Day 257: House of Strength

Inside an Iranian House of Strength

Zurkhaneh, the house of strength, is a traditional Iranian gym where men go to exercise and frequent “performances” are held. Our LP highlighted this as an interesting window into Iranian culture but I couldn’t quite understand our guidebook’s description:

“A group of men, standing around the perimeter of a lowered pit, perform a series of ritualized feats of strength, all to the accompaniment of a leader pounding on a frenetic drumbeat.”

What feats of strength? I can’t imagine bench-pressing to be an overly interesting show…

It was this curiosity that led us down into a former water storage house in Yazd, now converted to a zurkhaneh.

Yazd’s zurkhaneh under a large dome,
formerly an ancient reservoir

There in the centre, indeed, stood a group of men who began swinging their arms to the beat of a drummer hammering away from an elevated booth. The drummer’s vocals were broadcasted through the PA as he sang in Persian, and before long they were all whirling and jumping around frenetically. Yes a ritual, now I understand LP’s choice of adjective. KF said if one had no idea this was a traditional workout, it may be easily mistaken as some sort of cult gathering. Oh yeah…

Towards the end of the session (about an hour), the zurkhaneh was starting to smell pretty bad… it was fun to watch and more fun havin’ a go at them giant wooden “drumsticks”!

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One Comment

  1. Eugene James Connor says:

    It just looks like dancing and aerobics

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