Exploring Shiraz, a city in Iran

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Shiraz, in Iran, is a city of many panoramic views and also the birthplace of the famed seven colour tiles or haft rang tiles, come explore with us…

Shiraz is known as the city of poets, gardens, wine, nightingales and flowers. The crafts of Shiraz consist of inlaid mosaic work of triangular design, silver-ware, carpet-weaving, and the making of the rugs called gilim (Shiraz Kilim) and the blanket called Jajim in the villages and among the tribes.

The city is one of the key tourism sites in Iran, and its cultural heritage, its beautiful architecture, and especially its tiling history is of global importance. One of the most important handicrafts of Shiraz, the capital of Fars Province, is a seven-colour tile, the Haft Rang, a type of tile belonging to the Islamic era architecture.

The design and use of seven-colour tiles do not have a specific history, but the evidence obtained indicates that seven-colour tiles were used to construct the colossal building of Persepolis and works made during the Achaemenid period. The use of seven-colour tiles in traditional architecture and the decoration of religious sites, including mosques, reached its peak in the Safavid historical period.

Seven-colour tiles have been used in places such as Vakil Mosque, Nasir al-Mulk Mosque and Zinat al-Muluk House in Shiraz. The most important feature of this handicraft is the quality and unique composition of the glaze. Due to its desirable quality, a seven-colour tile is one of the most important products of Shiraz exported to the Persian Gulf countries. The term ‘Haft Rang’ (meaning seven-coloured, also known specifically as Cuerda Seca or Dry Cord) tiles was first used by a royal historian of Ilkhanate to describe the technique of painting on glaze and is still used today.

The number seven, however, does not refer to the exact number of colours, because in this technique it is the composition and relation of colours that matters the most. Today, Haft Rang tiles are made in 15×15 cm in seven colours: blue, turquoise, red, yellow, fawn, black and white. This technique prevents the colours from being mixed into each other because they are separated by lines of a special kind of ink with oil and magnesium components. Haft Rang tile reached its perfection in Shiraz. Haft Rang tiles of Shiraz differ from other cities in the quality and chemical components of their glaze. Another difference is that the motif of “Gol o Morgh” (flowers and birds) is more used in Shiraz. Colours such as light green, pink, yellow and white are more common in Shiraz, and among these colours pink is used more impressively. One of the best examples of using Haft Rang tiles is Nassir ol-Molk Mosque which is also called the Pink Mosque.

Other architectures of Shiraz that have benefited from Haft Rang tiles are the Vakil mosque, Narenjestan mansion, and Afif Abad Garden. It takes twelve steps to make Haft Rang tiles. Gardens are an important part of Iranian culture. There are many old gardens in Shiraz such as the Eram Garden and the Afif Abad Garden. According to some people, Shiraz “disputes with Xeres [or Jerez] in Spain about the honour of being the birthplace of sherry.

Shirazi wine originates from the city, however, under the current Islamic regime, liquor cannot be consumed except by religious minorities. Shiraz is the fifth-most-populous city of Iran and the capital of Fars Province, which has been historically known as Pars and Persis. Shiraz is located in southwestern Iran on the rudkhaneye khoshk (‘dry river’) seasonal river. Founded in the early Islamic period, the city has a moderate climate and has been a regional trade centre for over a thousand years.

Shiraz is one of the top tourist cities in Iran and it is known as the city of poets, literature, and flowers. It is also considered by many Iranians to be the city of gardens due to the presence of many gardens and fruit trees that can be seen throughout the city, such as Eram Garden. Shiraz is also a famous tourist destination in the world. Every year many tourists from around the world visit Shiraz. Shiraz has historically had major Jewish and Christian communities.

The crafts of Shiraz consist of inlaid mosaic work of triangular design; silverware; pile carpet-weaving and weaving of kilim, called gilim and jajim in the villages and among the tribes. Dominant industries in the city include the production of cement, sugar, fertilizers, textile products, wood products, metalwork, and rugs. Shiraz also has a major oil refinery and is a major centre for Iran’s electronic industries: 53 per cent of Iran’s electronic investment has been centred in Shiraz.

The city is home to Iran’s first solar power plant. Recently, Shiraz’s first wind turbine has been installed above Mount Babakuhi near the city. Shiraz boasts of many beautiful structures and buildings, some of which are currently endangered. The city’s municipality and other related institutions have initiated restoration and reconstruction projects.

Some of the most recent projects have been the complete restoration of the Arg of Karim Khan and of the Vakil Bath, as well as a comprehensive plan for the preservation of the old city quarters. Other noteworthy initiatives include the total renovation of the Qur’an Gate and the mausoleum of the poet Khwaju Kermani, both located in the Allah-u-Akbar Gorge, as well as the restoration and expansion of the mausoleum of the famous Shiraz-born poet’s Hafiz and Saadi.

The Shiraz Special Economic Zone or the SEEZ was established in 2000 with the purpose of boosting manufacturing in electronics and communications. Football is the most popular sport in Shiraz and the city has many teams in this sport. The main sporting venue in Shiraz is Hafezieh Stadium which can hold up to 20,000 people.

The stadium is the venue for many of the city’s football matches and has occasionally hosted the Iran national football team. Shiraz is also home to another stadium, Pars Stadium, which was completed in 2017 and can host up to 50,000 spectators. A city of many panoramic views, with an exquisite tiling history, Shiraz is a must-see for all architecture and design lovers!

Images and text via various Internet sources

Feature Image: Pink Mosque – Courtesy

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