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Nasrollah Abbassi

Abbassi, N. and Soleimani Abhari, H.
Qadamgah: the natural or carved human footprints and its significance on the Iranians religion beliefs in before and after the advent of Islam
قدمگاه، اثر جای پای طبیعی یا حجاری و جایگاه آن در باورهاي مذهبی ايرانيان در قبل و پس از ظهور اسلام

  Qadamgahs are sacred places in Iran that date from ancient and historical times, serving as symbols of Islamic and cultural heritage. Usually, sculpted human footprints at these sites are mostly attributed to the journey across Iran made by Eighth Imam Ali ibn Musa as-Reza (765-818CE). Qadamgahs are relatively abundant in southern provinces of Iran, such as Fars, Khuzestan, Bushehr. Although natural human footprints have been reported from the many locations around the world, the geometry of the Qadamgah artifacts is evidence that they are handmade and artificial. Natural human footprints are found in the sedimentary rocks or volcaniclastic deposits. These footprints were imprinted on the soft sediments and lithified during the diagenesis processes. Footprints of Qadamgahs have been sculpted on the igneous or metamorphic rocks, also. Historically created to commemorate the legend that the Imam’s journey caused his footprints to miraculously appear on the stone upon which he stood. Qadamgahs are commonly located near springs or other water resources, where the waters are now considered sacred. On the other hand, Qadamgahs may show Iranians efforts in sanctify of water resources by a sacred viewpoint. These Iranian beliefs may have ancient roots as old as Mithraism, which has faith in sacred water.   Introduction Holy places are known as respected areas for the people of most of the religions. Usually, particular ceremonies are executed and special symbols installed in these places. One of these places is Qadamgah in Iranian religious folklore, which known as holy shrine and usually with a footprint slab as symbol of presence of religious people. Greeting and bowing, touching, kissing, circumambulating, praying, lighting candles, and lighting fires or use of fragrant substances are pilgrimage ceremonies in the Qadamgahs. We evaluate the nature of the footprints in the Qadamgahs in the present paper, and of course, the location of Qadamgahs related to the natural phenomena, mainly related to the water resources. On the other hand, this article answers the following questions: A. What is the origin and preservation of human footprints, naturally? and are they footprints of the religious leaders, exactly? B- What is the geographical distribution of the most important Qadamgahs in Iran? C- Does the existence of a Qadamgah attributed to the Prophet, Imam, Imamzadeh or holy people indicate their presence in that area and how can such a presence be historically proven? D- What is the relationship between pedestrians and natural phenomena, especially about the water resources in Iran?   Material and Methods Natural human footprints have been found in the Quaternary sediments in the world. These footprints and trackways are preserved on the sedimentary rocks and some cases in the volcaniclastic rocks. The biological and sedimentological factors, such as the weight of a human, nature of walking, the grain size of sediments, water contains the sediments, define the quality of preservation of the human footprints. One of us (N.A.), visited and studied some of Qadamgahs in Iran and adjacent countries, that included Qadamgah of Nishapur, Qadamgah of Qadamgah Shamil area in Hormozgan province, Qadamgah of Abhar, in Zanjan province, Qadamgah of Salman and Ali in Arzhan area, Fars province, Qadamgah of Takeh Mo'aven-ol Molk of Kermanshah, west Iran, Qadamgah of prophet Muhammad in Topkapi Museum of Istanbul, Qadamgah of prophet Abraham in Macca. However, based on field data, installed footprint slab in the Qadamgah do not include natural footprint and all of them are handmade, because they differ by geometrical indexes, the morphology of footprints, and host rocks against the natural human footprints.     Historical documents for the presence of religious people in some areas is rear, and Imam Ali ibn Musa as-Reza migration passage from Arabia to Central Asia in the 765-818CE has been marked by Qadamgahs and handmade footprint slab in some areas. Most of Qadamgahs have been built near the springs and water resources area. It seems that, this location shows closely relationship between Iranian religious believes and sanctify of water resources by them.   Discussion of Results and Conclusion Based on the founded data and discussed information, the following results are expressible: A. Natural human footprints are formed on soft sediments and changed to sedimentary rocks by the diagenesis processes, over the geological time. Therefore, natural footprints can only be found in sedimentary rocks or in some cases in the volcaniclastic deposits. B. Natural footprints have a definite geometry and arrangement, while hand-carved and carved footprints may vary in type of rock, or size and geometry. C. Footprints are the simplest human remains and their attribution to important or sacred persons is credible to the general public. The installation of handmade footprint slabs in the footsteps has guaranteed and justified the sanctity of that place. D- The validity of the attributed ancient passageways to the Infallibles, especially to Imam Reza's migration from Arabia to the central Asia, and the study of their historical presence in the place by the Qadamgahs in Iran, is validated by specifying the narration of the names of the cities and places and symbolized by the handicraft footprints. Historians and archaeologists may be interested in the reconstruction of the historical passageways and the location of ancient routes. E- The proximity of most of Iranian worship, such as Qadamgahs, along with the water resources, shows importance of water resources and efforts to popularize water resources through religious beliefs.



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