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Iran: Khan-e Borujerdi

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Khan-e Borujerdi | Iran | Asia

[Visited: April 2001, August 2018]

A vague memory in my mind of a stopover on the way from Isfahan to Tehran seventeen years before, the images came flooding back as soon as I stepped in. It seemed that the house had become even more beautiful than before - or was this my leaking memory? Fact is, that I look forward to re-visiting this special historic building of Kashan. In the mid 19th century, Mr Natanzi asked the hand of the daughter of Mr Tabatabaei, who agreed on one condition: to build a house that is at least as pleasing as his own, so his daughter will have a decent roof over her head. This task took Mr Natanzi 18 years to complete, according to legend (and I wonder, did he really remain in love with the girl for such a long time, before he could officially relate to her?). There are already stucco decorations on the exterior of the building, and the old wooden door has two metal knockers: a long one for male visitors, and a circular one for females. This allowed those inside to decide who was to open the door.

Picture of Khan-e Borujerdi (Iran): Frontal view of the half-open reception hall of Khan-e Borujerdi

As we walk through the door and a corridor, we reach the courtyard of the complex. At the far end, we see the main building, with domes on top, and six-sided badgirs, or wind-towers, bringing cooling air into the house. A rectangular pool lies deep between the portal and the main building, but it is empty now. When we look behind us, we see intricately carved decorative walls. But it is when we arrive in the half-open reception hall that we are awe-struck, and we immediately understand how Mr. Tabatabaei could not resist the request for his daughter's hand. All the vaults, the walls, the ceilings, the doors, the windows: everything is fully covered with art-work. Frescoes depicting landscapes and persons, geometric shapes in bright colours, floral patterns, animals: you are overwhelmed by impressions jumping on you from all sides. The reception hall is half-open, and there are several openings in the ceiling, so there is sufficient light to enjoy the works of art.

Picture of Khan-e Borujerdi (Iran): Close-up of the cupola and ceiling of the central reception hall of Khan-e Borujerdi

There is only one thing to do: stand still, sit down, and take in the different sections one by one. Then, step closer, zoom in, have a better look at details, discover lovely scenes. The painters have done an amazing job at entertaining the visitor. In a museum, you would have a couple of paintings on which to concentrate, separated by a white wall. Here, you are bombarded with art from all sides. And yes, when you lift your head, you will see that the ceiling, too, is a dazzling display of architecture and art. Openings in the ceiling allow for daylight to light up the inside of this public building. There is another, austere space in the basement, and there are other rooms and buildings, with coloured glass, some closed to visitors. Legend does not say how the daughter of Mr. Tabatabaei fared in her marriage to Mr Natanzi, but we must assume that she must have been impressed by the enormous work her suitor carried out to gain her hand. I am.

Picture of Khan-e Borujerdi (Iran): Central courtyard with empty pool and wind-tower in the background
Picture of Khan-e Borujerdi (Iran): Finely decorated reception hall of the main building
Picture of Khan-e Borujerdi (Iran): Reception hall of Khan-e Borujerdi seen from below
Picture of Khan-e Borujerdi (Iran): Old wooden door with separate knockers for men and women
Picture of Khan-e Borujerdi (Iran): Deisgn in a vault near the entrance to Khan-e Borujerdi
Picture of Khan-e Borujerdi (Iran): Looking up the dome of the reception hall of Khan-e Borujerdi
Picture of Khan-e Borujerdi (Iran): Doors in the reception hall
Picture of Khan-e Borujerdi (Iran): Wall and part of the peculiar ceiling of a side hall of the reception hall
Picture of Khan-e Borujerdi (Iran): Part of the ceiling of Khan-e Borujerdi seen from below
Picture of Khan-e Borujerdi (Iran): Central part of the reception hall
Picture of Khan-e Borujerdi (Iran): Looking up a set of windows in the reception hall
Picture of Khan-e Borujerdi (Iran): The cupolas and wind-tower of Khan-e Borujerdi seen from a distance
Picture of Khan-e Borujerdi (Iran): Basement of Khan-e Borujerdi where water once stood

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