Saturday, May 7, 2016

Qajar Bathhouse

Qajar Bathhouse

we can say that most of bathhouses of Iran are made of these basic sections:

•    Hashti – the first room after the entrance doors

•    Sarbineh – the changing room and a place of social events

•    Garmkhaneh – the place where the bathing and massaging takes place

•    Khazineh – part of the Garmkhaneh, where the water is boiled

•    Toon – the fire place beneath or next to Khazineh

The Qajar Bathhouse in Qazvin is the oldest bathhouse of the city that was built in Safavid era, by the order of Amir Khan Qajar, a general of Shah Abbas Army (1647). After the entrance and narrow stairs, there is the simple, not adorned space known as Hashti; beside being a sign of Persian architecture that focuses on separation of private and public, the room functions as temperature balancing space. All traditional bathhouses in Iran are made in a way that passing through different sections wont expose people to sudden change of temperature and probable sicknesses. With a narrow corridor, the Hashti is connected to an octagonal Sarbineh which is a changing room with six stands, in Farsi these stands are called Shahneshin (literary King’s Place, but it actually means a person with high social position). Sarbineh is followed by Miandar which again is warmer than the Sarbineh but cooler than the Garmkhaneh, the water closets were located in this area. Garmkhaneh is the place where the cleaning is taking place, some bathhouses have separate spaces in Garmkhaneh specified to nobles and wealthy tradesmen. Attached to the Garmkhaneh is the Khazineh that is the source of warm water in the bath. The whole construct is kept warm by the small tunnels that pass through the floor. A fascinating thing about this bath is that it is constructed in a way that if you whisper in the corner of the Garmkhaneh, your voice is clearly heard on the opposite corner. The echo of the people’s voice in the place is both confusing and interesting. 

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