Kashan, the 4th Book Capital of Iran
The ceremony of choosing Iran's Book Capital was ended on February 27, 2018 and Kashan was designated as the fourth book capital. This plan starts on March 21 concurrent with Nowruz celebrations in Iran. Iran's Book Capital is a plan based on which every year a city is chosen as the capital for book reading.
Since 2001 the title of Book Capital has been granted by UNESCO to a city which has made much effort in promotion of the status of book and book reading. The UNESCO intends to carry out cultural programs related to book and encourage people to study more books. In the Islamic Republic of Iran this choice has no financial gaining for the chosen nominee and just is a confirmation of the best plan pertaining to book and book reading.
Some of the goals of this plan is to boost cooperation and participation of different governmental and nongovernmental institutions in the field of book, absorption of capitals existing in private sector, supporting novel ideas in the field of book, strengthening cultural equality and promotion of book reading.
In the first year of choosing book capital in Iran, Ahwaz was chosen among the nominees due to presentation of innovative and participatory programs, usage of the capacities of private sector, popular currents, and industrial and cultural centers. In the second year, Neishabur was designated as the Book Capital of Iran due to creation of harmony between governmental and nongovernmental organs of the city which were engaged in the field of book. The city of Bushehr was third Book Capital in Iran. The reason was that Bushehr had properly supported book reading projects. And now, in the waning days of 1396 Iranian year, Kashan has been designated as the fourth Book Capital. Bushehr succeeded in gaining the title because it implemented 32 innovative projects with the slogan, "The Ways to Freedom Are Costly. Book Is an Exception".
As it was said, Kashan will be the 4th Book Capital of Iran in the coming Iranian year which starts on March 21. However, it would be interesting to get briefly familiar with the city of Kashan.
Kashan is one of the most important cities of Isfahan province. Located 240 kilometers south of Tehran, it is connected with Tehran and Isfahan via railroad and highway. Kashan has a population of 400,000 people. It is situated on the western margin of Iran's Central Desert. This city has been famous since old times for leather fabric, ceramics, copper dishes, rose water and so on. It has been dubbed by archeologists as the Gate of World Civilization due to a 7000-year-old civilization.
Sialk is the name of the first urban civilization in central Iran. The region is located 3 kilometers southwest of Kashan. The ancient site of Sialk is situated at Feen region of Kashan. Handicrafts and modern industries have played an important role in development of Kashan. The trade of handwoven carpets has been very effective in the economic growth of the city for the past centuries. The Feen spring has also been significant in long inhabitation of people in the region.
Discovery of coins of the Achaemenid era, fire temples in Niyasar, Khorramdasht and Natanz, ancient sites of Nooshabad, reports on a suburb of the Sassanid era called Saruyeh are all evidence of existence of civilization in Kashan for several millennia.
Kashan enjoyed high prosperity and development during the Islamic era especially in ceramics and metalwork. In the beginning of the 5th century AH (12th century AD) and start of Seljuq rule, Kashan gained high repute and importance. The historian Qotb Ravandi writes, "Most of the ministers, treasurers and secretaries of the court were from Kashan. Art and sciences were perfected in this era and Kashan was the place and source of merits and literature. In this era, the city was developed and many public buildings such as mosques, khanqahs (Sufi convents), schools, hospitals and libraries were constructed."
Kashan was intensely damaged during the Mongol invasion in the 7th century and much of the city was plundered. But in a short time, Kashan was revived as workshops of carpet weaving, fabric, tile and ceramic were restored. Then, new edifices were built and the market was also expanded.
With the start of the Safavid rule in the 10th century AH (16th century AD), the people of Kashan welcomed the new rulers as they were Shias. The art and industry of weaving reached its climax and the most beautiful fabrics in silk, linen and velvet along with best quality wool and silk carpets and rugs were woven at workshops.
French traveler, Pierre Chardin, writes, "The base of wealth and life for the people of Kashan are texture industry, silk, gold and silver weaving."
Kashan was expanded during Qajar era and many buildings were constructed. However, the name of this city is reminiscent of the great prime minister, Amir Kabir. This famous personality of the Qajar era made great efforts to promote culture and economy, cleanse politics from corrupt people, and eradicate poverty and illiteracy in the society. He was killed on January 10, 1852 upon the order of Nasser-eddin Shah.
There are at least 19 historical edifices in Kashan which have been preserved well. These splendid buildings enjoy general elements of houses in Kashan but they are larger and more elaborately constructed.
Among these buildings mention can be made of the Borujerdis' House, the Tabatabai's House, the Abbasian House, the Aqa Bozorg Mosque and Madrasah and the Imam Madrasah. All of these buildings are considered as masterpieces of Iranian architecture. They are one of the causes of foreign and Iranian tourists' trip to Kashan.
Kashan has been declared as sister city with Umea in Sweden and Kazanlak in Bulgaria.