unbekannter Gast

Impressions of Iran, Part 2 (Yazd and Nain)#

Introduction#

This can be see as continuation of the trip described in Impressions of Iran, Part 1 or as independent report on the unusual desert cities Yazd and Nain.

Yazd Yazd is located at an altitude of 1200 m in a shallow valley. It is provincial capital of the region Yazd, with 1,1 million inhabitants and an area more than three times of Austria with a population density of 8 indeed sparsely populated: Yazd alone has about half of the population of the area.

It is located in a desert, surrounded by sand, salt lakes and the high Shrikuh- and the Kharanaqu mountains. Some of the traditional production facilities for silk and other textiles are underground, since summer temperatures around 50 centigrade are common. Despite the dry climate agriculture plays a major role due to the fact that elaborate system of canals ("Quanats") bring water from the Shirkuh mountains.

Yazd - some data#

It is not clear when Yazd was founded, nor by whom. According to some records it may well have been Alexander the Great around 330 B.C. who reportedly used it as prison city! Others claim as founder the last imperial dynasty in Persia (Iran) before the rise of Islam, ruled by and named after the Sasanian dynasty from 224 to 651 AD. Still other sources claim that the history of Yazd goes back 5.000 years to the Median empire: Whatever the case, it is well documented that the city was conquered by the Arabs in 642 and was a rich trading center already in the 10 th century.

Two traditions in Yazd#

It is a long drive to Yazd, where we stay in a refurbished beautiful carwansery. We get up early to have a look at the Amir Chaqmaq complex, prepared for its annual ritual.
Yazd
Long trip to Yazd, with views of deserts and mountains, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
The Amir Chaqmaq complex, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Early morning view of the Friday mosque, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
An other view of the Friday mosque, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
An other view of the Friday mosque, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Detail, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Detail, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Detail, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Inside mosque, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
The Amir Chaqmaq arcade, used for spectatures of a special yearly religious celebration, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 2.5
Yazd
The celebration includes the "Palm leaf" that is carried in a procession by many people, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Two wind towers; they are used with good success without air conditioning in hot, arid climates, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Wind towers work on one of three priciples. The one most easy to understand is shown next, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
How windtowers work, if there is cold water running underneath; Foto: Samuel Bailey (confuciou@gmail.com), 2009, Wikipedia, under CC BY-SA 3.0

We then visit a Zoroastrian temple and afterwards the towers of silence. It seems necessary to say a few words about Zoroastrism before going further: Zoroastrianism is one of the world's oldest religions, originating in the teachings of the Iranian prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra).

Major features of Zoroastrianism, such as heaven and hell, and free will, have probably influenced other religious systems.

With possible roots dating back 4.000 years it served as the state religion of the pre-Islamic Iranian empires from around 600 B.C. Zoroastrianism was suppressed from the 7th century onwards following the Muslim conquest of Persia of 633-654. Most Zoroastrians today live in India or Iran.

Its basic maxims include:

  • Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds.
  • There is only one path and that is the path of Truth.
  • Do the right thing because then all beneficial rewards will come to you, also

Zaroastrian religion requies active participation in life through good deeds as necessary to ensure happiness and to keep chaos at bay. In Zoroastrian tradition, life is a temporary state in which a mortal is expected to actively participate in the continuing battle between truth and falsehood. Water and fire are agents of ritual purity, and the associated purification ceremonies are considered the basis of ritual life. Both water and fire are considered life-sustaining, and both water and fire are represented within a fire temple that we are about to visit.

Zoroastrian temple area
Zoroastrian temple, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Zoroastrian temple area
Zoroastrian temple area, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Zoroastrian temple area
Zoroastrian temple roof top, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Zoroastrian temple area
Gifts, as usual in all Zoroastrian ceremonies, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Zoroastrian temple area
Gifts, as usual in all Zoroastrian ceremonies, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Zaroastrian temple area
Fire in temple, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0

Towers of silence#

To avoid the pollution of earth or fire according to old Zoroastrian tradition the bodies of the dead were placed atop a tower (tower of silence), exposed to the sun and to scavenging birds. In Iran this tradition was more or less abandoned at the beginning of the 20 th century and forbidden in 1970. Since then cremation or burial in special graves that prevent contact of the decaying body with the earth surrounding it are used.

A bit outside Yazd there is one such Tower of Silence that is now open for visits by tourists. As usual, it is located on a hill. Below, in the flat desert there are ceremonial buildings, typically one for each tribe/village of Zoroastrians where the ceremony to depart from the deceased took place. After the ceremony, a very small group of selected friends or relatives of the deceased would carry the body uphill and place it within the tower in a large hole in the center of a flat, open surface that is the major part of the tower of silence.

Yazd
Hill with the tower of silence with ceremonial buildings in the flat area below, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Hill with the tower of silence, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Hill with the tower of silence with ceremonial buildings in the flat area below, Foto: H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Ceremonial building, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Walking towards the tower of silence, Foto: U. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
The tower of silence, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Flat area with hole inside the tower of silence, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Looking down at ceremonial buildings, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Looking down at ceremonial buildings, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Looking down at ceremonial buildings, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
In a ceremonial building, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Looking back. In the front a wind tower, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0

Walking through the old town#

The old town is built with bricks of just dried clay: In the absence of substantial rain, burning the bricks is not necessary. Lanes are narrow and houses close together, to get lots of shade. Many houses have rooms below street level to provide cooler living and working spaces.
Yazd
Lane in the old town, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Window slits in old town, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Window slit in old town, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Lane in the old town, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Lane in the old town, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Lane in the oldl town, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Lane in the old town, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Men use the big handle, women the small handle to knock. Thus, a women knows when a man is ouside and will not open the door! Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Childrenplayground in old town, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Wind tower, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Widn tower. The wooden poles add structural strength and help to avoid some damage in case of earthquakes. Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0

People in the old town#

Yazd
People in the old town, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
People in the old town, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
People in the old town, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
People in the old town, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
People in the old town, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0

Inside a villa in the old town#

To keep rooms cool, all are below road level. One level deeper there is also a canal with running water. For the wind tower of the house and to provide water for cleaning and cooking without having to leave the house. Typical for top class villas in the old city. This particualr villa has been converted into a boutique hotel.
Yazd
Main room of villa, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Room of villa, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Room of villa, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Bedroom, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Room with some old items on display, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Great luxury! Runnign water under the main room. Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Water! Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Bucket to get water wihtout having to walk down one floor. Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0

Roof-top stop for views and a cup of tea#

Yazd
Nice stop on top of roofs, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Nice stop on top of roofs, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Yazd
Vewi of mosques from a roof top, Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0

Nain#

Nain is about half-way between Yazd and Isfahan, about 150 km in both directions. Like Yazd, it is a true desert city that could not exist without the underwater aqueducts that bring water over more than 50 km from the mountains. There is even enough water to grow vegetables and even some sugar cane that is ground in a local mill powered by water! Nain is particularly famous for the Jame Mosque, one of the first four mosques built in Iran after the Arab invasion.

Nain
Nain. Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Nain
Nain. Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Nain
The mosque is not in use any more. Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Nain
In lower part of mosque. Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Nain
In lower part of mosque. Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Nain
In lower part of mosque. Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Nain
In lower part of mosque. Light comes through an alabaster "window" from the top. Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Nain
In lower part of mosque. Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Nain
The main mosque of Nain that is in use in the evening sun. Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Nain
En route to Isfahan as night is falling. Foto: U. and H. Maurer, under CC BY-SA 4.0