When the Arabs invaded Persia in the 7th century, some followers of the Zoroastrian religion fled to the surrounding mountains and deserts to escape forced conversion to Islam. In a long and narrow valley in the Karkas Mountains, north of Isfahan, the Zoroastrians is believed to have founded a string of villages. Abyaneh is one of the last surviving village of the valley.
Abyaneh is located at the foot of Karkas Mountain, 70 kilometers southeast of Kashan in Isfahan province, in Iran. The ancient village is a muddle of narrow and sloped lanes, and crumbling mud-brick houses with lattice windows and fragile wooden balconies that cling to the slope. The terrain around Abyaneh contains iron oxides which give it a reddish colour, and because the houses are built with mud bricks they have the same colour as the rock above the village.
The village faces east across a picturesque valley to maximise the sun it receives and minimise the effects of gales that blow in winter. The winters are freezing, but summers are refreshingly cool. It’s during the summer months that Abyaneh is most lively, filled with tourists and residents returning after winter from different Iranian cities specially Kashan and Tehran where they have migrated to work. In recent years, Abyaneh’s permanent population has dwindled to less than 250 individuals, consisting of mostly old people.
The village’s remote location and isolation have, however, helped preserve the culture and tradition of its founders. Many elderly residents speak Middle Persian, an earlier incarnation of Farsi that largely disappeared some centuries ago. The local clothing is another example of great antiquity. The women's traditional costume typically consists of a white long scarf with colourful floral design, which completely covers their hair and shoulders. They also wear colourful dresses, along with a special pair of pants. In winter, a velvet vest is added to this outfit.
Abyaneh’s most impressive building is the 11th-century Jameh Mosque, with its walnut-wood mihrab and ancient carvings. In addition to the mosque, there are some other places which are worth a visit including the Zoroastrian fire-temple dating back to the Sassanid period, three castles, a pilgrimage site and two other mosques.
If you liked these pictures, you will also like these stories
Subscribe to our Newsletter and get articles like this delieverd straight to your inbox