Kashan – town of gendered knockers

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Kashan is a small town between Tehran and Ishfahan. Wikipedia claims it only receives a thousand foreign tourists a year, but it deserves many more. We spent two very enjoyable days wandering in its bazaar which is atmospheric, but smaller and less intense than those in the big cities, and visiting the many historical houses and Mosques. Our hotel was a restored traditional home and it was gorgeous. The only frustration was the pool was decorative, and not for swimming. Such things are not easily compatible with Iranian dress code.

In a trend I understand is likely to continue whenever we’re outside the more liberal cities the number of women wearing the chador rather than more modern Iranian fashion probably climbed above 90%. It seemed like a nod to Kashan’s history of gender separation and seclusion which also showed up in its door knockers.

Doors to traditional houses had two knockers, one long and skinny and one short and wide. Their different shapes mean they produce different sounds. Women would use the shorter knocker and men the longer, then those inside would know which gender of person should answer the door.

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