Introduction to the Semnan Anthropology Museum (Hazrat or Pahneh Bath)
Hazrat Bath or Semnan Anthropology Museum, which date back to the Timurid period, is one of the most significant sights of Semnan. The bath stands in the centre of Semnan and next to other magnificent buildings such as the Grand Mosque and the Imamzadeh Yahya Ibn Musa. With every step in the Hazrat Bath, you travel several steps back in time, and you will see the wonders of the past and various historical objects that amaze tourists. Hazrat Bath or Semnan Anthropological Museum, also known as Pahneh Bath, is one historical and well-known bath in Iran. The bath stands in the northwest corner of the Pahneh Tekyeh of Semnan, between the Grand Mosque, Imam Khomeini Mosque, and Imamzadeh Yahya. And due to the proximity to the shrine of Imamzadeh Yahya, people call it Hazrat Bath, but some believe the bath is the place of martyrdom of Hazrat Yahya.
History of Pahneh Bath
The Hazrat Bath was first a public bath during the Safavid period until the middle of the Qajar period. However, the lack of attention during the reign of Nasser al-Din Shah caused the bath has destroyed, and one stole its inscription. Then it was rebuilt in 1934 A.D, during the reign of Muzaffar al-Din Shah, the fifth Qajar king, by order of Haj Molla Ali Hakim Elahi, a famous scientist at the time. During the Qajar period, a historian named Mohammad Hassan Khan Sani al-Dawlah visited the bath and wrote the text of the inscription in the book Matla Al-Shams (Informed of the Sun). According to the information, we find out the story of the construction of the Semnan Pahne Bath, built in 1452 A.D, during the reign of Abolghasem Babar Khan, the king of Timurid, and by his minister Khajeh Ghias-Ud-Din Bahram Semnani.
The architecture of Pahneh Bath
The Hazrat bath is approximately one thousand square metres, built in the northwest of the Pahne, and consists of three parts: the sarbineh (dressing hall) and garmkhaneh (hot bathing hall), and a khazineh (final bathing room), and contains two separate entrances for men and women. The men’s section consists of two Iwans containing tile decorations on three sides. There is an inscription of white tiles with an azure background. Above the entrance, there is a semicircle shape sign of a lion and the sun in yellow tiles in two elastics. There are tiling works with the image of two Qajar soldiers on both sides of the wooden entrance built with iron studs. One of the intriguing parts of the bath is its stunning and tiled door, written masterfully in Nastaliq calligraphy at the top of the entry. It may be interesting for you to know that in the bathroom, by installing a space at the entrance, they prevented both hot air from leaving and cold air from entering, so the bathroom clients did not get sick.
Changing the use of Hazrat Bath to the Semnan Anthropology Museum
In 1995, after a repair and reconstruction operation, the bath was converted into a local museum of archaeology and anthropology. There is a Hashti at the entrance to the museum, which is now a place for holding brochures and other cultural and publishing products. When we continue the path, we will reach a square space of approximately eight meters by eight meters, covered by a vaulted roof and a stunning water fountain in the middle with various tiles, which is the place to hold temporary exhibitions at the museum. A narrow path leads us to the sarbineh (dressing hall) or overpass and leads to another Hashti. Passing through a small Hashti, we reach the large courtyard of the bath and the khazineh (final bathing room), which is the main hall of this museum and has several separate sections. The exquisite dome of the bath yard mesmerizes every viewer, and the passage of light through the lightwell creates a dreamy image.
Commodities of Semnan Anthropology Museum
The 4,000-years-old skeleton of a pregnant woman with a child in her womb obtained from the Damghan’s Tepe Hesar is in one of the halls connected to the central courtyard in a glass cube, which is the most significant element of the Semnan Museum. Next to the skeleton, you can see some accessories placed next to the deceased at the time of death. This skeleton shows the burial method in the second millennium B.C. in the central plateau of Iran. Following the path in another showcase, some items have been left on the Tepe Hesar made of grey pottery from the second millennium B.C. and include bowls, basins, and other ritual utensils. Utensils obtained from the Semnan mountains region are other pottery works that date back to the first millennium B.C. You can see Glazed dishes and other dishes related to the historical hills of Semnan province in the other showcases that date back to the Islamic era. At the end of the museum and in a Hashti, there is the anthropology section of the museum, which includes various anthropological objects such as musical instruments like Dohol, Karnay, etc.
The conventional ornaments of nomadic women in Semnan province are in another booth. There are belief and prophecy tools in the other showcase. In the last display case, you can see traditional smoking tools such as Chibouk, tobacco bags, and needles for cleaning the Chibouk handle.