Monday, February 15, 2010
Abyaneh Village, known as the Red Village because of its red soil and houses, is a historic Iranian Village located at the foot of Karkas Mountain, 70 kilometers southeast of Kashan in Isfahan province. Abyaneh is a Village of living traditions, architectural styles (all in red clay) and probably one of the most interesting examples of human adaptation to nature. The Village is compact, with narrow and sloped lanes, and houses located on the slope as if placed on a stairway. The houses of Abyaneh bear an ancient architectural style, featured by the use of clay as the construction material and latticed windows and wooden doors. Similar to Masouleh. the roofs of some houses are used to serve as the courtyard for other houses higher up on the slope. 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.
Abyaneh has a long history which dates back to more than 2,000 years ago and has been registered on Iran’s National Heritage List since 1975. The word Abyaneh has been derived from the word "viona" meaning a willow grove. Abyaneh has been called an entrance to Iranian history as the locals are deeply committed to honoring their traditions. The language spoken by the literate people of Abyaneh is Parthian Pahlavi. The local clothing for example is in a style of great antiquity. The women's traditional costume typically consists of a white long scarf (covering the shoulders and upper trunk) which has a colorful or floral pattern and an under-knee skirt or pleated pants. They have persistently maintained this traditional costume despite pressures from time to time by the government trying to change it. The Abyaneh woman is inseparably attached to her wedding gown inherited from her mother, and is expected to pass it on to her daughter.
Abyaneh is known as one of the highly educated regions in Iran with a large number of engineers, doctors, and other specialists who have migrated to different Iranian cities specially Kashan and Tehran. The permanent residents of Abyaneh have been dwindling over the past years and it is estimated the number of permanent residents of this historic Village is less than 250.
Abyaneh is mainly watered by the River of Barzrud and has a cold climate. It enjoys numerous springs creating suitable conditions for agriculture. Seven qanats assist in the irrigation of the fields. The main agricultural products generated in Abyaneh are wheat, barley, potatoes and fruit such as apples, pears and apricots. As of late, carpet weaving has also become popular in the Village.
In addition to a Zoroastrian fire temple dating back to the Sassanid period, there are also three castles in the Village, a restaurant, a pilgrimage site and three mosques. According to an inscription on top of its door, one of the mosques, dates back to the early Safavid period, Inside the mosque there is a beautiful nocturnal prayer hall with wooden capital pillars.
Since June 2005, the Village has been undergoing archaeological excavations for the first time, as a result of an agreement between Abyaneh Research Center and ICHHTO’ Archaeology Research Center. Initial archaeological excavations resulted in the discovery of a residential area belonging to the Sassanid era. According to a report released following the visit of UNESCO representatives and experts of world heritage, the historical Village has been recognized appropriate for being registered in list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. However, continuation of hotel construction in Abyaneh has put the status of this historical Village at risk. The recent decision of an investor to erect a hotel in the eastern part of this historic Village has raised the concern of cultural heritage enthusiasts and residents of Abyaneh.