back to sundials in Iran


by Reinhold KRIEGLER


Rasht, which is also called Resht, is situated about 25 kilometres south of the Caspian Sea near the mouth of Sefid Rud (White River): 37°16'N, 49°36'E. At present Rasht has about 394 000 inhabitants. It is the centre of administration and trading of the green province Gilan. Here rice, cotton and peanuts are cultivated; silk, textiles, glass and foodstuffs are produced. Besides the modern, western looking Rasht there is also a historical old part with mostly two storied houses with broad wooden verandas and red tiled roofs. The unemployment rate in Rasht is at present 30%. To me it is a sign of great hope and great confidence in a better future, if the community decides to promote and financially support the construction of a sundial.

This is the new analemmatic sundial of Rasht. In the background you can see the building of the Astronomical Society THAQIB.

In a new laid out park, which is called Bustan-e Mellat, in which there is also the neat building of the Astronomical Society THAQIB, the first analemmatic sundial was revealed on March 2nd 2002 in bright sunshine and in the presence of many honourable guests. Simultaneously with the opening of the sundial there was a photo-exhibition about sundials of the world. This analemmatic sundial is supposed to be the beginning of a sundial park, which later on also - and this is a brave vision - ought to become a tourists attraction. It seems to me that it has been a wise decision to lead off with an analemmatic sundial! This type of sundial always needs a human being, who has to take one's stand in the centre on the Analemma-auxiliary line in order to indicate the real local time. In order to build an analemmatic sundial you always need a good number of helpers and collaborators. This type of sundial is from its essence interactive and communicative.

Second from the left: M. Bagheri during surveying

Such a sundial invites us to think individually about time, the passing of time, as well as it invites us to talk with people who happen to pass by. Spiritus rector of this sundial was Prof. Mohammad Bagheri from Tehran. He has written knowledgeable about the history of Persian Gnomonic as well as present tendencies of Iranian Gnomonic in two articles in Compendium 5-4 and Compendium 9-4, of the North American Sundial Society. In Iranian libraries there are many Persian and Arabian treaties about sundials and astrolabes as well as about the construction of them. Concerning new literature it seems as if there is a lot of catching up to do. The last published book on sundials in Iran by M. A. Ahya'i was edited in 1985 and is out of print long ago. In Persia the construction of sundials for mosques was flourishing in order to determine the five prayer-times for the devout Muslim. Similar to Europe the gnomonical art was neglected as soon as the mechanical clocks began to establish. The sundials on the mosques were no longer cultivated and disappeared partly. However, similar to Europe, North America and South East Asia there is a basically change of consciousness. One recalls of the historical treasure and recognizes the very special and manifold quality of sundials and starts to build new sundials as well as to cultivate and renovate old sundials.

So, again in Rasht a sundial working group was founded in September 27, 2002 with the help of the Astronomical Society THAQIB. Mostly young schoolgirls will study the history of sundials under mathematically, astronomically and artistic aspects. In future they intend to build sundials in different places of Gilan pro-vince. In order to manage this besides youthful fire and enthusiasm for the wonderful wide field of sundials first of all a staying power and great toughness will be necessary in order to manage the projects.

Iran is a country blessed by the sun. So the conditions are good for new sundial prosperity. At first sight it might look a bit curious that the nucleus of these new sundial activities is at a place which is blessed with an average of 1000 mm precipitation per year. Being a citizen of Bremen, the town with the utmost sundial density in Germany (and with similar precipitation) I only can encourage the Iranian girls:
Especially at places, where the sun makes herself scarce, one appreciates the sun especially and likes to build beautiful sundials!
Everybody who wants to give the new sundial group any advice and support - especially support - is kindly invited to write a letter to:
Sundial Group c/o Mohammad Bagheri,
P.O. Pox 13145-1785,

I suggest they would probably be happy about sundial-books from Europe!

In Internet the website of: Frans W. Maes
offers an excellent overview of analemmatic sundials. Here also the first analemmatic sundial from Rasht will be introduced.

Reinhold R. Kriegler,