Qamsar is one of the districts of Kashan City in Isfahan province. It is located in the foothills. This city is one of the best locations for growing roses specifically to produce rose water. Qamsar district is the most famous and ideal region in the country for Iran’s rosewater industry. Every year in the middle of the spring, one of the Iranian traditions is held in this city called the annual Rosewater Festival.
The Traditions of Rosewater Festival in Qamsar
For many years, a ceremony called the Gulab-giri Festival has been held in many cities across Kashan. Since the Damask Rose, also called Mohammadi flower in Iran, (Rose hybrid also known as Ispahan Rose specially bred for rosewater extraction) blooms in the middle of May, the rosewater festival is held at this time. For the Gulab-giri festival, the people of Qamsar and other cities start picking flowers before sunrise.
Roses are in the best condition for rosewater production at dawn and before sunrise. After picking the flowers, they bring them to the workshop and use special devices to extract the rosewater.
In the past, the rosewater festival was held with special customs. Today, these customs are no longer practiced, but rosewater production workshops are always open. The Gulab-giri festival lasts from mid-May to early June.
The Rosewater Festival of Qamsar is held uniquely. In this method, the cauldrons and the collected roses are carried to the riverside. Then a religious ceremony is held that includes saying prayers to bless the rosewater.
Then the cauldrons are moved to the rosewater extraction workshops. As long as the festival goes on, rosewater workshops are set up next to every flower garden. Many domestic and international tourists gather in these places to watch the ceremony closely during the festival.
History of Rosewater Extraction in Qamsar
The cultivation of Damask roses and the industry of rosewater extraction in Qamsar have a long history. This industry dates back to the 8th and 9th centuries AD. The Gulab Pash or rosewater sprinklers in the old cemetery of Imamzadeh Dawood in Qamsar are proof of this claim. Muslims in the 8th and 9th centuries used to sprinkle rosewater in the graves to aromatize and bless the graves of the dead.
Conditions for Damask Rose Cultivation
Cultivating the damask rose requires certain conditions, which include:
- Gravel soil with a fine texture
- The temperature of 21 degrees Celsius during the day and 15 degrees at night
- Irrigation with a period of 7 to 20 days, 4 to 14 times a year
All these conditions are met in the Qamsar region of Kashan. This is the reason why the city of Qamsar, near Kashan and the mountainous region, is an optimal location for high-quality rose cultivation.
Characteristics of Damask Rose and Rosewater Production
The Damask rose, which is also known as scented gold, is a low-maintenance plant and very easy to cultivate. The plant can grow in challenging conditions in terms of soil, climate, water, and land slope. The scientific name of this flower is Rosa damascena and it is recognized as a flower specially cultivated in Iran.
During the reign of Malik Shah of the Seljuk dynasty, a representative of one of the Sultanate of Rome brought a rose bush from Qamsar to Damascus. This is why the scientific name of this species of rose is Damascena rose and it’s commonly known as Damask rose.
This flower is native to the Iran region and its cultivation is widespread in 14 provinces. Isfahan province is one of the significant areas for the cultivation of Damask flowers. In terms of rosewater and essential oil production, Kashan City is ranked first in the country. This is the reason why the Rosewater Festival of Qamsar is also held near Kashan.
The city of Qamsar, Kashan, is the oldest and most famous center for the cultivation of Damask roses and the production of perfumes and rosewater. Rosewater production is also common in other cities of Kashan such as Niyasar, Barzok, Sede, and Kamoo. It should be noted that rosewater production was not initially practiced in these areas, but later this industry came to these areas from Qamsar.
Techniques of Rosewater Production in Qamsar
Gulab giri in Qamsar is practiced in two methods, traditional and industrial. In this region, the traditional method is more common, and traditional workshops have been established to extract rosewater. In both traditional and industrial methods, the basics of the process are the same, classical distillation.
The tools in the traditional method are rudimental, but the method is very time-consuming. The traditional tools required for rosewater extraction include a copper cauldron, a special lid, a niche (an aluminum tube with a 45-degree angle), a copper pitcher, and a heating instrument called Shakheh that runs on kerosene or diesel.
In this method, a few kilograms of Damask roses are placed in the cauldron with some water. Then, the special cauldron lid is placed on it. After fixing the lid on the cauldron, the niches or tubes are fixed in their proper place.
One end of the niche tubes is connected to the copper pitcher and the other side to the cauldron lid. The pitcher attached to the tube is placed inside the cold water to optimize the distillation process. In the next step, they turn on the furnace lamp or the Shakheh under the cauldron.
It takes about ten minutes for the contents of the cauldron to come to a boil. After boiling, the resulting vapors pass through the niche tubes and pour into the copper pitcher. Since this pitcher is in cold water, the resulting vapors are cooled and condensed. The result is high-quality rosewater. Every year, many tourists eager to see the process participate in the Rosewater Festival of Qamsar.
It takes about 4-5 hours to fill the copper pitcher with rosewater. When the pitcher is full, it is emptied into another container, and the process starts again. Therefore, traditional rosewater production is time-consuming and requires a lot of time and effort.
Although there are still traditional rosewater workshops in the Qamsar region, rosewater production factories have also been built. In these factories, industrially produced rosewater is made using special machinery and in various stages.
Importance of Rosewater Extraction and Its Side Activities
The rosewater festival is essential in areas like Qamsar, where most people are practicing agriculture. Agricultural work alone cannot provide enough employment and income for the youth. Therefore, the development of side jobs such as rosewater extraction can prevent population loss and migration to the cities.
Industries such as rosewater have many benefits for the villages, which are mentioned below:
- Requiring small investments and simple and basic tools
- Basic economic activity for the development of the region
- Creating employment opportunities
- Preventing the migration of the population from the region
- Strong potential in the development of the tourism industry
- Increasing Product export and foreign exchange
The production of essential oil and perfume are side activities of the rosewater production industry. These activities are carried out in Qamsar at the same time as the rosewater festival. In the traditional method, when rosewater is distilled, an oily layer is created on it. This oily layer is removed with a syringe and used as perfume.
Do Not Miss Visiting Qamsar Rosewater Festival
Although the Gulab giri festival was carried out with special customs in the past, it still has its charm today. Taking in the aroma of rose flowers in the gardens and orchards of Qamsar is an experience that is unique to the festival.
If you are planning to travel to Kashan on an Iran tour package or personally, visit Qamsar Kashan Rose Festival. To experience this festival, the best time for a trip is between mid-May and early June. We hope you will enjoy attending this festival while visiting other Kashan tourist attractions.