Nowruz, the Iranian New Year celebrated on the day of the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere, has almost arrived and with it we can enjoy the first blossoms across the country: From Rumeshgan in Lorestan, Estur in Kerman, Khaledah and Shiraz in Fars to the gardens of Qazvin.
A windcatcher or bâdgir (in Persian: bâd “wind” and gir “catcher”) is a traditional Persian architectural element to create natural ventilation in buildings. They have remained present in many countries and can be found in traditional Persian-influenced architecture throughout the Middle East, including in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf (mostly Bahrain and Dubai), Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
Most windcatchers belong to old residential houses, mosques and urban reservoirs, e.g. in Persian architecture they were used as a refrigerating device at traditional water reservoirs (ab anbars) to store water near freezing temperatures in summer. Regardless of its utility, the height and adornments of these windcatchers used to represent the owner’s distinction and social standing.
Recently the windcatcher approach has been adopted in Western architecture, such as in the visitor center at Zion National Park, Utah and at Kensington Oval cricket ground in Barbados.
Below windcatchers in the cities of Yazd and Kashan (Yazd and Isfahan Provinces) by Hamid Najafi for Tasnim News and by Hoda Asghari for Mehr News.
Windcatchers come in various designs: uni-directional, bi-directional, and multi-directional and work pretty much like modern air conditioning system. At the top of the windcatcher are several directional ports – usually four open towards four direction. When the port facing the prevailing wind is opened, air is pushed down the shaft and into the building. At the base of the tower is a pool of water provided by aqueducts called karez (or qanat), over which the air is allowed to pass. As the warm air passes over the surface of the water, the air cools through evaporative cooling. At night, cold air is sucked into the house thereby cooling it naturally.
Windcatchers can also act in reverse. By closing all ports but the one facing away from the incoming wind, air is drawn upwards using a combination of Bernoulli’s Principle and Coanda effect. The negative pressure pulls hot air down into the karez tunnel and is cooled by coming into contact with the cool earth and cold water running through it. At this point, the cooled air is introduced into the building. By facing windcatchers away from the wind, dust and sand blowing in from the desert can also be kept away from buildings.
The evaporative cooling effect is strongest in the driest climates, such as on the Iranian plateau, leading to the ubiquitous use of windcatchers in drier areas such as Yazd, Kerman, Kashan, Sirjan, Nain, and Bam.
Shish-khans (small windcatchers) can still be seen on top of water reservoirs in Qazvin and other northern cities in Iran. These seem to function more as ventilators than as the temperature regulators seen in the central deserts of Iran.
Danesfahan is a city of around 9,000 inhabitants (2006) in Buin Zahra County, Qazvin Province, Iran. It is located west of Sagezabad and south of Esfarvarin. Historically, the city has been affected by earthquakes.
Photo gallery: Charming autumn nature in Danesfahan
Iran is a vast country, covering 1,648,000 km2 (164.8 million ha). Its topography is dominated by two mountain ranges – Alborz and Zagros – while two great deserts extend over much of the central region, leaving about 20 million ha for crop production. On account of the highly diverse climatic and soil conditions, only 12.5 million ha are cultivated annually with a wide range of food crops. Wheat, rice and barley are the most important cereals cultivated.
Rice is the staple food in Iran, with the quality of cooked rice outweighing all other considerations for Iranian consumers. The total area under rice is more than 600 thousand ha and rice is now grown in varying degrees in nearly all provinces of Iran. However, more than 80 percent of rice area is distributed in the two northern provinces of Mazandaran and Gilan.
Iran’s rice production in 2011 was 2.4 million tons, which increased from a total of 2.3 million tons in the previous year. Iran has 3,800 rice milling units (2009). Iran has imported about 1.4 million tons of rice from UAE, Pakistan and Uruguay worth $800 million in 2009. Iran’s rice imports drop by 40% in 2010. The average per capita consumption of rice in Iran is 45.5 kg, which makes Iranians the 13th biggest rice consumers.
The photos were taken in different Iranian provinces: Qazvin, Gilan, Kurdistan, North Khorasan, Fars and Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad.
Sources: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) | The rice situation in Iran by N. Shobha Rani, Wikipedia | Agriculture in Iran, Encyclopaedia Iranica | Berenj “rice”, Mehr News Agency | Photos, MNA | Photos, Tasnim News Agency | Photos 1, Tasnim | Photos 2, Tasnim | Photos 3, Tasnim | Photos 4, IRNA | Photos, ISNA | Photos 1, ISNA | Photos 2
Qazvin is the capital of the Province of Qazvin in Iran. Qazvin was an ancient capital in the Persian Empire and nowadays is known as the calligraphy capital of Iran. It is famous for its Baghlava, carpet patterns, poets, political newspaper and pahlavi (Middle Persian) influence on its accent. At the 2011 census, its population was 381,598.
Located in 150km (93mi) northwest of Tehran and south of the Alborz, it is at an altitude of about 1,800m (5,900ft) above sea level.
The most famous Qazvini calligrapher was Mir Emad (Qazvini) Hassani. Ubayd Zakani was a famous 8th-century poet noted for his satire and obscene verses. Dehkhoda was a prominent Iranian linguist and author of the most extensive dictionary of the Persian language ever published.
Archeological findings in the Qazvin plain reveal the existence of urban agricultural settlements as far back as 7000BCE. The name “Qazvin” or “Kasbin” is derived from Cas, an ancient tribe that lived south of the Caspian Sea millennia ago.
Qazvin has been a hotbed of historical developments in Iranian history. In the early years of the Islamic era Qazvin served as a base for the Arab invaders. Destroyed by Genghis Khan (13th century), the Safavids monarchs made Qazvin the capital of the Safavid Empire in 1548 only to have it moved to Isfahan in 1598.
Bombed and occupied by Russian forces in both World Wars, Qazvin is also where the famous coup d’etat was launched from that led to the rise of Reza Shah of Pahlavi dynasty in 1921. Qazvin is also situated near Alamut, where the famous Hasan-e Sabbah, founder of the Ismaili order of the Assassins, operated from.
In the middle of the city lie the ruins of Meimoon Ghal’eh, one of several Sassanid buildings in the area. The most famous of the surviving edifices of the Safavid era is the Chehelsotoon mansion. The Caravanserai of Sa’d al-Saltaneh is one of Iran’s best preserved urban caravanserais.
About 100 km (62 mi) south-west of Qazvin are the tombs of two Saljuki era princes — Abu Saeed Bijar, son of Sa’d, and Abu Mansur Iltai, son of Takin. — located in two separate towers known as the Kharraqan twin towers. Constructed in 1067 CE, these were the first monuments in Islamic architecture to include a non-conic two-layered dome. Both towers were severely damaged by a devastating earthquake in March 2003.
Qazvin has three buildings built by Russians in the late 19th/early 20th century. Among these is the current Mayor’s office (former Ballet Hall) and a water reservoir. St. Nicholas church was built in 1904 by the Russian Company for Roads in Persia which had its headquarter here.