Abyaneh village: a forum of living ancient traditions

February 13, 2021 - 20:17

TEHRAN – Serenely situated at the foot of Mt Karkas in central Iran, the ancient village of Abyaneh is a warren of steep, twisting lanes and crumbling red mud-brick houses with lattice windows and fragile wooden balconies.

One of the oldest in the country, Abyaneh is a top tourist destination for domestic and foreign holidaymakers.

It is a testament to both the age and isolation of Abyaneh that the elderly residents speak Middle Persian, an earlier incarnation of Farsi that largely disappeared some centuries ago, and many men still dress in the traditional wide-bottomed trousers and black waistcoats. Women's clothing features hijabs that cover the shoulders and are traditionally strewn with printed or embroidered red flowers.

It is an open-air anthropology museum that showcases architecture and traditions from the Sassanid era (224–651) onwards, for instance, an ancient temple, the ruins of a fortress, a mosque with a unique altar from the Seljuk period (ca. 1040–1196) to name a few.

Its distinctive architectural facet, variety of deeply-rooted-in-time rituals, apparel of inhabitants, and rows of earthen houses dotted on the slope contribute to its charm. Here, the roofs of some houses serve as the courtyard for others higher up on the hill. And natives are deeply committed to honoring their traditions.

Even today their costume, way of life, and their ancient dialect are still practically unchanged, so that there lies ample reasons for travelers even though the anthropologists to hear for the village.

Abyaneh is best appreciated by just meandering along the lanes and chancing upon the 14th-century Imamzadeh Yahya with its conical, blue-tiled roof, or the Zeyaratgah shrine with a pool overhung by grapevines. The views from the valley looking back at the village are some of the most iconic in central Iran.

When to go

The village is at least 1500 years old and faces east across a picturesque valley. It was built this way to maximize the sun it receives and minimize the effects of howling gales in winter. If you come here in winter you’ll understand why – it’s freezing!

In summertime, however, it is refreshingly cool and Abyaneh is at its most lively, filled with residents returning from winter in Tehran and tourists haggling with colorfully clad, old women over the price of dried apples.


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