Name: Perpetuating the memory of Shah Abbas the Great who founded
the town after his naval victory over the Portuguese off Hormoz.
Previously called Gameron or Qamerun.
Situation and access: Altitude: sea level. Port in the middle of
the straits linking the Persian Gulf to the Sea of Oman. 500 km
to the south of Kerman by excellent road. Airport: regular flights
by Iran Air. Railroad projected.
A combination of social, commercial, military, political imperatives
and tourism - have turned Bandar_e Abbas into one of those Iranian
towns where the desire of the centeral government to modernize and
develop even the most outlying provinces as keenly as the big urban
centers is the most manifestly spectacular.
Controlling the Straits of Hormoz, one of the world's neuralgic areas,
Bandar_e Abbas occupies a strategic position of the greatest importance.
In the 16th century already (in 1520 to be precise) the Portuguese,
intent upon protecting their Indian Empire, took possession of the
Isle of Hormoz. They were expelled in 1622, after a tough naval battle,
by Shah Abbas the Great who founded the town which has been bearing
his name ever since. At the present time, when the world's mightiest
tankers sail past its waterfront almost in bucket-chain fashion,
Bander_e Abbas represents a trump card for world peace.
Close to the Arab world and, through the Sea of Oman, open to the
oceans of Asia, Bandar_e Abbas is the natural maritime outlet for
Iran. On the beach of the village of Tiab, some 100 km farther east,
porcelain shards of great antiquity may be found, showing that the
Chinese had one known this sea-route. Its significant today is
enhanced by the modern docks which have been excavated there; cargoes
of all nationalities call at the port to unload cement and cereals,
motor vehicles and machinery.
"Traditional Architecture of a Mosque in Kish Island
A few hundred yard out at sea scores of fishing barges and small
Arab sailing boats, with tall prows and forecastles reminiscent
of another age, seem to be looking on indifferently. Their sombre
silhouettes resemble the outlines of a fortress on the island of
Qeshm after which they have been named. A considerable part of the
local population lives on the proceeds of its fishing activities.
They still employ the traditional net, but soon modern methods
of preservation and transport will permit Iranian coastal fishing
to be extended and brought up-to date. The drying sheds worked
by wood smoke which the Danes installed a long time ago are now
shown in the curing plants as mere museum pieces. Meanwhile the
animal life of those warm seas, not yet overly polluted despite
the presence of oil-tankers, is being studied in specialized
laboratories. The great damp heat does not start before May and
becomes unbearable only between June and September. The beaches
are covered with silky sand, cleansed by fairly ample tides.
Their gentle slope provides a safe playground for children.
"A view of Kish Island"
Another local tradition, which is bound to disappear within a very
few years, are the masks worn by some old women. They are fairly
hideous, semi-rigid contraptions, surrounding eyes and cheek-bones
and covering the nose. They remind one of the facial armour worn
by the Greek soldiers of Antiquity. But although this coastal area
must have witnessed the homeward march of Alexander's exhausted
columns, it would be too bold perhaps to trace these masks back
to Alexander's soldiers! The Iranians maintain that no religious
taboo explains the wearing of these masks: rather is it a fashion
which originates from the period of the Portuguese occupation
when ladies wished to walk about unrecognized or simply to protect
their complextion from the scorching sun.
"Wearing the mask is part of the local Tradition"
Copyright © 1997
Last modified: 9 Oct 1997
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