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Middle East Monica Dispatch

Visit to Kashan: At HOME at the Khan-ť Broujerdi
April 19, 2000

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Mohammed takes a break from coloring
Sayed Mohammed, 11, colors quietly until I come up and ask him for the red crayon. He stares at me blankly for a minute, until his friend Mehdi Doghkogy, 10, explains what I'm saying (I guess I'm not really speaking clear Farsi). Soon enough, Sayed grins widely and gives me the crayon.

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Check out what the boys were coloring!
The two boys, their helper Ehsan Zeraat Kashany, and I are sitting at a table inside the "Broujerdi house" in Kashan. Kashan is one of the older cities in Iran: it existed during the time of the Achaemenians, and some of the buildings date from the Sassanian period (224-637 CE). Kashan is famous for its pottery and textiles from the Seljuk dynasty, and under the Safavids who lived both here and in Esfahan, it reached the height of its glory.


Farsi - Persian language or people
textiles - a woven knit or cloth
renovate - to restore to a former, better state

The architect of this fabulous house was named Ostad Ali Maryam. He planned and built this house way back in 1855, but put as much creativity into it as Sayed and Mehdi are putting into their drawings. It took 15 years for builders to finish this house!! When you look around, you can see all the different architectural details and designs that make it so special.

Underneath, fantastic wind tunnels help with air circulation, taking advantage of the climate. The sunny courtyards display fine gardens and a reflecting pool. When Jasmine and I find our way to the bathroom, we briefly turn around and around in all the hidden passageways. What Brian, Jazz and I all like are the paintings in the main room. Sani Olmolk and his nephew Kamal Olmolk illustrated the walls with scenes of flowers, birds, animals and hunting scenes, and even though most of the paint has faded, you can still see some of the details that made this room "the" place to do business!

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Looking into the main room of the Broujerdi house
The main room, with its domed ceiling in the Persian style, has two floors: our guide points out that the top floor is for women, and the bottom is for men. Can you imagine sitting on the bottom floor, drinking tea, listening to the birds sing, watching young people play in the courtyard and discussing the latest in business? This house and a few in the neighborhood are known as "business houses." Many of them are owned by the "Broujerdi" family of merchants. A grandchild of the original Broujerdi owns this particular house, and continues to renovate it for future visitors.

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The courtyard with gardens and a pool
The government of Iran is so impressed with the plan, architecture, plaster designs and paintings inside the house that it's labeled as one of the "precious monuments of Kashan." I want to look through the rest of the house with Sayed and Mehdi after I finish drawing, but when I look up from using the red crayon, they're already gone, shooting some video footage with Jasmine and Brian.


p.s. - Please e-mail me at

You can write Ehsan Zeraat Kashany, of the Cultural Heritage Office, at:

Kashan Street Kashany Alley Sahebghadam
#13 House Reza Zeraat

Abeja - Chardors, Pepsi, and the Great Satan: A History of Modern Iran
Brian - Persepolis: Sacked, Hacked, and Packed
Monica - Visit to Kashan: At SCHOOL at the Madrasť-yť Agha Bozorg
Team - Turn Off That Faucet! Water Doesn't Grow on Trees, You Know

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