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Pigeon Towers

In contrast to aEuropean dovecot, whichoften housed pigeons tobe used as meat, in Iranthe pigeons were nevereaten. Here pigeon towerswere used as guano factories to produce fertilizersfor the melons that havealways been the pride of the region. Theguano was also used in themanufacture of gunpowder.

The first traveller to report the pigeon towers in Esfahan’s environs was IbnBatutta(ابن بطوطه, 1304 – 1368 or 1369), in the 14th century. Most of the structures, however, were built in the 17thcentury when the city expanded and it became necessary to achieve the highest possible farm output on surrounding land. Cynics, however, argued that the birds tooksuch a toll of seed and ripening crops thatthey representedmore loss than gain.

 

Pigeon towers are of considerable size, often 10- 12 m (35-40 ft) high,of sturdy constructions and fine proportions. In this description of pigeon towers, Chardin (1643–1713) expresses his amazement that they were ‘six times as big as the biggest we have’.

 

The pigeon houses are usually built of mud brick. Unbelievably varied, often decorated by ornate cupolas and moqarnas friezes, they are socharming that it is wellworth going even greatdistances to see them. It isno wonder that Herbert, whenhe described the pigeon towers  in 1629, said that he preferred them to people’shouses, He wrote that “albeittheir [Iranian] houseswere neat, yetthey were inno wise comparable to theirdove-cots curious outsides.” In the past, pigeon towersreflected the wealth oftheir owners.Although therenever two absolutelyidentical pigeon towers,conform to a single plan.

 Basically eachtower consistsof an outerdrum, buttressed internally toprevent collapse and tosupport the inner drumthat rises perhaps a thirdas high as the main structure. The buildings werecreated so as to be resistant to vibrations causedby pigeons when theyflew out in groups. Thus,these curious constructions may be the firsttremor-resistant structuresin history. Galleries aresupported by arches, barrel vaults, and domes,which have holesto allowthebirds to flyup and down,the top-mostbeing crowned bypepper pot-like turretsthrough which the birdsenter. The dimensions ofpigeon nests were suchthat a pair of pigeonscould fly around easily.Astonishing inventivenesshas gone into the solutionof the basic problem: theprovision of a maximumnumber of pigeonholeswith the minimum amountof building material. Thevaults and domes form asequence of solid material and open space, and theirarrangement is as elaborate as that of the mostsophisticated architecturalstructures.

Approximately14,000 pigeons could livequite comfortably in themulti-storey nesting boxesinside the towers. To prevent snakes from gettingin, there were no windowsand only one door, the latter beingopened onlyonce a yearto collect theguano.Otherwise,the door wassealed withmud andreed.Because ofthe development ofchemica1 fertilizers, thepigeon towerstodayliein ruins. Fortunately, thegovernment decided tosave the most characteristic of them.One of the pigeon towers, now locatedwithin thecity limits, was restoredby the municipalityand can bevisited bytourists. It isa uniqueexperiencegives no hint of the simple grandeurof the structuresinterior.More than 3,000 pigeon towers have been knownto exist on the outskirts ofEsfahan. The on1y otherplace where such constructions were as prevalent is Herat in Afghanistan. There are still about700 pigeon towersscattered about on the plainEsfahan.

There are also manymore Most of the timepigeontowers rise abovequiet, shaded gardens and from adistinctive outlineon the area’s landscape.

Refrence (s):

- Beheshti, Oksana (2003). Travel guide to Isfahan, Kashan and more. Iran. Tehran. Rozaneh publication. P. 148-149

 

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