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The Silent Whistle

Shiva Khademi | Iran

The entrance panel of Chit fabrication factory of Behshahr which has remained unchanged since 1317 (1938).

Behshahr, during the monarchy of first Pahlavi, was considered as one of the economic targets located in north of Iran. With cooperation of Germany, “Chit[1]” fabrication factory was stablished in 1317 and many migrated to the city for work. My grandparents were both workers in this factory. Their memories and narratives of the workplace and their belief that its closure changed the city's identity, encouraged me to work on this collection.

Behshahr, during the monarchy of first Pahlavi, was considered as one of the economic targets located in north of Iran. With cooperation of Germany, “Chit[1]” fabrication factory was stablished in 1317 and many migrated to the city for work. My grandparents were both workers in this factory. Their memories and narratives of the workplace and their belief that its closure changed the city's identity, encouraged me to work on this collection.

My grandmother used to say that the factory was the heart of the city. The factory's whistle waked the whole city up at 6 o'clock in the morning and there were three shifts announced by its sound. Residents of Behshahr and the villages nearby organized their daily activities based on the whistle. Unfortunately, that huge factory which provided income for 3300 families doesn't exist anymore.

The Chit fabrication was one of the biggest factories of its kind in the middle east and it was known as the economical center of the province. In 1376, the factory was assigned to the private sector. It faced recession and bankruptcy since the beginning of 1380's which led to unemployment of thousands of workers. Due to week management, the new owners were interested in trading the factory and its belongings instead of continuing the production. This led to an enormous ruin left from the factory covering an area of 20 hectares. Its full closure in 1382 resulted in raise of the number of the unemployed and vendors in the city. Spread of poverty and addiction was the following result.

The “Silent Whistle” is the story of transmutation of the city’s face. The factory’s name used to shine over the city in the past but, now for the current generation there is nothing left of it but a dark tunnel of memories. It seems to be the city’s heritage and it has a significant role in the pedigree of Behshahr. With its closure, the factory has become a suppressed grief. I was looking for an answer through the bright memories of my grandparents and acquaintances when I noticed that the factory is already ruined.

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