(Persia Digest) – The refrigerator in Langar village, Kerman Province (southern Iran), dates back to the Qajar era. This is a cone-shaped structure made of wattle and daub and was used to make ice for the summer.
The refrigerator is located in an open plain to the east of the village. No inscriptions are at hand to give the date of its construction. But village elders believe it is about 250 years old, dating back to the Qajar era. It is said to have been constructed during the rule of Kerman’s Governor, Farmanfarma. It is known as the Langar refrigerator after its location.
In the hot, dry climate of this region and its unbearable hot summers, ice was an important part of people’s lives here for cool drinking water and food safety. Hence, this ice making edifice was erected in three sections, including a shadow wall, an ice storage space, and ice pits.
The tall, long shadow wall extends east-west. It measures seven meters in height and prevented the sun from shining on the frozen waters of the pits during the day. The refrigerator’s western shadow wall has collapsed and very little remains from it.
To ease the pressure off the wall’s foundations, four arches were built along its length on either side of the storage spaces. Apart from helping with the wall’s stability, this also cast shadows on its surface to break the monotony. The walls are thicker in the lower parts, diminishing as it reaches the top. Simple geometric designs can be seen around the top edges. It seems the destroyed edges were crenellated.
The ice storage space of this refrigerator is to the north side of the shadow wall and is dome-shaped. It is made of raw bricks which was used for large spans due to its load bearing capacity.
The dome wall is thicker at the base and thinner at the top. The ice pit has been dug at the center of the ice storage space as a circle with a radius of about 5.7 meters and a depth of 6.4 meters. Ice production volumes and moisture and cold temperatures impacted the depth and width of the pits.
The pits on both sides of the storage space have been destroyed. The refrigerator measures 118 meters in length and 21 meters in width, with a surface area of 700 square meters.
Construction materials used in the building include raw bricks, mud, and wattle and daub which are some the most resilient materials found in the central Kavir desert of Iran. These are the best inner and outer insulations, to block the heat from the outside and conserve the cold on the inside. Wattle and daub layering is also considered a good insulation for stopping the penetration of damp from rain and snow, and diminishing reflection from intense sunlight. It also makes for a pleasant cladding.
Photos: Fazel Habibi-Rad/IRNA
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