorned with the pictures or images of religious figures and it also serves as an altar. Here, candles are lit and the church mass is conducted by the priest. In the foreground is the praying congregation which faces the platform where the priest is leading the rites in the church; this is similar to the Muslim practice of praying facing the niche in the mosque. While the mass is being said, the people stand, kneel, or sit depending on what the rites require. The structure of churches in Iran follows more or less the pattern of Iranian architecture, or they are a mixture of Iranian and non-Iranian designs.

Churches in Iran

Interior of the Saint Stepanos Monastery.
Interior of the Saint Stepanos Monastery.

This is one of the old churches in Iran located at an intersection west of the Marand-Jolfa highway and east of the Khoy-Jolfa road. Also having a pyramidal dome, it is, nevertheless, quite beautiful and far more pleasant to behold than the Saint Tatavous church.
The general structure mostly resembles Armenian and Georgian architecture and the inside of the building is adorned with beautiful paintings by Honatanian, a renowned Armenian artist. Hayk Ajimian, an Armenian scholar and historian, recorded that the church was originally built in the ninth century AD, but repeated earthquakes in Azarbaijan completely eroded the previous structure. The church was rebuilt during the rule of Shah Abbas the Second.

Saint Mary’s Church in Tabriz

This church was built in the sixth century A.H. (12th century AD) and in his travel chronicles, Marco Polo, the famous Venetian traveler who lived during the eight century A.H. (14th century AD), referred to this church on his way to China. For so many years, Saint Mary’s served as the seat of the Azarbaijan Armenian Archbishop. It is a handsomely built edifice, with different annex buildings sprawled on a large area. A board of Armenian peers is governing the well- attended church.

Aside from the above three churches, there are others in Azarbaijan such as the old church built in the eight century A.H. at Modjanbar village, which is some 50 kilometers from Tabriz. Another one is the large Saint Sarkis church, situated in Khoy; this building has survived from the time of Shah Abbas the Second (12th century A.H.). During the reign of the said Safavid king, another edifice called the Saint Gevorg (Saint George) church was constructed, using marble stones and designed with a large dome, at Haft Van village near Shapur (Salmas). A church, also with a huge dome, likewise stands at Derishk village in the vicinity of Shapur, in Azarbaijan.

The Saint Tatavous Monastery or the Ghara Kelissa

Initially, this church in Iran comprised of a small hall with a pyramid- shaped dome on the top and 12 crevices similar to the Islamic dome-shaped buildings from the Mongol era. The difference was that the church dome was made of stone. The main part of this pyramid structure followed Byzantine (Eastern Roman) architecture, including the horizontal and parallel fringes made of white and black stones in the interior and black stones on the exterior facing.
Since the facade is dominated by black stones, the church was formerly called the Ghara Kelissa (or black monastery) by the natives. During the reign of the Qajar ruler, Fathalishah, new structures were added to the Saint Tatavous church upon the order of Abbas Mirza, the crown prince, and the governor of Azarbaijan. The renovations resulted in the enlargement of the prayer hall and the small old church was converted into a prayer platform, holding the altar, the holy ornaments and a place where the priest could lead the prayers.
The bell tower and the church entrance were situated at one side of the new building, but unfortunately, this part remained unfinished.
Meanwhile, due to border skirmishes and other political disturbances in the area during the succeeding periods, the church was abandoned and ruined. Some minor repairs have been carried out in recent years.
Each year, during a special season (in the summer), many Armenians from all parts of Iran travel to this site for prayer and pilgrimage. They come by jeeps or trucks after crossing a very rough mountainous passage.
They flock around the church, stay for a few days and perform their religions ceremonies. For the rest of the year, however, the church remains deserted in that remote area.
The additions made to the Saint Tatavous church on the order of Abbas Mirza consist of embossed images of the apostles on the facade and decorations of flowers, bushes, lion and sun figures and arabesques, all of which had been done by Iranian craftsmen. The architecture of the church interior is a combination of Byzantine, Armenian and Georgian designs. Beside the large church, special chambers have been built in the yard to shelter pilgrims and hermits.

Historical Churches at Jolfa of Esfahan

The most important historical church in Iran is the old cathedral, commonly referred to as the Vank (which means “cathedral” in the Armenian language). This large building was constructed during the reign of Shah Abbas the First and completely reflects Iranian architecture. It has a double-layer brick dome that is very much similar to those built by the Safavids. The interior of the church is decorated with glorious and beautiful paintings and miniature works that represent biblical traditions and the image of angels and apostles, all of which have been executed in a mixture of Iranian and Italian styles. The ceiling and walls are coated with tiles from the Safavid epoch.
At a corner of the large courtyard of the cathedral, offices and halls have been built to accommodate guests, the Esfahan archbishop and his retinue, as well as other important Armenian religious hierarchy in Iran. The church compound also includes a museum that is located in a separate building. The museum displays preserved historical records and relics, and the edicts of Iranian kings dating back to the time of Shah Abbas the First. It also contains an interesting collection of art work.
Esfahan has other historical churches, the most important of which is the Church of Beit-ol Lahm (Bethlehem) at Nazar Avenue. There are also the Saint Mary church at Jolfa Square and the Yerevan church in the Yerevan area.

The Armenian Church in Shiraz

In the eastern section of Ghaani Avenue, in a district called “Sare Jouye Aramaneh”, an interesting building has survived from the era of Shah Abbas the Second. Its principal structure stands in the midst of a gardenlike compound and consists of a prayer hall with a lofty flat ceiling and several cells flanking the two side of the building. The ceiling is decorated with original paintings from the Safavid era and the adjoining cells are adorned with niches and arches and plaster molding, also in the Safavid style. This is considered a historical monument at Shiraz and definitely worth a visit.

Saint Simon’s Church in Shiraz

This is another relatively important, but not so old church in Shiraz. The large hall is completely done in Iranian style while the roof is Roman. Small barrel-shaped vaults, many Iranian art work and stained-glass window panes adorn the church. Meanwhile, another church called the Glory of Christ, stands at Ghalat, 34 kilometers from Shiraz. This building has survived from the Qajar period and is surrounded by charming gardens.

Saint Tatavous Church, Tehran

This edifice is located at the Chaleh Meidan district, one of the oldest districts in Tehran. It stands south of the Seyed Esmail Mausoleum, at the beginning of the northern part of the so-called Armenians’ Street. The oldest church of Tehran, it was built during the reign of the Qajar king, Fathalishah. The building has a dome-shaped roof and four alcoves, an altar and a special chair reserved for the Armenian religions leader or prelate. The vestibule leading to the church contains the graves of prominent non-Iranian Christians who have died in Iran, and in the middle of the churchyard, Gribaydof, the Czarist ambassador at the court of Fathalishah, and his companions were laid to rest. They were killed by the revolutionary forces of Tehran at that time.
Meanwhile in Bushehr, there is a church from the Qajar period that is a good specimen of Iranian architecture. All the windows are modeled after old Iranian buildings and the colored panes are purely Iranian art work.
There are also many other churches in Iran such as Ourumieh, in hamlets surrounding Arasbaran, Ardabil, Maragheh, Naqadeh, Qazvin, Hameadan, Khuzestan, Chaharmahal, Arak, in the old Vanak village north of Tehran, etc. These churches, though, are all deserted and are of little artistic significance.

For centuries, Mesopotamia was thought to be the world’s oldest civilization. This was generally accepted by most people until a 5,000-year old temple was discovered in Jiroft Historical Site in Iran’s southern Kerman province, prompting archaeologists to identify the region as the world’s oldest cradle of human civilization.
A hundred and twenty historical sites have been identified in the basin of a 400 kilometer stretch of Halil-Rud River in the south of Kerman province. One of these is at Konar Sandal (sites A & B),
two mounds a short drive from Jiroft town-center. Jiroft is 230-kilometres south of the city of Kerman and was previously known as Sabzevaran, a name that describes the verdant fertile valley plain of the Halil River. Indeed, the plain by Iranian standards is so green and fertile that it is called ‘Hend-e Kuchak’ meaning little India. Jiroft is also one of the hottest towns in Iran. A temperature of 57 °C / 135 °F was recorded in August 1933.
Not far from Konar Sandal, flash floods from the Halil River in the year 2000 swept away the topsoil revealing yet another site, this one consisting of a large number of ancient graves. The excavations at Konar Sandal site have also revealed the ruins of a city a kilometer and a half (about a mile) in diameter.

Konar Sandal Site & Mounds Near Jiroft

The ruins of the ancient settlements at or near Jiroft are said to have been home to a people who inhabited the area in 2200 or 2300 BCE – an era in history when writing first began to flourish and traders carried spices and grain, gold, lapis lazuli and ideas along the Aryan trade roads that radiated from Central Asia to the Nile, Indus and China.
The mounds or tepes at Jiroft are also called “Qal’eh Kuchak” meaning little head. In addition, there are the two mounds, site A that is said to be a ziggurat-like structure 17 meters (54′) high and 400 meters (1280′) on each side at the base, and site B that is said to be a two-story citadel with a base covering nearly 13.5 hectares (33 acres) surrounded by a fortress wall 10.5 meters (34′) thick. A ziggurat suggests a pyramid-like structure consisting of tiered platforms, and a citadel suggest a fortified building. The two sites A & B are a couple of kilometers apart

Water Supply

French geomorphologist Éric Fouache, an expert on reading the strata underlying the archaeological sites, has discovered a network of artesian wells that would have supplied abundant water for irrigation and drinking even when the Halil River ran dry. With these sources of water, the inhabitants developed an agriculture based on date palms and Palm groves provided shade for further planting.

Statue

Chris Sloan at the National Geographic blog site writes, “And at the “citadel,” Konar Sandal B, archaeologists have uncovered a life size, or larger, human figure sculpted from mud or mud brick.
It had been painted to look like it was wearing a feline pelt. If this sculpture is associated with Bronze Age layers, it will be among the earliest of such figures in the world. Unfortunately, it is missing its head. The earliest known statue of this sort from Egypt, and I believe the world, is from Hierakonpolis. It dates from 3000 B.C, It is also incomplete, but in much worse shape and It is in over 500 pieces.”

Jiroft culture bronze vase
Jiroft culture bronze vase

Artefacts

The artefacts found include twenty-five two to five centimeter (7/8″–2″) long stamp and cylinder seal impressions that depict bulls, ibex, lions, snakes, human figures – and writing. It should be noted that some of the finds related to ‘writing’ are thought by other archaeologists to be forgeries.
Other finds are a large number (tens of thousands) of carved and decorated vases, cups, goblets and boxes made from a soft, fine-grained, durable gray-greenish stone called chlorite

Looting of Treasures & History Lost Forever

After the floods in 2000 revealed the site and its artefacts, local farmers looted what they could find and sold them to unscrupulous dealers for a pittance.
The looters work by digging indiscriminate holes or digging up graves which are rich in buried artefacts. It is estimated that there are 10,000 holes dug by the looters – craters that scare the landscape.
It was only in the fall of 2002, that the Iranian government stepped in to halt the looting and seized hundreds of stolen artefacts. However, despite the crackdown on pillaging and the hiring of a dozen armed guards, sadly, theft at Jiroft still continues and local rumors abound about the looting of gold and other priceless items.Even when stolen artefacts are recovered, many will have been damaged irreparably by the careless removing of caked on soil. Their contextual identity will also it all probability have been lost. Because the artefacts were removed from their setting and the attached material that could have been dated by scientific instruments removed, the history or information these treasures have may have carried with them will, sadly, be lost forever.

Chlorite Artefacts

The large number of chlorite artefacts discovered lends itself to the theory that Jiroft had several prolific chlorite workshops that manufactured the items in quantities that exceeded local demand and were prepared for export. Indeed, chlorite vessels similar to those found at Jiroft have been found from the Euphrates to the Indus, as far north as the Amu Darya and as far south as Tarut Island, on the Gulf coast of Saudi Arabia. While there is nothing at present to directly link the Jiroft artefacts with the others, there is certainly the possibility of a link. Perhaps the link can be explored and established by finding common styles. The Jiroft artisans had a unique naturalistic design style.
Chlorite is a stone similar to steatite and soapstone. It is durable but soft enough to carve easily, and fine-grained enough to hold carved details well. Its color ranges from jade green (which gives it its name) to smoky gray, to black as obsidian. While there are chlorite deposits in mountains across Iran, only one ancient chlorite quarry has been found in Tepe Yahya some 90 kilometers (50 miles) from Jiroft. The other old chlorite quarry that has been discovered in the region, is on Tarut Island – an island located across the Persian Gulf along the Arabian coast (near present-day Bahrain and some 800 kilometers east-south-east of Jiroft).

Trade Links Along The Aryan Trade Roads

The trade links between Jiroft and all the centers along the Aryan trade roads is further indicated by the discovery of objects inlaid with lapis lazuli (likely from Afghanistan), carnelian (possibly from the Indus Valley), and other semiprecious stones not local to the area. Marjan Mashkur, an Iranian researcher based in Paris, discovered at Jiroft shark bones and shells that appear to have been brought inland from the Gulf which is some 200 kilometers (120 miles) of the south of Jiroft.
In addition to items made from chlorite, the Jiroft artisans also made pink and orange alabaster jars, white marble vases, copper figurines, beakers and a striking copper basin with a eagle seated in its center, as well as realistic carved stone impressions of heraldic eagles, scorpions and scorpion-women.

References:

http://www.kerman-info.ir/konar-sandal

http://www.heritageinstitute.com/zoroastrianism/kerman/jiroft.htm

The Ancient Civilization of Jiroft

Persian Gulf or Pars Sea, which runs along the Oman Sea and between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula. Its area is 233,000 square kilometers, and after the Gulf of Mexico and the Hudson Bay, the third largest gulf in the world. The Persian Gulf travels east from Hormuz Strait and the Oman Sea to the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea and ends from the west to the Delta of the Arvandrood River, which is the result of the interconnection of the two rivers of the Tigris and Euphrates, and the adjoining Karun River, the Persian Gulf The ancient Iran and Arab countries of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman and Iraq have a common blue border. Since, on the one hand, Iran has the most common water border in the Persian Gulf and, on the other hand, has played a major role in the formation of the ancient civilization of this region. Also, during the history of the control and dominance of the Persian Gulf has been to Iranians. It is considered as the main heritage of this region on Iran, and its most characteristic feature is the name of this water zone, which has been registered in the name of Iranians during the last three thousand years.

History of Persian Gulf

The Assyrians, before reaching Iranian plateau, called the Persian Gulf “narmarratu”, meaning “bitter river,” and apparently this is the oldest name remaining from it. After the victory of the Persian Empire on its neighboring states and the formation of the Achaemenid Empire, the river was called Pars Sea. From Darius I to the inscription found next to the Suez Canal, dating back to 500 BC. The term “drya tyahache parsa” refers to the sea, which is referred to as the Pars Sea, which refers to the Persian Gulf.

The Greeks were the first people to call this sea called “Pers” and to the land of Iran “Parsei”, “Persia” and Persepolis, means the country of Parsian (Chaste People). And most of the Greek and Roman historians of that time have mentioned this sea called the Persian Gulf.

In the twentieth century, with the development of geographical information, along with the printing of maps in many different languages, the combination of the Persian Gulf has become universally applicable, from this point of view, the twentieth century can be considered a century of using the composition of the Persian Gulf. This waterway is in Persian language “Khaleej Fars”, in Arabic “Al-Khaleej al-Farsi”, in French “GolF persique”, in Turkish “Farhor Farzi”, and the same way, with a slight change in the priority of combining components, in all the languages of the world. has it.

Qeshm Island in the Strait of Hormuz, Iran. This image is a combination of two images acquired by the Enhanced Thematic Mapper on NASA’s Landsat 7 satellite
Qeshm Island in the Strait of Hormuz, Iran. This image is a combination of two images acquired by the Enhanced Thematic Mapper on NASA’s Landsat 7 satellite

Islands of Persian Gulf

The Persian Gulf is home to many small islands. Bahrain, an island in the Persian Gulf, is itself a Arab state. Geographically the biggest island in the Persian Gulf is Qeshm island located in the Strait of Hormuz and belonging to Iran. Other significant islands include Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Kish administered by Iran, Bubiyan administered by Kuwait, Tarout administered by Saudi Arabia, and Dalma administered by UAE. In recent years, there has also been addition of artificial islands, often created by Arab states such as UAE for commercial reasons or as tourist resorts. Although very small, these artificial islands have had a negative impact on the mangrove habitats upon which they are built, often causing unpredictable environmental issues. Persian Gulf islands are often also historically significant, having been used in the past by colonial powers such as the Portuguese and the British in their trade or as acquisitions for their empires.

Cities & Population

Eight nations have coasts along the Persian Gulf: Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The gulf’s strategic location has made it an ideal place for human development over time. Today, many major cities of the Middle East are located in this region.

National day of Persian Gulf

The Islamic Republic of Iran designated April 30th as the “National Day of Persian Gulf” and has also issued a series of stamps commemorating.

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_Gulf

Taq-e Bostan ( in Kermanshahi Kurdish  “ Taq Ve Saan” with the meaning of the Arched made by stone)  is a collection of petroglyphs and Sassanid inscriptions that are located in the west of Iran and northwestern of Kermanshah city. This complex was built in the third century AD and has many historical and artistic values. Some Historic scenes, such as Khosrow Parviz Coronation, Artaxerxes II’s coronation, the second and third Shahpur coronations, and also some inscriptions by the line of the Pahlavi inscription are carving inside it. The existence of mountain and the fountain inside this place made there as a cheerful walkway that has been considered since the long times ago until today.

History of  Taq-e Bostan    

Taq-e Bostan in the Kermanshahi Language (Kurdish) is “ Taq Ve Saan”. “Taq”  is with the meaning of  “vault”, “Ve” is “from” and “Saan” is the stone. And in this way, “Taq Ve Saan” means the “Stony Vault ”. This complex was built in the third century AD. Sassanid kings first chose the area around Persepolis to shave their sculptures, but from the time of Artaxerxes II, and the kings after him, they chose Taq-e Bostan either that was located between the way of Silk Road with the Green and full of water nature.

Art paints and music in Taq-e Bostan  

Taq-e Bostan royal hunting ground Petroglyph is the first stone panel with the accordance with the rules and principles of painting that counts in the world. In this carvings, Khosrow ride on Shabdez is on the way that you think the effect has come from the other paint. Also in the large vault, there are some effects from the women musician whom they are busy on playing the harp and wind instruments. In the other part of the large vault, the Boar hunting scenes have to be seen that it is from the movement and the show is among the masterpieces of the art of petrography that is in the way of Art near the art of painting on the wall.

Used Clothes & Footwear in Taq-e Bostan  

With the analytical study in the reliefs of the Taq-e Bostan, the colorful dress of the ride has been woven with golden threads and they have rhombic style and the decorated is perfectly geometrical. In the Boar hunting scene, the king has a clothing on his body that has decorated with the role of the Simorq in the circular signs. The clothes of Rowers have also dramatic roles. In a prominent role in the lateral wall of Taq-e Bostan, ceremonial Ornaments of the king robes, who sits on the throne inside the central of Shamma carving in the glaze form of crystalline and with the variety of the gold Embroidered and Embroidered flowers near each other, has great decoration and the clothes of followers and elephant rides has Hand sewing with plants and birds paintings.

Sections of Taq-e Bostan  

This relief is the first reliefs of the Taq-e Bostan that is located near the small vault. There is a Petroglyph in the right hand of the small vault that shows the scene of the coronation of Artaxerxes II  ninth Sassanid king.  In this scene, the Sasanid king with the standing mood, three quadrant face and all ROC body painted in the central of the scene that the left hand is on the Hilt and with the right hand gave the Ribbon ring from the Ahuramazda, while Zoroaster or we can say Mitra with the Halo of  light is located on the left hand behind him. Under the foot of Artaxerxes II, Roman emperor Julian whom he is captured in the war is located. Sassanid king has large eyes with the prominent eyebrows. He has the curly beard and he has in bulk hair that Hung on his shoulders. He has Earrings on his ears, a necklace on the neck and bracelet on the wrist. His Earrings are in the shape of the circular ring and small balls are hanging from them. Also, his Necklaces has a row of coarse pearl beads.  Evidently Amesha Spenta was the interface among human and Ahuramazda , and Hooman (Bahaman) what we read in the excerpts Zatsperm : (( Hooman carried Zoroaster to the high beautiful sky that all of it was the bright, it was the Eternal Light and Topless, it was Ahuramazda as a pure light. )) So the picture behind the head of Artaxerxes II is Amesha Spenta and Hooman.

Great vault in Great vault

The most important effect in the Taq-e Bostan is the Great vault with the Petroglyph of Khosrow Parviz coronation that it has a porch with the rectangular space (seven meters and eighty-five centimeters width , eleven meter and ninety centimeters height , seven meter and sixty five centimeters depth) that is located near the entrance of the vault, Petroglyph of winged angels, life tree , Boar hunting events , hunting birds and fish in the marsh and the paints of elephants, horses, and boats that they are suggests feasting and happiness ceremony.

Under the paint of  Khosrow Parviz coronation, armored riding on horseback is located.

In this picture, the king is among and Forouhar is located on the right hand of him. Forouhar has the jagged crown on his head and gives the Izadi far ring to the king. King garments (Shah garments) and image of Forouhar are partially identical. Both of them have corrugated pants on foot that they are sticking to their ankle by wrapping. Also, both of them have the belt and a bracelet. Mitra is located on the left hand of the king.

You can see three statues in the great vault. The king is among, Forouhar is on the right hand of him that is like the Artaxerxes II’s coronation and Anahita is on the left hand of the king. Anahita is the Goddess of water and symbol of Flourishing and greenery.

Small Vault in Taq-e Bostan

The small Vault is located in among of coronation petroglyph of Artaxerxes II and the great vault and it has rectangular space with width of five meters and eighty centimeters and the height of five meters and thirty centimeters with the pictures of coronation ceremonies of second and third Shahpur, This vault has two figure in the top wall of the vault and two Epigraphs. These Epigraphs are in the Line of inscription Pahlavi.

Injuries in Taq-e Bostan

Human Injuries
Prominent figure of Mohammad Ali Mirza

Unfortunately, in the period of Qajar, some manipulation have been made on top of this very exquisite carvings panel and they have carving images and had Great damages to Taq-e Bostan . The picture of the one selfish king in the Qajar period that he wanted to have one memento from his self under this vault.  This carving shows the status of the Mohamad Ali Dolatshah the son of Fath Ali the king of Qajar. This picture is very inappropriate and worthless.

Masoudieh Mansion

There were the building related to the Qajar era in around of the Taq-e Bostan until 1342 that were known to the Masoudieh Mansion that was built by Imam Quli Mirza imadudole and was destroyed to indicate the artefacts and dumping Anahita fountains.

Natural Harms

Because of the movement of the ground in this part cracks were appeared in the large and small vaults that over time, and with gathering moss on the walls of that they cause fade part of the designs in these vaults and because of gathering the water in the gaps this process has resonant and make the archaeologists think about repair of the mansion.

Masouleh is the historical and tourism village and it is one of the lush with good climate and fog, in the northern of Iran . Masouleh has cool summers and snowy winters, either. Masouleh is located in the Southwestern province of Gilan in the Fooman Sardar Jangal Part, this city has 60 KM distance from the Rasht city , 36 KM distance from the Fuman city and 20 KM distance from the Maklavan city.

The old way of the Masouleh To Khalkhal that has been in the past the communication highway between Golan and Azerbaijan , in order to protect the environment, Masouleh pristine nature and spiritual heritage and preventing the degradation of natural resources, and manipulation, with the involvement of environment Protection Agency and Masouleh Cultural Heritage protected in the last decades from the Gilan.

This city in 1354 Solar Hegira have already been registered by 1090 number and put in the list of  national monuments as cultural and natural heritage. Masouleh lost most of its population during the construction of new link road between the Gilan village and Azerbaijan and as well as famine in 1320.

After registered the Masouleh as a cultural and natural heritage, the allow to construction and development of this village denied  by the municipality (founded 1311), Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization and the Environmental Protection Agency, and as a result, thousands of residents of  this village over the past seventy years, were living in different parts of  Iran, especially Tehran. Right now this city is protecting on issues such as rock falls, floods, landslides, earthquakes, capture to develop civil and human destruction. Masouleh is waiting in line for registration as a World Heritage Site to having more protections.  The original language of Masouleh people is as same as the language of the people in the West of Gilan and South of Azerbaijan. Their language is Taleshi that is very close to Avesta and Tati language. The religion of them is Islam and they are Shiite.

Masouleh as a Iran tourist village

Masouleh including the extent of one hundred hectares the area under the protection of cultural heritage and natural resources is one of the best climate points of Iran that tens of thousands of tourists each year. Masouleh historical & tourism village is famous in the world due to a unique architecture. Masouleh with high mountains, forest, and Greenfield summer is one of the tourism locations in the northern regions of Iran with abundant natural visual effects especially in the late spring and summer and Shah Moalem peaks in Masouleh with 3050 meters high  is  the highest point of  the Gilan and interesting  location for mountaineering groups. Two hotels are in the traditional architecture parts of  the Masouleh and several hotels are on the road that leading to the village of Iranian and foreign welcome tourists and also they are lots of  hostels and rented houses in this area.

History of Masuleh Stair Stepped village

About the eighth century AD (14th century) the old people of  Masouleh that is located in 6 km North West of the village with people from different parts of the vast land of Iran moved to the point that now known as Masouleh. This village lost most of its population due to the following the construction of new link road between the village of Gilan and Azerbaijan, and also the famine in 1320. Caravansaries communication highway of  North and Azerbaijan were lost boom and the market traded leather and metal industries fell away. In the wake of  that, most of the wealthy people of the village emigrated to the capital and other major cities and abroad. After registering the village as a cultural and natural heritage, Architectural Heritage Department and Environmental Protection Agency did not allow to construct and develop the city. Future generations settled in spotter of Iran, especially in the Northern part and Tehran.

In the 10 km above the new village remains the old village with artifacts and human  such as stone oven … that have been scattered in the area range which can be counted among the arte facts . Archaeological excavations conducted have been found the old pottery village belonging to the fifth to eighth centuries AD that they are accurate remarkable historical documentation. From 1385 Masouleh old village was in the national index.

The geography of the Masuleh village

Today Masouleh city is a small village consist of traditional architecture that is with 100 hectares Green mountains located in the deep heart of nature is in the geographical coordinates 48 degrees, 59 minutes east longitude, and 37 degrees, nine minutes north latitude  and the range of it from the north of the city to Masal, from the south to the Olia Tarom and from the East to the Fuman plain and from the west  to the Khalkhal province ( Zanjan province), central area of village overlooks from three directions North, South and West to the mountain and from the East to the beautiful valley its height from the Free sea is 1050 meters with Mountainous climate with cool summers and cold and snowy winters. Surrounding of Masouleh covered by forests and the main connectivity road is a prolate way to the Fuman. Masouleh has a unique architecture. Driveway enclosure and roofs both use as the sidewalk. The village architectural fabric is formed during the Zandieh and small streets and many stairs do not let anyone to use the motor vehicle. Masouleh architecture is described in one sentence: Top buildings courtyard are roofs of the low buildings. Numbers of floors of  buildings are usually 2.

Neighborhoods villages of Masouleh

Masouleh Has a bazaar with 4 floors  and 4 main parts:

  • Khane bar (Khuna var)
  • Masjid bar (Maza var)
  • Key Sar ( contains: Kafa Key sar and Ben Key sar)
  • Asade Mahale ( Asamal)

All of them in the independent mood have immediately associated with town Bazar. Now in Masouleh there are more than 350 residential units that are in the past (100 years ago), the number of units was 600. There is more than 120 commercial units within its market, More than 4 caravansarais, 2 Treasure bathrooms, More than 33 public fountains ( Khuni), 10 Mosque and 5 Shrines indicative of prosperity the city in recent periods. Masouleh population has declined over the past 60 years.

Economy of  Masuleh

Being on the former communications highway and existence of eight caravansaries indicates this content that many peoples in Masouleh have been traded. Masouleh handicrafts contain : Wood and metal industries was common until about the sixties  which is now completely destroyed . Now the village economy is based on tourism.

Genesis of Masuleh

The old Masouleh which is located in the “eight kilometers West Road of Khalkhal” was the original and primary settlement of the persons from Masouleh that now a day remain a stone wall building from that time. In the first archaeological excavations of the Fuman city that took place in September 1374 by the Archaeology Institute of Gilan Cultural Heritage, it was found that from fifth to eighth centuries this old village was one of the most important centers ijn the field of  Metalworking . Also, Glazed pottery with various colors that have the characteristics of Seljuk time was discovered in this area this district because of its historical importance and validity was recorded in the national index in September 1385. About Masouleh persons moved to the current location there are many different opinions that one of the most important of that is one of the grandchildren of the first imam of Shias with one of the children of  the seventh Shiite imam Musa al-Kazim whose his tomb is located in Astaneh Ashrafieh in Gilan was wounded in a battle near Tarom of Zanjan city and took the Masouleh village way and died in the current location of Masouleh and w as buried there .

After that gradually the people from Masouleh were built their houses around his tomb and thus the current Masouleh was formed.  One traditionary says the reason of Masouleh persons migration to the current location was due to great earthquake of 890 AD and also another traditionary mentioned the epidemics of plague in the year 943 AH in Iran as the reason of displacement. But later generations, not immanent in the new location and this city that was the trading center and highway between Azerbaijan and Gilan and Zanjan and Bazaars, caravanserais and metal and nonmetal industry and was boomed in these ways had a dramatic decline. In a part of  time Masouleh was the center of gravity of the Gilan , Zanjan and-and Azerbaijan and it was one of the special importance of this village but with the creation of the main ways between Gilan and Azerbaijan, Gilan, and Zanjan from the other routes, Masouleh lost its economic boom and , followed by, its population occupation of the country during World War II in the year 1320 and the chaos from it , was effected on a Masouleh native people immigration . Masouleh municipal was founded in 1311 AH but it was closed in 1318 and it began to work again in 1341 AH. Masouleh persons have a great role in the history of the Forest movement against the invasion of  Russia and Great Britain. Masouleh persons helped force Forest and someone like martyr Babaghlamly fought alongside them.

Masuleh language

The Original language of Masouleh persons as same as the people in West of Gilan and South of Azerbaijan Republic is “Talysh language” . Talysh language is one of the north-western Iranian languages and it is also for the person who speaks in this way. Talysh language is from the family of Caspian languages and it is very close to Tati language. “Talesh language” is also cognate with the other languages of Caspian Bank like “Gilaki” and “Mazandarani” but it has  significant differences with them. Tat’s , Taleshy’s and Mazandarani’s peoples speak different languages that they are different from Persian language and similar to the Medo-Persian and Avesta languages. Talysh language is similar to Avesta and Kurdish languages. This language is close to the Azerbaijani ancient language. Talysh language is contained as a northwest of the Iranian languages that is very similar to Medo-Persian , Azeri, Avesta, old Azeri languages.

Origins of Masuleh people

Being Masouleh in the communication highway of  Gilan and Azerbaijan and also having 8 Caravansaries confirms the fact that many old people have been commuting  in this town and many people have been residing in the village over the years due to immigration and marriage. So you cannot say that the Masouleh persons are originally from Talesh and from the past as their language is similar to the Mare- Perthian they could easily have verbal communication with various Iranian tribes base on the language that they speak and also similarities to Avesta and Kurdish languages. Also, this language is close to the ancient Azerbaijani language. “Talysh language”  is considered as Iranian Northwest languages and also it has lots of similarities with old Azeri language. Although Taleshi and Gilaki (the main language of center and East of Gilan ) are different from each other but from the past Masouleh persons speak Gilaki easily together due to associated with Fuman and also because of the multitude of relationship with Azerbaijan , most merchants were familiar with the Turkish language. Maybe you can define Masouleh persons as Non-agricultural people, and often have industry and trade, Iran consists of different ethnicities who knew Talysh language and they lived several generations together in the current location of the Masouleh And also due to speak a certain kind of  Talysh language, on behalf of the people of the towns and nearby villages this village refers Masouleh.

Masuleh village culture

There is another significant point in the culture of Masouleh people,  and this is that they are hospitable. What is left from the-the last rituals of  Masouleh, is the Muharram traditional ceremony that it is the cultural-touristic attraction of Masouleh.

And it attracts huge crowds annually and the interesting thing is that, unlike many places, preacher and miracle play eulogies and actors do not get any money. As possible constructions in Masouleh is limited (only failure reconstructed) inhabitants and is fixed people that they are living there is lower than 1000 persons but dozens of Masouleh residents are still living in major cities of Iran and outside Iran. Masouleh Restaurant in Chicago, in the United States of America, represents the Masouleh village and Iranian and Gilani foods with the great managements of Mr. Nasiri Masouleh.

The appellation of Masuleh name

Masouleh name or with the original pronounce Masouleh in the Taleshi language from the ninth to the eighth century and later on used it in its current form. Someone said its came from the name of a mountain near the Masouleh village with the name of  “Mahsalar”. They believe that this area was called “Masalar” at first  and  because of the plurality of application its transformed to Masouleh.

In another narrative, the word Masouleh is formed from the combination of two words : “Moss” and “Ole”. The first part of the Iranian culture means mountain and barrier and the second part is also meant high which in a combination with a diminutive “in” has come with the meaning of “like”.  So “Masouleh”  can have the meaning  of “high mountain” or “Mount as”. Whit relying on Sanskrit and Persian Pahlavi it has also the meaning of the “little moon” or “land of the tiny moon”. Someone know this name derived from the name of “Mosul” in the Kurdish city  and believe that the primary persons of  Masouleh were Kurdish and had Izadi religion. Now if we pass from the history of Masouleh Muharram especial events and funeral in this Wadi there has not been paying attention to a simple difference between different  kinds of  “s” and also the similarity of the name of Masouleh and Masal (the city near the Masouleh) so it seems superficial interpretation  this interpretation also makes other stories by biased or uneducated people that they had related Yazidis to the Yazid Umayyad Caliph…in another word Masouleh is the Arabic and Compound word from the words : “Ma”, “soo” ,“leh”  with the meaning of “The place where poverty and ugliness don’t have any place”. Many researchers don’t know such justified and traditions properly. What seems more correct is due to the similarity of the name of the Masouleh and Masal , (A city near the Masouleh) and the village with the name of Khani Masouleh in the Masal city and also since at the beginning this name was related to the Old Masouleh(Talesh language Khan Masouleh) the main core of the Masouleh persons that have been moved to 8 KM lower from the Old Masouleh. Depending on the weather , land slope, it made for easier defended against marauding bands and also for adroit chain and as well as evidence such as Masouleh veterans dialect that even back to the Persian before the Arabs arrival. Masoulehis the city with very unsaid and unknown  parts.

Masuleh registered in The World Heritage List

Masouleh global record from was put on the agenda from the year 90, but the lack of an integrated urban management and there were 11 Electrical  Department , Water and Wastewater buildings,Telecommunications, meteorology, cooperative handicraft, health center, business unit, two residential units is a barrier in the green airspace over the global village .

To fix this problem in the first stage proposed that two office buildings of electricity and telecommunications temporarily transmitted for 3 to 5 years into the Masouleh tissue. That with the demolition of these two buildings the free part of green Masouleh airspace and the  registration process will continue.

However, from the year 76 downstream areas of the historic fabric of the Masouleh was in the green airspace and construction was forbidden, but the problem of 11 heterogeneous buildings which are located in this part of the historical city has not been resolved yet.

Now device management server at a Masouleh historic city is separate. That based on the UNESCO condition should be integrated management. Masouleh historical city in 30.5.1354 was known as the first living historical city of our country and has been registered as a complete set in the national index Iran.

Vank Cathedral is one of the largest and most beautiful churches of Iran, the cathedral was completed in 1664. It includes a bell-tower, built in 1702, a printing press, founded by Bishop Khachatoor, a library established in 1884, and a museum opened in 1905.

History of Vank Cathedral

Following the Ottoman war of 1603-1605, Armenians began to arrive in Iran in search of a new life under the Safavid King Shah Abbas I. Shah Abbas I, who settled tens of thousands of them in the Iranian provinces south of Aras River, also relocated Armenians, who had fled from the Ottoman massacre in Nakhchivan to Iran. Nakhchivan suffered a lot during the 14th to 18th century wars between Persia and the Ottoman Empire. The city fell under Safavid rule in the 16th century. In 1604, when Shah Abbas I realized that the lands of Nakhchivan and its surrounding areas might fall into Ottoman hands, he decided to force the entire Muslim, Jewish and Armenian population of the city to leave their homes and move to Iran.The Armenian immigrants settled in Isfahan, the capital of the Safavid Dynasty, and populated the city’s New Jolfa district, which was named after their original homeland in today’s Azerbaijan Republic. Upon entering Iran, Armenian refugees started building churches and monasteries to continue their religious activities in their new home. The first monastery in Jolfa was built in 1606 and included a little church called Amna Perkich, which means ‘All Healing.’The little church was later expanded and turned into the magnificently designed Vank Cathedral, which was built 50 years later under the supervision of Archbishop David.

Interior of the Cathedral
Interior of the Cathedral

Architecture of Vank Cathedral

The architecture of the building is a mixture of the 17th-century Safavid style with high arches and an Islamic-style dome.The cathedral has greatly influenced the architecture and decorative treatment of many churches in Iran and the Mesopotamian region.
The main entrance of the cathedral is a large wooden door through which visitors enter the courtyard of the building.Upon entering the courtyard, one encounters two rooms that were once used as administrative offices, which helped Armenians process their paperwork.Inside the Armenian Cathedral of the Holy Savior.A large freestanding belfry stands in the cathedral courtyard and towers over the graves of Orthodox and Protestant Christians who have been buried along the wall before the entrance.Built 38 years after the main structure, the belfry leads into the nave. On the right side of the belfry there is a large blue inscription surrounded by crucifix stones. The stones have been collected from the ruined churches of the Jolfa quarter.On a raised area to the left, a memorial has been set up in memory of the victims of the Ottoman massacre. Every year on April 23 Armenians gather by the memorial to light candles in honor of their martyrs.
At a corner of the cathedral’s courtyard, rooms and halls have been built to accommodate guests, the Isfahan archbishop and his retinue, as well as other Armenian religious authorities in Iran.Across the courtyard and facing the cathedral is a building, which houses the Vank library and

museum.The library contains more than 700 manuscripts and hard-to-find sources on Armenian and medieval European languages and arts.The Vank museum houses unique and priceless collections of various types of items gathered from across the Armenian world.
Built in 1871, the museum contains numerous objects related to the history of the cathedral and the Armenian community of Isfahan, including the 1606 edict of Shah Abbas I establishing New Jolfa and prohibiting interference with, or the persecution of, Armenians and their property and affairs in the district.Exquisite Bibles are also part of the museum’s dazzling collection. A sevengram bible displayed at the museum is believed by some to be the world’s smallest written text in seven languages.
Safavid costumes, tapestries, European paintings brought back by Armenian merchants, embroideries and other valuable items from the Iranian-Armenian trading heritage are also part of the museum’s unique archive.The Vank museum also houses an extensive collection of photographs, maps, and Turkish documents related to the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman kings.Vestments, monstrances, chalices and other sacramental objects have also been displayed at the museum.
The Vank printing house is known as the first of its kind in Iran and the Middle East. The first book published at Vank was about the lives of Armenian priests and monks, a few prints of which are now kept at the Vank museum.
The early printing machine, which was built by Bishop Khachatoor, was replaced by a new one brought from Amsterdam in 1647.Later in 1844, an Armenian resident of Jolfa brought a printing machine from Europe, which is also housed at Vank Museum.The first book printed by the machine was the Psalms of David, which is now kept at Oxford’s Bodleian Library.

Vank Cathedral courtyard
Vank Cathedral courtyard

The dun-colored brick exterior of the cathedral gives way to a stunning combination of Persian tiles, Byzantine gold and European-style frescos inside.The modern and plain exterior has a striking contrast with its gloriously decorated interior.The entrance ceiling is adorned with floral motifs and the top of the walls are covered with murals depicting events from the life of Jesus.The interior is adorned with paintings, gilded carvings and eye-catching tile work and the pendentives bear painted images of a cherub’s head surrounded by folded wings.On the northern wall of the cathedral paintings of Judgment Day can be seen with heaven depicted above and hell below. The bottom parts of the interior walls are covered with paintings depicting Armenians being tortured by the Ottoman Turks.
The double-layer brick dome is beautifully gilded and adorned with paintings and floral patters in its azure interior.The paintings depict the Biblical story of the creation of the universe and man’s expulsion from Eden.An Armenian fresco depicting Heaven, Earth, and Hell, at the Vank Cathedral.Eight windows surround the dome with biblical scenes painted between them. The creation of Adam and Eve, eating the forbidden fruit and the death of Able are among the stories painted between the windows.
The narthex is also adorned with four paintings, which are surrounded with floral patterns and show tortures inflicted upon holy figures.The birth of Jesus, the Last Supper, the crucifixion of Jesus and the Ascension of Jesus are also among the biblical stories depicted in the paintings inside the cathedral.The paintings have been inspired by both old and new testaments and have been painted by Armenian masters and three monks, namely; Havans, Stepanus and Minas.
After the death of Shah Abbas I, his successor Shah Abbas II also paid close attention to Armenians and New Jolfa, which is located on the banks of the Zayandeh River and still houses a large part of the Iranian-Armenian community.

Iran’s Armenian community grew in number as until 1933 immigrants and refugees continued to flock to Iran from the Soviet Union.They built churches, schools and various cultural, artistic and sports centers across the country and eventually became Iran’s largest Christian community.Today,
Iranian-Armenians have two seats in the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) and are the only minority with official observing status in the country’s Guardian and Expediency Councils.Armenians also publish books, journals, periodicals, and newspapers, including the daily Alik.

Persian lyric Poet Hafez-e Shirazi (1315-1390) grew up in Shiraz. Very little is known about his life. Many semi-miraculous mythical tales were woven around Hafez after his death. It is said that by listening to his father’s recitations, Hafez had accomplished the task of learning the Quran by heart at an early age (that is the meaning of the word Hafez). At the same time, he is said to have known by heart the works of Rumi, Saadi, Farid ud-Din, and Nizami.

Let not the pious judge the meek;
Each for his own deeds will speak.
Whether I’m good or bad, you judge yourself;
You reap what you sow, find what you seek.
Everyone is seeking love, sober or drunk;
Everywhere a house of love, yet so unique.
I submit my head on the tavern’s bricks,
If you don’t understand, just take a peek.
Let me keep my hope of eternal grace,
Behind the veil, who is good, who the freak?
Not only I fell out of virtuous path,
My father too, treaded that path oblique.
Hafiz, on your deathbed, bring the cup to your cheek.
You go from the tavern straight to the heaven’s peak.

Ghazal 80 | Hafiz

Divane-Hafez

The Life of Hafez-e Shirazi

When his father died, he left school to work at a bakery and as a copyist. There, he first saw Shakh-e Nabat, a woman of great beauty, to whom some of his poems are addressed. Ravished by her beauty but knowing that his love for her would not be requited, he allegedly held his first mystic vigil in his desire to realize this union. Still, Hafez-e Shirazi encountered a being of surpassing beauty who identified himself as an angel, and his further attempts at union became mystic; a pursuit of spiritual union with the divine. A Western parallel is that of Dante and Beatrice.

Hafez-e Shirazi was a Persian poet whose collected works (The Divan) are regarded as a pinnacle of Persian literature and are to be found in the homes of most people in Iran, who learn his poems by heart and still use them as proverbs and sayings.His life and poems have been the subject of much analysis, commentary and interpretation, influencing post-14th century Persian writing more than any other author. Themes of his Ghazals are the beloved, faith, and exposing hypocrisy. His influence in the lives of Persian speakers can be found in “Hafez readings” and the frequent use of his poems in Persian traditional music, visual art, and Persian calligraphy. His tomb is visited often. Adaptations, imitations and translations of his poems exist in all major languages.

Divan-e-Hafiz

Though Hafez-e Shirazi is well known for his poetry, he is less commonly recognized for his intellectual and political contributions. A defining feature of Hafez’ poetry is its ironic tone and the theme of hypocrisy, widely believed to be a critique of the religious and ruling establishments of the time. Persian satire developed during the 14th century, within the courts of the Mongol Period. In this period, Hafez and other notable early satirists, such as Ubayd Zakani, produced a body of work that has since become a template for the use of satire as a political device. Many of his critiques are believed to be targeted at the rule of Amir Mobarez Al-Din Mohammad, specifically, towards the disintegration of important public and private institutions. He was a Sufi Muslim.

His work, particularly his imaginative references to monasteries, convents, Shahneh, and muhtasib, ignored the religious taboos of his period, and he found humor in some of his society’s religious doctrines. Employing humor polemically has since become a common practice in Iranian public discourse and Persian satire is now perhaps the de facto language of Iranian social commentary.

Goethe
The encounter of Goethe with Hafiz’s ghazals became so inspiring to Goethe, that he produced his own West-östlicher Diwan and “led the way to the discovery of Persian poetry by the Romantics”, according to Shusha Guppy. In the spring of 1814, Goethe received a German translation of Ḥāfeẓ’s divān in two volumes from the publisher Cotta of Stuttgart. The translator was the Austrian Orientalist Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall (1774-1856), whose translations and commentaries played a major role in acquainting Germans with the East. Hammer’s translation of the divān broadened and expanded the knowledge of the Orient which Goethe had acquired in his youth, so that he could now, at the age of 65, devote himself more intensively to the East, and predominantly to Persia.

Johann-Wolfgang-von-Goethe

At 60, he is said to have begun a Chilla-nashini, a 40-day-and-night vigil by sitting in a circle that he had drawn for himself. On the 40th day, he once again met with Zayn al-Attar on what is known to be their fortieth anniversary and was offered a cup of wine. It was there where he is said to have attained “Cosmic Consciousness”. He hints at this episode in one of his verses in which he advises the reader to attain “clarity of wine” by letting it “sit for 40 days”.

Hafiz’s tomb is in Musalla Gardens, along the banks of Ruknabad river in Shiraz, which is referred to as Hafezieh.

Now please watch a clip of tomb of Hafez with a music of his poems by Mohammad Reza Shajarian, enjoy it !

Nowruz is the traditional Persian festival of spring which starts at the exact moment of the vernal equinox, commencing the start of the spring. The name comes from Avestan meaning “new day/daylight”. Nowruz is celebrated March 20/21 each year, at the time the sun enters Aries and Spring begins.

Nowruz has been celebrated for at least 3,000 years and is deeply rooted in the rituals and traditions of the Zoroastrian religion.

Nowruz or Norooz meaning ‘The New Day’ marks the beginning of the Iranian New Year. It is the first day of spring or Equinox and marks the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. On this day families gather together to observe the rituals and festivities of this day. It is celebrated by Iranians across the world.

Tabletop with Haft-seen elements for Nowruz: sonbol (hyacinth), sabzeh (grass), seeb (apple), somaq (sumac powder), seer (garlic), serkeh (vinegar), goldfishes, flowers hyacinths, coins, burning candles, painted eggs and mirror

ChaharShanbe Suri

The festivities begin with the celebration of the night of ChaharShanbe Suri. It is celebrated on the last Wednesday of the old year to get rid of all the bad luck and misfortunes of last year. People generally light small bonfires and jump over the flames shouting ‘Zardie man az to, sorkhie to az man’ meaning ‘May my sickly pallor be yours and your red glow be mine’. And Haji Firooz, who on the last Tuesday of the year, were sent by the white-dressed priests (Moghs) to spread the news about the arrival of the New Day.

Haji Firuz

The traditional herald of the Nowruz season is called Haji Pirooz, or Haji Firuz. He symbolizes the rebirth of the Sumerian god of sacrifice, Domuzi, who was killed at the end of each year and reborn at the beginning of the New Year. Wearing black make up and a red costume, Haji Pirooz sings and dances through the streets with tambourines and trumpets spreading good cheer and the news of the coming New Year.

Haji Firouz represents the red-dressed” fire keepers” of the Zoroastrians. The Fire keeper’s second duty was to call on the people to burn their old items in the Fire, and to renew their life and regaining health by obtaining the solved energy of the Fire. The dark color of the Fire keeper’s face is allegedly caused by the heat of the holy fire. Fire keepers use of rather unfamiliar expressions combined with their humorous nature, brought laughter to people’s faces.

“Arbabe khodam samalon-alaykom, Arbabe khodam sareto bala kon, Arbabe khodam boz-boze ghandi, Arbabe khodam chera nemikhandi”

My master, hello
My master, bring your head up
My master, look at me
My master, do us a favor
My own master, the billy goat
My master, why don’t you laugh

The Celebration of Nowruz

On the first day of Nowruz, family members gather around the table, with the Haft Seen on the table or set next to it and await the exact moment of the arrival of the spring. At that time gifts are exchanged. Later in the day, on the very first day, the first house visits are paid to the most senior family members. Typically, the younger ones visit the elders first, and the elders return their visit later.

The table is set up with Quran, the Holy Book; a bowl of gold fish; mirror; candle; flowers; painted eggs and seven traditional Persian dishes each starting with the letter ‘s’. This table is kept in the home for thirteen days after the start of the holiday. The seven traditional Nowruz foods are:

  1. Seeb (apple), representing beauty
  2. Seer (garlic), representing good health
  3. Serkeh (vinegar), representing patience
  4. Sonbol (hyacinth), representing spring
  5. Samanu (sweet pudding), representing fertility
  6. Sabzeh (sprouts), representing rebirth
  7. Sekeh (coins), representing prosperity
  8.  
persian-new-year-nowruz-6

Recipes for Nowruz

A traditional Nowruz dinner is called Sabzi Polo Mahi which is a rice dish with whitefish and green herbs like parsley, coriander, chives and fenugreek. At the end of thirteen days, Sizdeh Bedar is celebrated which means ‘getting rid of the thirteenth’. The green sprouts grown during the holiday are thrown into rivers or lakes to symbolize the plants return to nature. This marks the end of the festivities.

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Customs

Nowruz is a time for spring cleaning, buying new clothes, visiting friends and relatives. On the 13th day of the New Year, the celebrations finally end. During the Nowruz holidays people are expected to pay house visits to one another (mostly limited to families, friends and neighbors) in the form of short house visits and the other side will also pay you a visit during the holidays before the 13th day of the spring.

Sizdah Bedar (Nature Day)

The thirteenth day of the New Year festival is called Sizdah Bedar (meaning “thirteen outdoors”). It often falls on or very close to April Fool’s Day, as it is celebrated in some countries. People go out in the nature in groups and spend all day outdoors in the nature in form of family picnics. It is a day of festivity in the nature, where children play and music and dancing is abundant. On this day, people throw their sabzeh away in the nature as a symbolic act of making the nature greener, and to dispose of the bad luck that the sprouts are said to have been collecting from the household.

The thirteenth day celebrations, Seezdah Bedar, stem from the belief of the ancient Persians that the twelve constellations in the Zodiac controlled the months of the year, and each ruled the earth for a thousand years. At the end of which, the sky and the earth collapsed in chaos.

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Nowruz Registration on UNESCO

Nowruz was inscribed on the UNESCO list by the 11th Intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from November 28 to December 2. UNESCO recognized Nowruz as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on September 30, 2009, based on an initiative undertaken by Iran, India, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Turkey. In 2014, five other countries: Iraq, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan asked to join the project which led to a review of the case and resubmission of the proposal to UNESCO.

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Discovering Persia, The Land of Four Seasons

1. Masuleh village

Mysterious foggy village lost high in the northern forests. With ocra houses standing on each other, and occasional people appearing in the narrow staircases and lanes between the buildings. This beautiful complex, remained from history with traditions, manners and customs, handicrafts, and many natural and historical sites, is the host of thousands of eager guests and travelers every year. Pick a time off-season to avoid crowds of tourists – and you will guarantee yourself a magical experience. Read More

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Second place for discovering Persia:

2. Traditional Houses in Kashan

The city is a tourist spot in itself – lost in the desert it reminds of the all-time childhood favourite Alladyn. A true jewel here – traditional houses of wealthy merchants that have now been turned into public museums. Elegant stained windows. Delightful wall paintings. Long corridors and stunning décor. An a stunning view on the sand city from the marvelous rooftops.

Third place for discovering Persia:

3. Tabriz bazaar

UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the oldest bazaars in the Middle East. The largest covered bazaar complex in the world – with stunning décor and incredible complex of domes inside. Being an important historical center and place of cultural exchange, in the past it was also a place of political significance – Tabriz bazaar has been a crucial spot during Constitutional and Islamic revolutions. Read more

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4. Abyaneh village

A charming red-coloured village lost in time. Wandering around you barely see any people – among the abandoned buildings you only occasionally get a glimpse of the someone hiding in the narrow alleys. Even then – the feeling of being in the past does not disappear. For years now people here have not changed their lifestyle. Same style clothes, same traditions, same Zoroastrian religion.

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5. Isfahan Bridges

Architecture in Esfahan tops anything you have seen before, and bridges are not an exception. 300-meter artwork challenges the imagination. Being favorite meeting spots among locals these bridges are like small cities – for hours you can observe the life passing by on its multiple passages. Read More about Sio Se Pol and Khaju Bridge

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6. Wind Catchers in Yazd

A desert city of Yazd is famous for its ancient wind catchers – traditional architecture elements that helped to create natural ventilation in buildings. The invention was so effective it spread to the whole Middle East – and became the main refrigerating device in local architecture. Read about the highest wind catcher in Dowlat Abad Garden

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7. Persepolis

The city that was built as a palace worthy the Empire. Majestic capital of Persia with the only suitable name – Persepolis, “The city of the Persians”. The city was destroyed to the ground by Alexander the Great – but the history continues to live here among the remains of bricks, walls and columns. Read More

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Shushtar, a wonderful place with great history for discovering Persia:

8. Shushtar

One of the oldest cities in Iran, Shushtar in Khuzestan Province borders Masjed Suleiman in the east, Dezful and Shush in the west, Ahvaz in the south and the Bakhtiari Mountains of the Zagros Mountain range in the north. The most famous attraction of the city is the Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System, a network of watermills, weir bridges, dams, water channels, rivers, and moats along with a castle which controlled the flow of the operation. Read More

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9. Kandovan village

A settlement that is frequently compared to Cappadocia in Turkey is much less touristy – and arguably more charming. Homes dug in volcanic rocks remind of Hobbitland or Smurfs village – and make a great choice for a day trip from Tabriz.

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10. Isfahan city center

The beauty of the magnificent Imam Square cannot be praised enough – it has to be seen with one’s own eyes. Around the square, its mosques and palaces – one of the oldest and largest bazaars in the Middle East, dating back to the 17th century. You can spend hours here shopping for traditional rose water sweets or splendid blue copper plates, and – if you are tired, – unwind with a meal in atmospheric Bastani Traditional Restaurant or kalyan at Azadegan teahouse. Read about Naqsh-e Jahan Square

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Reference:
http://waveuptravel.com/travel-photoblog/top-10-places-in-iran/