The construction of zurkhaneh

The ancient Persian strength house, usually referred to as the “ ZURKHANEH “ (Lit, of strength), is a covered structure lit by a single opening in the ceiling. At the center of the structure, sunken in the floor , is a circular or octagonal pit (Gaud) of about three or four feet deep and about 30 or 40 feet in diameter. The main event, the champions calisthenics, takes place in this pit directly below the audience level. In older “ ZURKHANEH’s, the surface of the pit is covered by cement. In more modern “ZURKHANEH’s” ,  it is covered with wood panels.

The main floor, above and around the pit, is divided into several sections, each separated from the other by means of a low partition. The main section, almost all around the pit, is given to the audience. A small section is used by the “champions” for changing clothes and for keeping their equipment. In more modern “ZURKHANEH’s” , this section has been changed to lockers.

Another section is used by the “musicians” (Murshed), who entertain the audience before the exercises begin. By the entrance, there is a kiosk-like structure where the person who recites poetry is located. This person is referred to variously as the “Murshed” . The “Murshed” has a somewhat elevated place over the audience so that from where he sits, he can see all the goings-on in the “ZURKHANEH”, both in the pit and the audience.

The most well known “ANCIENT ZURKHANEH” was at the “BAM CITADEL “ (ARG-E-BAM” in “KERMAN”) .


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