One of the things I like about travel is encountering different ideas and customs. I really like noticing the differences. Even in the U.K. there are huge variations in buildings, landscapes, foods, accents and even customs. Whilst others delight in the homogenisation of things, especially in Europe, there is nothing that I dislike more.
Things get much more interesting in the Islamic world and as so many people read my recent post on The Fire Temple of Chak Chak that weeps for its princess. I thought I might touch on a delightful point of Persian and Iranian culture that simply would not occur to many people.
Have a look at the door below and see if you notice anything about it.
If you haven’t spotted it yet you can see that the door to this house in Iran has two different knockers and this is something that used to be extremely common through the centuries. The Farsi word for them is Kubeh.
As many will know, women in Iran have to dress modestly when in the presence of men from outside their household and this can obviously call problems if there is an unexpected knock on the door. Should the lady of the house cover up only to find a female visitor at the door then it’s all a bit of a waste of time and energy but then should they not take the precaution and they open to a man then it might cause a host of difficulties.
To solve this problem, the Iranians keep two different knockers on their doors. If a man comes, he knocks the door knocker that looks like a thick bar of metal. If you think that it looks rather male then that is no co-incidence! This knocker gives off a very deep and solid sound that tells the people inside the house that their visitor is a man. So, either the man in the house greets the male visitor or the woman gets dressed up and greets her visitor.
In case, the visitor is a woman, she knocks on the knocker that is circular or heart shaped and that has a hole in the middle. Again, this knocker sends a different sound inside the house and the people know that it is a woman. So, the woman of the house does not worry about dressing up and comes out as she is to greet her female visitor.
I always think this is such a clever invention to make life easier though to many of us it wouldn’t even occur that there was a need to differentiate in this way.