Horse breeding in northern Iran to be listed as national heritage

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TEHRAN – Gilan is preparing to ask the Ministry of Tourism to register as intangible cultural heritage the traditional method of breeding Caspian horses, traditionally practiced throughout the northern province of Iran.

Caspian horses are one of the unique species in the world, and listing them as national heritage will help preserve and protect them, provincial tourism chief Vali Jahani said on Friday, IRNA reported.

The UNESCO-listed Persepolis in southern Iran depicts reliefs of this ancient horse, which is unique to the Gilan region and has more than three thousand years of history, the responsible.

“Remains of the animal have been found in archaeological digs across the province,” he noted.

Moreover, one of the unique characteristics of this breed is its small size, known internationally as the Caspian horse, he mentioned.

Caspians are an ancient breed thought to be extinct over a thousand years ago. Most likely, this breed is the direct ancestor of the eastern breeds and subsequently of all breeds of light horses.

The Caspians are extremely rare and were barely saved from extinction in 1965. Archaeozoologists are now studying the region to prove the connection between the modern Caspian and the prehistoric small horse of Persia.

In general, Caspian horses are between 100 and 120 cm tall, although better feeding conditions outside Iran may result in taller animals. Their head is short and thin with an arched forehead, large eyes and short ears. The body is slender with a graceful neck, drooping shoulders, straight back, good withers and a high set tail.

Gilan is well known for its rich Iron Age cemeteries such as Marlik which have been excavated over the last century. It was once within the sphere of influence of the successive Achaemenid, Seleucid, Parthian and Sassanian empires that ruled Iran until the 7th century CE. The subsequent Arab conquest of Iran led to the rise of many local dynasties and Gilan gained independent status which continued until 1567.

Sophisticated Rasht, capital of Gilan province, has long been a weekend getaway for Tehran locals looking to sample the famous local cuisine and hoping for some rain action – it’s the biggest city and the wetter in the northern region. Gilan is divided into a coastal plain comprising the large Sefid Rud delta and adjacent parts of the Alborz mountain range.

ABU/AFM

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