Abbas Ali Rezaeinia
Corrals are distinctive types of traditional architecture in Iran which can be categorized into two groups: free standing spaces and troglodytic spaces. In 2018, a number of troglodytic ...
Corrals are distinctive types of traditional architecture in Iran which can be categorized into two groups: free standing spaces and troglodytic spaces. In 2018, a number of troglodytic spaces were first identified by the present author in the village of Baba located in the mountainous region of Tarom-e Sofla in Qazvin Province. In the valley and on the cliff slopes of the village of Baba, there are five troglodytic spaces which have been created in a short distance from each other and are aligned in almost the same direction. Their architectural structure is similar and includes a corridor, a low-ceiling entrance, and a large rectangular room spanned with a barrel vault. In only one of these spaces, there is a small room next to the large room. While the entranceway is built of flat stone, other spaces are hand-crafted. In addition, there are two structures which are interconnected through a short corridor next to the entrance, and the other structures are independent of each other. The rooms can be accessed only through the entrance. They are free of any apertures for lightning. Along the walls and at the corners of the rooms, logs and cavities have been carved. There are also remnants of stone raised platforms along the walls of the rooms. The present study attempts to introduce these newly found features in a descriptive and analytical fashion and determine their chronology and function. Based on a comparative study of architectural style and archaeological evidence, the author believes that the architectural complex of Baba village used to serve as corrals to keep livestock in shelter during winters. The results of the present study can make a significant contribution to our understanding of the traditional architectural patterns in the history of village architecture, ethnoarchaeology, and other related fields of social studies and humanities. Troglodytic living spaces are a group of little-understood troglodytic architecture. Troglodytic living spaces that are built to keep livestock, known as corrals or animal slums, play an important role in the livelihood of villagers. The importance and diversity of these spaces in the culture of rural architecture of Iran are hardly disputable. However, they have not yet been paid the due scholarly attention they deserve. Livestock spaces are created independently outside a village or in connection with the residential area of the village. The collection of Baba village handicrafts (Figure.1-2) is a valuable case in point that shows aspects of the rural handicraft architecture tradition. Also, given the fact that the livelihood of the villagers relied on livestock and livestock products, any endeavor to build livestock spaces was highly appreciated. Providing a suitable environment with hygienic conditions has been directly related to maintaining animal health and the cycle of livestock products. These spaces are valuable evidence of the architectural experiences of our ancestors in their confrontation with an ecosystem, which have survived for a long time until at least the last hundred years and have played a role in the economic, social and cultural life of villages. Contemporary developments have led humans to distance themselves from indigenous patterns and turn to new patterns. Sustaining the values of ancient architecture requires knowledge of the principles based on which indigenous architecture was formed and its local values (Sartipipour, 2013: 26). Therefore, a comprehensive understanding of rural issues and paying attention to biological patterns in the rural environment have an effective role in the sustainable future of the village (Rezvani & Rahbari, 2016: 25-6). This study is the first attempt in the literature to introduce the troglodytic collection of the village of Baba (Figure.3) in Tarom-e Sofla region as a biological experience in rural ecology. Although from the 1980s to the present, the Building and Housing Research Center and the Housing Foundation of the Islamic Revolution have provided a macro level typology of rural housing in the provinces of Iran, few, if any independent detailed studies have so far been conducted on this topic. It commits itself to examining how this type of architecture was created, what its main features are, what the use and construction time of the collection of handicrafts are, and what their status is within the culture of rural architecture. This study rests upon the hypothesis that there is a common pattern in the architectural style of the handicrafts in the mountainous areas and that of cold rural areas. The architectural plan and structure of troglodytic spaces of the village of Baba (Figure.4-26) are closely similar to those of other mountainous areas in Iran such as Kharqan Qazvin (Maraghi & Parhizkari, 2015), Vafs Komijan and Kandovan (Homayoun, 1977) and Meymand (Homayoun, 1973), (Figure.27-30) and their formation is influenced by environmental and geographical factors. The study is aimed to look for the commonalities and differences in the architecture of troglodytic village of Baba and rural architecture. The architecture of the village can be considered as a new example of animal spaces in Iran, which will be described and analyzed in this paper. Adopting a descriptive-analytical methodology, the present study was an attempt to describe the architectural features of this complex through documents, field survey, and comparative analysis. Troglodytic architecture is the result of human interaction with the natural environment. Examination of known evidence shows that it had been widespread in Iran. Rural architecture is a manifestation of the livelihood of rural communities. The use of livestock spaces indicates the reliance of the villagers’ livelihood on livestock. Creating cages in the form of hand-held spaces is a model of traditional rural architecture in areas with cold climates. This common practice in different parts of Iran is a function of local and indigenous characteristics, but despite social and cultural differences, common executive methods have been used in their construction. In terms of architectural typology, the handicrafts of the village of Baba can be categorized as troglodytic mountain caves. These structures are formed by digging a sandstone bed. Their outline and spatial organization are similar to those in other areas. It seems that the history of the construction of these structures dates back to at least the Safavid period. Based on the study of troglodytic cages, which are examined as an indicator in this article, they can be divided into mountainous and plain spaces. Mountain caves usually lack a clear geometric order and are formed on the basis of the earth's bed. Plain cages, on the other hand, are more orderly and have good ventilation and light. Their access path is designed in a way to create temperature balance. The division of the interior space to separate young animals is seen only in the example of Baba cages. In terms of material and structure, the pits are dug in the bed of sandstones, volcanic rocks, dense and compacted clay, and conglomerate rocks so that they can have high durability and be less prone to degradation over time. In terms of location, the mountain caves are organized individually below or next to the houses or in a centralized and grouped manner along the edges of the textures. Cages built in a residential space have a separate entrance (Kandovan Figure.29) or a common entrance shared with humans (Meymand Figure.30). The number and size of cages depend on the number of livestock. They are located in such a way that they are not in the path of floods and are created under the protection of natural forces. In terms of their use, livestock spaces are classified into two groups: winter and summer cages. Winter pens are created in the village while summer pens are made outside the pastures and are used seasonally. Paying attention to the body and function of troglodytic cages will provide a better understanding of the traditions of rural architecture and the system that governs them, which represent an efficient model and the wise experiences that have led to the development and prosperity of the village.