Time slowly washing away Iran's public bathhouses

Iran's historic bathhouses, where patrons are rinsed and massaged beneath graceful archways and tiled walls, may soon disappear as interest in them wanes.

Some of the bathhouses, known as "hammams" in Persian, are centuries old. But business has declined as modern conveniences now allow showers and baths in most homes across the Islamic Republic. The few that remain, mostly in old neighborhoods, largely draw day laborers and travelers.

"Nowadays, there are only three or four public bathhouses in Tehran," says Mahdi Sajjadi, head of the Tehran bathhouse owners' association.

In the old days, the bathhouses were more than just a place to clean up, shave or get a massage from a "dallak," who uses a mitt to scrub and exfoliate a client's back. Then, people gathered in the humid air to discuss current events and debate ideas.

Now, bathhouse owners like Gholam Ali Amirian, 70, who has spent four decades working in a hammam that is some 850 years old, fear the institution will dissipate like the steam from its heated pool.

"Some 35 years ago, before the revolution, we had lots of customers," Amirian says. "At 4 a.m., when I wanted to open the hammam, there were people already in a queue. Five people worked here and we had over 50 customers a day. But now we have three customers a day on average."

Sajjadi suggests the government could turn the bathhouses into tourist attractions by offering low-interest loans to owners to renovate their aging interiors. But so far, there's been no move to do that as the economic pressure grows.

Here are a series of images by Associated Press photographer Ebrahim Noroozi from inside some of Iran's remaining bathhouses.


 

See more photos by Ebrahim Noroozi 

 

Text from the AP news story, AP PHOTOS: Time slowly washing away Iran's public bathhouses.

 

Follow Ebrahim Noroozi | Instagram:@ebrahimnoroozi  | Twitter: @EbrahimNoroozi1

 

Spotlight is the blog of AP Images, the world’s largest collection of historical and contemporary photos. AP Images provides instant access to AP’s iconic photos and adds new content every minute of every day from every corner of the world, making it an essential source of photos and graphics for professional image buyers and commercial customers.  Whether your needs are for editorial, commercial, or personal use, AP Images has the content and the expert sales team to fulfill your image requirements. Visit apimages.com to learn more.

 

Written content on this site is not created by the editorial department of AP, unless otherwise noted. 

 

 

AP Images on Twitter | AP Images on Facebook | AP Images on Google+