Naein, a City Beyond HistoryNaein
Naein is the capital city of Naein County of Isfahan Province in central Iran. This city is located in Dasht-e Kavir area with an arid and desert climate.
Naein is a small and old town which used to be more expanded and more flourished in the past. Its oldness can be revealed by large and ancient building of Narin Ghal’eh (castle) or Narenj Ghal’eh. The Grand Mosque of Naein is historically the second standing mosque of Iran.
Naein’s people are Twelver Shi’a Muslims. Besides Farsi, most of them speak in local dialect; a dialect of Central Iranian languages remained from ancient Persian language (Pahlavi).
Naein was established in pre-Islamic era. The veracity of this claim is strengthened by particular dialect of Naein people, as well as writings of historians and ancient geographers. This dialect is still commonly spoken. The author of the book of Roads and Kingdoms knew Fars State an ancient state and the site of Achaemenid government establishment, which was divided into five provinces named “Kureh”.
In Sassanid era and after establishment of Islam, Naein was a Kureh, thus Naein is an ancient city and one of the five provinces (Kurehs) of Fars State and the capital of the Achaemenid.
Most scholars who conducted research on Naein have mentioned its flourishing and development in pre-Islamic eras. But in the preface of Naein Orators Biography, Naein was introduced as a town for caravans to rest and procure necessary stuff for the rest of their trip. Cameleers loaded also their camels in Naein. Moreover, reference to various sources shows that Naein used to be a part of administrative and service center of Yazd area in the pre-Islamic era.
With the rise of Islam and opening of Isfahan region by Muslims, Naein retained its position as before. An author, who lived in the 10th century AD, has stated Naein as a flourished and densely populated city.
With an area of about 20 km2, City of Naein, which is the capital city of Naein County, is located to the East of Isfahan Province on the way of Isfahan-Yazd road and its coordinates are 32° 52’ 00”N 53° 5’ 30”E, and height of 1,545 meter above sea level. This county is surrounded by Semnan province at north, Korasan province at east, Yazd province at south, and Ardestan and Isfahan counties at west.
Naein is a desert city and is located in a flat and smooth land. Its water is provided from groundwater aquifers as gully, well, and spring. The weather of Naein is hot and dry in Khur and Biabanak County and near desert, and is mild and mountainous in the south-west such that the temperature difference between the coldest and warmest months of the year in two climatic sections is 3 degrees. The aerial distance between Naein and Tehran is 351 km.
Estakhri and Ibn Hawqal called this area “Maein.” Yaqut al-Hamawi wrote Naein as “Naen” and as a part of Isfahan Province. Abdolrahman Suyuti wrote Naein as “Naenj” and “Naen.” Seyyed Abdolhojat Bulaghi, author of Naein history, wrote: “I think the original word was “No-aein,” since the building of Narenj Ghal’eh was originally thin or No-aein Ghal’eh and the names of qanats and some districts and tombs found there as crypts imply that there was established before Islam.”
It was said that the name of Naein was derived from a marsh plant named “Nei” (straw), or those Jews deported from Jerusalem toward east built and named the city as a remembrance of their homeland. Although, Alireza Arab Afrany supposed this idea somewhat weak in his book The Bride of Desert. He quoted from Mohammad Taghi Jame Naeini that “another aspect which seems somewhat weak is that Naein is a Hebrew word meaning beauty and the name of a city in Palestine.” Mohammad Taghi Jame Naeini wrote in his book, Features of Local Naein Language that some people believe there was a city called “Hom” or “Vahom” in a few kilometers from the current location of Naein with Zoroastrian habitants and later Noah’s son “Naen” had prevailed and established a city on his name called “Naen” or “Naein.” Some Naeinian people believe that the word Naein demonstrates the city’s relation with “Nahid” or “Anahita,” the Iranian goddess of water. Given the oldness of this city, monuments remaining from Sassanid era, and similarity of Naeinian and Pahlavi dialects, this idea does not seem to be far from reality. But such titles as “City of Mosques,” “Borough of the Good,” “Mystic City,” and so on, show that Naein was indisputably an important city in different eras of history. Naein has been mentioned with various titles: “Borough of the Good,” “Mysticism House,” and “Mystic City.”
Architecture and Urban Texture
The urban texture of Naein was designed under the influence of factors such as natural environment, climate, city’s requirements, and security against invasions of aliens, and in general has a closed and introverted architecture. Main architectural space and historical monuments are located adjacent and joined together in a dense combination. The city architecture is such that housing space is located beside urban elements like Grand Mosque, Government House, Bazaar, schools, and bathrooms, without interfering its application.
Naein city’s handicrafts are famous and old, just like its history. Carpet, rug, and kilim weaving is quite common in the city. There are no machinery shops, and handicrafts like weaving kilim and aba is common at houses. Underground workshops in Naein city are also specified for weaving kilim and aba. According to the natives, these workplaces trace back to pre-Islamic times when they belonged to Jews and were acquired by Muslims after arrival of Islam and continued to work.
Naein’s handicrafts include spinning and weaving, carpet weaving, aba weaving, shawl weaving, kilim weaving, burlap weaving, barak weaving, pottery, brickwork, felting, and mat industry. The best carpet of Isfahan province belongs to Naein, which is valuable and has a significant contribution in Iran’s carpet economy.