Chenarestan... In the shade of plane trees

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Home of Oriental Plane Tree Part IV
Chenar Wood
in Building
and Carpentry*

Plane (Chenar) wood is lightweight, hard (but easy to plane), with an attractive texture. It constitutes the main carpentry material in most non-wooded areas of the country, for instance in Isfahan, the farmers call it Mikh-e Tala-ee (golden peg) . Nowadays it is frequently used to make chests, doors, windows, parquet, veneer, etc.
Above: Aali Ghapoo Palace
Adam Olearius, the member of the embassy sent by Duke of Holstein-Gottorp to the Safavid court in Isfahan during the first half of 17th (11th) century , when writing about Persian decorative woodwork, reports that Persians “like specially a kind of wood , unknown in Europe, called Tzinar (i.e., Chenar)….It is brown and has a wavy grain, and the Persian use it for doors and windows, which, when rubbed with oil, become incomparably finer than those made here (I.e. Europe) of walnut.”

Below: Chehel Sotun Palace
The wooden columns in the former royal Safavid palaces Aali Ghapoo and Chehel Sotun in Isfahan (both built in first half of 11th century), are hewn out of plane logs to an average diameter of 60cm and still are holding firm in spite of severe insect damages.

Plane wood, usually obtained by pollarding the planes, is also used as fairly good fuel in some rural areas. (for individual presentation of plane in Persian painting, see Survey of Persian art XV, index, p.47, s.v. Plane trees)

Chenar Tree in Proverbs

For literary allusion to plane fire, in Dehkhoda dictionary we can read the proverb the plane fire is from the plane itself” and Farid-al-din Attar’s distich; “Every silkworm clothes itself with shroud, every plane tree ignites fire from itself.”

The statement by some Persian poet and lexicographers that “the plane is known to catch fire by itself” may have its explanation in flammability of dry plane wood: As in the primitive fire-making method of generating heat and then fire by the friction of two wooden objects, the dried spreading branches of an old plane rubbing together in the wind. Specially in dry weather may produce smoke or ignite fire from itself. Some of the above-mentioned “burnt planes” may have suffered from this phenomenon.

Fourty Colunm Palace has actually twenty columns. The name counts also their reflection in the pond.

*) Note:

The "Home of Oriental Plane Tree" parts, which comes with different titles, are taken from Encyclopaedia Iranica. The references and notes of original text are deleted, titles and subtitles are added to provide easy to read articles. For further study you can use http// --Siamak D. Ahi

Previous Parts:

Home of Oriental Plane Tree, Part I
Oriental Plane Tree and Healing, Part II
Veneration of Old Trees, Part III


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