Hanachi, P., Eshrati, P., Eshrati, D. (2011) "Understanding the Persian Garden as
a cultural landscape: an approach to com...
In this study, it is suggested that a partial solution may be to begin with
developing a comprehensive management policy c...
2.1 The Origin
The word "paradise" entered English from the French paradis, inherited from the
Latin paradisus, from Greek...
(UNESCO World Heritage Center, 2008, Annex III). This research
emphasizes that Persian gardens are places where tangible a...
2.3.2 Owners Interest as the Basis of Changes in the Gardens
The other important issue on the secondary alteration is owne...
3.1 Tangible Elements of the Persian Garden
Most Persian Gardens have some tangible elements in common which can be
divide...
The Nazargah of Afif-Abad Garden is the east Ivan. The Ivan affords a
panoramic view across the main grassy square of the ...
their character. Sometimes in the past, these walls were elaborated with
battlements and with round pigeon-towers at the a...
Table 1
4 Toward a Comprehensive Conservation
As discussed in earlier sections, for developing a comprehensive conservatio...
conserve historical gardens at three levels. Some conservation actions should
be followed by owners and the others should ...
proposed the elements for understanding of the Persian Gardens as cultural
landscape comprised of the tangible and intangi...
Lesiuk, S. M. (1980 January/February). Landscape planning for energy
conservation in the Middle East. Ekistics, 66-68.
Mit...
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Understanding the Persian Garden as a Cultural Landscape: an Approach to Comprehensive Conservation

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Understanding the Persian Garden as a Cultural Landscape: an Approach to Comprehensive Conservation

  1. 1. Hanachi, P., Eshrati, P., Eshrati, D. (2011) "Understanding the Persian Garden as a cultural landscape: an approach to comprehensive conservation", in: proceedings of Heritage international conference: Conservation of Architecture, Urban Areas, Nature & Landscape: Towards a Sustainable Survival of Cultural Landscape, Volume II, 13-15 March 2011, Jordan: Amman, Pages 385-396. Understanding the Persian Garden as a Cultural Landscape: an Approach to Comprehensive Conservation Pirooz Hanachi1 , Parastoo Eshrati1 , Dorna Eshrati2 1 School of Architecture, College of Fine Arts, University of Tehran, Iran 2 School of Architecture and Urban Studies, Iran University of Science and Technology, Iran hanachee@ut.ac.ir, par.eshrati@gmail.com, dorna.eshrati@gmail.com Abstract The word "Paradise" entered English from an ancient Iranian root, pairi.daêza. The literal meaning of this word is “a walled area” for describing the Persian Garden. Historical gardens characteristics have changed recently which has undesirably affected their historical value especially intangible aspects largely neglected. In this paper, two major causes of challenges of Paradises conservation are carried out. In the first place, many Persian Gardens are only recognized as cultural heritage because they usually have a building or an architectural masterpiece. Due to the focus of current conservation policy on architectural aspects, some of the most important natural and cultural values and tangible and intangible aspects are neglected. In the second place, historical gardens have changed physically and functionally based on gardens owners’ strategies and interests, besides conservation of historic values is not the main interest of some owners.
  2. 2. In this study, it is suggested that a partial solution may be to begin with developing a comprehensive management policy considered the Persian Garden as cultural landscape, which is applicable to different owners. Since increasing awareness and understanding of both tangible and intangible aspects of cultural landscape is critical to develop a comprehensive conservation policy, some of the most important tangible and intangible aspects of the Persian Garden are carried out in this paper. Keywords: the Persian Garden, Cultural Landscape, Conservation, Challenges, Tangible and Intangible Aspects 1 Introduction The definition of heritage has changed and expanded over time. It has evolved from being seen only as single properties and buildings and their immediate surroundings to groups of buildings or districts. Evolving over the past decades, the conservation of landscapes of historic and cultural values has also affected the identification of landscapes from gardens to cultural landscapes (Buggey, 1999b 1 Quoted in Dormaar and Barsh, The Prairie Landscape: Perception of Reality, 2000, p. 23.). However, the Persian Garden is seen as a structure in Iran. Because, the existing national legal framework in Iran do not isolated gardens as cultural landscape from other national properties, which therefore, there aren’t any specific standards and guidelines for preserving tangible and intangible aspects of Persian Gardens. The study of Afif-Abad Garden illustrates how a lack of recognition of values and inadequate and often inappropriate legal framework have resulted in major management and conservation challenges. Protection of Persian Gardens is almost impossible if there is no policy for conservation followed by owners. Different aspects of the Persian Gardens should also be studied. The aim of this paper is to investigate the tangible and intangible aspects of the Persian Garden to identify Paradise as a cultural landscape as the basis of developing a comprehensive conservation policy. 2 The Persian Garden The Persian Garden is a record of interaction between Iranian people and their natural environment that envisions the ancient Persians’ conception and understanding of the world and of the heavens with a great appreciation of natural features. It has been sustained by responding and adaptation to a variety of climatic, functional, social, technical, and cultural changes. One of the most important cultural changes occurred during the Arab occupation Persian Garden has been influenced and transformed in a certain way and more successfully was introduced and imported to the other Islamic regions. Since then the design has also been called Islamic Garden and has been practiced vastly in different countries.
  3. 3. 2.1 The Origin The word "paradise" entered English from the French paradis, inherited from the Latin paradisus, from Greek parádeisos ( ), and ultimately from an old Iranian root, attested in Avestan as pairi.daêza (Jewell and Abate, 2001). The literal meaning of this word is “a walled area” for describing the Persian Garden. The word Paradise was used for the Garden of Eden, the abode of God and the place where the virtuous live after death. The dream of a perfect place is very ancient and appears in the Epic of Gilgamesh: With crystal branches in the golden sands, In this immortal garden stands the Tree, With trunk of gold and beautiful to see. It was thought of as the 'garden of the gods' and described as a 'paradise'. Earthly gardens were made as representations of paradise. Water symbolized life, as it was believed to be the source of life. Irrigation canals made cultivation possible. Parts of the Iranian plateau were under cultivation by 3,000 BC. Plants and trees symbolized deities. Its original meaning refers to an extensive and well orderly garden, that it appears as a beautiful and pleasant place, where besides trees and flowers, there are animals in freedom. (BUTRAGUEÑO DÍAZ-GUERRA, 2008: 43). According to archaeological evidence, the first root of Persian Garden has been found in Pasargadae in the 6th century BC (Curtis and Nigel, 2005). 2.2 As Cultural Landscape The very notion of landscape is highly cultural, and it may seem redundant to speak of cultural landscapes; but the describing term ‘cultural’ has been added to express the human interaction with the environment and the presence of tangible and intangible cultural values in the landscape (Mitchell et. al., 2009:17). The American geographer of German origin Carl O. Sauer developed the concept of cultural landscape further through his Morphology of Landscape (1925). This approach saw landscape as an area of natural features, modified and influenced by cultural forces. This approach included intangible values and cultural expressions not immediately evident, such as literature, poetry, painting and photography, rituals and traditional production. The key values of a landscape territory could be therefore assessed through research and documented through the evidence of associative connections (Mitchell et. al., 2009:18). The Persian Garden envisions the ancient Persians’ conception and understanding of the world and of the heavens with a great appreciation of natural features. Therefore Persian Gardens are cultural landscapes which based on the World Heritage Operational Guidelines, most of them could be classified under category I- landscape designed and created intentionally by man
  4. 4. (UNESCO World Heritage Center, 2008, Annex III). This research emphasizes that Persian gardens are places where tangible and intangible values are integrated. As Bandarin pointed out ‘the need to distance ourselves from the notion that “the city is a monument” (…) to date we have not considered intangible values enough’ (Bandarin, quoted in Sirisrisak, 2007), it is possible to distance ourselves from the notion that “the garden is a monument”. 2.3 The Major Causes of Poor Conservation Recent transformations sometimes destruct and distort cultural heritage, and sometimes respect the identity of the places and pre-existences (Scazzosi, 2003:55). In Iran, historical gardens characteristics have changed recently which has undesirably affected their historical value especially intangible aspects largely neglected. To deal with conservation challenges, understanding the causes of challenges is crucial. Two major causes of poor conservation of Persian Gardens are investigated as follows: 2.3.1 Not Considering the Persian Garden as Cultural Landscape One of the causes of conservation challenges might be that major focus of conservation policies of historical gardens is on tangible aspects, especially buildings and structures. The existing national policies in Iran do not adequately address cultural landscapes. The organization responsible for ensuring the protection of all historical monuments and cultural environments is the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO). The ICHHTO’s historic conservation policies and regulations with respect to historic landscapes fall short of the effort expanded for cultural landscape. The major focus of the organization is buildings, structures, and monuments. Historic gardens are only acknowledged as heritage sites, and only if accommodating a structure. Iranian organizations follow their respective national criteria, which do not isolated gardens as cultural landscapes from other national properties. Therefore, there are not any specific standards and guidelines for preserving tangible and intangible aspects of Persian Gardens. It is one of the greatest challenges of the Persian Gardens conservation. Cultural landscapes are not protected and are under threat because of a misapplication of theory in practice, and due to lack of understanding of the concept of cultural landscape and its categories in local and cultural contexts. In Iran, tangible and intangible elements of Persian Garden are under threat of lack of a theoretical framework for understanding Persian Gardens as cultural landscapes. It is essential to shift from the consideration of historic Persian Garden as ‘site’ to a type of cultural landscape. The conservation and management of historical gardens, as cultural landscapes, is an important issue because cultural landscape is a heritage of many eras of natural evolution and of many generation of human effort (Wagner and Miskell, quoted in Fowler, 1999).
  5. 5. 2.3.2 Owners Interest as the Basis of Changes in the Gardens The other important issue on the secondary alteration is owner diversity of gardens and there are no statutory management guidelines for the physical and functional conservation. Due to lack of management guidelines, historical gardens have changed physically and functionally based on gardens owners’ strategies and interests, besides conservation of historic values is not the main interest of some owners (Eshrati & Parsayi, 2010). To deal with these challenges, developing a comprehensive management policy considered the Persian Garden as cultural landscape, which is applicable to different owners might be useful. “Heritage Landscape Think Tank,” the NZHPT concluded that the most important tool for protection is understanding. Interpretation (knowledge sharing) leads to recognition which leads to protection” (NZHPT, 2003: 9). Since increasing awareness and understanding of both tangible and intangible aspects of cultural landscape is critical to develop a comprehensive conservation policy, some of the most important tangible and intangible aspects of the Persian Garden are carried out in this paper. In this paper, in an attempt to address some challenges of conservation management of Persian gardens, conservation of Afif-Abad Garden is presented. Afif-Abad Garden (also known as Golshan Garden) is a one of the oldest historic Persian Garden in Shiraz, near Pasargadae. During the Safavid era, it was used as a palace by the Safavid Shahs. The current Kushk (refers to the main building of gardens and the English word kiosk is taken from that) was reconstructed by Mirza Ali Mohammadkhan Ghawam II in 1863. He bought a nearby qanat (A technique that makes use of underground drainage tunnels for catching water resources) to water his garden (Ariyanpour, 1985: 282-290). After his death the garden was eventually inherited by a woman named Afife, thus being called Afif-Abad. In 1962 the main part of the garden was bought and restored by the army. Its Kushk is now functioning as a weapons museum. The other part has been redesigned as a park by Shiraz Municipality. 3 Understanding Tangible and Intangible Aspects of the Persian Gardens Based on considering the Persian Garden as cultural landscape, both tangible and intangible aspects of Persian Gardens should be protected. As new cooperation among UNESCO’s cultural heritage Conventions with the 2003 Convention on the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage on the interaction between the tangible and intangible heritage shows, in reality, the division of multiple- layer aspects of Persian Garden into tangible and intangible is not possible but in order to make theory more practical, this separation is used in this paper. Following proposed elements could be useful as a basis for understanding tangible and intangible aspects of the Persian Garden.
  6. 6. 3.1 Tangible Elements of the Persian Garden Most Persian Gardens have some tangible elements in common which can be divided into natural, man-made, and natural-man-made elements. Considering these categories equally is essential for developing a comprehensive conservation policy. However, the major focus of ICHHTO is buildings, structures, and monuments. Historic gardens are only acknowledged as heritage sites, and only if accommodating a structure so conservation of natural and natural-man-made elements has often been neglected. 3.1.1 Natural Elements The most common natural elements are water, trees (evergreen and deciduous) and flowers, birds, animals, etc. Gardens were planned in axial rectangular patterns of simplicity, clarity, discipline, and delicacy. Natural elements differ in diverse climates found in Iran. For example, in Shiraz, located in a plains, the Cypress is the major species of historical gardens. But in Brijand, a small town in the heart of desert, pines are the major species. 3.1.2 Man-made Elements The most common man-made elements are enclosing walls, water features, Kushk, architectural structures, designed ornaments, furniture, decoration, pools, and water canals. 3.1.3 Natural-Man-made Elements Persian Gardens have some tangible elements which shaped by both natural elements and man-made elements such as main View, skyline, and visual boundary. Main View- The Persian Garden main view is a splendid view from Ivan (veranda) of Kushk to the main approach avenue of the garden. In Iranian landscape designing, a high place from which it is possible to see the main view is called Nazargah. Vita Sackville West visited Persia in 1927 contributed a chapter on Persian Gardens to Arberry's The Legacy of Persia in 1953. She described the role of Nazargah and the main view of the Persian Garden as follows: “ At the Rashk-i Bihisht (meaning Envy of Paradise), some two miles out of Shiraz it was raining, and Browne the Englishman expressed regret that the weather should be so bad, as they sat in a pavilion [Kushk] watching the dripping trees.‘Bad?’ exclaimed his host. ‘Why, it is beautiful weather! Just the day one would wish: a real spring day.’ There is nothing, he adds, which a Persian enjoys more than to sit sipping his wine from the shelter of a summer- house while he gazes on the falling rain-drops and sniffs up the moist, soft air laden with the grateful scent of the reviving flowers. This little anecdote gives us the whole meaning of his garden to a Persian. It is not a place where he wants to stroll; it is a place where he wants to sit and entertain his friends with conversation, music, philosophical discourse, and poetry; and if he can watch the spring rain pouring down, so much the better, for he knows it will not come again for months and months and months” (Vita, 1953: 287).
  7. 7. The Nazargah of Afif-Abad Garden is the east Ivan. The Ivan affords a panoramic view across the main grassy square of the garden, continued to the main avenue of the garden at the end of the square. Keeping the visitors from entering the Ivan and constructing a bordering wall by owners in the garden blocking the main view have become the consequences of lack of attention to the main view as a tangible aspect and focusing on conservation of structures. Skyline/ Visual Boundary- Skyline is an element derived from the viewpoint of cultural landscape. It is ‘the line or shape that is formed where the sky meets buildings or the land’ (Sirisrisak, 2007: 5). In addition to garden skyline, visual boundary is one of the unwritten characteristic of historical Persian Gardens which means being able to only see the sky when a visitor looks outside from the garden. Conservation of the skyline and visual boundary of historical garden could play an important role to heighten the public awareness. Visual boundary of Afif-Abad Garden will have been damaged by building a high-rise structure near Afif-Abad Garden. 3.2 Intangible Elements of the Persian Garden 3.2.1 Sense of Unity In Iran, Sense of unity is one of the major intangible aspects of urban designing, architecture, gardening, and art. It derived from Islamic vision considering the universe in unity and inviting all the people to this unity (Ardalalan & Bakhatiar, 1975). The pattern of the Persian Garden is one of the best manifestations of this unity in landscape design, which has continued in Iran and other Islamic countries. It is essential to protect this unity at various levels. However, in many historic gardens, the diversity of ownership has become an agent of destroying the unity. For example Afif-Abad Garden has been encountered fundamental changes in recent century, which ruined the unity of the garden. Main owners of this garden are now: 1) Islamic Republic of Iran Army, and 2) Shiraz Municipality, and for neither of them protection of historic values is not the priority. The main part owned by the Army was divided into: 1) the Garden and the Weapons Museum, 2) the Army Resorts (entering this part of the garden is forbidden for ordinary people and barracks and a mosque are under construction), and 3) the Celebrations and Wedding Hall (By building an extension to the garden to hold local celebrations). The other part has been redesigned as a park by Shiraz Municipality in which traces of elements and plan of historic garden designing has been used. The division, functional changes, and extensions have not respected the sense of unity. 3.2.2 Privacy Privacy is one of the intangible aspects of the Persian Garden presented by intangible elements such as walls. All Persian gardens are walled in. It is part of
  8. 8. their character. Sometimes in the past, these walls were elaborated with battlements and with round pigeon-towers at the angles (Sackville West, 1953: 276). Creswell (1968) sees the clustering of walls, buildings, and tall trees as a prerequisite for the privacy needed to develop the hidden qualities of the spirit. Lesiuk (1980) notes that enclosing the earthly garden with walls and buildings is a metaphoric gesture recalling its heavenly archetype. Shiraz Municipality ignorance about privacy, as an intangible aspect, caused destroying the historical enclosing wall of Afif-Abad Garden. Consequently, redesigned part as a park is not as private as other parts. 3.2.3 Function The functions of historical Persian Gardens can be classified into five categories: 1) social, 2) cultural, 3) military, 4) entertainment, and 5) religious functions (Eshrati & Parsayi, 2010). Since the owners are not generally aware of the historic and artistic characteristics of the gardens, indiscriminate changes are made in gardens. The correct conservation of gardens has to consider the historical functions. Breaking down this relation can weaken the memorial links between the gardens and the local people’s lives. These links indicate the relation between the architectonic and is of the most important factor of changing the characteristic of historical gardens. Revival of historical function of Afif-Abad Garden, for instance, can play an important role in its cultural survival. It could increase the chance of gardens survival as a cultural landscape, not as a monument. 3.2.4 Association with Art and Poetry Some experts believe that the archetype of Persian garden is the source of all Iranian arts. (Javaheriyan, 2004: 14). Its influence on some arts like carpet designing, painting, miniature, architectural ornaments, calligraphy, gilding, pottery and ceramics and tile work is evident. There is no doubt that Persian Literature and Persian Gardens are associated with each other. Javaherian explains: “I do not know whether the Garden was created first and then a poet took his/her steps and started writing poetry, or once a poet started gardening (Javaherian, 2004: 18). In Persian literature, for describing gardens, there are two points of view: Earthen Gardens and Holly Gardens. In addition to these elements, there are some intangible elements such as names of the gardens, stories/ history, social event/ tradition, and local belief, which should be considered in developing a comprehensive conservation policy. (See Table 1)
  9. 9. Table 1 4 Toward a Comprehensive Conservation As discussed in earlier sections, for developing a comprehensive conservation policy, considering garden as cultural landscape and not only as a site could be useful. As a result of this consideration, conservation of both tangible and intangible aspects of Persian gardens is essential. Since recognition leads to conservation, in this paper, some of the most important tangible and intangible aspects of Persian gardens are investigated. In order to protect tangible and intangible aspects of Persian Gardens, the conservation should not focus only within the gardens, but it should be consider at different decision-making levels. Hence, in this paper, it is recommended to
  10. 10. conserve historical gardens at three levels. Some conservation actions should be followed by owners and the others should be included in urban development plans. Therefore the connection between owners practices and national policies, which is a critical factor in successful conservation activities, may be strengthened. The Conservation Levels recommended as follows: 4.1 Large Level (National Level) The basis of irrigation system of most of the Persian Gardens is qanat which brings underground water from a distance away to the surface of the Earth. This water flows on the ground and the agricultural farms and fruit gardens are watered in its path. City water supply system also will be provided, and finally this water brings about one of the main aesthetic characters of the Persian Gardens. Due to new urban projects, such as construction of subways, some of canals and historical qanats were destroyed. On the other hand, the survival of many historic gardens is under threat of over-exploitation of underground water resources. A comprehensive conservation policy which considers gardens as cultural landscape requires garden irrigation system to be conserved. At large level, infrastructure such as water canals and historical qanats should be protected. 4.2 Middle Level (Urban Level) Uncontrolled growth of the cities generates a loss of the city-planning quality. Lack of consideration of Gardens, especially historic gardens, in urban planning could threat the tangible and intangible aspects of gardens such as the gardens skyline and the visual boundary. In addition to threat an effective cultural landscape conservation, it might be one of the factor caused the historical gardens missed their roles in urban sustainable development. 4.3 Small Level (Site Level) At Small level, protection of tangible and intangible element is vital to survival of historic characteristic of Persian Gardens. 5 Conclusion Investigating the condition of Persian Gardens illustrates different conservation challenges. In this study, not considering the Persian Garden as cultural landscape and considering owners interests as the basis of changes in the gardens have been introduced as the two major causes of the challenges. Therefore there is a need to review the existing national legal framework in Iran. A partial solution may be to begin with developing a comprehensive management policy considered the Persian Garden as cultural landscape, which is applicable to different owners. To achieve this aim, understanding of both tangible and intangible aspects of the Persian Garden could be useful. This paper has also
  11. 11. proposed the elements for understanding of the Persian Gardens as cultural landscape comprised of the tangible and intangible elements. Acknowledgement The authors would like to sincerely thank Dr. Azade Ahmadi for her comments and insights on this paper. References Ardalalan, N., & Bakhatiar, L. (1975). The Sense of Unity: the Sufi Traditions in Persian Architecture. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Ariaynpour, A.R. (1985). A Study of Understanding the Persian Gardens and Shiraz Historical Gardens. Tehran: Yasavoli (In Persian). Creswell, K.A.C. (1968). A short account of early Muslim architecture. Beirut: Lebanon Bookshop. Curtis, J.E., & Nigel, T. (2005). Forgotten Empire: The World of Ancient Persia. Berkeley: University of California Press. BUTRAGUEÑO DÍAZ-GUERRA, B. (2008). New Networks for the Old Paradise, Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management, 9(2), 43-53. Eshrati, P., Parsayi, M. (2010). Understanding the Paradox of the ownership diversity and the Integrated Strategies of Cultural landscape Conservation, Case Study: Shiraz Historical Gardens, In: Cultural Landscape, in: Yildizci, A. C. (ed.), Proceedings of 27th ECLAS European Council of Landscape Architecture Schools International conference: Cultural Landscape, 29 September- 2 October 2010, Turky, Istanbul: Cenkler, Pages: 1035-1037. Fowler, P. (1999). Cultural landscape- Archaeology, Ancestors and Archive. In: G. Hajos (Ed.), Monument-Site-Cultural Landscape Exemplified (pp. 56-62). Vienna: The Wachau, Austrian National Committee of ICOMOS. Javaheriyan, F. (2004). Lost Archetype: a Visit to the Persian Gardens. In Persian Garden, Ancient Wisdom-New Landscape (pp. 12-25). Tehran: Tehran Contemporary Art Museum Publishing. Jewell, E.J. & Abate, F.R. (Eds.) (2001). the New Oxford American Dictionary. September 2001. Oxford University Press, First Edition.
  12. 12. Lesiuk, S. M. (1980 January/February). Landscape planning for energy conservation in the Middle East. Ekistics, 66-68. Mitchell, N., Rossler, M., Tricaud, P. (Authors/Ed) (2009). World Heritage Cultural Landscapes, a Handbook for Conservation and Management. UNESCO World Heritage Paper 26. Paris: UNESCO World Heritage Center. New Zealand Historic Places Trust/ Pouhere Taonga (NZHPT). (2003). Heritage landscape think tank-report on proceedings. Wellington, New Zealand: NZHPT. Newton, N. T. (1971). Design on the land. Cambridge (Massachusetts): The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Sackville-West V. (1953). Persian Gardens. In A. J. Arberry (Ed.), The Legacy of Persia, (pp. 259-291). Oxford University Press. Sauer, C. (1925). The Morphology of Landscape. University of California Publications in geography, 2(2), 19-53. Scazzosi, L. (2003). Landscape and Cultural landscape: European Landscape Convention and UNESCO Policy. In: Cultural Landscapes: the Challenges of Conservation. World Heritage 2002. Shared Legacy, Common Responsibility. Associated Workshops, 11-12 November 2002, Ferrara, Italy, World Heritage Paper 7. Paris: UNESCO World Heritage Center, 55-59. Sirisrisak, T. (2007). Historic Urban Landscape: Interpretation and Presentation of the Image of the City, Paper presented in ICOMOS Thailand International Symposium 2007: Interpretation: Form Monument to Living Heritage, 1-3 November 2007. UNESCO World Heritage Center. (2008). Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, Paris: UNESCO World Heritage Center. Available at whc.unesco.org.

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