House of Soukias, Jolfa neighborhood, Isfahan
November 24, 1997
Nasrollah Kasraian's collection of photographs from Isfahan (Nashr-e Nasheran Publishers, Terhan, 1992) has been sitting under my desk -- along with tons of other scattered books and papers -- for months. I have picked it up several times in hopes of convincing myself that there are many pictures that could be featured here.
And truly, there are. But, every time I would tell myself, how many times do we have to see this or that palace or this or that mosque? We all know what Aliqapou Palace looks like. We've seen Jame' Mosque many times from many angles. And what's the point of putting a picture of Siyoseh Pol bridge online? What's so spectacular about that?
Then last night I started looking at Kasraian's book from back to front. And I found pictures that are quite rare and, in true Isfahani style, spectacular: Pictures of homes.
These are not just any homes. They are the grand residences of the rich and famous from well over a century ago. But there are traces of royalty and spirituality in almost every Iranian home.
I remember expressing amazement at a friend (a low-income civil servant) who spent a huge sum of money to decorate the ceilings of his three-room apartment in Tehran with plaster engravings of roses and angels -- a tacky imitation of French palatial designs. And then glowing on the fake fireplace shelf was a framed gold-colored verse from the Quran.
What was missing was the harmony so elegantly evident in these old homes of Isfahan:
House of Akhvan (1)
House of Khoshnevis (1) -- (2) -- (3)
Angourestan (vineyard) Malek
Old house in Dardasht neighborhood
House of Shahshahani
House of David
House of Sharifi
House of Zavolian