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Power Grids Threaten World Registration of Ferdowsi Mausoleum


25 December 2006




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Ferdowsi Mausoleum, Tus (Click to enlarge)

LONDON, (Shapour Suren-Pahlav - CAIS) -- Installation of power poles for transferring electricity in Tus historic city has not only vulgarised the historical-cultural landscape and the mausoleum of renowned Persian poet Ferdowsi, it has also reduced the chances for registration of this historic monument in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.


While based on initial talks between the Islamic Republic Power & Energy Department of Khorasan province and the provincial Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department, the electricity grids are agreed to be relocated to somewhere outside the city, cultural heritage experts believe that due to the geographical position of the city of Tus which stands at a lower elevation compared to its surrounding northern lands, the height of the poles is still a real threat to the cultural landscape of Ferdowsi’s mausoleum.


“12 electricity poles for transferring power from Iran to Turkmenistan are installed just at a distance of 2500 meters from Ferdowsi’s mausoleum. This is while experts believe that the poles must have been installed at distance of 6400 meters from Tus city centre and 5200 meters from the walls of the garden in which Ferdowsi’s mausoleum is located,” said Siavash Saberi, director of Tus Cultural Heritage Station to Persian service of CHN.


Considering that the electric poles are installed north of Ferdowsi’s mausoleum and that the slope of the land increases as one moves northward from the Mausoleum which is located on a hillside, Saberi believes that transferring the poles farther north will not solve the problem. According to him, even if the poles are relocated to somewhere behind the hills which stand north of Tus historic city, UNESCO could still argue that they are within the city’s cultural landscape.


The world famous Persian poet, Ferdowsi (940-1020 CE) is best known for his epic masterpiece of Shahnameh (The Epic of Kings) is the Crown Jewel of the New-Persian literature and is cherished by all Iranians (including non-Persian ethnic groups) as well as Persian speaking societies of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Central Asia and the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain. Aside from its utmost literary importance, which is written in almost pure Persian, it has been the pivotal for resurrection and survival of the Persian language subsequent to the influence of Arabic -- it reflects Iran's history, cultural-values, its ancient religions, and its profound sense of nationalism and Iranianhood.


The installation of high voltage electrical towers which has spoiled the landscape of Ferdowsi’s mausoleum is an act of disrespect to Ferdowsi and an insult to the Iranian nation and Iranian culture. The Islamic Republic Power & Energy erected the towers in accordance with the policy of de-Iranianisation of the country by the regime, since Ferdowsi and his masterpiece have always been the subject of odium to the Islamic fundamentalists and the prominent members of the Islamic regime, in particular Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic republic. Khomeini made no secret of his contempt for Iranian culture and values, including the Persian language and Noruz (Iranian New Year). From the early days of the revolution, he injected Persian with so many Arabic words that it confounded the ordinary listener, something for which he compensated by repetitiveness. But as popular as he was in those early days of the revolution, the public's backlash against his stance on pre-Islamic Iranian heritage.


Since then, the patriotism to the point of chauvinism has been on the rise. Pre-Islamic holidays are being celebrated with unprecedented fanfare. The Persian lexicon has turned into a bastion of nationalism. Numerous Persian synonyms have been invented (originated from the Old and the middle-Persian) to replace the most commonly used foreign words, primarily Arabic/Islamic ones; -To everyone's wonder, the new words have caught on.


In early 1980s, one of the most-notorious clerics in Iran, known as Ayatollah Sadeq Khalkhali, planned to demolish the mausoleum of Ferdowsi after Persepolis, in which his plan was neutralized by the people. 




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