Introduction to Water Museum in Yazd
The element of water has a special place in Persian culture, especially in desert areas. Therefore, many museums have been established throughout Iran to emphasize water value. The Water Museum in Yazd was built to show the importance of water to the people. Yazd is one of the historical cities of Iran, the first mud-brick city, and the second historic city in the world that is water-scarce and dry. But, the people of the land have managed the city’s scarce water resources with intelligent modern methods and have maintained life and agriculture in the city.
History of Water Museum
The water museum is in a historical house called Kolahdoozha; entering the house, you can get acquainted with the history of several thousand years of water in this border and landscape. The house was built in 1887 at the request of the Seyed Ali Akbar Kolahdooz, one of the famous merchants of the Qajar period. Two aqueducts named Zarch and Rahimabad passed through the house, made it the reason for hosting the Yazd Water Museum. The two strings of aqueducts collided inside the house. The museum began its work in 2000, at the same time as the first international Kariz conference, to showcase water supply and management methods in its various sections.
Architecture of Water Museum
Kolahdoozha House in Water Museum consists of 5 floors that follow the original and traditional desert architectural structures. The materials used in the historical building are mainly clay, brick, mud, plaster, and wood, which have a great adaptation between the residents’ lives and the climate of the region. The walls of the house contain ornamental plastering, and the traditional rooms are eye-catching.
- First floor
This section is on the lowest floor of the house, where the two aqueducts cross.
- Second floor
This part of Water Museum, which is a floor downstairs and is the so-called downstream, is located at a depth of 10 meters, the space of which is octagonal, and due to its constant temperature, it was a storehouse for different foods in particular methods. In this part, there is a pond that keeps the air cold and fresh by the aqueduct water passing from it.
- Third floor
The third floor, which is the basement of the house, embraces several rooms and corridors where the residents lived during the hot and exhausting days of summer.
- Fourth Floor
The fourth floor, or ground floor, consists of various sections such as a Five-door room, a sash room, a hall, a kitchen, and the living quarters of the house’ servants. The plaster motifs of the building are famous for their plant motifs. The plastering motifs include flowers, animals, and plants that have been restored by architects in recent years. Orsi windows and stained glass are other attractions of such a house.
- Fifth floor
The fifth floor is the roof of the Water Museum, which is also called the well house. Through the well house, from which water was drawn by a well, the water tank was filled on the ground floor and used for drinking and hygiene of the family. Two people were in charge of collecting water from the Rahimabad aqueduct. They drew water and poured it into a well that still exists, filling it with two taps to be consumed by the householder. The remarkable point is that you can also see water pipes that were made about 150 years ago in the house.
Ancient objects of Water Museum in Yazd
At present, more than 200 historical objects, from the collection of aqueduct excavation equipment to the documents of the main Yazd aqueducts, are kept in the Water Museum. In another part of the museum, you can see a collection of utensils, and equipment related to water storage and transportation. You can see a variety of metal utensils such as muslin, extremely delicate glass utensils, and pottery such as jars. The maquette of how aqueduct water circulates is another museum sight that introduces you to the construction secrets and architecture of the aqueducts. The share of water, which is the amount of water distributed between fields and houses and has been so notable, was done by a person named Mirab. The share of water was sometimes considered a deductible asset, dowry in marriage, or a transferable asset, and its documents are in the Yazd Water Museum. There is other evidence that open-handed people provided water to homeless women and orphans.
Qanat or Aqueducts
The principal source of water supply in the province is groundwater. Qanat or Kariz means canal and water passage. Aqueducts are underground passages that are used to direct and collect water to the ground. Aqueducts consisting of several vertical wells are dug on a sloping surface, connected in the basement by a corridor with a gentler slope than the ground surface, attaching the underground channel or furnace to the ground at regular intervals. The beginning of the aqueduct is its opening, which is called the manifestation of the aqueduct. Water comes out of the aqueduct’s heart and is used for irrigation and other purposes.
Many scholars attribute the history of aqueduct excavation to the Achaemenid period. They believe that the exploitation of the aqueduct was first done in Persia, it was later transferred to many countries and was used by other people in the world. In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, a French-British tourist named Jean Chardin wrote: “The Persians were not only able to find the exact location of water, but also to transfer water from a distance of 60 km. Or sometimes more. In the Yazd Water Museum, you can see the history of water in Iran for several thousand years.
Zarch Aqueduct and Water Museum
In Yazd, aqueduct water also cools the buildings. Yazd Zarch aqueduct is one of the oldest identified ones, also known as the longest aqueduct in the world. It is about 100 km long, and according to studies, it is more than 3,000 years old, which means that it dates back to before the advent of Islam. The Zarch aqueduct was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2016, along with several others. In the water museum, you can visit different floors, which include the aqueduct.
In the past, low heat and rainfall in Yazd caused the architecture of another smart structure. A building that not only helped people store water but also kept the water cold. The structure’s name is Ab Anbar in Persian, which means water reservoir. There are generally about 350 reservoirs that despite the advancement of technology they are still used in some desert areas. In addition to storing cold water, these reservoirs have another utility as a refrigerator to store ice, so they are also known as refrigerators. Today, you can visit the largest brick refrigerator in Iran in one of the Yazd cities called Meybod. There were different types of reservoirs; some were public for use, some were for domestic and personal use, some were mountainous, caravanserai, and intercity. They were different in terms of efficiency, so they had different architecture. Reservoirs in the city were more attractive and detailed.
Windcatchers & Reservoirs
In general, most reservoirs have a conical, dome-shaped roof that prevents water from heating up. The windcatchers cleverly constructed in these reservoirs are responsible for cooling the water and act as air coolers. As there are many windbreaks in large and small sizes not only in reservoirs but also in houses and different places in Yazd, you can perceive why is Yazd famous as a city of windbreaks. One of the clever features used in the reservoirs’ construction is the presence of rooms and halls to reduce the pressure of water collected in the pit and to prevent building damage.
The materials used to build the reservoirs were mainly stone, clay, and brick to keep the water fresh for longer periods. Another characteristic of the water reservoirs was a large hole and pit, several meters below the ground to avoid heat stings. Access to the water storage pool was also possible via long stairs. As you enter the reservoirs and descend the stairs, you will feel a chill and pleasant wind, which indicates that the windbreaks are working. However, today, due to the lack of water in water reservoirs, it feels less cold than in the past. In some reservoirs, in addition to the water storage pool, there are other areas for visitors to rest such as Saqakhaneh, Sangab, halls, and cool rooms.
Water in the ancient religions of Persia
Water is known as an effective and life-giving substance that has the power and capacity to heal the world and eradicate sin; it removes impurities and everything, even human feeling. Water plays a vital role in different religions and sects; all myths agree that water is the source of life, prosperity, purification, and purity. Some religions accepted water as a god or goddess and a heavenly mediator. Rivers, rain, lakes, snow, storms, and thunderstorms are all different forms of water that are worshiped in diverse religions and cultures. The Water Museum in Yazd is one of the places to see that shows the importance of water.
Geographer Strabo also writes about the sanctity of river water: Persians do not wash their bodies or bathe in rivers. Eventually, flowing water is not used directly, and no dead creatures or contaminated objects are thrown into it. All the river names have a praiseworthy meaning by these people, such as fragrant or life-giving. “Persian people consider water more significant than anything else,” wrote Christine Sen, a renowned Iranologist. Many of the most ancient and national festivals and customs held throughout the Middle East, Mesopotamia, and Iran were twisted with water.
Among these, the celebration of Abangan is in the name of water and the angel of water. Such a celebration is held on Aban day in Aban month (the 8th month in the solar calendar). Persians used to go to the spring water, recite Aban prayers and other religious songs, rejoice, and give thanks to God for the great blessing that is to drink, cleanse, grow plants and meet all needs on the Abangan ceremony.