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History of Yazd

History of Yazd

Yazd within its unremitting history has been going through epochs and oblivions. We are not very much aware of it`s pre-Islamic status and even after Islam had not been appreciated appropriately up to the Muzaffarid dynasty in which the first History of Yazd called "MARĀHEB-e-ElĀHI" by Mo`in-o-ddin Mo`alem-e-Yazdi was written. It is only in 9th century A.H. that two individuals, Ja`far-ebne-Mohammad-ebne-Hassan Ja`fari and Ahmad-Ebne-Hossein-Ali Kāteb authored `TĀRIKH YAZD` and `TĀRIKH JADID YAZD` and recorded the ongoing affairs of the society at that time. Respective history books were authored later namely: `JĀME` MOFIDI` during Safavid dynasty by Mohammad-Mofid Mostofi; JĀME` JAFARI` during Qājār dynasty by Mohammad-Hossein Nāini (known as Tarab-Nāini); `TĀRIKH YAZD (ĀTASHKADEH YAZDĀN)` during first Pahlavi by Abdol-Hossein Āyati and during second Pahlavi `YĀDEGĀRHA YE YAZD` by Iraj Afshār.The notable point about all these histories is that unlike other historical documents they were not only referred to significant individuals and events but the entailed physical outcomes and constructions as well which makes Yazd unique in this sense. Even during Muzaffarid dynasty who ruled vast areas of Iran, more than their biographical inscriptions, their developments had attracted Kāteb and Ja`fari`s attention in their historical records. That is probably due to the spirit of thrifty construction and minimal energy consumption attitude, which plays the leading role in Yazdi culture yet requires further studies and research.

What can be alleged is based on historical evidences from Kakouyeh dynasty which Yazd acquired urban characteristics. That is while certain geography specialists like Estakhri and Houghel noted the existence of Jāme` mosque in some regions of Yazd that was to say Nāin, Fahraj and Ketheh even before that. However what is less clear is whether Yazd had been the same way as it is described in mentioned geographical resources or its urbanization dates back to the possibly self exiled Abu-Mansour-the last ruler of Buyid in Isfahan-by the Saljuqid king Toghrol period. During this time the walls, towers, and baileys of the city were added and Yazd attained its urban character.

Since this time through Atābakān and Muzafarid dynasties, the city was developing consecutively, growing its popularity as geopolitical spot that the Muzaffarids set off their command and conquer of neighboring provinces like Isfehān, Kerman, Shiraz , and some parts of Khuzestān from here, which later led to their progress toward Tabriz as well. Al These facts point on the prosperity and significance of Yazd during that time. However, during Timurid dynasty due to Muzaffarids animosity with Timur, city development fell in a slow pace. In spite of such a mishap, still noteworthy individuals like Amirchaghmāgh and Haji-Qanbar revitalized the progress which Amirchaghmāgh complex is among of such efforts. During Safavid dynasty, the general status of the city exacerbates and except diminutive complexes -like Shah-Tahmasb complex, development traces are negligible. We can even witness the destruction of city wall by the Safavid king`s mandate. However, during Qajar dynasty, the city begins to expand swiftly not because of the state policies but due to extensive trading demands. Such exchange mainly through east and southeast went beyond the country and extended the trading territory of Yazdi merchants toward India, which augmented the city affluence. During such blissful condition, the city kept on developing physically to the south and southeast. Some new communities were formed and others merged into new ones.

The exact physical and structural formation of primary communities are yet unknown but based on current evidences and documents the initial core of the city was around the northern part of Jāme` mosque and southern part of Fahādān passage. The presence of a mosque (with early Islamic structure), a Bazaar-cheh next to it and a Hammām in its front, demonstrates basic properties of primary boundaries of city before Kakouyeh dynasty who administered the city comprehensive development. Within historical documents the "Shārestān community" has been repeatedly noted which seems to address this area of the city or the main quarter that later the Koushk-e-No community was added to it.

Fahādān and Usedārān, which are now regarded as the city`s oldest regions, were later combined with the city during sultan Qotbod-Din of Atābakān dynasty. As the city expanded, new dwellings were formed near water resources (Qanāts) mainly originating from Mehriz, and gradually transformed into a community. Subsequently the communities next to the Shārestān were merged with it and as the city walls and bailey progressed, the city expanded. During Qājar dynasty because of the city`s considerable huge size, the construction of further city walls and bailey seemed demanding from one side and development of new defensive weaponry from the other side obviated further construction of defense structures. The city then turned into a vast area, which certain parts of it were within the bailey, and most of it remained outside. As mentioned the water of Qanāts had an integral role in community formation. That is why the name of several communities today contain "Ābād" suffix (means `made habitable (by providing water)`). Some other communities are named after the vocational preferences or dominating professional presence like Araq-Paz-Hā (means herbal drinks maker) and Golchinān (flower pickers) Etc.

An important point is that up to the so-called Modernization era the spatial structure of the community was more or less similarly evident within the urban scale. Presuming that the Jāme` Mosque, Bazaar, Residential areas (the communities) are the main elements of the Traditional city, these elements in a smaller scale are recognizable within the community as well. A comparatively smaller mosque, residential areas (houses), and sometimes a Hosseinieh, Āb-Anbār and Madrasah (like Shāh-Ab-ol-Ghāsem, Fahādān, and some other communities) are among such self-similar elements. These elements based on social and historical demands have undergone certain changes and modifications in the past. For instance, a monastery during Ilkhanate and Timurid dynasties was an inseparable element of any inhabitation or building Madrasah during Atābakān dynasty was quite prevalent that every significant individual used to establish his own Madrasah that usually later used as his own tomb too.

Anyway, the communities were formed around such a center and to study the cmmunity boundaries one should focus on these constructional elements. They seem as public elements of the city suited in the smaller scale and the space between these centers were filled with residential fabric and the communication network. The boundary of a community in most cases was not a clear-cut line but a rather ambiguous continuum, which permitted different residential and social interpretations of the boundary and was more or less as indigenous concept related to a sense of belonging. One of the touchstones of such belonging could be noted as the participation in religious events of the community, which promoted such identity. Being a member of the Community Hosseinieh would also approve the individual belonging to the community. However, the Hosseinieh social concept dates back to Qājār dynasty, which makes the form of such social attachments, civic institutions and societies less unknown before in the past and requires further research.

One hypothesis is that the monastery was a preceding alternate before Qājār time, which in point of view is not defensible enough. The monastery was not able to embrace half of the society members that are the women as Hosseinieh was and the mosque and its role in such a situation is still not well studied. Probably one can recognize the Safavid dynasty as the boost of social development and civic institutions within the community scale and later to the urban scale. It is within the Safavid era, which the behavioral model of religious events and the Hosseinieh pattern were established and extended its validity like the Amirchaghmāgh and Shāh-Tahmāsb Hosseinieh to the urban scale.

The community is the abode of city dwellers and reaching the inner layers of the city requires a hierarchial access to distinguish among different layers and enable people to appreciate spatial territories. Such a hierarchy grants a sense of security and safety within the Community assisting the municipal management. Under attack raids if the enemy somehow penetrated the city wall around the communities, such a hierarchy would play another important role which was to slow down the enemy progress within the urban Fabric and enabled the city dwellers to defend the city individually.

The `Dar-Band`s were spatially intimate common spots for families and relatives to get together. These shared spaces had doors to the alley and the alleys were connected to the Community major paths leading toward the Bazaar and at times to the city gates. The paths are an integral part of the urban fabric structure and together with Bazaars and other public elements defined the spatial structure of the city. The Community inhabitants provided their daily needs from the community center and other needs from the city Bazaars.

The water for the community was provided via the sophisticated system of Qanāt and passed through almost all living units. Most houses. Mosques and community centers had access to the Qanāt`s water through Pāyāb or a Well from the Qanāt route. Through the Qanāt, the Āb-Anbār as a water storage used to conserve for community consumption. Thanks to the Āb-Anbār storage, capacity the city had always storage of water for a few months in case of dearth and troughout the history; there is no record of major deaths due to drought. Another contributing factor was that the Qanāt`s resources were connected to a succession of main wells, which did not suffer mainly from periodical droughts.

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