It is a place for strengthening body, boosting athletic morals, practicing humility and avoiding arrogance. Zurkhaneh exercises were done in a roofed area and its building was like a basement and worshipingplace where the Zurkhaneh has its roots in ancient era. By emergence of Islam and focuses on military training of boys, their sports were more emphasized and after Mongol`s attack, Zurkhaneh and from 7th century onward the Zurkhanehs were formed as their present forms. According to some references, Pouria- ye- Vali was the first founder of Zurkhaneh.
The entrance door of Zurkhaneh is designed lower than normal doors, so that people on entering the Zurkhaneh have to bow and enter humbly. The roof of Zurkhaneh is high and dome-shaped like mosques and tombs. “Gowd” of Zurkhaneh (Pit) where exercises of Zurkhaneh is done is octagonal of 10 cm diameter which is built 70 cm lower than hall’s floor.
To prevent any injury to athletes, the whole edge of Gowd is covered with stretchable rubber and /or wood. Around the Gowd, some stands for spectators and an special place for sport equipment are devised. Equipment of Varzesh-e- bastani (literally traditional sport0 which are used at the present in Zurkhaneh include Sang (literally means rock), Push-up board, Indian club and Chain and Bow (kabade).
Praying is one of the oldest ceremonies of Zurkhaneh which is done at the end of exercise, the prays have continued to exist with the same social aspects and opinions and the least change.
Sardam (seat of Morshed)
Ssardam is a sacred and respectable place where the Morshed ( coach) can perform rituals of Zur-khaneh for inside and outside spectators having control over sacred Gowd. It is a custom for sardam to be decorated by peacock’s and dove’s feather since these feathers were used by warriors and commanders on their helmets in the past. The face of sardam stand is worked with marble and/or walnut wood and above it a boot is made and decorated with an arch of triumph. Seat of Morshed is near the entrance door and on a relatively high stand with crescent or square form arch on which some bell/s is/are hanging.
The bell which is used for more harmonious exercises of athletes and coach as well as change of exercise techniques, is like an upside down copper bowl from middle of which a bar is hanging which creates a nice sound when hit to the walls of bowl. Morshed on entrance of an important person or outstanding athletes and pioneer to the Zurkhaneh, rings the bell and beat the drum and chants proper and epical poems on nationalism and remembrance of holy people.
Drum of Morshed is like a tambourine made of clay with a broad opening covered with a thin tanned skin and by rhythmic beating on which Morshed causes rhythmic and harmonious exercises and movements and tries to create interest and eagerness in athletes and spectators. exercise leader is an elite athlete who conducts Varzesh-e- bastani’s operation and coordination with Morshed and the other athletes inside the Gowd have to follow him.
Meel (Indian club)
Meel is an equipment made of wood in bottle form weighing 10-30 Kg. it’s shape resembles mace and has its root in ancient time, since Varzesh-e Zurkhaneh was one of the Fotowwa (fairness) group’s asceticism, they would use an equipment like an Indian club to fit their body. this device was probably like an iron or wooden mace at the beginning and was used for body building and fighting by mace.
wooden clubs which are still used are made of strong woods like elm, walnut, argan and ash. In Toumar –e- Pouria-ye- vali and Gol-e- Koshti (wrestling)of Mirnejat which goes back to Safavid era, the Indian club was mentioned as its present shape.
Meel are in three types:
1- Entertainment Meel weighing 2 kg with 65 cm height.
2- Light Meel weighing 3 Kg with 70 cm height.
3- Heavy Meel weighing 30 kg with 110 cm height.
Entertainment club: it is smaller and shorter than other clubs so that may be used for playing and throwing up. Light club: it was used for entertainment in the past but since some years ago onward it refers to a club heavier than entertainment club which is used for playing and simple exercises with clubs.
Chain and bow
It is one of the Varzesh-e bastani’s equipment . its shape is the same a war bows. It is referred to flexible and weak bows used for drawing exercises in Persian dictionaries. Gholamreza Ensafpour quotes from Minavi Kherad’s book : this bow was used for preparation and learning bow drawing in wars against enemies. In Dehkhoda’s dictionary there was mentioned a kind bow used for exercises in strengthening bowmen’s shoulders. It seems that the primary chain and bows were not in form of present chain and bows. Nowadays they are made of pure iron and are not flexible.
Zurkhaneh’s chain and bows have been in two shapes for centuries. One type has an arch form body of iron and is heavy on two heads of which a long and chain strings to preserve balance. In Zurkhaneh two kinds of chain and bows were used usually. The light one for beginners and the second, heavy one for skilled athletes. Weight of chain and bow was 14 kg, length of the bow was 150 cm and length of chain was 200 cm.
The equipment used frequently in Zurkhaneh at the present as Sang are two pieces of large boards in form of heelpiece of old shoes which is square in upper part and curvy at the end. At the middle of each Sang there is a hole and a handle on two sides of which a piece of moqette is pasted to prevent scratching of athletes hands. Sang has no specified weight and it depends of size and taste of the ordering person. At international competitions each Sang weighs 20 Kg and its length , width and thickness are 100 cm, 70 cm and 5 cm respectively. Sang as researchers put it is the same shield which was used by athletes to strengthen their arms.
One of the exercises in Zurkhaneh is push-up (Shena). Morshed after chanting introductory song, rings the bell and beat the drum continuously. The athletes put the push-up board before themselves and put their hand on it and following their Miandar (senior athlete) do some exercises holding their heads up.
Push-up board is a legged board of 70 cm length and 8 cm width which legs are 5 cm high keeping it above the floor. Push-up board is not one of the main equipment of Zurkhaneh since it is possible to put the hands on earth and perform the four exercises without it.
In the past, there was an Long (apron) to be tied on Pajama and another one to be put around shoulders, but nowadays Morshed often sits on the seat wearing sport shirt and long leather or velvet trousers.
Bastani trousers It covers legs down to knees and is made of thick cloth trimmed by color or white strips in flower designs and round the waist and knees are covered with leather.