Iran getting Asbads ready for UNESCO tag

June 5, 2020 - 20:30

TEHRAN – Several centuries-old windmills, locally called Asbads, that are still standing tall in Hamun county, southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan, are being restored in order to be prepared for possible inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The restoration project was commenced two years ago to prepare the historical windmills to join Asbads in South Khorasan and Khorasan Razavi provinces for possible UNESCO registration, CHTN quoted Alireza Jalalzai, the director of Sistan-Baluchestan’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Department, as saying on Tuesday. 

The rehabilitation works include debris removal, reinforcement, and completion of restoration and reconstruction of the Asbads’ painted walls, which is being carried out continuously, he added. 

The Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts has almost completed preparations for a chain of such vertical-axis windmills for possibly becoming a UNESCO World Heritage. 

Made of natural clay, straw, and wood, an Asbad is typically comprised of eight chambers, with each chamber housing six blades. As the area’s strong, steady wind enters the chambers it turns the blades, which then turn grindstones. The structures reach up to about 65 feet in height.

The Asbad used to be a smart technique to grind grains. It also bears testimony to the human being’s adaption with nature by transforming environmental obstacles into opportunities. “Asbad is a smart technique to grind grains, a technique which goes back to ancient times when the people living in the eastern parts of Iran, in an attempt to adapt themselves with nature and transform environmental obstacles into opportunities, managed to invent it,” according to UNESCO website.

“The earliest known references to windmills are to a Persian millwright in 644 CE and windmills in Seistan [Sistan], Iran, in 915 CE,” the Encyclopedia Britannica says.

Avid visitors and researchers can examine the subtle yet simple mechanism in person as several windmills have been restored and brought back to life to testify how ancient Iranians harnessed the wind to make a living.

The Islamic Republic designated the Asbad as a national heritage site in 2002.


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