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Iran: Guilan's rural heritage museum smiles greenly!

By Kourosh Ziabari, Iran

About 15 Kilometers far away from Rasht (the capital city of Guilan province), there is a green and calm highway, with its two sides surrounded via rush and pine trees.

Stepping or driving a little forward, you'll reach an open and wide area decorated with wooden tableaus and billboards including the text "Musee patrimoine rural de Guilan" next to "UNESCO" and "Aix Du Province University" logos.

That French title remembers the glorious opening ceremony of "Guilan museum of rural heritage" in March 2007 where Prof. Christian Bromberger gave an interesting lecture about the history of Gilak tribe in front of hundreds of people, those in love with Persian culture.

Guilan museum of rural heritage is a fantastic and unique Eco-Museum that has been constructed in order to show the hidden corners of Guilan people's culture and lifestyle to the tourists from all around the world.

After paying a very skimpy amount of fee to the attendant at the entrance gate, you will find your way into a natural corridor with tall maple trees on the two sides and their foliage acting as roofs, preventing the sun and rain from damaging the traditional cobblestone floor of this narrow rural route.

The artificial wooden fence on the two sides of this corridor extends all around the museum that is designed exactly such as a small village and includes all parts of a real hamlet such as teahouse, playground, municipality, stable and lake.

Mainly, this museum is dedicated to anthropology and is considered a good and reliable source for sociological studies especially to researchers who want to gather more valuable information on Gilak's life.

Gilak people are a large ethnic group whose main homeland is Guilan province. The history of their habitation in northern parts of Iran dates back to about 300 BC and they are also said to be one of the oldest living tribes in Iran.

The Eco-museum shows the cultural and ethnic diversity of 27 Gilak subgroups in 27 cottages, in each of them there are girls wearing traditional costumes, some of them cooking cuisines, foods and some others making handicrafts. It is necessary to know that the total surface area of museum is about 260 hectares.

Guilan is one of the smallest provinces in Iran with less than 2.5 million habitants, and it consists of about 30 ethnic clans such as Turks, Arabs, Kurds, Gilaks, Persians, Talishyans, Galeshians and Tabarids.

The people of Gilan are very well-known because of their good manner of hospitality and reception; the types of various foods cooked in Gilan show the serious concerns and efforts of Gilak housewives to provide their guests with the best possible situation of residence and enjoyment.

The members of Gilak tribes are said to be the happiest communal groups in Iran, and their spirited kind of clothing proves this indeed. Also, their friendly and human behavior is another sign of their tranquil and warm social relations.

The dresses of the local models are absolutely harmonious with the peaceful and wholesome Islamic rules of clothing, though they strongly show an ideological independence from the common clothing used in the other parts of Iran

For example, the dresses of the women of Rudsar city in the eastern Guilan have been used in the opening ceremony of Athens 2004 Olympics and you can find the girls and women wearing this colorful outfit in "Guilan museum of rural heritage" as tour-guides.

We traveled to most parts of this eco-museum in our passage, and we didn't remain unaware about the live artistic shows which are held in the playground.

The playground is an almost large and wide area covered with sand, encircled with planted shrubs and rounded by enclosed stockade made of mud and adobe. Such a playground is a suitable place for local shows, games and live music which most of Guilan villages hold.

The most interesting of these shows all is the Gilaki traditional rope-dancing performed daily by the members of a noble and ancient family of Lahijan (a large city near Rudsar) whose members have been involved in local sports and games for many years

First of all, the father of family who is about 80 years old rides a bicycle on a 3 meters thick rope and then accomplishes some fireworks. He chafes a blaming torch on his head, body and hands without being burnt or hurt.

About the author: Kourosh Ziabari is an 18-year-old freelance blogger and journalist from Iran. He has published the book "7+1" which is a collection of his interviews with 7 contemporary Iranian authors. Ziabari is contributing author of; he is also the Iran-based correspondent of OhMyNews international.
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