Water, Mahalleh (Neighborhood), Growth


Assistant Professor, Faculty of Architecture, University of Tehran, Iran.


Everyone knows that life depends on water. “We made from water every living thing.» Life, however, depends on movement. A fixed object cannot be recognized as vital. Life has been considered to be the same as the soul. Organisms are those that have life and movement. The concept of life and motion for plants and animals is relatively explicable. Plant and animal life are accidental properties. Everything they have had from the beginning is what develops. The movement of plants and animals, which is dependent on water, is accidental and it does not make a significant difference in their order of existence. Movement leads to human growth. Growth has a deeper meaning than development. Development can be considered as the transformation of inner talent that becomes actual. Growth, however, is a development that occurs outside of matter›s capacities. Growth is the production of something of higher quality than what is already there. Bees have a capacity called instinct. Activating the inner power of the bee is a kind of development. It is a materialistic potential that will develop. The bee does not find any higher status than was foreseen for him by his material motion. This motion is an accident, actualizing latent material qualities and talents.
Growth is unique to humans. Man also has his own capacities. He has also the potential that can be developed through accidental motions and the actualization of his inner materialistic capacities. The actuality of the potential also requires substantial motion through which he uses creativity in the spiritual realm. Man›s growth is a part of his life that is dependent on water. Evidence shows that human materialistic development and animal life depend on water. The point is that human life does not end with the actualization of potential materialism. After the realization of inner talents, human tends to experience a spiritual life, which is called growth.
O brother, you are what you have on your mind
The rest is your bones and flesh «Rumi»
Water is also a basic element for growth. It is difficult to imagine the contribution of the materialistic element to developing the spiritual aspect. But it is easy to understand this relationship when an association is made between the living soul and body. Man›s growth depends on his individual and social life. On an individual scale, companionship with water leads to a sense of freshness and purity. For the Iranians, who associate Anahita, their great myth of purity and fertility with water, the meanings of perfection and sanctity are perceived through the water. Such perceptions contribute to the growth of the human soul. The representation of water in the language, art, and culture of Iran also confirms its important role in the realization of transcendental concepts. «Face» in Persian « Aberu»  refers to the spiritual value of man. Water also stands for value in Rumi›s poetry:
The low level of water barely causes the feeling of thirst
May water gush from above and below
Similarly, in his poetry Sohrab Sepehri says: Let›s not mud the water
All these examples show the mindset of Iranians about the importance of water and highlight its necessity for perfection and growth. Human growth on a collective scale has a more compelling story. Individual human growth is possible within the family at the age of puberty. After that, society turns into a suitable place for human growth. Society is also made up of human beings on whom its perfection depends. As a result, a reciprocal movement occurs in which human growth depends on society and the perfection of society depends on the growth of its individuals. Therefore, human society must create situations through which both the individual and society are consolidated. Naturally, this creativity is focused on the culture and thoughts of each nation. In Iran and the Islamic world, water plays a key role in creating life-giving spaces. A life evokes individual sensory reflection and social solidarity. At the same time, this actor is a myth whose inherent holiness has been confirmed by both Iranian and Islamic cultures. Strangely, Iranian cities are formed based on interaction with water. In the plateau of Iran, where water resources have been scarce for at least the last millennium, the display of water conflicts with its protection. Everything precious is set to be out of reach. However, due to its deep meaning and its vital value for urban and rural life, water not only has not been hidden but also crawled into the lives of people to gather them together while displaying its beauty. As stated in the book «Three Elements of the Persian Landscape», the formation of many cities and villages in Iran has been based on the water source, which is symbolically adorned in the center of their territory. In the picture on the cover of this landscape, a paradise scene can be seen in the desert city of Semnan, which is a hub for people to visit. The water flows into the alleys and then defines the boundaries of the Mahalleh. Here, the water running out of the storage pool is delayed at every turn to be an excuse for the gathering of citizens and the social realization that guarantees human growth. Water is the basis for building a neighborhood and serves as a realm of social realization and human growth. Naming this alley «Angar» by the authorities in Semnan Municipality is interesting, though it is not clear to us whether it is an old or new name. The alley seems to be a place for childish dreams and imaginations that shape the future of human beings.