As the highest peak of Iran, Mount Damavand has come to represent core qualities to the people of this land. Let us take a look at what this volcanic mountain means to the Persians.
The Significance of Damavand
Damavand has a special place in Iranian’s hearts which is palpable in its place at the center of Iranian mythology and stories. The ancient Persians thought this peak was insurmountable, and that the sky was holy. Therefore, the height closest to it was considered sacred too.
This impression has rendered Damavand the inspiration of many artists. The recognizable photograph of this monumental peak can be seen on our money, coins, posters, etc.
Ab Ask Village inhabitants perform a ritual every spring called the Barfchal Celebration. They do this by gathering the remaining snow on the ground and piling them in a hole.
The melting of the snow produces freshwater that they can use in summer. At the end of this ceremony comes the time for eating together.
This ceremony has been upheld for six centuries so far. Nowadays, people celebrate because of their religious beliefs.
Perhaps you will enjoy taking part in this age-old celebration that entails so much forethought and provision through our Damavand Trekking Tour.
Persian Mythology and Damavand
Many stories and myths regarding Damavand are about its holiness. The legend of Zahaak and Fereydoun myths take place on the outskirts of Damavand:
The Legend of Zahhak and Fereydoun
As the world-renowned storyteller Ferdowsi sets out this myth, Zahaak was an evil ruler who was swayed easily by the whispers of the devil. One day, the devil bent down and kissed each shoulder of Zahaak once.
From the place where he placed a kiss, a serpent arose that only ate the brain of men for food. Out of fear that one day the serpents would eat Zahaak’s own brain, he cruelly had two young men killed each day to feed the snakes.
Fereydoun was a bold, young man who stood against the tyranny of Zahaak. He defeated the evil ruler in a fair fight but refused to put him down; instead, Fereydoun imprisoned Zahaak in a cave beneath our very own Damavand Mountain.
This is where Zahaak will remain until the end of time; cut off from the world, doomed to eternal detention. They say sometimes you can hear shrieks coming from the base of Damavand, which is Zahaak’s voice that carries across centuries.
The Legend of Arash the Bowman
The legend goes that one day when the war between Iran and Turan reached an impasse, both sides agreed to peace if an arrow shot by an Iranian would settle the border.
The fiendish demand was made to dishearten the Persians, who knew that they could not take their land back from the advancing enemy.
For who could let an arrow fly so far? But when Arash stepped forward, they trusted his adroitness and courage.
He climbed Mount Damavand and from the very peak fired an arrow that flew from dawn until sunset. It ultimately landed on a broad walnut tree, and this determined the border of Iran and Turan.
They say that Arash set down his soul on that arrow and that is how it flew so far.
They say that he died the moment his arrow flew and that his body still rests in Damavand.
Damavand in Poetry
Damavand has always been a symbol of endurance to Iranians. This has inspired poets such as Ferdowsi, Rumi, Nizami, Vahshi Bafqi, Malek o-Shoara Bahar, and many more.
For instance, one of the most beautiful poems about Damavand is brought here for you:
O, shackled white demon!
O, dome of the world, Damavand!
You have a helmet of silver upon your head;
And a belt of Iron upon your waist.
To conceal your face from the people,
You have clouds that surround you.
To be left alone from these human-faced animals,
And these infernal, wicked people.
You made a pact with the heavenly lion,
And unified with the Lucky Star
When the Earth was despondent, darkened, and cold
It threw its fist into the Sky!
And you are that fist, O Damavand!
You are that mighty first of the Earth
That we inherited from centuries-long past.
Europeans Climbing the Peak
The first European individual who sought to conquer Damavand was a Frenchman. His name was Antoine Olivier. He was a natural science researcher.
He came to Iran to learn all that he could of the nature of the Middle East. During his first attempt, he found sulfurous rocks along the track.
His first attempt at climbing Damavand did not come to fruition, however on his second attempt a few years later, he made his way to the very top.
Jacques de Morgan traversed all of the expanse of Iran with the aid of the French government. De Morgan attempted to climb Damavand in the winter of 1889.
He didn’t make it past the height of 5300m, however, he devised a map of the geography of the mountain to that height and returned to France. He was a geologist and did many services to the science of geology. De Morgan’s attempt was indeed laudable.
He took on the climb with equipment available 120 years ago, at -26 degrees C.
Damavand and Music
Shahin Farhat is an Iranian music composer who composed a symphony for Mount Damavand. He believes it is his best work yet. This symphony comprises three movements. The first outlines the personality of Damavand.
The second, the beauty of Damavand, and the third envision the snow and blizzard in Damavand. The final movement is dedicated to illustrating the glory of Mount Damavand.