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Stone Garden, one man’s silent protest to injustice

I (Amir Sina) always try to refer to different sources from Google to books and even friends to find information about a city prior to traveling there with Shahin.  When we decided to go to Sirjan in Kerman Province I found out about the extraordinary Bagh-e Sangi or Stone Garden.


The eerie Stone Garden in Kerman Province was created by Darvish Khan Esfandiarpour over 50 years in protest to the Pahlavi era Land Reforms that cost him his lands. ( Photo/ Amir Sina Rezaei)

After an approximately 40-kilometer drive on the Sirjan-Baft road we reached Balvard Village. This village does not have breathtaking nature or ancient ruins to offer. Its attraction is a garden, a massive art installation created over half a century.

This art installation is a garden but one with no living plants, flowers or fruit trees. The trees of the garden are all dead and bear fruits of stone that hang from their lifeless branches and perform an eerie death dance in the wind.


Darvish Khan transported single-handedly transferred massive pieces of stone to his garden to create this art installation. ( Photo/ Shahin Kamali)

What is known about the history of this garden is that it was created by a man named Darvish Khan Esfandiarpour who lost most of his lands during the Land Reforms of 1963 in the Pahlavi era (1925-1979). He lost his remaining garden to drought. As he was deaf and mute and could not protest using words, he dedicated the remainder of his life to creating this morbid conceptual work of art.


The car parked in front of the Stone Garden as the team prepares to take photos. ( Photo/ Amir Sina Rezaei)

For over 50 years, Darvish Khan single-handedly transported mammoth pieces of stone that would pose a challenge to even people with physical strength from nearby mountains and valleys to the garden and used everything from telegraph cables to bicycle chains to hang them from the branches of his dead trees. Locals say Darvish Khan transported most of the dead trees in this garden from elsewhere and planted them in the ground to create his artwork.


Darvish Khan used everything from cables to bicycle chains to hang stones from the dead trees in his garden. ( Photo/ Shahin Kamali)

When you see the size of these stones you can feel the depth of Darvish Khan’s rage at the injustice he suffered. Darvish Khan passed away in 2007 at the age of 90. Nearly eight years on and one can still sense his rage reverberating through the garden.


The poem on Darvish Khan’s gravestone reads: Saw a man no stranger to pain who lost his all, After a lifetime of pain and sorrow he created a garden of stone, Fruits of the garden are stones of all sizes, Hung with much labor from branches, No oppressor will take this stone garden from him, This was his hope when creating his garden.” ( Photo/ Amir Sina Rezaei)

We reached the garden around 2 pm. The sun was perfect for taking photos. We took pictures for four hours but Shahin was not satisfied with the result as the magnitude of the garden could not be captured in any frame. Tired and frustrated we laid down on the ground.


Amir Sina (pictured) takes selfie after a few hours of photography.

That’s when we found the best angle to photograph the garden and its massive scale. Shahin and I both got down on our backs in one corner of the garden and began taking pictures.


No one knows how Darvish Khan Esfandiarpour managed to lift and hang these heavy stones from the trees in Bagh-e Sangi. ( Photo/ Amir Sina Rezaei)

If you ever decide to visit Kerman Province, its endless deserts and Shahdad Kalouts (yardangs) do not hesitate to take the road to Bagh-e Sangi. Eerie as it may be, this garden is an attraction you should not miss.


Darvish Khan Esfandiarpour in a scene from the 1976 ‘The Garden of Stones’ by Parviz Kimiavi, which won a Silver Bear prize at the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) the same year.

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1 Comment

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