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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Damayanthi in Sari by Raja Ravi Varma

A sari or saree or shari is a female garment in the Indian Subcontinent.[1] A sari is a strip of unstitched cloth, ranging from four to nine meters in length that is draped over the body in various styles. The most common style is for the sari to be wrapped around the waist, with one end then draped over the shoulder baring the midriff.[1]

The sari is usually worn over a petticoat (pavada/pavadai in the south, "chaniyo" in the west and shaya in eastern India), with a blouse known as a choli or ravika forming the upper garment. The choli has short sleeves and a low neck and is usually cropped, and as such is particularly well-suited for wear in the sultry South Asian summers. Cholis may be "backless" or of a halter neck style. These are usually more dressy with a lot of embellishments such as mirrors or embroidery and may be worn on special occasions. Women in the armed forces, when wearing a sari uniform, don a half-sleeve shirt tucked in at the waist. The saree was born in both South and North India and is now a symbol for all of India.


Origins and history

A Mohiniyattom dancer from Kerala, in Sari

The word 'sari' evolved from the Prakrit word 'sattika' as mentioned in earliest Jain and Buddhist literature.[2]

The history of Indian clothing trace the sari back to the Indus Valley Civilization, which flourished during 2800-1800 BCE around the western part of the Indian Subcontinent.[1] The earliest known depiction of the saree in the Indian subcontinent is the statue of an Indus valley priest wearing a drape.[1]

Ancient Tamil poetry, such as the Silappadhikaram and the Kadambari by Banabhatta, describes women in exquisite drapery or saree.[3] In ancient Indian tradition and the Natya Shastra (an ancient Indian treatise describing ancient dance and costumes), the navel of the Supreme Being is considered to be the source of life and creativity, hence the midriff is to be left bare by the saree.[4]

Sculptures from the Gandhara, Mathura and Gupta schools (1st-6th century AD) show goddesses and dancers wearing what appears to be a dhoti wrap, in the "fishtail" version which covers the legs loosely and then flows into a long, decorative drape in front of the legs. No bodices are shown.[5]

Other sources say that everyday costume consisted of a dhoti or lungi (sarong), combined with a breast band and a veil or wrap that could be used to cover the upper body or head. The two-piece Kerala mundum neryathum (mundu, a dhoti or sarong, neryath, a shawl, in Malayalam) is a survival of ancient Indian clothing styles, the one-piece sari is a modern innovation, created by combining the two pieces of the mundum neryathum.[6]

It is generally accepted that wrapped sari-like garments, shawls, and veils have been worn by Indian women for a long time, and that they have been worn in their current form for hundreds of years.

One point of particular controversy is the history of the choli, or sari blouse, and the petticoat. Some researchers state that these were unknown before the British arrived in India, and that they were introduced to satisfy Victorian ideas of modesty. Previously, women only wore one draped cloth and casually exposed the upper body and breasts. Other historians point to much textual and artistic evidence for various forms of breastband and upper-body shawl.

In Kerala and Tamil Nadu, it is indeed documented that women from many communities wore only the sari and exposed the upper part of the body till the 20th century.[7] Poetic references from works like Silappadikaram indicate that during the sangam period in ancient Tamil Nadu, a single piece of clothing served as both lower garment and head covering, leaving the bosom and midriff completely uncovered.[3] In Kerala there are many references to women being bare-breasted,[7] including many pictures by Raja Ravi Varma. Even today, women in some rural areas do not wear cholis.

Styles of draping

The most common style is for the sari to be wrapped around the waist, with the loose end of the drape to be worn over the shoulder, baring the stomach.[1] However, the sari can be draped in several different styles, though some styles do require a sari of a particular length or form. The French cultural anthropologist and sari researcher, Chantal Boulanger, categorizes sari drapes in the following families:[8]

  • Nivi – styles originally worn in Andhra Pradesh; besides the modern nivi, there is also the kaccha nivi, where the pleats are passed through the legs and tucked into the waist at the back. This allows free movement while covering the legs.
  • Bengali and Oriya style.
  • Gujarati – this style differs from the nivi only in the manner that the loose end is handled: in this style, the loose end is draped over the right shoulder rather than the left, and is also draped back-to-front rather than the other way around.
  • Maharashtrian/Kashta; this drape is very similar to that of the male Maharashtrian dhoti. The center of the sari (held lengthwise) is placed at the center back, the ends are brought forward and tied securely, then the two ends are wrapped around the legs. When worn as a sari, an extra-long cloth is used and the ends are then passed up over the shoulders and the upper body. They are primarily worn by Brahmin women of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
  • Dravidian – sari drapes worn in Tamil Nadu; many feature a pinkosu, or pleated rosette, at the waist.
  • Madisaara style – this drape is typical of Brahmin ladies from Tamil Nadu and Kerala
  • Kodagu style – this drape is confined to ladies hailing from the Kodagu district of Karnataka. In this style, the pleats are created in the rear, instead of the front. The loose end of the sari is draped back-to-front over the right shoulder, and is pinned to the rest of the sari.
  • Gond – sari styles found in many parts of Central India. The cloth is first draped over the left shoulder, then arranged to cover the body.
  • the two-piece sari, or mundum neryathum, worn in Kerala. Usually made of unbleached cotton and decorated with gold or colored stripes and/or borders.
  • tribal styles – often secured by tying them firmly across the chest, covering the breasts.

The nivi style is today's most popular sari style. (Dongerkerry K. S. 1959).[9]

A highly embroidered wedding sari
The nivi drape starts with one end of the sari tucked into the waistband of the petticoat. The cloth is wrapped around the lower body once, then hand-gathered into even pleats just below the navel. The pleats are also tucked into the waistband of the petticoat.[9] They create a graceful, decorative effect which poets have likened to the petals of a flower.[9]
After one more turn around the waist, the loose end is draped over the shoulder.[9] The loose end is called the pallu or pallav. It is draped diagonally in front of the torso. It is worn across the right hip to over the left shoulder, partly baring the midriff.[9] The navel can be revealed or concealed by the wearer by adjusting the pallu, depending on the social setting in which the sari is being worn. The long end of the pallu hanging from the back of the shoulder is often intricately decorated. The pallav may either be left hanging freely,tucked in at the waist, used to cover the head, or just used to cover the neck, by draping it across the right shoulder as well. Some nivi styles are worn with the pallu draped from the back towards the front.

The Nivi saree was popularised through the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma.[10] by modifying the south indian saree called mundum neriyathum. In one of his painting the Indian subcontinent was shown as a mother wearing a flowing nivi saree.[10]

In Bangladesh

Silk Sari Weaving at Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu

The Sari is worn by women throughout Bangladesh. There are many regional variations of Saris in both silk and cotton. But the Jamdani Tanta/Taant Cotton, Dhakai Benarosi, Rajshahi silk, Tangail Tanter Sari, tashar silk and Katan Sari as the most popular in Bangladesh.

In Pakistan

In Pakistan, the wearing of saris is less common than the more traditional shalwar kameez which is worn throughout the country. The sari does however remain a popular dress for formal functions such as weddings.[11] The sari is sometimes worn as daily-wear, mostly in Karachi, by those elderly women who were used to wearing it in pre-partition India[12] and by some of the new generation who have re-introduced the interest in saris.[13][14] [15] The reason why the sari lost popularity in Pakistan, was due to it being viewed as a Hindu dress. Although she was seen wearing them,[12] Fatima Jinnah, the "Mother of the Nation", called the sari "unpatriotic" and the wife of former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf stated that she never wears the garment.[16]

In Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan women wear saris in many styles. However, two ways of draping the sari are popular and tend to dominate; the Indian style (classic nivi drape) and the Kandyan style (or 'osaria' in Sinhalese). The Kandyan style is generally more popular in the hill country region of Kandy from which the style gets its name. Though local preferences play a role, most women decide on style depending on personal preference or what is perceived to be most flattering for their figure.

The traditional Kandyan (Osaria) style consists of a full blouse which covers the midriff completely, and is partially tucked in at the front as is seen in this 19th century portrait. However, modern intermingling of styles has led to most wearers baring the midriff. The final tail of the sari is neatly pleated rather than free-flowing. This is rather similar to the pleated rosette used in the 'Dravidian' style noted earlier in the article.

Kandyan style is considered as the national dress of Sinhalese women. It is the Uniform of air hostesses of Sri Lankan Airlines.

In Nepal

In Nepal, a special style of draping is used in a sari called Haku patasi. The sari is draped around the waist and a shawl is worn covering upper half of sari which is used in place of "pallu".

The sari as cloth

Woman doing Block Printing on a sari, Halasur village, Karnataka

Saris are woven with one plain end (the end that is concealed inside the wrap), two long decorative borders running the length of the sari, and a one to three foot section at the other end which continues and elaborates the length-wise decoration. This end is called the pallu; it is the part thrown over the shoulder in the Nivi style of draping.

In past times, saris were woven of silk or cotton. The rich could afford finely-woven, diaphanous silk saris that, according to folklore, could be passed through a finger ring. The poor wore coarsely woven cotton saris. All saris were handwoven and represented a considerable investment of time or money.

Simple hand-woven villagers' saris are often decorated with checks or stripes woven into the cloth. Inexpensive saris were also decorated with block printing using carved wooden blocks and vegetable dyes, or tie-dyeing, known in India as bhandani work.

More expensive saris had elaborate geometric, floral, or figurative ornaments or brocades created on the loom, as part of the fabric. Sometimes warp and weft threads were tie-dyed and then woven, creating ikat patterns. Sometimes threads of different colors were woven into the base fabric in patterns; an ornamented border, an elaborate pallu, and often, small repeated accents in the cloth itself. These accents are called buttis or bhutties (spellings vary). For fancy saris, these patterns could be woven with gold or silver thread, which is called zari work.

Sometimes the saris were further decorated, after weaving, with various sorts of embroidery. Resham work is embroidery done with colored silk thread. Zardozi embroidery uses gold and silver thread and sometimes pearls and precious stones. Cheap modern versions of zardozi use synthetic metallic thread and imitation stones, such as fake pearls and Swarovski crystals.

In modern times, saris are increasingly woven on mechanical looms and made of artificial fibers, such as polyester, nylon, or rayon, which do not require starching or ironing. They are printed by machine, or woven in simple patterns made with floats across the back of the sari. This can create an elaborate appearance on the front, while looking ugly on the back. The punchra work is imitated with inexpensive machine-made tassel trim.

Hand-woven, hand-decorated saris are naturally much more expensive than the machine imitations. While the over-all market for handweaving has plummeted (leading to much distress among Indian handweavers), hand-woven saris are still popular for weddings and other grand social occasions.

Types of saris

Girl standing in a veranda wearing a Pochampalli sari, Painting by Hermann Linde, 1895

While an international image of the 'modern style' sari may have been popularised by airline stewardesses, each region in the Indian subcontinent has developed, over the centuries, its own unique sari style. Following are the well known varieties, distinct on the basis of fabric, weaving style, or motif, in South Asia:

Northern styles

Western styles

Central styles

Southern styles

Eastern styles


See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Alkazi, Roshan (1983) "Ancient Indian costume", Art Heritage; Ghurye (1951) "Indian costume", Popular book depot (Bombay); Boulanger, Chantal; (1997)
  2. ^ Mohapatra, R. P. (1992) "Fashion styles of ancient India", B. R. Publishing corporation, ISBN 81-7018-723-0
  3. ^ a b Parthasarathy, R. (1993) The Tale of an Anklet: An Epic of South India – The Cilappatikaram of Ilanko Atikal, Translations from the Asian Classics, Columbia Univ. Press, New York, 1993.
  4. ^ Bharata (1967). The Natyashastra [Dramaturgy], 2 vols., 2nd. ed. Trans. by Manomohan Ghosh. Calcutta: Manisha Granthalaya; Beck, Brenda. (1976) The Symbolic Merger of Body, Space, and Cosmos in Hindu Tamil Nadu. Contributions to Indian Sociology 10(2): 213-43.
  5. ^ Alkazi, Roshan (1983) "Ancient Indian costume", Art Heritage
  6. ^ Miller, Daniel & Banerjee, Mukulika; (2004) "The Sari", Lustre press / Roli books; Boulanger, C (1997) Saris: An Illustrated Guide to the Indian Art of Draping, Shakti Press International, New York. ISBN 0-9661496-1-0 ; Ghurye (1951) "Indian costume", Popular book depot (Bombay);
  7. ^ a b Ghurye (1951) "Indian costume", Popular book depot (Bombay); Boulanger, Chantal; (1997) Saris: An Illustrated Guide to the Indian Art of Draping, Shakti Press International, New York.
  8. ^ Boulanger, Chantal; (1997) Saris: An Illustrated Guide to the Indian Art of Draping, Shakti Press International, New York.
  9. ^ a b c d e Dongerkerry, Kamala, S. (1959) The Indian sari. New Delhi.
  10. ^ a b Miller, Daniel & Banerjee, Mukulika; (2004) "The Sari", Lustre press / Roli books.
  11. ^ "Bollywood, saris and a bombed train". Asia Times. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  12. ^ a b "The spread of the salwar". The Hindu. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  13. ^ "Buying saris-tempting hobby for women". One India. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  14. ^ "Readymade Sarees for kids". Kamlapure Dresses. Retrieved 2010-02-12. 
  15. ^ "Saris in Pakistan". Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  16. ^ "Meanwhile: Unraveling the sari". International Herald Tribune. 
  17. ^ GI registration: Pochampally sarees set the trend The Hindu, Dec 28, 2005.

Further reading

  • Ambrose, Kay (1950) Classical Dances and Costumes of India. A. & C. Black, London.
  • Craddock, Norma. (1994). Anthills, Split Mothers, and Sacrifice: Conceptions of Female Power in the Mariyamman Tradition. Dissertation, U. of California, Berkeley.

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Sari is in the beautiful Caspian region of Iran with about half million people residing in the town and same amount in the suburbs, located mainly on the left side of Tajan River and about 20 kilometers south of the Caspian (Mazandaran) Sea. Sari is also located in the north of Iran on northern slops of Elburz mountains. Sari boasts as ancient city, as all of the historical maps refering to this city, being the capital of Ancient Hyrcania Civilization 6 centuries before christ and Kingdom of Tabaria till 17 century, Also twice capital of Iran within the last four centuries,

Sari as well as some towns in Mazandaran is one of rare cities of Iran that night life is available during summers. Many people enjoy gathering each other in some places such as Barbod, Paradise, Tooska and Nemashown to play games, enjoy music and pleasant weather, or eating meals. Or to read some poetry book such as Diwan-i Hafiz. You also find many of restaurants in city center (specially Farhang Street) and a restaurant in the Tavakol alley which provides Italian dishes.

Location map of Sari
  • Population: 568,214 (Est.2006)
  • Elevation: 50 m
  • Area: 5089 km²
  • Religion: Islam, Zoroastrianism, Christian
  • Language: Mazandarani (Tabarian), Persian, and some Turkmen.
  • Dasht-e Naz International Airport. Four daily flights in the summer season and six weekly flights in other seasons scheduled to and from the Iranian Capital.

The fare is about USD$20. Also weekly flight destinations to Mashhad and Saudi Arabia. Airport is located in the northeast and less than 10 kilometers from city center. Shared and Airport taxis are available in the airport parking. There is highway being under construction to connect the airport and city directly.

By train

The city is connected to Gorgan and Tehran by train as well, since it is on a major branch of the Iran's Railroad. Every day there are four passenger trains getting to sari, one Local train runs from gorgan about 6 AM and gets sari before 9 AM, and returns from Sewatcow in 1 PM to getting sari in 2:30 PM, one from tehran runs in 9:10 AM everyday to getting sari about 4:30 PM, and left sari in 8:30 (Summers) and 9:10 (Winters) to getting tehran about 4 AM, There are Twin Mazandaran trains which have Gorgan destination running from Tehran, one runs from tehran in about 7:30 PM (Winters) and 10:10 (Summers) to getting sari about 3:30 AM (Winters) and about 5:50 AM (Summers) and another at the same time gets sari about 10:45 (Summers) and 9:10 (Winters) to getting tehran about 7 AM (Summers) and 5:30 (Winters). Be aware that the scheduled program of Twin Gorgan destination trains are changing periodically, However sari destination train gets the city about 4 PM for more than 70 years.

By car

There are many automobile and car routes from the Main cities next or near by sari. Sari is connected to Neka and Shahi by the A62 Autobahn, All of the Coastal cities in Mazandaran have at least 8 bands (4 forward and 4 backward). Many of people are visiting sari via Turkmenistan-Mazandaran (Iran) borders, it is possible to getting Visa of Iran from border, and to continue trip around Mazanderan Sea.

By bus

There are five bus terminals in Sari. So its easy to get around in the county by buses. City buses has destinations to approximately all of the towns in iran, but be aware that the buses are not running everyday, but it has hourly buses for Tehran, Also it is possible to getting the bus from the IMAM KHOMEINI SQ. located in the south east of city when no bus may be founded in the busy days. The fare to getting to tehran must not more than 3.5 USD $ (February 2006)

By boat

The port of Amir Abad is located on the beautiful southern coast of the Mazandaran Sea. however the cruise is not high quality and may not prefered.

Get around

The spreading of the city makes taxis available almost everywhere. There is a wide choice of taxi systems including ceremony taxis, wireless telecommunication taxis, airport or rail station taxis, telephony taxis and shared taxis. You may call 133 from every where of the city and county to asking for taking you from any where in Sari in less than five minutes or taking you from approximately 20 kilometers far distances (requires first registration) and even to serving you getting any destination around iran, So if a tourist would like to stay more than a week in Sari, registration with this office is recommended.

By car

Parking may not found in the avenues of Sari, and parking is usally in the small streets and allies, or have a small entrance from avenues. It is recommended to park your car in your hotel's parking.

Driving may be an option for going to some sights in the suburbs such as Soleyman Tanga (meaning Strait of Solomon), or Masandaran Sea. Destinations which are of primary concern to a visitor are the Caves from 70th millennium BC and towers of dynasties of Tabarian Kingdom.

  • Hutto Cave
  • Kamarband Cave
  • Xorshid Dabo's Private Cave
  • The Resket Tower from the Karen Pawand era
  • The Ladjim Tower from the Dabuyans era
  • The Farrah-Abad Complex Place
  • Kolbadi House
  • Haaj Mostafa Khan Mosque
  • Tomb of Yaha
  • Tomb of Zeinol Aabedain
  • Tomb of Abbas
  • The Clock Tower


There are many Places to go in Sari. Here are just a few:

  • Farah Abad Coast
  • Gohar Baran Coast
  • Derya Kenar Coast
  • Khezer Shahr Coast
  • Dehkadeh Aramesh Tourist Village
  • Tajan River Park
  • Zare' Forest Park
  • Salardareh Forest Park
  • Dasht-E-Naaz National Park
  • Pol-e-Gardan hiking trail
  • Nemashoun Lake
  • Lak-Dasht Lake
  • Soleyman-Tangeh Lake
  • Bam-e-Shahr Hill (offers a great panoramic view of the city)
  • Qor-Maraz (natural spa, Neka)


There are Many sports complexes in Sari. Most popular are Jahan-Pahlavan Takhti Sports Complex, Hashemi-Nassab Sports Complex, and Montazeri Sports complex.

  • Wrestling. Sari is the birthplace of lots of popular wrestlers and athletes, and it was the big host of the 2006 World Wrestling Competitions. It has the major fieldhouse, Seyyed Hosseyni Coliseum, which is known throughout Iran as an outstanding place for wrestling.


Today, Sari is one of the most cultural cities in Iran. Here are a few Universities just to mention:

  • University of Agriculture
  • Mazandaran University of Medical Science (MazUMS)
  • University of Natural Science
  • Sarian University of Art & Architecture
  • Payam-e-Noor University
  • University of Tech & Engineering
  • University of Tarbiyat-e Modaress
  • Sama Technology Faculty of Azad University


If you want to buy food, Sari is based on food such as cakes, rice, yogurt and fruits. Some companies in Sari (The wood and paper company) are famous in the Middle East. If you want to buy a home in Sari, Sari's prices range from normal to really expensive. Most neighborhoods are quite expensive because of the great weather.


If you are in Sari, fish is the best way to go. If you're not really interested in fish, Kebab shops are scattered all over the city. Don't forget a meal in this city would not be complete without salads and Naan Bread (Iranian Bread).


The favourite drink of Sari in winter is Caspian Tea (Chay), it is available almost everywhere around the city, especially in winter. In summer when it is hot and humid, Doogh a traditional yoghurt drink is also available. The Local Cola (ZamZam) is also available.

  • Salardarreh Hotel, located in Km.17 of Kiyasar Rd. (South), located in the heart of forests with exclusive views of forests and surrounding hills and vallies. Many Norwegians, Germans, and Swedish people are residents of this hotel most of the times, English is guaranteed to be spoken, has a local church for religious practices. The fare is reasonable since it is semi private hotel.
  • Narenj Hotel, located in Km. 5 of Darya Rd. (North). Good for Spring especially April and May months, since you can open the windows of its rooms and sleep by the balmy and Yasmin distributed air.
  • Badeleh, Located in Km.10th of Neka Rd. (East) Most of the suites are pre reserved and tourists rarely find the chance to using this hotel.
  • Mazandaran Hotel Associate, Located in 21st Alley,Ferdowsi St. It is not prefered however has cheap fares for one night accommodation.
  • Mazraeh, Located in Km. 7th of Qaemshahr Rd. (West) Offers villa structured rooms.
  • Sarooyah Apartments, in Taleghani Blv. has cheap and comfortable Guestrooms, Getting twin sleeping service room with Air conditioner, Refrigator and private bath room must not reach more than 10 USD. Forigen residents who speak english usally rent this hotel but there is no guarantee that secretary speaks english.
  • Sari Residental Complex, Located in Peivandi Alley, Farhang St. Is a reasonable hospitality center, with clean and hospitable employees.
  • Asram Hotel, located next to Tajan Bridge. Very expensive hotel with lack of some services and hospitaly. German is also spoken along with English. Especially it is guaranteed during summers.

Along with Hotels there are too many guest rooms (Mehman Pazir) are available specially in the Nader Street (Jomhuri-ye Eslami Street) in the city center and next to the Tajan bridge.

Mazandaran Sea Resorts

Although many residents prefer to using govermental villas in the Farrah Abad. But these resorts may not provide sleeping to forigners, but it is recommended to using Babolsar hotels, which are about 35 km far from Sari via Bahnamier Road and about 60 km in nights via A62 autobahn, They have the view of Sea, Please note that they may not available or by cheap fare during busy days.


There are many Internet cafés and chat rooms scattered all over the city, the Internet speeds ranges from acceptable to fast. To finding high speed internet providers yourself, look that if it has server or not, Foreigners usally use the Cafes around the Time Square.

Stay safe

Sari is relatively a very safe city, even in the middle of the night, so don't let this worry or bother you at all during your stay in Sari.


If you don't know Mazandarani or Persian, don't let this bother you or make you worried, there are many foreigners and Iranians there who speak English in the city. Also it is recommended to appreciate the native people who are not able to talk to you in English with these Mazandarani sentences: Tie Fieda or Tie ri Bielaarremi, but please extend your voice like singing since people can better understood while they extend their voice.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

SARI, a town of Persia, in the province of Mazandaran, on the left bank of the Tejen river, 80 m. S.W. of Astarabad. Pop. ro,000. It is the seat of the governor of Mazandaran, and has post and telegraph offices. The town is picturesque but very unhealthy, has stone-paved streets and houses built of brick and covered with green and red glazed tiles.

<< Sargon

Saripul >>


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also sari, and sarı




A twentieth century invention usually interpreted as a variant of Saara ( =Sarah), rhyming with other popular 1960s names, Ari, Jari and Mari. Other explanations are Hungarian Sári ( a pet form of Sarah) and the place name Sariola in the Kalevala .


  • IPA: [ˈsɑri]
  • Hyphenation: Sa‧ri
  • Rhymes: -ɑri

Proper noun

Sari (stem Sar-*)

  1. A female given name; the most popular first name for women born in Finland 1965-1972.

Simple English

Sari (Persian: ساری) is the capital city of the Mazandaran province in Iran.

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