Photography Articles

Jassem has published a pictorial book on Bam, 184 pages, in Persian, English, French and German, with lots of photos, 23x32 cm.

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Jassem Ghazban Pour

Iran, 2001

Said a beloved to his lover; O thou the youth
You have seen many cities in strange lands
Which of those cities s more pleasant
Said the city, in which the beloved is there

Bam and its citadel from a unique historical city. An ancient city, which its past is narrated in Persian legends, it is a living city still relevant today. It was one of the best preserved structures from the early centuries of Islam and a memorial to the work of thousands of architects, artisans, artists, craftsmen… and also a manifestation of the might and determination of hundreds of renowned or anonymous rulers, whose sought shelters inside its walls or attacked those seeking asylum inside the citadel.

The fury of nature fell on this accident Iranian monument and a severe earthquake shock the city of Bam causing destruction that is mourned not only by the people of Bam, but also by the culture and civilization of Iran, as it grieves for one its true descendents.

The Location of Bam City
The city lies to the east of Modern Kerman and it is about a kilometer above sea level. It neighbors Zahedan, Iran-shahr, Jiroft and Bard-sir. The city is composed of two sections, old and new. The old section includes the famous citadel. The new consists of the city and a collection of gardens and palm groves. Today’s Bam is the result of the gradual evacuation of the citadel’s residents that began in Qajar era and paralleled the slow demise of the citadel’s political and military significance. In the First Pahlavi era, the old citadel was completely evacuated and its only residents where those who found themselves out of society.

The Importance of Bam’s Location
Bam is on the route to India, Khorasan, Fars and the harbors of Hormoz. In the pre-Islamic era, it connected two major trade routes, the Silk Road and the Spice Route. Bam’s wealth also lay in its weaving and bountiful agricultural produce, and it holds an important place in the history of the trade of the Islamic world. Moqadasi and ebn Houqal write the Bam’s weaving and woven exports, confirming Bam’s historical importance among international trade markets.

The Religions and Faiths in Bam
Bam’s position at the intersection of the Eastern world’s two major trade routes brought together various religions and belief systems. After the Arab conquest and introduction of Islam to Iran, Bam’s population was Sunni, with the majority Shafite. Bam also became a major Khavarej center, when this people migrated toward the south east of Iran and the coast of the Persian Gulf. The presence and reputation of the Khavarej in Bam is notable in surviving accounts of the period, all of which mention their mosque and possessions in the city. Zoroastrians have long been among Bam’s religious minorities. The short distance between Bam and Qahestan, a district where Ismailis were active, and its location on the route of India, as the last center for Batenian, brought Ismaili influence to Bam. Agha Khan Mahalati announced his mutiny against Kings in Bam. Since the 8th century, Bam has also been the home of well-known mystics (Sufis) and Gnostics. Figures such as Seyed Tahereddin Bami, the author of “Bam-Nameh”, Mirza Naim and Ronaq Ali Shah, and works as Khaneghah Bam and Resaleyeh Maqamat Orafayeh Bam illustrate Bam’s prominence. Today, the majority of Bam’s population are Shiite.

The Historical Monuments of Bam
There is no doubt that the most important historical monument in Bam is the old citadel, which is of such importance that it has overshadowed other works. However, there are other important monuments, which bear testament to a particular period in the history and culture of the city. The most important of these works is Kouhak Citadel, also known as Dokhtar Citadel, which lies 1.5 Km from the Bam Citadel. The site has not been comprehensively investigated, but many believe it is older than the citadel and may well be a temple to the Goddess Anahita.
The ruins of the Sunnite Mosque, located a kilometer to the east of Bam, was investigated by Arthur Upham Pope, and it is likely to have been the historical Sunnite Mosque of the Bazazan districe. The house of Dervishes (Khaneghah) and the cemetery are located to the north east of Bam and close to the Prophet’s Mosque (Masjed Rasoul), which most likely originated during Seljuk dynasty, with new sections added over the years. Qeysarieh, located in the south west of Bam, was used as a market and is an example of Qajar architecture.

Bam in Legends
Ferdowsi’s Shah-nameh is one of the world’s epic masterpieces and provides a window on to Iran’s ancient legendary kings. The appearance of Bam and its citadel in the epic unites its historical and legendary origins. Before the earthquake, it was possible to pinpoint the exact location of scenes described in Shah-nameh.
When Key-Khosro lost faith in this world, he summoned Iran’s battalions, and called Rostam and Zal from Systan. He ordered the people and the land’s great men to assemble outside the city. After a long assembly, he allotted each hero authority over a land, a gift that Zal had long wanted for Rostam.

They wrote a treaty on behalf of the honored and faithful Key-Khosro
To his heroic major general, who was praised and admired in every assembly
From Zabolestan to the Send Sea, including the whole Kabul, Danbaroumi and India (the whole of the land of Nimrouz)
And also Bost, Ghaznein and Zabolestan from Ravar and China up to Kabulistan
Let it be for him, the victorious major general and chief commander, the land of Nimrouz
They gave him the written treaty and exulted him, and wished the land to be prosperous under Rostam’s rule

Rostam ruled his land for ten years. He battled and killed Esfadiyar Rouin Tan, Bahman’s father, and became an envoy to Solomon on behalf of Lohrasb, the son and heir of Key-Khosro. Rostam became fond of Solomon during this visit and embraced his religion. On his way back, he brought a well digger and carpenter to Iran, and ordered them to dig a deep well in the highlands near Bam, a well that can still be visited today.

Years passed by and Rostam was killed by Shoghad. Bahman, who was put under the care of Rostam after his father’s death, became a hero and returned to Nia. When Nia passed away, Bahman became king, and his first wish was to take revenge on his father’s killer, Rostam’s son. He gathered the heroes and elderly men, formed an army and galloped toward Nimrouz. He found the old Zal and imprisoned him. Faramarz, Rostam’s son, gathered Systan’s battalions against the enemy. Eventually, the two armies lined up against each other and fought a great battle.

From the sound of axe and bowstrings the ground grew more tremulous than the sky
Three days and nights on his battlefield shown the sun and moon
Maces, arrows and swords were thrown and a huge cloud of the armies’ dust rose to the sky

A tornado swirled in the direction of Faramarz’ army on the 4th day. Bahman’s army took advantage of the confusion to attack the Systan army. They killed many and brought Faramarz, who was wounded, to Bahman. Bahman ordered his men to set up a stake near the square and hanged Faramarz. The site, where the stake was set in Bam, is now called “Darestan”, and the place, where Faramarz hanged, is called “Darzin”. As a memorial to this victory, Bahman built a great fort, named after him; Bam is an abbreviation of this name.

Bahman’s daughter “Homa” and his son “Dara” assigned someone to rule over the citadel, until Alexander attacked Iran. Alexander appointed Antahan to rule over Khorasan, Iraq, Fars and Kerman; Antahan ruled for 4 years, till he was killed by Ashk, Dara’s son. We do not know the rulers of Kerman and Bam during Parthian dynasty, except for the last of them, Belash Ashkani, who was killed by Ardeshir Babakan. Ardeshir invaded the whole of Iran. None could oppose him, except the famous Haft-vad from Bam, whose story follows:

In olden days, whoever had seven sons in a row from one wife, named the last of them “Haft-vad”. “Haft” meant “seven” and “vad” meant “son” in Old Persian. Haft-vad was a poor man in Bam and could scarcely make ends meet. He also had seven sons and a daughter. In those days, farmers’ daughters would assemble in groups, collect their spinning wheels and spindles, take wool and cotton, pack their lunch and leave through the city’s gate. They would sit and spin all the day; they ate together and returned home at sunset. One day, Haft-vad’s daughter found an apple blown from a tree. She grabbed the apple, but when she was about to eat it, she found a worm inside. She took the worm and kept it in her spindle case. She spun thread from the spindle case as on other days and made her way home. Her mother was delighted with her work and gave her 3 times as much to spin the next day. With the help of the worm, she completed her work. She placed the worm in the spindle case every day and fed it apple slices. Her father was told the news and he was pleased. With the worm’s help, Haft-vad and his children’s business improved day by day, until he became a wealthy and respected man. The worm grew too big for the spindle case and carpenters made it a new home. Haft-vad became so powerful that he gathered a large force, and with the worm in his possession, he conquered the city and the Bam citadel. After that, he sent his eldest son to Narmashir in Jiroft and Roudbar and conquered it. Then, they set up a worthy place for the worm in the citadel, and in its memory, one of the citadel’s gates is called “Kot Kerm” (worm’s hole).

As time went by, Haft-vad placed the worm on a chariot and galloped ahead of the army in the direction of Gavashir, a city, which had recently been built by Ardeshir Babakan. He won a great victory and invaded Gavashir, and the conquered the whole of Kerman. Then he commissioned a fort, placed the worm inside and appointed a hundred men to guard it.
This all took place as Ardeshir was returning from India, and he was filled with rage, when he heard the news. He formed an army and attacked Haft-vad. Haft-vad grouped his army and went to battle. The worm, which had by then become a monster, was placed at the head of the army. The battle continued from dawn till dusk, and Ardeshir was doomed. His men were struck by famine and he withdrew 2 Parasangs (6.5 miles), saying, “This is a hard task, but I will not give up, till I accomplish it.”

So, he ordered Shahgir, his commander-in-chief, to seize the army; then he disguised himself in the cloths of Khar-bandegan (porters in charge of donkeys) and assembled 12 donkeys, laden with peddlers’ goods and some poisonous seeds. He took along 7 men and galloped in the direction of the worm’s fort. He told Shahgir that after killing the Worm, he would light a great fire; if it were at night, they would see its light, if by day, its smoke.
He started off in the direction of the fort. When the fort’s guards saw the Khar-bandegan, they gathered around them. Ardeshir said, “I know the power of the Worm, and I have brought a gift.” He poured wine for the men, until they fell asleep. As they slept, the king brought out the poisoned seeds and gave them to the worm, which ate them and died. Then, Ardeshir and his seven men attacked the guards and killed them all. After that, he lit a fire. Shahgir noticed its smoke and galloped towards the fort with the army.
When Haft-vad noticed, he also gathered his army and the two sides battled. Haft-vad’s men were scattered.