Abyaneh: A Village of Great Antiquity

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Abyaneh is a famous historic Iranian village near the city of Kashan in Isfahan Province.  It is located on the northwestern slope of Karkas Mountains, 20 kms away form Natanz. Being a village of great antiquity, Abyaneh is like a living architectural and anthropological museum. It affords an impressive exponent of adaptation of man with his environment.

With a unique reddish hue, the village is one of the oldest in Iran, attracting numerous native and foreign tourists year-round, especially during traditional feasts and ceremonies. Considering the evidence found in Abyaneh, it dates back to antiquity, but its golden age was during the Safavid period. The word Abyaneh has been derived from the word "viona" meaning willow grove. (In the local dialect "vey" means willow.)

The village is expanded along the river, and its configuration indicates that in the past the people showed much consideration for security. Although the village itself is situated on high ground, there are three castles that protected the people when the enemy attacked. Furthermore, the configuration of Abyaneh protects it from strong winds and floods.

This is a village of living traditions, architectural styles (all in red clay), and probably the most interesting example of human adaptation to nature, wherein one can transcend the boundaries of time and space and experience the ancient civilization and culture of Iran.

The village is compact, with narrow and sloped lanes, and houses located on the slope as if placed on a stairway. Here, the roofs of some houses are used to serve as the courtyard for other houses higher up on the slope.

The language spoken by the literate people of Abyaneh is Parthian Pahlavi. They are deeply committed to honouring their traditions. No matter how well educated a person from Abyaneh might be, he or she puts on the traditional Abyaneh costume on coming back to the village from anywhere in Iran. The women's traditional costume consisting of a scarf with floral motifs and pleated pants, is particularly attractive.

The Abyaneh woman is inseparably attached to her wedding gown inherited from her mother, and is expected to pass it on to her daughter. It bears such an intrinsic value of her that she wouldn't sell it at any price.

Abyaneh has a compact fabrication with narrow and steep alleys. Set on the slope of the mountain, the houses are arranged in a stair-step shape, so that the mountain, the houses are the yards of the others.

The materials used for building the roofs are timbers, straw and clay. The materials use for building the roofs are timbers, straw and clay. The walls, built by red mud bricks are impressive. The mud bricks are of quality that become harder when they are exposed to the rain. To use the sun as much as possible, the houses face the east.

An impressive aspect of Abyaneh's architectures is that the houses are uniform in appearance. The doors, most of which have two knockers, are wooden and built in traditional styles. There are beautiful patterns, poems and the names of the owner and mason carved on some doors. These poems afford a good picture of the old Iranian culture. Many facades date back to the Safavid period. Beside the door of many houses there are small platforms providing place for passers-by or local residents to rest for a while.

The simplicity found in Abyaneh's houses affords a picture of life in rural Iran. Each room is used for various purposes. For example, a single room may be used as a dining-room, a sitting-room, a bed-room and a guest-room.

To economize in the use of fuel, the rooms and used in winter are architecturally different from those used in summer. For providing equal light for all parts of the rooms, there are several small openings in the roofs. The size of the rooms, windows and doors all indicate the simplicity of life in this old village.

In addition to natural beauties, there are several historical monuments in Abyaneh, of which the following are of more significance. On top of the village sits the ruins of a Sassanid era fort.

The Castle of Haman, two houses of Dervishes dating back to Safavid era, and the remain of two fire-temples dating back to Sassanid epoch (built in an architectural style called Chahar Taqi (four-arch style).

Among the attractions of Abyaneh the Jam'e Mosque, Yarzaleh, Hajatgh Mosque, and Zeyaratgah are notable.

The Jame' mosque of this vicinity with its historical wooden altar dating to 776 AH, and its wooden pulpit dating to 466 AH. and an inscription in the 'kufi' script is greatly valued both as a historical and religious monument.

Since June 2005, the village has been undergoing archaeological excavations for the first time ever, as a result of an agreement between Abyaneh Research Center and the Archaeology Research Center of the Iranian Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO).

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