Zourkhaneh is a place for practicing ancient exercises and Pahlavani wrestling, which dates back to many years ago.
It has a domed structure with usually a tiny entrance, and this small entryway has a moral theory behind it. To enter, you must bend slightly and lower your head to prevent touching the ceiling. In Iranian culture, lowering one’s head signifies modesty and respect before the elders.
After you enter, you will see an octagonal or circular ring in the center, one meter deeper than the other parts called ‘Gaud. ‘Around it, there are separate sections for audiences, musicians, and athletes. The musician is known as Morshed, and he holds a crucial position within the Zourkhaneh. He beats a drum (Zarb) and sets the pace of athletes’ practice by it while reciting mythological poems, stories, and some poems praising Shi’ite imams and the heroes of Shahnameh.
The athletes’ performance usually includes weight training, some aerobic exercises, and gymnastic movements, and usually ends with wrestling. They move in unison and use Mill (wooden clubs), Sang (wooden or metal shields), and Kabbadeh or Kaman (bow-shaped iron weights). All of them have been modeled after war weapons used during ancient days. The most critical target of founding a Zourkhaneh was to prepare a place where warriors would be able to practice and strengthen their bodies and spirit during times when there was no war and the country was at peace.
In addition to their physical and mental strength, warriors must have been trained to promote kindness and humility during battles, and Zourkhaneh was the ideal location for achieving this objective. Respect and courtesy are the most important moral values by which this ancient sport is known for, and it is associated with many principles and norms.
According to the research of the German University of Sport, the German Brook House encyclopedia has recognized Zourkhaneh sport as the oldest bodybuilding sport in the world. On October 10, 2004, the International Zourkhaneh Sports Federation (IZSF) was established to promote Varzesh-e Pahlavani worldwide.