The History and Culture of Qazvin
.ورجاوند، پرويز. سیمای تاریخ و فرهنگ قزوین. تهران: نشر نی، ١٣٧۷، ٣ جلد، ٢٣٥٥ص

Varjavand, Parviz. Sima-yi Tarikh va Farhang-i Qazvin. Tehran: Nashr-i Nay, 1998-1999, 3 Vols, 2355pp.


The History and Culture of Qazvin

سیمای تاریخ و فرهنگ قزوین

In this book, Parviz Varjavand has attempted to draw a complete picture of the development of both the culture and city of Qazvin. The first volume of this three volume set considers the geography, history, and environment of Qazvin. The second volume focuses on the art, popular culture, and the language of its inhabitants. The third volume covers Qazvin’s family structures as well as other economic and political institutions. Given his expertise in the field of archaeology and the identification of historic buildings and monuments, Varjavand had plans to publish a fourth volume entitled “The Architecture and Urban Landscape of Qazvin”. According to him, this would have been the last volume of this series, but apparently he never had the opportunity to publish it.

In total, the work is made up of twenty-seven different sections. Early on, the book considers water scarcity and its cultural consequences and goes on to cover the history of Qazvin up to contemporary times, with a focus on the Safavid period. Varjavand, in a reflection of his background and political interests, gives special attention to the era of the Constitutional Revolution and the coup d’état of 1921. In section eleven, at the end of the first volume, coins made in Qazvin are presented and investigated as evidence of the city’s importance and political power. 

Throughout the second volume, the approach is both historical and anthropological. It uses this mixed methodology to describe various aspects of people’s lives in this city, including linguistic and religious changes. 

At the beginning of volume three, the emergence of several new political and social institutions is covered, along with a consideration of relevant documents. This is one of the book’s most important sections. 

A great portion of volume three is made up of documents that Varjavand has extracted and compiled from a vast scope of sources ranging from governmental income and expenditure forms to last will and testaments. However, these appear incomplete and at times seem tagged on, to the extent that the last segment of the book is made up of broken fragments from the personal notes of Ayn Al-Saltaneh about events in the city of Qazvin. At the same time, a great portion of this information is first hand documents that the author has gathered personally and with great effort. 

Interviews with local sources are another of the book’s valuable features. These have preserved in writing important elements of oral culture that were in danger of being forgotten. As such, the audience for this book is expanded and includes researchers of history and architecture, anthropologists, and those with an interest in popular culture. 

Parviz Varjavand selected Qazvin as his site of investigation because of the city’s central location and geopolitical uniqueness. Due to this and the fact that he is not a native of the city, the work’s scholarly honesty is enhanced. At the same time, the result is that to some extent the language of the text is lacking in emotion. 

Iradj Esmailpour Ghouchani
Translated by Niki Akhavan
Esmailpour Ghouchani, Iradj. “English abstract of 'The History and Culture of Qazvin'". Translated by Niki Akhavan. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi, 121. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Muslim Civilisations Abstracts - The Aga Khan University
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