The history of zurkhuneh (literally means “house of power”) in Iran dates back far before the arrival of Islam. The muscle building activity is supported by ancient equipment, like metal bar resembling Rustam’s arc, and gigantic bowling pin like the pennants of Flinstone. But now, the zurkhune is a blending of sport and religion. While the men practice their muscles with the equipment, some other men beat drums and chant religious prayers. When the Arabs brought Islam to Iran, they also banned the Iranian-style sport as it is regarded as un-Islamic. But with strong awareness of their own identity, Iranians have survived their thousand-year-old tradition by blending it with religion, to slip away from the Arab’s and Islamic restrictions.

Yazd, Iran, 2008

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