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Photographer's Note

Culture of Iran is a real cosmos of arts and traditions cultivated for centuries in isolation from the Western world. The best example is a peculiar type of a local "gym", to which one night took us an older man from Esfahan. Zurkhaneh, that I'm speaking abaout, is a centuries-old tradition, a combination of strength sports, music, religion, and theater. The aim is to strengthen the body and spirit. The master of ceremony (sitting on top) plays the drum and sings religious poetry verses. At his feet, in a special "pool", students of the art, dressed in traditional costumes, practice and play their roles. Most of the ceremony is the physical exercise, including rhythmic lifting of wooden ballasts, push-ups and other. In the meantime, the oldest ones recited verses praise the virtues of the old masters as well as the strength and stamina. The most agile present a mad dance, similar to dervish dance, or juggle with heavy and large ballasts. The strongest ones try his hand at wrestling. The youngest ones also have a moment to present their skills. Please, note that this is not a special show but a normal meeting for local people, interested in this type of activity, taking place regularly every 2-3 days.

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