The History According Background
According to some historians, the first foundation of Yazd belongs to the time of Zahhak. Also they believe that the constructions of two other historical cities of the province, Meybod and Abarkooh, go back to the time of Solomon and Abraham (pbuh). Yazd is an ancient word witch comes from the root-word “Yast” or “Yazt”, meaning worship, praise, adoration, God, etc. One of the five chapters of avesta (the Zoroastrian’s holy book), is also called “Yast”.
On the other hand, a collection of scattered ancient works in the province indicates the great cultural and historical background of this region. Works such as stony hand tools in the valleys of mount Shirkooh, engravings of mount Ernan’s slate and painted pieces in Narin Castle which belong to Elam period. In addition, a story tells that the four ancient points of Mehriz & Fahraj, Yazd, Rostagh & Meybod and Ardakan, had been the centrers of civilization in the province. Researchers have considered these points, locating on the ancient highways of Rey-Kerman and Pars-Khorasan, a part of the far land of Media.
But according to other documents, we can mention the important and especial role of Yazd in Achaemenid period. In fact at that time, big roads, toll houses, post offices and chapar Khanehs (Pony Expresses) had changed Yazd to a guard of important roads of Iran. In accordance with some old religious memorials, before New Zoroastrianism, other ancient religions had prevailed in this region. Amongst them Mithraism and worshipping Anahita can be mentioned.
Some other obvious sings of Yazd long history are the old 5000 years cypress of Abarkooh and the coins relating to the time of Purandokht, the Sassanide, which have been coind in Meybod.
Yazd in Islamic Period
In ancient Iran, Yazd was situated in the margin of main highway of eastwest. So during the first Islamic periods, it was occupied by Muslime. A group of Bani of Tamim and Bani Amer tribes settles in there and founded Kuy-e Arabha (The Lane of Arabs).
After the dominance of deylaman dynasty over the south and the west of Yazd, a group of Alavian (descendants of Imam Ali (pbuh)) migrated to this city and founded Kuy-e Husseinian (The Lane of Husseinian). The most famous Alavi migrant was named Imamzade Seyyed Ja’far (pbuh), whose mausoleum had been a shrine for a long time .
After Islam, the dynasties and dominans that have ruled Yazd include: Al-e Kakuyeh: They constructed a lot of mosques, schools, Qanats (aqueducts) in villages and around the city of Yazd, Atabakan, Mongols, Al-e Mozaffar: during their 77 years period of reign, Yazd come to a climax in cultural and social and economical development, the Timurids, the Safavid: At this period extravagant religious fanaticism and unreasonable massacres caused great spiritual damage in Iran, especially in Yazd, Afsharian, and the Qajar: A lot of works are remained from this period.
With the area of 131551 sq. km, Yazd province is located part of Iranian plateau. The semi-plain climate is hot and dry. But some local factors like mount Shirkooh have affected a great part of this region, positively. On the other hand, salt marshes and big and bare plains in central and eastern parts of the province have strengthened the dryness and desert conditions. in this province, the temperature is always changing, ranging from 20c to 46c. therefore, Yazd has just two seasons: the long season of hot weather (March-October) and the short season of cold weather (November-February). Usually December and January are the coldest months of the year. Also June and July are the hottest months.
The Heights of Province
Shirkoh is the most important ruggedness of the province. As a mountainous wall, it separates the central part of the province from Abarkooh hole. With a height of 4075 m, Shirkooh peak is on 20 km of Yazd. Saeidi with a height of 3320 m and Lorg with a height of 1525,are two other peaks of shirkooh.
Mount Kharanagh is in the north of Yazd and its highest peak is 3158 m high.
Chak Chak and Oshtory and Hamaneh can be mentioned as some other mountains of Yazd province.
Desert: The desert of Ardakan, (Siahkooh), Abarkooh, Taghestan and Daranjir are the most well _known desert of the province.
As a result of low rainfall, there is no permanent river in this region. There are only some floodways which, in rainy years, are full of water for some hours or months. The most famous ones are Sadegh Abad-Eslamie, Taft-Fakhr Abad, and Dokali in Kharanagh.
The major table water of Yazd province is spread from the south of Fahraj to the north of Ardakan. This table is utilized through Qanats and deep wells. At present, there are 367 Qanats, 370 mountainous Qanats and 3000 deep or semi-deep wells in the province. The most well-known
Qanats include: Aharesten Qanat which has been dug 700 years ago, Dowlat Abad Qanat which is 70 km long, Ghias Abad Qanat is Poshtkooh which dates back to 1000 year ago and Zarch Qanat.
Gharbalbiz Spring: A historical spring which is used as a comp-site in the season of spring.
Yazd province has a population of around 900000.78% of this population lives in cities and 28% in villages. The people of the province are Iranian of Aryan race. They speak in common Farsi, in an accent classified as one of the central semi-languages of eastern class. Zoroastrians speak in Farsi Dari. Also in some villages like Zeyn Abad, the original Farsi Dari is prevalent. In Yazd province, most of the people are Muslim and Shiah. According to a census in 1997, 3879 Zoroastrians,78 Christians and 100 Jews live in this province.
Political and Economical Geography
Today, Yazd province includes 10 townships, 21 districts, 51 rural districts and about 5000 villages. 1323 of these villages are populated and the others are deserted because of the immigration.
Economical Resources of Yazd Province
From long ago, the name of Yazd had been accompanied by industry and producing. At present, there are about 2200 productive and industrial units with operation license, amongst them textile, tile and ceramic are especially important.
Mines: With four billion tons of geological resources, Yazd province is one of the main mineral regions of Iran.
Agriculture and Animal Husbandry
Semi-traditional method and the peasant farming system dominate the agriculture of the province. Today, over 110 hectares of lands are under cultivation.
The Common Culture
Feasts and Celebrations:
Norooz, Sizdehbedar, religious feasts and special ceremonies like wedding, are the most important scenes of culture and religion in Yazd province. The people of Yazd, like other Iranian, honor these celebrations through specific and various customs.
When somebody dies, the relatives cook a kind of pottage and oleaginous bread, called Surok, in memory of him/her. Nakhl Bandi (decorating Nakhl) and Nakhl Gardani (carring Nakhl) are other specific rites of Moharram Month in Yazd. Nakhl or Naghl, as a symbol of the coffin of people who died a martyr in karbala, is a made of wood, shaping a leaf of tree or cypress. In Moharram, the men of the district carry it magnificently and move it through the crowd like an honorable coffin. Other rites of Moharram include: forming the groups if Sagha(water-carrier) which consist of some youngsters in black clothes who give watwr to the mournes, ornamenting a saddled horse, named Kotal, as a symbol of Imam Hussein’s (pbuh) hores.
Every month, as the names of day and month come to be the same, Zoroastrians hold some celebrations. Amongst them, the most significant ones are Noroozgan, Mehregan and Sadeh.
Noroozgan is held at the night befor Norooz. When the darkness of last night of the year grows faint, Zoroastrian light a fire on the roofs. Next day, they lay Haft Sin (seven “s”) cloth and celebrate Norooz A main food of theis day is paludeh-e morvarid (Paludeh is a sweet beverage contaning starch jolly in the form of thin fibers) They start preparing the required wheat and starch, from the beginning of winter. Mehregan is another celebration which last for six days. It is said thet this celebration is held on the occasion of Iranian’s victory over Zahhak. Sadeh or the celebration of arising fire has been held on 100th day of winter, from long ago.
Gahanbar or Seasonal Celebrations: These are they symbols of six stages of Creation and considered as some Zoroastrion’s religious feasts. Through them, Mubads (Zoroastrian’s priests) and people com together and sing the song of Avesta.
Hiromba: A celebration same as lightening fire in Sadeh, which is held every year on the last week of Farvardin(the first month of the year), in Sharaf Abad (in Ardakan), and last for two days.
Sedreh Pushi (wearing Sedreh): When a boy or a girl reaches the age of Sedreh Pushi (7-10 years old or puberty age), the parents hold a celebration, attending most of the relatives, and the boy or girl wears Sedreh. Alsi Zoroastrians have specific customs for espousal and wedding and even burial ceremonies, which are memorials of ancient Iran.
Messiah Feast of Jews : It is held small Jew minority of Yazd, in Hadash synagogue, on the occasion of saving the Israelites by Moses (pbuh), and lasts for eight days.
Food and Sweets
Shuli: A kind of pottage, cooked with grains, which is very popular.
Confectionary: In Yazd, confectionaris are called Khalifeh or Haj Khalifeh. From 70 years age, they have presented Yazd sweets to Iran and the world. These sweets incude: Baghelava, loz-e Bidmeshk (musk- willow), Loz-e Pesteh (pistachio), Loz-e Nargil (coconut), Ghottab, Nan-e Berenji, Haji Badam and Pashmak.
These sweets, along with handicrafts such as Termeh (cashmere), Daraiee, Ziloo (pile less carpet) and ceramics are major souvenirs of Yazd province.
The art of cramics has beautiful and innovative designs in Yazd province, especially in, Meybod. Ceramics producs are locally called Kevareh. Khorshid khanum (the Sun) and Morgh-o Mahi (bird and fish) are two very well-know designs in Meybod.
Ziloo and Carpet Weaving:
The nice hand-woven works of this province are of a long history and coordinated with the life of people in desert.
Some original designs of Yazd carpets are Harati, Gol-o Mahi (flower and fish), Sardar-e Jangal and Kermani.
Sha’r weaving works are varied and include: Termeh, Zar Bafi (brocade weaving), Shamad (bed sheet), Dastmal (handkerchief), Makhmal (velvet), Daraiee, Chadorshab (wrapper for bed-cloth). The oldness of Termeh is around 250 years. This fabric is always considered as a souvenir of Yazd. some of the other handicrafts of Yazd are: Giveh weaving which is often the entertainment of rural women in their free times, Hasir or Buria weaving (mat making) using the fibers of palm tree, Khorjin weaving or Labbafi, Rufarshi, Ehrami and Namad Mali (felting).
It is another handicraft of Yazd province. Goldsmiths create various ornaments for men and women, with very nice designs, including simple geometric designs composing precious stones.
From many years ago, there has been a row, named Zargarha (Goldsmiths) in old Khan Bazaar.
Kabir jaame’ Mosque
This masque is one of the most valuable historical heritage of art and a treasure of Islamic architecture. The primary foundation is related to Ala’ oddoleh Garshasb Al-e Buye, 12th century. But the present mosque belongs to Al-e Mozaffar and the Timurids periods in 14th and 15th centuries. The artistic and architectural privileges of this mosque are: stability and strength of the construction, precious and interesting tile works, high facade, two precious inscriptions (one in Kufic script and the other in Sols script on an azure mosaics tile near the magnificent facade) two elegant Minarets, tiled ornamenrs of interior walls of Shabestan (part of a mosque designed for winter prayers) and also inside and outside of the domi. The Minarets are 48m and the facade is about 24m high.
Some other mosques include: Abol-ma’ali which goes back to 14th century, Shah Tahmasb that belongs to 16th century, the remainig of Nazamieh in Abarkooh, Mehr
Abad Jaame’ mosque, Abarkooh Jaame’ mosque, Bafgh Jaame’ mosque, and the mosques of Abrand Abad, Firuz Abad, Kharanagh, Bafrouieh, Aghda, Ardakan, Mehriz, etc.
Fahraj Jaame’ Mosque: Locating in Fahraj village, the construction dates back to the early years of Islamic period and is of a great important in Iranian Islamic history. It is also comparable with Tarikhaneh mosque in Damghan.
Fara Shah Ghadamgah and Molla Agha Baba synagogue are two other historical –religious buildings. The contruction of Ghdamgah goes back to 11th century. Malla Agha Baba or Molla Sadr synagogue which is location in Kabir Jaame’ Mosque street, belongs to Qajar period. There is a picture relating to moses (pbuh) on the wall of Shabestan.
In Pahlavi period, by contructing Shah Street (present Gghiam Street), the comllex of old bazaare of Yazd was divided inti two parts. Some major bazaars of the complex includeorosi duzha (shoe-makers), Mohammad Ali Khan, Panjeh Ali, darvazeh Mehriz, Zargari (Goldsmiths), Sadri Gheysarieh, Ja’far khan.
Constructing in architectural style of the sassanid, this very old bridge with four opening, is unique as a functional architectural contruction. The pillars of the opening are made of cement and the arches are in Roman style (semi circular arches).
Narin Castles (Narenj Castle) is the most important historical building of Meybod, The consteuction of this castle dates back to the time of Soloman (pbuh)
and belongs to pre-Islamic period. In Al-e Mozafar period, it underwent some modifications. Mehrjard is another castle of Meybod which goes back to Zandieh an Afsharieh period.
Abrand Abad Castle is constracted by one of Irandokht’s (the daughter of khosro Parviz) conoles and dates back to Sassanid period.
Robat Castles of Abarkooh: With nine spherical towers, this casle is located in the west margin of Abarkooh and blongs to Sassanid period.
Shavvaz Castle: with the area of 5000 sq.km, the major mountainous castle of Yazd in constructed over the rocks, at 100m height. It has a unique and magnificent stony door.
With the old ness of 13th century, Marvast Castle is situated in the center of Marvast. Pahlevan Badi Castle belongs to pre-Islamic period and is constracted on mount Milok. Rahmat Abad Castle in Rahmat Abad village and Garmsar Castle in Taft, can be mentioned as two other castles of the province.
Old Fortification of Yazd
According to the oldest documents, these fortification were contructed by four colones of Abu Ja’far Kakuyeh in 11th century. It has four gates including Ghatarian (Shahi), Kushk-e No, Mehrjard (Mehriz) and Kia (Hazireh). But in 13th century, a destructive flood ruined many parts of these fortification. Some years later, it was repaired and a few towers and gates were added. The remainig of the old fortification can be found in the districts like Fahadan, Seyyed Golesorkh, etc.
The foundation of Arjnan Tower, on 20 km to the south-west of Ardakan, goes back to Qajar period. Pagondeh and khaje Ne’mat are considerer as two other old towers of Yazd province.