Monthly Archives: January 2017

History of Nowruz

Iranian New Year that starts around in 20th March is the greatest Iranian feast celebrating over 3000 years in Balkan, Black sea, and Western Asia. There are many legends with different concepts but same structure about Iranian New Year, Nowruz.  Nowruz literally means new-day in which “Now” means “new” and “Ruz” means “day.”

History of Nowruz

Aryan was the largest ethnic immigrant who arrived in Iranian Plateau and Central of Asia around 4000 years ago while the emergence of Zoroastrianism back to around 1200 to 1700 BC. Even in Avesta, the holy book of Zoroastrians, there is no address of celebrating Nowruz.

Although, there is no any proved documents about origin of Nowruz, but based on some opinions with arriving spring, the king of Babylon went to the Marduk Temple, the mightiest Babylonian God, to show that Marduk has been supported his reign and then had been allowing to ordinary people to meet him. After capturing of Babylon by the great Cyrus, other Achaemenian Kings followed this ceremony each year. This feast would be end up after 13 days celebration; people went out for picnic outdoors in day of 13th under the influence of Babylonian mythology known the number of 13th as an ominous number.

However, based on Shahnameh and Iranian mythology, Jamshid, the mythical Iranian king, is a first man who celebrated Nowruz. According to Zoroastrian texts, Jamshid is a one who saved humankind from killer winter which destined to kill every living creature.   

Obviously, Nowruz, this significant Iranian feast, was made by the collection of natural conditions as well as traditional Iranian beliefs such as Mitraism and Zoroastrianism. It has been thought that the famous complex construction of Perspolis or the Palace of Apadana and its the hundred columns Halls were built for specific purpose of celebrating Nowruz that can be observed in Achaemenid inscriptions. Based on engraved inscriptions on the Perpolis and the other ones, Nowruz was a day in Achaemenid Empire used to bring gifts to the mightiest king of Iran by royals in other nations (550-530 BC).

Although, extensive records about Nowruz and its customs have been obtained by reminded inscriptions from Sassanid dynasty (224-651 BCE). Nowruz was celebrated under Sassanid emperors as the most important day in which royal audiences with the public, cash and gifts, and pardoning of prisoners were established during those eras and persisted unchanged until modern time.

In Islamic era, especially Abbasids dynasty and under the influence of Iranian Ministers recognized it officially because of continuation of tax and gifts, even some of them held Nowruz with the same glory and formalities as Sassanid Court.

In the other era, Nowruz had been remaining in high respect and reverential among royals and ordinary people. It has believed the only point causing Nowruz immortalized is that it has become a non-removable part of people’s culture.

In contemporary era, before collapse of the Soviet Union, Iran was the only country that officially celebrated Nowruz. After independent of Caucasian, Central Asia from the Soviet Union, Nowruz have officially been celebrated by these newly independent states. Nowruz recognized firstly by the UN’s General Assembly in 2010 celebrating by many people for almost over 3000 years.

Nowruz’s Custom

Iranian with housecleaning, providing sweets and different kinds of nuts, buying new garments especially for children provides themselves for celebrating Nowruz.

The two main customs before arriving Nowruz are Iranian Fire Jumping (Chaharshanbe Suri) on the sunset of last Tuesday and going to cemetery in last Thursday of a year in order to keep the remembering of the dead ones alive.

Chaharshanbe Suri - History of Nowruz - Parvaz Aram Abi

The concept of Chaharshanbe Suri comes from the Ancient Persia who strongly believed that Fire is one of the holy elements in the world and has power to remove all winter evils, its chilling and darkness. On the sunset of last Tuesday of year, Iranian makes bonfires and jumps over them while whispering this poetic “zardi man az to, sorkhi ye to az man” which literally means “my yellow is yours, your red is mine.” This means you want the fire (as a purification element) to remove your pallor, sickness and all problems and instead of them give them warmth and energy. In some areas in Iran, in the morning of last Wednesday of the year, people go on Wells, Aqueducts, or springs in order to bring water and pour it throughout their entire home in order to Anahita, the mightiest goddess of Water, remove every pallor and problems completely.

In last Thursday, people go to the cemetery and washing graves while putting flowers and sweets on them and whish for their souls blessing and forgiveness.

History of Nowruz - Parvaz Aram Abi

Another interesting Persian customs in Nowruz is Haft-seen tabletop (Sofreh) arrangement of seven symbolic items that all starting with the letter of “س”, the Persian alphabet. These items include:

  • Sabzeh- wheat, barley, mung bean, or lentil sprout growing in a dish- symbolizing rebirth;
  • Samanu- sweet pudding made from wheat germ- symbolized affluence;
  • Seer-garlic- symbolizing the medicine and health;
  • Senjed- dried Oleaster Wild Olive Fruit, symbolized love;
  • Seeb-apple- symbolizing beauty;
  • Samaq- Sumac fruit- symbolizing ( the color of ) sunrise
  • Serkeh- vinegar- symbolized old age and patience.

nowruz-haft-seen-History of Nowruz - Parvaz Aram Abi

Quran, Divan-e-Hafez (a Persian poetry book), a mirror, a goldfish in bowl, painted eggs, coins as a symbol of wealth, candles for each member of family, a bowl of water, wheat or bread are the other items that can be seen in Persian Haft-Seen tabletop.

Other beauty customs among Iranian is presenting gifts by the older member of a family to other ones, which has established in Sassanid era. Visiting the one another (mostly limited to families, friends, and neighbors) is the other beauty custom in these days which are usually reciprocated. Typically, elder ones would be visited by the younger ones and then elders return their visit later.

  Holidays of the New Year last 13 days and in the day of 13th called “Sizdah-Bedar” people go out and try to spend an enjoyable time with their families or friends in the heart of nature.

Sizdah-Bedar - History of Nowruz - Parvaz Aram Abi

Traditional heralds of the Nowruz are Amu Nowruz and Haji Firuz who appear annually in the streets to celebrate Nowruz. Amu Nowruz bring children gifts like his Christian counterpart Santa Claus and Haji Firuz while covering his face with soot and clad in bright red cloths and dancing through the streets and singing traditional songs are heraling arrival of the Nowruz.

the tenth most visible sites in Kashan

Desert Pearl, Kashan

Kashan is the historical city located in Esfahan province in Iran, which is the first of oases along the Qum-Kerman road that runs along the edge of the Dash-e-Kavir, central desert in Iran. Sialk hillocks located in 4 km west of Kashan reveal one of the primary prehistoric civilizations around 6000 years ago. Moreover, the most well-known historical houses that were built during 18th and 20th century are among the other sites of tourist attractions addressed to be one of breathtaking sites in Kashan. After Esfahan and Shiraz, Kashan known as the most popular city among foreign tourists due to its various tourist attractions. In below, Parvaz Aram Abi tries to introduce the most well-known sceneries and historical sites in Kashan.

1 . Agha-Bozorg mosque

Agha-Bozorg Mosque is the historical mosque in Kashan that was built in 19 century and is one of the best examples of the architectural masterpieces in Qajarieh era that consists two iwans, one in front of mehrab which has 2 minarets with brick dome and the other one located in the entrance door. Furthermore, a courtyard in the middle comprises trees and a fountain in center.

Agha-Bozorg mosque

2 . Sialk hillocks (Sialk Ziggurat)

The Sialk Ziggurat is a largest ancient archeological site in Kashan close to Fin Garden that was told it built by Sialk People, the ancient residents of Kashan. A joint study between the Louver, the institute Francais de Recherché en Iran, and Iran’s culture heritage organization verify the oldest settlement in Sialk back to 5500-6000 BC.

3 . The Traditional Kashan Bazaar

The traditional and oldest Bazaar in Kashan in which located in central of Kashan have been built in Seljuk era (11 century), although its renovation had been done in Safavid period (15 century). Most of its stores have remained until now, and some of them belonged to dozens of generations in which have been transferred to their offsprings. Most of tourists believe that the most stunning feature of the Bazaar is its impressive ceiling.

The Traditional Kashan Bazaar

4 . Traditional Persian Architecture, Ameri House and Abbasi house, and Tabatabaei house

During 18th and 19th centuries, Kashan was a favorite vacation spot for Iranian wealthy traders and noblemen. In fact, those times were a prosperous times for Iranian merchants to trade between Iran and Russia. Although, in late of 18th century, cause of deadly earthquake in Kashan, most of historical architectures were collapsed including the more wealthy architectures that were built by Shah Abbas I, the mighty Safavid King (1571-1629 CE), however, some of them were survived and others were reconstructed over times.

The most prominent among these impressive architectures can be addressed to Ameri, Abbasi and Tabatabaei houses, all of which, nowadays, have been turned into public museum.

Ameri House

Ameri house was built during Zand era (middle of 18th century) for Agha-Ameri who was responsible for security of Tehran and Kerman route. The house was built in an area of 9000 square meters and has 7 courtyards, like the other house around, it was renovated in 19th century due to fatal earthquake occurred in the late of 18th century.

Ameri House - KASHAN

Abbasi house

Abbasi house is among the largest historical architecture in Kashan that was built in the late 18th century. The house has six courtyards and after death of its primary owner was separated and turned into 6 independent different house that would have been fitted for different families.

Abbasi house as viewpoint of architectural site has an impressive design with stunning stucco, delightful wall painting and Islamic architecture decorations standing in the peak of beauty and elegance.

Abbasi house - KHASHAN

Tabatabaei house

Tabatabaei house is one of the most stunning historical buildings where located in the old part of Kashan. This house Considered as the masterpiece of architecture, by which Tabatabaei, one of the most prominent carpet merchant, which was built in late the 18th century. This stunning house consists 40 rooms, 4 yards, 4 cellars, 3 windwards, and 2 aqueducts; moreover, it comprises wall painting, elegant stain glass windows as well as other classic features of tradition Persian architecture, such as Biruni and Andaruni.

Tabatabaei house - KHASHAN

5 . Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse

Sultan Ahmad Bathhouse is a historical Iranian Public Bathhouse that was built in 16th century during Safavid Dynasty, even though it was renewed during Qajar Dynasty due to the fatal earthquake in 1778 that caused widespread damages, in addition, lastly renovation was done in 1996 successfully. The bathhouse covered an area of 1000 square meters including 2 main parts, Sarbineh (dressing hall), large octagonal hall and pool separated by 8 pillars from outer section, and the other part called Garmineh (the hot bathing hall) includes smaller bathing rooms and entrance section which called Khazineh (final bathing room). You can see impressive decoration of turquoise, gold tile-work, brickwork and artistic painting inside of the bathhouse, moreover, its roof consisting of multiple domes that contain convex glasses to provide adequate lighting into bathhouse while hiding it form of outside.

Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse - KHASHAN

6 . Fin Garden

Fin Garden primarily designed as a form of Persian style garden for Shah Abass I, the mightiest king of Safavid Dynasty, who like Kashan very much insofar as he ordered to buried in Kashan. This spectacular garden added to the world heritage of UNESCO in 2011 along other Iranian heritage sites, which is covered 23000 square meters with Cedar trees dating back to 500 years surrounded the garden and its turquoise seven ponds.

Fin Garden - KHASHAN

On one side of the garden is the bathhouse where Amir-Kabir, Iranian Hero, prime minister under Naser-od-Shah from 1848 to 1851 was assassinated cause of plotting the king’s mother. He was fundamental reformed especially in the fields of education and administration, but his popularity had not been appreciated by royal court and the king’s families, therefore, he was imprisoned in Fin Garden and eventually killed in the bathhouse.

 7 . The shrine of Imamzadeh Hilal Ibn Ali

The beautiful shrine of Imamzadeh Hilal Ibn Ali, Prophet Mohammad offsprings, located in Aran Va Bidgol, a village situated about 15 Km north-west of Kashan. The mausoleum decorated elaborately and designed colorfully. It has one of places near Kashan that has a worth to see it.

The shrine of Imamzadeh Hilal Ibn Ali - KHASHAN

8 . Maranjab Carvansary

Maranjab Carvansary is one of 999 Iranian Caravansaries built by Shah Abbas I in 1603 AD that was located in Aran Va Bidgol desert, near its Salt Lake. It was a significant stopover and a place for rest and recover after a daily’s Journey for passengers of Silk Road who used this route for trading between different parts of Asia especially China, North Africa, and South-Eastern Europe.

Maranjab Caravansary - KHASHAN

Typically, most of traditional Caravansaries had been guarded by a trench scout and 500 armed guards who held responsible for Caravansaries’ security and safe passage of goods from China to Europe and vice versa. Subterranean springs creates fresh water in which just like a miracle on the heart the salty desert.

9 . The stunning village of Abyaneh

Abyaneh village, also known “red village” is one the best preserved villages in Iran dating back hundred years ago in which situated around 80 Km south of Kashan along the slopes of Karkas (Vulture) Mount. An Abyanki woman typically wears a white long scarf covering the shoulders and upper trunk with colorful pattern and an upper-knee skirt while wearing colored flared trousers. The dialect of Abyanki people is classified into Middle Persian language, the language of Sasanian Persia.

The stunning village of Abyaneh - KASHAN

Jame’ mosque with its historical wooden style dating back to 1374 AD, the very old fire temple belong to Abyanki ancient Zoroastrians, and two mausoleum belonged to offsprings of Imam Kazem, the seventh Imam of Shia are the other spectacular parts of Abyaneh.

April and May are the best time to visit this stunning village, which is the time of Rose-watering.

10 . Niasar Village

Niasar is a small village with full of gardens located 28 Km west of Kashan that its popularity owe to flower-water festival taking place each year in May. Many people in different parts of the world as well as different parts of Iran get together to visit this exiting festival.

Niasar fire temple is one of historical sites in the amazing village located in the highest point and over a rocky hill, which has been made of stones bonded with mortar, however, the main parts of it had been collapsed many years ago.

Niasar Village - KASHAN

Niasar cave is a man-made cave for the purpose of worship and like all Mitra (goddess of sun and kindest) caves in the ancient era had been built in full darkness, while signs of water erosion on the rocks proved that the cave had a picturesque area since time immemorial.

 A few meters down to the Niasar fire temple, a clean and cool spring flows through the village, considered as the most known earliest springs and located at the beginning of the historical part of this area. Niasar waterfall is an eye-catching place surrounded by beautiful lush tress such as willows, elms, junipers, ash, berries, figs and vines.

Historical and cultural site of Isfahan

Historical and cultural site of Isfahan

Isfahan was the capital city of Iran in number of the Post-Islamic period; however, the peak of city’s glory back to Safavid era. Many visitors like Jean Chardin or Tavernier had been amazed by its stunning architectures, these are the ones who visited Iran in 17th century and reminisced about their itineraries in Isfahan. Numerous monuments, historic bridges (thirty-three bridges) over Zayandeh-Rood River passing through the city, and impressive natural sceneries highlighted Isfahan in the mind of each visitor.