Iran beyond Iranians

We are humble people. It is in our blood


Iran beyond Iranians
by Midwesty

Architecture is the art of living which is documented sometimes in the heart of a rock or it is molded as a mud brick or raised in the shape of a dome. Studying the architecture of a nation gives one insights on its people's personality and their characteristics. Iranian architecture is humble, pragmatic, and progressive as much of its creators the Iranians.

I am not talking about the bad copies of Frank Lloyd Wright, Philip Johnson, or Le Corbusier's master pieces in northern Tehran. I am talking about the architecture of the old fabric of Yazd, Isfahan, Shiraz, Boushehr, Kerman, Mahan, Semnan, Kashan, Zanjan, Tabriz, and so on.

The humbleness of Iranian architecture comes from where it respects the nature rather than fighting against its forces. The building material is being provided from near the location of the building. The building itself is in accordance with its environment and appears as the continuation of its surroundings so it adapt to the environment so then be adopted by it.

Finally, while it bows to its environs it doesn't forget its main responsibility to provide shelter and comfort to its occupants for the longest time throughout years and seasons. The combination of building's form and the brilliance of its architect make it easy to be preserved for years to come by and generations to live in. Also it makes it easy and inexpensive to maintain.

Yazd a 5000-year old city with one major and consistent problem, water scarcity, for as long as its ancient mind remembers, been wrestling with water problem. Since it is located at the heart of Iranian's greater desert it comes as no surprise to the visitors that water is the most valuable commodity in its daily transactions.

However throughout the years, its architecture and people have learned how intelligently deal with this chronic pain. As a result they have the most advanced and efficient architecture to preserve water. This might come as a strong claim out of proportion but I argue if the architecture wasn't the most efficient then the city would not live for thousands of years.

Pragmatism is not just a word in Iranian architecture, it is a holly ritual, a sacred secret, and a radical philosophy of life. Comparing Iran with the United Stales one can easily recognize why Americans have their reasons for celebrating Thanksgiving. United States is the most advanced country in the world because of many reasons but one important one that she possesses the most of essential resources in the world which are massive sources of water and unlimited amount of land.

However if one look at the geography of Iran it notices that it is a collection of scarcity. Resources are so scarce that they are treated as sacred. That's why in Iran, the words scarce and sacred are often conjoined. This is also the reason why Iranian architecture is pragmatic. In original Iranian architecture there is no room for "beauty for the sake of beauty". There is always a practical intention behind every beautiful thing that one can find in Iranian architecture. Now I dare to say that in Iranian architecture there is function behind every single form.

I would like to call Iranian architecture as an organic architecture. Because as I said it flows with its surrounding environment, promotes coexistence with the forces of the nature, and it provides shelter to its inhabitants all in all while being sensible and pragmatic.

However if you google the words "organic architecture" you find a Wikipedia link as the first result that shows a picture of Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece, the Kaufmann House or so-called "The Falling Water" house. Frank Lloyd Wright worked as a draftsman for Louis Henri Sullivan and Dankmar Adler. Sullivan is the one that started the whole movement of skyscraper fever in late 20th century in Chicago. He is truly the father of all skyscrapers school of architecture, and whole sets of inventions and "original ideas".

Sullivan like any other smart pioneer needed to justify his crazy ideas for the public opinion so he tried to relate them with the nature. He started making architectural forms that resembled the natural world. For example he used some pieces of terracotta that the shapes of vines with leaves were engraved on them, and then he put them way in the sky in the middle of the building. Then he called them the organic elements. Ironically he is the owner of the famous statement of "Form follows function". In simple word he believed that there should be a specific purpose of use for every single architectural element in the building.

Later Frank Lloyd Wright was fired and started his own architectural firm. He took on Sullivan's idea and advanced the organic architecture school further by studying Japanese architecture. But it is not hidden from the readers that Japanese architecture is greatly inspired by Iranian architecture and the concept of Persian Garden, the inner house and the outer house one inside of the other.

Back to Sullivan, one of his famous landmarks that it is still standing is the Auditorium Building in Chicago on the magnificent mile. The building was the tallest, most massive and expensive building in the world at the time. It was housed to 4800-seat live theater, and many hotel rooms and business offices. This was the first building that used reinforced concrete for "first time" and used cooled air draft over the crowded seats of the theater in the middle of hot Midwest summer for hours.

Without going into much of detail he used the same concept of Iranian underground water reservoir to pass the cool air over the ice and into the auditorium. His concept of reinforced concrete wasn't as original either since Iranians years before had the secret recipe of combined gypsum with ash and hey.

Please don't take this as I try to underestimate the genius and hard work of my hero, Sullivan and other American modern architects but as I try to say that science and art are the results of incremental processes not the quantum leaps.

Iranians are inspired by humble architecture for thousands of years. As a result we are humble people. It is in our blood. We are so modest that we even sometimes don't believe in ourselves, that we invented the modern medicine, that we funded the modern chemistry, the modern math, the modern postal system, the modern civic planning, and so on. We don't dare to talk about it and we let other people claim our achievements in their own names. We let them run over our heads and then look up at them and smile.

For example, Albert Einstein's general relativity was discussed 200 years earlier by Sadr-ol-Motalehein Molla Sadra not in physics lab but in small house in desert while in exile. Molla Sadra published his theory under the name Harekat-e-Johari, the Inner Motion. There, he clearly argues that everything is relative due to its constant inner displacement.

This and numerous other examples in Iranian history exist and show how Iranians' head been run over by horse, carriage, tricycle, bicycle, motorcycle, automobile and more recently by nuclear energy, depending on the time of the history. I've heard that above the main entrance of Iranian nuclear energy complex in Tehran's Amirabad-e-Shomali's complex there is this Saadi's verse: del-e har zareh ra keh beshkafi, aftabeesh dar mian bini.


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wow ..... We iranians are so wonderful, who knew ?

by irani bar khod bebal shahe to pahlavist (not verified) on

Honar Nazde Iranian asto bas !!!!!!!!!


wow ..... We iranians are so wonderful, who knew ?

by irani bar khod bebal shahe to pahlavist (not verified) on

Honar Nazde Iranian asto bas !!!!!!!!!



by Midwesty on

Abarmard, Thanks. I remember your article a while ago. I wish you could write more.

Leila, Thanks! You are right. There is much more into "Hatef's" poem. But this verse is very interesting to me since it relates to the nuclear fission phenomenon in a mythical way.

Faribors, Thanks for your thoughts. I think there is more into Boushehr than the power plant. I wish some of our southern Iranian readers would share their thoguhts on this. Also I agree that we need to find a way to contribute to that great civilization.


Jahanshah Javid, Hezbollah in Disguise!

by Justice (not verified) on

Jahanshah Javid, Hezbollah in Disguise!
Hezbollah's Front Businesses in America!
Part one
part two


Iranian Architecture, Hier : KANDOVAN

by Faribors Maleknasri M. D (not verified) on

I think KANDOVAN does have a by no means negliable Place in your List containing Yazd, Isfahan, Shiraz, Boushehr( Power plant! ), Kerman ( KOLOPEH! ), MEHRAN (stil to come!h, Semnan, Kashan, Zanjan( stil to come ), und last but not least: TABRIZ ( = A Remedy against fever of any genesis! ).
well now is the time of KANDOVAN: I wish i were there. I am very happy that "IRANIAN" has also these positive sides. for "Iranian" is nothing sacred. but for example this article belongs to the ones which are even less sacred. and as a result the authore "earns" a full shower of "nice words" rain. so I think also for me it is better to come to an end now. Greeting



by Faribors Maleknasri M. D (not verified) on

As an example of true Iranian architecture, hier in YAZD, I would like to recomend to visit the
Khan's Bath, currently modified to a cafe and restaurant - Yazd

Khan's Bath, currently modified to a cafe and restaurant - Yazd Photo:Shayan-Zare

Go to the: Home of
if you are interessted and are ready to build your own idea about what is done to rescue and to prevent the iranian, nearly ancient, architecture since 1978/79. sometimes pays UNESCO some mony for rebuilding the old findings.


Thanks for your article,

by Leila (not verified) on

Thanks for your article, which is informative and impressive in a mellow way.
It did not rattle my nerves while reading it( some of the posts on this site do just that) and by the end I thought: " yeah... he/she's right, once again I should learn from the past and put it into practice in the present time!"
By the way I feel there is a far deeper meaning to this line of poetry:
"Del-e har zarreh keh beshkafi, aftaabish dar miyan bini", for me it refers to existence, creation and far more....(perhaps beyond the scope of this current thread, possibly, to be picked up at another time...)
Thanks again.



by Abarmard on

Very nice artilce. Thanks very much for your thoughts. I really enjoyed it.



by Midwesty on

Inventor, It's noted thanks for the correction. :O) 

Shaer, I am so flatered to have your poem as comment. I feel really special. Thanks a lot!

Anti_Shaer, Rythm might not be more important than meaning but they go hand in hand. It is the old classic arguments that discusses whether form is more important than function or content is more valuable than shell? Nobody knows the right answer yet.  Hafez was the master of both but Nima brought the whole concept down.

JD, Thanks. I know what you are talking about. It is facinating to me the concept of having an ice cold water in the middle of summer in the middle of desert.  I still remember touching the cold and old rusted suface of copper valve to get some cold water. I will tell their stories one day if god's willing.

Jamshid, Loved your comment. I agree 100%.


Well one or two kudos.

by anti-shaer (not verified) on

Well one or two kudos. Still kose-sher. I'm not saying don't write them, I'm saying keep them hidden! write your own article and poems and leave us alone. It's not about hatred, it's about KOSE-SHER! what part of kose-sher don't you understand?

Jeesh Daram

Lots of great information

by Jeesh Daram on

Thank you Midwesty for a very nice and informative article. Please write more, and personally I am hoping to see an article about the old "Yakhchals" the natural ice storages and their history in Iran.


Thank You My Brothers

by Shaer on

Jamshid and pro-Shaer


Re: Iranian scientists

by jamshid on

One day somebody has to compile all the major work that Iranians had done for science. It should become "required" reading in all schools. It helps build confidence and awareness of Iran's accomplishments.


Iran is not just about its poets.


Shaer: I love your writings. You should save them somewhere though. Maybe one day with some extra work, you could go back and put them together and publish them. Also I would love to see you try doing something similar in Farsi.



Good job Shaer!

by pro-Shaer (not verified) on

Shaer your comments are excellent and your poetry is beautiful! It is fluent and to the point. It is filled with love and wisdom and reflects no hatred. That's why some people are against it! All they want is slogans full of hatred and insults... Do not care about them and keep up the good work!
Cheers Shaer...


My Brother "Anonymous21"

by Shaer on

Thank You For "Your" Comment ..


You Are "Absolutely" Right ..

Writing "One" Sentence Per Line ...

Does "Not" Make a Poem ..


However, My Brother ..

If You Have "Eyes" To See ..

And "Ears" To Hear ..

You "Will" Understand The "Meaning" Behind Those "Words" ..


A "Meaning" Much Important Than "Rhyme" ..

A "Meaning" Much Important than "Sweet" Verses ..


My Brother,

If "Your" Eyes Can't "See" ..

And Your "Ears" Can't "Hear" ..

Please ..

"Don't" Blame Me ..


I "Pray" That Your "Eyes" Be "Opened" ..

And Your "Ears" Come Forth ..

So That ..

Your "Mind" and Your "Heart" ..

Will "See" The "Beauty" ..


Shaer your poetry sucks!

by anti-aher (not verified) on

Have you received any kudos? even one? You keep writing kose sher and think you are providing a service? Just let it go, donkey or no donkey. Give us a break and for the love of god, please stop your poetry. Have your own blog or poems but leave these articles alone! I beg of you!


To: Shaer

by Anonymous21 (not verified) on

Is what you write supposed to be poetry??? It has to rhythm and has no Ryme. Writing one sentence per line and putting words in quotes does not a poem make.


My Brother "Anti-Saher"

by Shaer on

Your Comment "Reminds" Me ..

Of Our Great "Molla Nasreddin" ..


Once He Said:

"No Matter" How Much I "Recite" ..

All Our "Holy Books" ..

From "Koran" To The "Bible" ..

From "Torah" To The "Avetsa" ..

To My "Beloved" Donkey ..

At The "End" of The "Day" ..

He Is "Still" That "Donkey" ..


My "Brother" ..

I "Hope" ..

By The "Grace" of "God" ..

You Are "Not" That "Donkey" ..


Go In "Peace" ..



Shaer stop your kose-shers!

by Anti-Saher (not verified) on

Shaer stop your kose-shers! You keep ruining the articles and discussions with your shers. No one reads them or understands them. They are just annoying. Give it up! Please. Just write normally.


The "Genius" of Our Land

by Shaer on

From "Time" Immemorial ..
The "Great" People Of Iran ..


Blessed By Their "Creator" With Great "Genius" ..
Contributing To The "Greatness" Of Mankind ..


From "Dariush", to "Kourosh", and Others ..
"Mossadeq", "Amir Kabir", and other "Patriots" ..


Our Great Nation "Flourishing" With Talent ..
The "Womb" of Creation Providing Us With "Much Blessing" ..


Though Our "Greatness" Has Been But Absent for Sometime ..
Its "Seed" Is Within "Us" ..


No Doubt One Day In The "Annals" of "Creation" ..
As The People Of Iran "Realizing" Their "True Greatness" In The "Past" ..
Will "Muster" Within Them The "Might" Of "Almighty" ..
And "Return" to The "Greatness" That we "Had" ..


Bless All "Iranians" ..
Bless Our "Great Civilization" ..


May We "Never" Forget ..
That We "DO" Come From" ..
"Loins" Of Great People" of The Past ..


Islamic contribution

by Inventor (not verified) on

Great article, you should have mentioned the other contributions of other Islamic inventors/thinkers ie: jet propulsion by Ein ol Ghozat Hamedani, Aspirin by Imam Ghazali, etc. BTW that line of poetry is from Hatef Isfahani and NOT Saadi.