Dark and Light in Yazd Central Iran
By Barbara Cunliffe Singleton
JAFFAR, THE GUIDE, waves his arm at the wind tower, scowls his black eyes atthe groundskeeper, andinsists, "We'll go up in the tower!" Below his scowl, hisnose arches until it angles steeply and stops with good form. His mouth ﬁrmsabove his cleft chin.The groundskeeper says, "I
you the tower's impossible." Dry brush strokes ofhair cross over his sunburned bald spot. He grips the handle of a garden rake."The engineer says we can't go up anymore."Around Jaffar's face the sun glistens his thick black hair, and his voice builds,"
Don't be lazy!
Go tothe guardbox and get the key!"The groundsman barely raises his eyebrows and placates, "I swear on the Koran.It's forbidden to go upstairs." He shufﬂes off into the park.All this is said in Farsi, but Jaffar obliges and translates for me. He teachessculpture in a university in Tehran, but since sculpture is forbidden in the Islamicrepublic, he has to call it "volume-making."Jaffar, still angry, starts toward the building. "Look! Even without a key we can goas far as the roof." We climb the steps and stand on the ﬂat surface. His angergone, his voice becomes soothing, intriguing. "This is ancient Iran's natural formof air conditioning. See, the wind blows through those four slats in the tower.They drive the air down to that pool in the room below us. With three sides of theroom closed, the wind cools over the pool and blows through the rest of thehouse." His hands swoosh with feeling, to show air moving through the house."The city of Yazd is known for these old towers, which collect the prevailing wind—when and if it prevails." Even when I took a walk this morning in the newerresidential section, I saw wind towers, sixty feet high, attached to several houses.We take the steps down from the roof and walk through the garden. The morningair is freighted withthe green smells of plants and earth. A man in a uniformbicycles by, his face like a heavy drop, fullat the bottom, and peers at me witheyes set close together. He turns to ask in Farsi, "Where are youfrom?" By now Iknow a few Farsi phrases and answer,