The province of Isfahan, in central Iran has a history stretching back thousands of years. There are lots of world-famous historical sites in every corner, attracting numerous Iranian and foreign tourists year-round.
Perhaps one of most famous is Abyane, a very beautiful ancient village near the town of Kashan. It’s registered with UNESCO as one of the four most historic villages of Iran. (The others are Masule, Kandovan and Meimand.) This article is a brief survey of Abyane’s geographical location and the culture and traditions of its people. Much of the information included here is adapted from “Abyane and its People” by Zein-al Abedin Khansari.
Getting to the village involves a 50 kilometer drive off the Kashan-Natanz road, through a few villages, then into the actual valley of Abyane. The setting is breathtaking, with the village on the north-western slope of Mt Karkas.
The first thing which strikes a visitor is the unique architecture. The houses are arranged like steps up the hillside, so the roofs of some houses are the front yards of the next one up. The roofs/yards are built using traditional materials, timber, straw and clay. The walls, also red mud bricks, are impressive. Uniquely, these bricks get stronger when exposed to the rain. To make as much use of the sun as possible, the houses face the east. Most of the houses are uniform in appearance. The doors also feature beautiful patterns, poems and, sometimes, the names of the owner and mason are carved on the front.
The weather is cold and the winters are long. The trees surrounding the village frame the landscape, especially during spring. On entering the village, in addition to the architecture, the colorful traditional style of clothing, and the cheerful faces of the people attracts everybody’s attention.
Religious and public buildings:
The Friday Mosque, in the middle of the village, is impressive. The sanctuary has a wooden prayer niche around which there are eye-catching patterns and carved decorations dating back to the Seljuq Period (1038-1194). Interestingly, the building has some features similar to architectural elements seen at the palace of Persepolis. Another mosque, called Porzaleh, was built during the Illkhanid period, and is situated in the oldest part of the village. Its sanctuary is vast. The decorations are very similar to those of the tomb of Bayazid of Bastam, the great Persian mystic. The Hajatgah mosque, built next to a rock outcrop, dates back to the early Safavid period, according to an inscription on top of its door. Inside there is a beautiful sanctuary hall with large wooden pillars. In addition to the mosques, there are some other places which are worth a visit including the Zoroastrian fire-temple (from the Sassanid period), three castles, a few pilgrimage sites and a mill.
As it is located in a valley with a narrow river, Abyane does not have alot of agricultural land. So the people tend to rear animals for a living. The hills and valleys surrounding the area are used as pasture lands in all seasons. Due to the scarcity of agricultural products the people are rather frugal.
Traditional food & clothing:
Gipa is a stew cooked with mutton. It’s a local dish, served on special occasions and feasts. Other specialties of the region include Jovin, made with barley (”jo”