Transformation Process of "Nefar" in Vernacular Architecture of Mazandaran

Document Type : Research Article


MA in Architecture and Lecturer at Tabari Higher Education Institute, Babol, Iran


In north of Iran, a style of architecture has formed over time which is specific to the culture and the weather conditions of that region. This style of architecture is the result of the extrovert nature of the locals and is deeply rooted in Islam as well as the Persian civilization. Sagha nefar is a type of Nefar which takes its name from Hazrat Abolfazl, the half-brother of the Imam of Shia faith – Imam Hossein – both martyred at the hands of Omavid Caliph Yazid along with their companions in the battle of Karbala back in 680 AD.
The current article deals with the history of Nefars and their development into Sagha nefar in Mazandaran over the years. It will also bring into the spotlight the religious beliefs of the people of Mazandaran, particularly the rituals related to Moharram
mourning period, and their role in designing the architecture of Sagha nefars.
This style of architecture was developed by villagers who have tried to preserve it so far. Nefar is in fact completely indigenous
to Iran’s Mazandaran Province and it is the only style of architecture which has been developed to pay tribute to one single religious figure i.e. Hazrat Abolfazl. It has been for the purpose of preserving the religious values attributed to the Day of Ashura – when Imam Hossein and his companions were martyred in the battle of Karbala – that Nefars have been constructed in Mazandaran.
The hypothesis of the article is that Sagha nefars comprise an important part of the history of the Persian architecture that have been kept out of academic spotlight as the result of a lack of related researchers. The present article tries to study this style of structures and dig into the roots of their architectural designs. It is expected that the findings of this research will help highlight the indigenous characteristics of Mazandaran inhabitants. A further expectation is to use the findings of the research to better preserve these structures against damage.