Nayríz History and Geography

About 300 kilometers southwest of Shíráz, the provincial capital of Fárs province, is a small town named Nayríz (coordinates 29°12′N 54°19′E). According to Wikipedia.com, the original name of the town was Nayrízí. The town sits 1500 meters above the sea level and circled by a range of low mountains. The southern mountains are lush with native vegetation, endowing the town with a number of streams that provide water for its inhabitants and for its intense agriculture. The foothills of these mountains support figs and grapes, which are sustained by rainfalls. These mountains are home to various animals like tigers, cheetahs, wildcats and hyenas. The orchards and fields of the town provide bumper crops of almonds, pomegranates, grapes, figs, melons and watermelons. Unfortunately in recent years, these mountain ranges have been mined in a slapdash fashion for marble, which has left irreparable scars. Nayríz used to be on the shores of Bakhtegan Lake, which has receded a considerable distance from the edge of the town due to its steady shrinkage. There is a 200-to-300 hectare preserve called Bahram Gur near the town where the legend has it that Bahram, the Persian emperor, used to hunt. Most Nayríz residents are involved in agriculture. The history of Nayríz goes back at least 2500 years, when its craftsmen helped build Persepolis.

There are a number of historically significant mosques and shrines in and around the town. The most famous mosque is the Jumih mosque, which was built in three phases. The mihrab and minaret of the mosque were built in 973 CE. Another mosque, which is in the Chenar Sokhteh district, was built in 1838 CE when Mullá ‘Abdu'l Husayn was both judge and the leading mullá of the town. A historical caravanserai (roadside inn) and a nearby public bath are situated in the Bazaar distinct. Located between Nayríz and Estahbanat is a monument for Khajeh Ahmad Ansari who, according to the historian Chehreh Negar, was an ancestor of the creator of this site.

Unlike large Iranian cities with their multicultural and multiethnic identities (Armenian, Azeri, Kurds, Assyrian, Baluch, Talysh, Qashqa'i, Bakhtiari, etc.), the Nayrízí population has always been homogenous. The inhabitants lived peacefully until the middle of the 19th century when a large number of its inhabitants (1500) became Bábís (followers of the Báb) through the efforts of an eloquent and erudite emissary of the Báb, Aga Siyid Yahya (Vhaíd). This sudden mass conversion aroused the anger and the suspicion of the governor of Nayríz, which led to the arrest and persecution of the Bábís by the mob and government forces. When the confrontation between the Bábís and the government forces intensified, the Bábís retreated to the Khajeh fortress outside of town to defend themselves. The confrontation culminated in the death of many Bábís at the hands of government forces and a ruthless mob on June 17, 1850. The massacre of Bábís recurred two years later. This ongoing strife caused division between Bábís and non-Bábís, forcing the Bábís to live in Mahale Chenar Sokhteh and the non-Bábís in the Bazaar (business) district.

Nayríz boasts a number of Islamic scholars, artists, craftsmen and calligraphers, notably, Khajeh Ahmad Ansari, Mullá Muhammad Shafí and Mullá 'Abdu'l Husayn, perhaps because of its proximity to Shíráz, which during the 13th century was a center of arts and scholarship. Because of its towering reputation, Shíráz was known as “Dar Al–Elm” (the house of knowledge). Nayríz, because of its small size, was spared the devastation caused by invaders like the Mongols and Afghans. However, the town had its own share of plundering by local war lords who raided the town repeatedly and caused terror and intimidation.

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