In ancient times, coins were minted as means of governmental or religious propagations and rarely as fixed means of facilitating business.

Little by little, people got to find out money’s real function. Since then, people started to exchange money for goods. Therefore, money minting began as the production craft by the local as well as central governments.

Coinage Development in Pre-Islam Period

At about 515 B.C, In Iran, the first Iranian coins were ordered to be minted by Darius I, Achaemenian emperor. There were depicted a warrior holding a bow on the front and a quadrangular sign on the back of these coins. Achaemenians’ gold coins were called Darick equal to 20 silver coins. This lasted for 200 years.

Parthian kings, as a result of Hellenization, minted 4.25 g silver coins called Drachmas, Athens

standard. There were both silver coins and copper coins minted by them. Frequently, in each historical period, there was an original pattern for coins and later other modifications were implemented. Usually on the back of Parthians’ Drachma, there were patterned the founder of the dynasty, Ashk I, for example, sitting and holding a bow in his hands, similar to Seleucid coins patterned by embossed Apolon sitting on the spherical stone of Delphi temple.

The minting of Sassanian coins dates back to 499 A.D. Hellenistic civilization is obviously indebted to coin minting to Sassanian Pioneers. Sassanian coins were clearly innovative and purely Iranian. They did not follow or imitate their predecessors. For the first time in the history of coinage, thin flat circular metal made coins were minted.

They were later used as well-decorated and current coins in Arab regions, Byzantine Empire and the Middle Ages Europe. The vividly pictured profile of the king was patterned as he was looking at left. Personal facial features were clearly seen. King’s name was also mentioned in Pahlavi in front of his face. The back of coins has always been symbolically used for religious purposes, as still functional in Iran.

On Sassanian coins, a fire altar in the middle with its fire flames blazing patterned this side. There were often two fireguards on both sides as well.

Coinage Development in Post-Islam Period

The coins used during long sovereignties of Khosrow II and Yazdgerd III were still widespread after Arabs’ invasion, specially the coins minted during Khosrow II, which were in use with little modifications toward the end of 7th century as main models for silver coins.

In post-Islam period, some coins, called Arab-Sassanian, were in use till around 650 – 700 A.D. The name and title of Arab rulers replaced the Iranian King’s in Pahlavi and a religious word or two or prayer formed the Arabic lettering on coins. The dates on the coins were from three various calendars: One lunar calendar and two Yazdgerdy calendars, one beginning with the date of his coronation, the other with his death.

Around 100 years after Arabs’ invasion, the Islamic world started to mint coins experimentally. A Caliph with his sword in sheath, Islamic witnessing phrases and a Caliph standing with his hands in form of prayer were different patterns and letterings on the coins.

Between 696 and 699 A.D, Abdolmalek, an Arab Caliph, made a radical change in coins and introduced Islamic doctrine in coinage by saying no to idols (portraits of rulers faces), banning the picturing of living beings and prohibiting luxury. Instead, religious words filled the whole surface of coins except for the date and place of coinage. Arabic measurement standard were used for gold Dinars and silver Drachmas. The Arabic language was also constantly used for lettering.

Another major change happened during the third century after Arabs’ invasion. Gold Dinars minted in Iran, Iraq and also Egypt bore the place of coinage. It indicated Caliphs’ monopolization in coinage and satisfying the flourishing economies’ demands. The name of Caliphs appeared gradually on coins and Caliphate political realm of power began to be disintegrated. Anyhow, the Islamic world had reached a single economic currency freely and actually creditable even in very remote areas of the Empire.

Tahirid, Saffarid and Samanid governors as well as other dynasties in Iran minted lots of coins and used them in trade with North Europe. Admiring titles started to appear on coins to the extent that three or four titles were used on Buwayhids’ coins or the Achaemenian title of “King of Kings ” was used on Daylamites’ coins.

Seljuks minted remarkably precise and well-decorated gold coins for some time, but later the precision and uniformity and even credibility of coins began to undergo drastic decline. During 130 years after the death of Sanjar at 1156, no coins were minted even in very active mint houses in Esfehan or Rey.

After Mongols’ invasion, some pictorial and non-pictorial coins were minted in silver. In addition, the language and writing system of Mongols were used beside Arabic ones.

During Timurids and after them, the date of coinage was being mentioned not in words, but in numbers.

Safavid period was the time of revival and promotion of the highest characteristics used in coinage like quality, art, legibility, design and above all, the Farsi language. Safavid government minted gold Ashrafy and silver Abbasy coins in compliance with Duka currency in use in Venice. Later, Nader Shah, Afsharid king, ordered some gold Mohr and silver Rupee coins to be minted based on the monetary system of India.

There were not any pictures on early Qajar coins, but they later added them to their coins.

After more than half a century, Reza Shah’s profile appeared with an aigretted hat on gold coins in 1926. A few years before him, during the last Qajar king, Mohammad Shah, the national flag emblem of “Red Lion and Sun” appeared on the front of coins for the first time.

During Pahlavis, this pattern was combined either with the king’s face or an inscription certainly commemorative of the first time coinage started in Persian Empire.

 

The radif of Iranian music refers to the arrangement of old melodic figures, songs and Iranian classical music which are called “gusheh” (short pieces of melody). In October 2009, the radif of Iranian Classical Music, a traditional repertory of Iranian classical music was inscribed in UNESCO’s list as an intangible cultural heritage of Iran.

In recent decades, most Iranian instrument makers were often Iranian-Armenians, and many singers and musicians were Jewish. In the 1960s, some of them emigrated to different parts of the world. Thus, they have promoted the radif of Iranian Classical Music outside their own countries. As a result, Iranian “avaz” (a certain type of singing) and music gained the reputation all over the world.

Definition of Radif of Iranian Classical Music

Radif is a collection of many traditional Iranian melodies which have been organized by a special order in the form of vocal dastgah (pattern). Radif of Iranian classical music also deals with the collection of gusheh pieces and their orders. The gusheh with the lowest introductory note is called “daramad” which is followed by other gusheh pieces.

We may be able to say that the radif of Iranian music is a method of teaching these gusheh pieces, avazs and patterns. In the past, Iranian musicians have gathered and organized these gusheh pieces as musical scales based on their own musical tastes. They are known as “maqams”.

Bruno Nettl analyzed the “radif” and indicated that “At first, it seems that the radif is a collection of gusheh pieces with the same significance, but it is not true. In fact, each gusheh has its own significant value. Some of them are long, and others may cause modulation which is the process of changing from one pattern to another.

From “Scale” to “Pattern” in Iranian Music

In the past, musicians taught music using “maqams,” in Iran. Despite this, when scales changed into patterns, they presented gusheh as a sub-branch of seven patterns. This process took place in the 14th and 15th centuries during the Timurid period.

According to Raphael Georg Kiesewetter, these changes were conducted in order to teach the elements of Iranian music one by one. In fact, this process has gradually continued from the Safavid to the Qajar periods. However, the “radif” was specifically used in the late Qajar period.

The Guardians of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

The art of music was initially taught individually, but when the radif was created, music students learned them, and then added theri own radifs into them and later handed them down to their own students. This guarded the radif of Iranian classical music. Of course, these gusheh pieces are taught in a traditional order and does not have a logical basis.

Nonetheless, Ali Akbar Farahani, a talented Iranian musician began to classify Iranian music due to his own special interest. The radifs of Mirza Hossein-Qoli and Mirza Abdollah are the oldest well-known radifs. These two famous radifs especially that of Mirza Abdollah played an important role in the education and survival of this intangible Iranian cultural heritage.

In 1911, Ali-Naqi Vaziri who was trained by his professors, Mirza Hossein-Qoli and Ali Akbar Shahnazi, transcribed the classical radif of Iranian music and prepared the “Theory of Iranian Music”.

In addition, there are some other well-known radifs that are used to teach children such as the radifs of Darvish Khan and Kambiz Roshanravan.

The Influence of Iranian Culture on the Radif of Iranian Music

Bruno Nettl believed that this intangible cultural heritage of Iran is a cultural commodity which accurately illustrates the cultural structure of Iran in the nineteenth and twentieth century. He believed that the following cultural issues had influenced the formation of the radif:

  • Caste (social stratification) in society,
  • Individualism or uniqueness,
  • Ta’arofs uttered out of pure hearts and frankly at the beginning of the informal conversations or after an introduction in formal conditions.
The Sequence of Gusheh in Radif

The sequence of the gusheh as in the radif is ascending (from bass to soprano). For example, the sequences of radifs of Dastgah-e Chahargah (fourth-place) are as follows:

  • Daramad is the first (on the basis);
  • Zabol is the third;
  • Hesar is the fifth;
  • Mokalaf, is the sixth;
  • Muyeh is the fourth;
  • Maghlub is the eighth;
  • Mansuri is the eighth;
  • In the end, one or more gusheh called Forud (conclusion) restore vocal music to the first section.

For example, “Hesar” or “Muyeh” has its own notes outside the original structure of the pattern, which causes modulation that means the melodies can modulate to Chahargah by using Forud.

Traveling through the world of Iranian music and sailing on the waves of traditional melodies, provides you unforgettable and sweet moments.

The Position and Status of Traditional Music in Contemporary Iran

After the 1979 revolution, when the cultural changes happened and people’s taste in music changed, the high opportunity was provided for the growth of traditional music in Iran. Many bands and singers followed this section of Iranian culture professionally. People also showed a lot of interest in this style of music.

Nowadays, some Iranian music concerts are held in different styles in different parts of Iran. Each style has its own fans and many people would like to go to traditional Iranian concerts to enjoy the performances of their favorite musicians and singers. If you have the opportunity to go to one of these concerts, we highly recommend you to attend them.

Iran-tea

Tea first reached Iran by caravans traveling the Silk Road 450 years before the modern Christian era. Residents were largely coffee drinkers until the seventeenth century but now consume four times the world average for tea.

The beverage is served hot at almost all social occasions and family gatherings.

Every morning, in houses all over Iran, a gas burner flickers to life under a kettle that will continue to boil all day. It boils through morning prayers, lunches of rice and kebabs, afternoon conversation and late into the evening meal, sustaining talk of politics, gossip and news well into the night.

The kettle contains tea, one of the most important cornerstones of Iranian culture, and the tea house is its centuries-old keeper.

culture

culture

 

Tea production is a major industry in the Caspian Sea area and a large part of its economy. Before 1900, there was no tea production in Iran, but in 1895, an Iranian diplomat named Kashef Al Saltaneh decided to change that.

At the time the English had a strict monopoly of tea production in India, with rigid rules against non-Europeans engaging in this trade. Kashef Al Saltaneh, who had studied in Paris as a young man and was fluent in French, went to India, posed as a French businessman, learned the trade and smuggled some tea saplings and seeds to Iran.

lwjxLXeV_Ethnology

After six years of experimentation, he introduced his first product to the market, and started the industry that revolutionalized the economy of two northern states, Gilan and Mazandaran, and made Iranians avid tea drinkers.

He is known today as the father of Iranian Tea, and his mausoleum, in the city of Lahijan, houses the tea museum.

kashefolsaltane

Further reading reveals that Kashef Al Saltaneh’s other honorable titles include Prince Mohammad Mirza, Iranian ambassador to India, and first mayor of Tehran.  Moreover, the stash that commenced the tea plantation might have actually been 3,000 saplings!

Tea houses, or chaikhanehs, have been in existence since the Persian Empire. They gained prominence after the 15th century, when coffee was abandoned in favour of tea leaves that were easier to come by through China’s Silk Road.

Though once the purview of men, chaikhanehs have increasingly become frequented by all members of society, and especially by Iran’s large youth population.

kerman tea house by travfotos

Iranian tea comes in a variety of subtle flavours, but its defining characteristic is its deep reddish-brown colour, which tea-drinkers can choose to dilute with water depending on their preference. Despite its cultivation in the country’s northern provinces, other teas from Sri Lanka and India are also widely consumed as the country imports a majority of its tea in order to meet the large demand.

tea-party

 

Most chaikhanehs will serve tea on the stronger side unless otherwise indicated by the drinker. The stronger the tea, the higher the concentration of tannin and caffeine, so a good cup of tea is like a good cup of coffee for those who take it straight. Because of its bitterness, many prefer to have sugar with their tea. The traditional way to do this is to take a sugar cube and place it between your teeth. You then sip the tea and allow the sugar to melt. Iranians, especially in colder regions of the country, find this a convenient way to drink multiple cups. Crystal, or rock sugar, can be found throughout the country and bought in spice shops for this specific purpose.

 

The taking of tea is a ritual unto itself: most meetings or formal occasions will begin with the offering of tea, and most meals will end with it. Some chaikhanehs have takhts, or low-rise platforms covered in rugs and pillows that you may recline on. Remove your shoes before doing so; most meals are served on a tablecloth laid at your feet.

Traditionally, tea is served from a samovar, a heating vessel originally imported into Persia from Russia. Literally meaning “self-boiler”, the samovar is used to keep water hot for prolonged periods of time through a fuel-filled pipe in the middle of the structure that heats the contents surrounding it. Made from copper, brass, silver or gold, the samovar is still used throughout Russia, central Asia and Iran, and ornate versions from the -Qajar dynasty may still be found in use.

Chaikhanehs come in all shapes and forms, from the simple kitchen-turned-tea room in villages to ornate venues in urban centres, and from underground venues to popular tourist destinations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Azari Tea House in Tehran is one of the most famous chaikhanehs known to tourists and locals, with its detailed architecture and traditional decoration. In existence since the 14th century, this chaikhaneh on Vali Asr street contains one of the more interesting embellishments to emerge from tea house culture: teahouse painting.

cycling-in-Iran

Don’t believe what people tell you about Iran

Iran was undoubtedly the most surprising country for positive experiences. After months of being told that I would be killed there, and the media reporting that it’s a country full of terrorists, I was humbled to enter a country of incredibly intelligent, thoughtful and kind people. I shared many nights in the houses of strangers and wouldn’t be allowed to leave in the morning without having my bags filled with food and gifts. They have many problems of their own in Iran, and are also aware of how the Western media portrays then, yet they still took it upon themselves to help me as best they could.

The beauty of travel by bike is how slow it is, and how it offers intimate view of the lives of strangers. I cycled between 60 and 80 miles a day, occasionally much more, sometimes much less due to weather, altitude or people I would meet on the way. It’s been hard, but the experiences it has given me sure beats working in an office. My freedom and lack of deadlines or destinations led to aimless wandering, mainly guided by the avoidance of bad weather systems and fitting around the seasons. All I really knew was that I wanted to circumnavigate the world and that I was doing that in an easterly direction.

Whenever I struggled to motivate myself to continue, it was the strangers I met on the road that helped me carry on. I’ve lost count of the favors I’ve been granted and the times I’ve been offered assistance. Wherever I went, human goodness shone through.

The Zagros Mountains Bakhtiari world | traveling with Nomad in Iran as a Australia woman

Bakhtiari world

Kerri-Ann Smith:  Our three days traveling with Nomad. Tours in the Zagros Mountains was a highlight of our recent trip to Iran. We experienced firsthand the world of the Bakhtiari nomads and the stunning natural wonders of the high ranges. Here, perhaps a million people live a nomadic pastoral lifestyle, moving between summer and winter camps with their flocks of goats and sheep.

Out of Shar-e-Kord, the bitumen soon gave way to dirt road that unraveled across green ridges. Like a child’s drawing of mountains, a zigzag line of remnant snow formed white triangles on grey pyramids. Being late May, the lower altitudes were already sweltering in the heat haze of the high 30s and the nomads had reached their cooler summer camps.  Occasional black goat hair tents and simple stone structures covered with boughs and tarps appeared on the hillsides.

Along the way, we enjoyed a picnic lunch cooled by a fine mist floating from a 30-metre waterfall. We traveled through villages of flat-roofed stone houses where some nomads have settled over the last century.  Our guides quickly became our friends as we talked and they shared their knowledge of the area, its people and the issues facing them.

Bakhtiari-Nomad-Iran

 

Later, we were welcomed at a camp to experience a nomad family’s typical day. Their lives are dominated by the care and use of their animals – meat, milk products, and wool. It’s raw and unrefined. It’s physically hard. Women in long, brightly-colored and multi-layered dresses poured milk from the afternoon’s milking into large pans for boiling. A hapless goat was selected from the herd and was led away. A gaggle of smiling children giggled as we swapped words: “goat” – “boz”, “milk” – “sheer”. The Bakhtiari speak a Lorish dialect as well as Farsi.

Later, by firelight, we ate succulent fresh goat kebabs and stew. A blackened teapot sat on the fire; the glasses of tea were filled many times. For hours we chatted and ate with the men. The women worked and ate separately. We slept where we ate, under the woven goat hair tent.

The culture and traditions of the Bakhtiari nomads are under pressure from government settlement policy; the need for better access to health, education and employment; and the simple desire for a more comfortable life. Some years ago, the patriarch Assad Allah had sold off the family’s flocks and moved them all into a village. But, unhappy there, he returned to his nomadic roots, bringing his wife, Batool, and many of their four daughters and four sons and their husbands, wives and children.

 

Iran-Zagros-Bakhtiari-Nomad

The chores were underway at dawn. Two men headed out with a rifle, but returned empty-handed. In a branch enclosure, the younger women caught and milked the goats before they could dart for the exit. One boy set out for a three hour walk to school to sit an exam. Then, as the sun crept higher in the sky, we accompanied one young shepherd and his flock of goats and fat-tailed sheep over rocky ridges in search of good grazing.

Some of the women headed out on their daily 2-3 hour walk to collect water from a spring. When slaughtered, animal hides are carefully preserved intact to become water receptacles and butter churns. Batool started the hours of rhythmic churning needed to turn milk into butter. Hung from a sturdy wooden tripod and decorated with colorful pom poms, skins filled with milk are rocked vigorously and left to hang.

While we could have stayed for much longer, we said goodbye and continued our journey through the mountains, visiting villages and seeing the handicrafts of the local people. Along the way, we gave lifts in our truck to a mother seeking medical help for her child and to two men wanting to visit their cousins in a camp further downriver. Hospitality and generosity is given and expected. A way of life.

 

Zagros-Nomad-Iran

 

Our last overnight stay was at Sar-Aqa-Seyyed, a stepped village yet to be discovered by tourism, where the roof of each house forms the verandah of the one above, grasses are tossed with wooden forks and villagers share common toilets along the creek. From there we walked part of a nomadic route along a steep-sided gorge and visited a salt mine worked in the summer by local women. Our last main stop before heading back to Isfahan was the majestic Koohrang spring where millions of liters of water gush from a slit in a cliff before roaring off as a large river.

‘Authentic’ is a ridiculously overused word to describe experiences. But here, it could not be more appropriate. Be ready to be awed.

Kerri-Ann Smith, Canberra Australia

Photos by Kerri-Ann Smith

backgammon, an Iranian game

backgammon, an Iranian game

 

According to psychologists, games are means of personal enjoyment and bring about changes in lives. The need to play games in people comes from their need to consume extra energy inside them.

Games are also considered social needs internalizing social behaviors and attitudes that institutionalize law and order in players and teach them the essential skills.

No matter where games are played, they actually reflect players? wishes, needs and orientations. Therefore, games are originated from general and common needs in tribes, villages, small towns and big cities.

In a vast ancient culture like Iran with its varied climates and lifestyles, a great variety of games and entertainments have been commonly given life to its people.

The history and whereabouts of games have not been recorded. It is only by scrutinizing into old and ancient books, one can trace some of them.

There have been different factors involved in games like type, age, range, gender, number of players, location, time, roles, means, etc. Some of the games were played with a little difference or different names in several parts of Iran the profound investigation of which can open one?s eyes to the Iranians? vital needs in local or national domain.

Iranian Games in Past & Present

For instance, in ancient Persia, parents usually taught horse riding, shooting and polo game to their children among wealthy families.

Modernization and industrialization have initiated radical changes in the lives of the people all over the world. Iran is not an exception to such developments. New technologies, time-consuming everyday activities, the transformation of some games to international sports, modern human international rules, etc have all forced away the old traditional entertainments and games. People set aside the recreations of vast plains, awesome forests, high mountains and sand beaches and rush into big cities.

So, experiencing hard situations and gaining necessary skills are not so important to people anymore. New games replace old ones. Could they really put positive impacts on the mental, psychological and physical aspects of people’s lives?

Various goals have ended in different games in Iran. Here is some categorization of them:

Types of Iranian Games

“Sports Games” which demand physical motions and skills.

“Theatrical Games” which demand (semi) professional skills under the level of serious theatrical plays and are performed in parties, feasts, celebrations and similar occasions.

“Recreational Games” which target aims like amusement.

To determine who is first to start a game, there have been many ways in different parts of Iran. To choose partners for a team, there have also been several methods to be taken in various parts of Iran.

Therefore, it would help you imagine the atmospheres of the games in Iran if you know and learn some of the procedures to start and play games. Here are some examples:

Examples

No.1) To Decide Whose Turn It Is:

[God or Earth]-Bushehr province, south west of Iran.

The head of one team chooses God and the other one chooses the Earth. Then, one of them throws a ball to some middle range distance. After that, he/she goes toward the ball by laying a wooden stick on the ground several times like he/she measures the distance. While doing so, in a praying gesture, each time the stick is moved to next position, he/she says: first God, second Earth, first God, second Earth. All players are watching this. If the stick touches the ball when the word ?God? is uttered, the God team will start the game.

No.2) To Choose Partners:

[Sun or Moon]-Khorasan province, north east of Iran.

Two persons called Khans choose partners by answering players? questions. Each two players have already chosen two names, either ?the Sun? or ?the Moon?. Then, two players go to the Khans at a time asking them: Do you want the Sun or the Moon? If a Khan can point to a player and give the right answer, he will be able to take him into his team. If not, the other khan will give the right answer and take the one he wants.

No.3) Sports Games:

[Ashirma (meaning “overturn”)] – Azerbaijan province, north west of Iran:

Wrestlers warm up themselves in open air while big drums are played and people are watching. Then, a referee, who has been a wrestler himself for a long time, checks the belts of two players if they are tightly tied. The one who can take the rival?s belt, lift him off the ground and throw him down will be the winner.

No.4) Theatrical Games:

[Zekr-e-Khanjar (meaning dagger praising)] ? Golestan province, north of Iran:

Two groups of people stand opposite each other in lines and the leading one stands between them. The leader sings praising religious-like songs to arouse dancers? religious passion. The others accompany him while singing and make moves in harmony with him. The movements gradually become faster. The climax is when dancers are moved with increasing emotions and meet each other in the center of a circle and each raises a dagger as a sign of brave challenge. This game is played in three stages each with its peculiar songs and movements.

Note: not all theatrical games are religious or played by men. A large number of them are the happy ones played by both sexes.

No.5) Recreational Games:

[Gol Gol (meaning flower, flower)] – Sistan and Baluchestan, south east of Iran:

Two people are chosen as heads of two five-people teams. A piece of land with a limited distance is assigned for the game. The heads choose the name of a flower without others noticing it. Then, they ask both teams? members one at a time and in turn: Flower, flower, which flower of flowers? The asked players must guess different flower names. The heads can lead them toward the right answer. The winner of the game will be the team whose member could have given the right answer. The loser team?s members must carry the winner team?s members on their backs all along the specified distance.

The Great Variety of Iranian Games

Altogether there are around 2500 various recorded games in Iran. At least hundreds of them are not repetitive with different names. First they might seem quite simple unimportant games, but they can each reflect various cultures of different corners of Iran. It is worth notifying that the cultural, social, climatic, historical, geographical and many other aspects of each locality are the determining factors of the games played there.

honey-shop-tabriz-bazaar

honey-shop-tabriz-bazaar

As world travelers, you have certainly heard of the world bazaars and seen several of them here and there. On the surface, they may look like shopping centers, but some deeper reality can be found under the skin of Iranian bazaars. I want you to know more about what’s down there and who’s doing what in such living communities in different cities of Iran.

There are certain people within specialized guilds working in the bazaars facilitating the business transactions. Also, there are various institutes forming the particular identity of the bazaars in Iran. We will look at them one by one.

Various Institutes inside Iranian Bazaars

Religious Institutes:

There are mosques, shrines and mausoleums inside these places. The people who are shopping, working or living in the vicinity of such centers, may need to pray or practice some religious beliefs. Therefore, these institutes are there for such people. Some may have fervent belief in praying at a particular mosque or shrine inside such bazaars. Some may want to meet others from other part of the bazaar. Noon prayer time could be a time to meet up.

In the history of each city, there could have been certain people whose contribution to the community have been preferred to be remembered by those living and working there. To honor such well-known people, mausoleums may have been constructed inside Iranian bazaars. People go to such places, pray for the peace of their souls and revere them.

Education Centers:

You may get surprised to know that there have been madrasas inside the bazaar compounds where religious students study. Those old structures have been well-maintained and still used as education centers. Many of the bazaars in Iran still have those schools in which Islamic doctrines are being taught. Therefore, students and teachers have to walk through the bazaar passageways to get to classes.

Of course, I must mention that modern colleges and universities aren’t found at these places. Bazaars are traditional communities in which you may buy modern commodities and find modern instituts like banks, but you won’t find modern education centers there.

Money Exchange Shops:

You may need to buy lots of things in the bazaars for which you will have to have Iranian currency, Rial. Such shops aren’t found in large numbers. They are usually at one part of the bazaars. Sometimes, some gold shops exchange various currencies like in the bazaars of Rasht and Kermanshah.

Sport Centers:

Zoorkhaneh is the traditional sport center in Iran that could also be found in Iranian bazaars. As it’s a mixture of exercising physical and ethical values, people of all walks of life may participate in it. Therefore, people of the bazaars are no exceptions. Many of those who work in these places go to such gyms everyday.

Various Guilds inside Iranian Bazaars

Traditional Craftsmen:

There are many craftsmen and artisans who are working in a number of workshops where traditional arts are practiced. Handicrafts are being created and sold to the shops where Iranians and non-Iranian visitors buy as souvenirs or even purchase them for personal use.

During your visits to Iranian bazaars, you may hear a lot of noise in particular parts of the bazaars where metals are hammered, wood is cut, fabrics are block-printed, etc. These are the shops in which traditional artists are working to create interesting items for other shops. You will certainly find them quite attractive parts of such communities.

Food Sellers:

There’ alway a part of the bazaars in Iran that is for selling foodstuff. Some sell food and some sell items for eating. Both are interesting to see as you will learn a lot about what people eat at home or in the restaurants.

If you go shopping in the bazaar or plan to have your business there, you will need to eat after some time. Bazaars are such large areas that you cannot easily get out of them just to eat and come back. This will not be practically ideal. Therefore, you have to eat inside the bazaars.

If you like traditional food, make sure you go to one of these places where you can find dishes like dizi, which is a mix of beans, chickpeas, potatoes, meat, dried lime, etc. If you like to go to a traditional tea houses instead of modern coffee shops that could be found everywhere, don’t forget to take the opportunity as long as you’re there.

Animal Sellers:

At particular parts of some Iranian bazaars, there are some of these shopkeepers working. These are some tradesmen who sell animals that people keep as pets like nightingale, parrots, myna birds, etc. On the other hand, some sell living animals who are soon slaughtered to be eaten like geese, chickens, quails, turkeys, ducks, etc.

Find Life in Iranian Bazaars

In a nutshell, if you’re traveling in Iran trying to find out more about life and how it continues in Iran, you can touch under the skin of Iranian bazaars by going to various corners of such living communities and learn a lot.

The people working at Iranian bazaars play major roles in politics, economy and social activities of the society. They are the traditional supporters of economy. They can raise fund for particular causes and they can ban laws, products, etc to block some new trends appearing in the entire country.

In general, bazaars are pro-traditions and support business enhancing laws that help them grow their capitals. They aren’t so much pro-modernity as it may bring about different systems of beliefs and jeopardize their businesses. They’re not very much pro-change. They are often conservatives who support old lifestyles and traditions.

 Find Life in Iranian Shopping Malls!

You may wonder why I’m taking you to an entirely different world – modern shopping malls in Iran! That’s a reality, which cannot be denied. You can find a lot of such modern centers. Cities are growing larger and larger. Therefore, it’s not practical to buy only in the traditional bazaars. They turn to be time-consuming and people will have to go long distances, spend a lot of time to buy some items that can be easily bought in a shopping center at their neighborhoods.

You cannot find traditional bazaars’ variety in shopping malls. They are imitations of western countries’ malls. Modern life has dictated its rules in large cities. You find coffee shops and restaurants (not teahouses) in these modern places. You find some of the latest clothing items offered by fashion brands. Even some of these centers are supplied with supermarkets, large and small.

The new middle class people and young generation, of course, prefer to go shopping in these places. They don’t feel the need to go to some of those traditional communities or buy from those traditional guilds. However, their needs are answered with what’s available to them.

I can briefly say that you can find varieties of true life in Iran only when you visit both traditional Iranian bazaars as well as modern shopping malls. Iran is in a transitional stage between traditionalism and modernity. You will find this distinct comparison a wonderful discovery in one country. I’d recommend you to explore it for yourself.