Meybod is a major desert city in Yazd Province, Iran with a population of about 75,000 making it the second major city in Yazd.

Geography of Meybod, still the sands

In their desert itinerary, foreign travelers who hasten to visit Yazd sometimes neglect a town less than 50 km northwest of their destination. A city that its history is juxtaposed with that of the great city of Yazd. Meybod, in Yazd province, the province of Ghanat and Ghonut, with its great cultural and historical heritage, Zoroastrian rites, and many tourist sites, offers a perfect picture of the desert life of central Iran. Located in the center of the Iranian plateau, in a dry and arid plain of 100 km, stretching from the slopes of Shirkouh to the desert of Siah-kouh, the city of Meybod, populated by nearly 70 000 inhabitants, is close to old Rey-Kerman road (a side road of the Silk Road). This city is now alongside the Tehran-Kerman railway line and the Tehran-Bandar 'Abbas highway.

History of Meybod, cradle of Mozaffarids

According to legends, it was founded by the mythical King Kiomarth, the first Iranian king. We know that at the Median times, this place was already populated and civilized. Local people consider the castle Narin de Meybod as the treasure chest of Solomon.

Historically speaking, Meybod is an expressively Sassanian city. The topography of Meybod shows that the old city is based on a cruciform plan like the Sassanid cities, with four portals opening to the four corners of the world. Another proof of this reality is the discovery of a considerable number of Sassanid coins (dating from the reign of Puran-dokht, the Sassanid empress). These coins present Meybod as one of the rare cities of the time entitled to coinage. The fire temple of the Zoroastrian village Hassan Abad of Meybod, and the considerable presence of Zoroastrians in certain territories such as the Kalantar Field, further strengthen the Sassanian identity of this city. The Zoroastrian tradition is one of the constituent elements of the culture of this region. Zoroastrian festivals are continuously organized in the Zoroastrian villages.


Narin Castle


As regards the toponymy of Meybod, some hypotheses consider this name derived from the Zoroastrian title Mobad. Others cite the name of Meybodar, one of the colonels of Yazdgerd I, the Sassanid king, as being at the origin of the etymology of Meybod. This Yazdgerd, son of Bahram (Zebra Hunter) is the one who founded the city of Yazd, named in his honor.

Invaded during the Muslim conquest by Said, son of the Othman caliph, the city of Meybod lived a long Arab domination during the Islamic era. The peak of Meybod dates back to the time of the Mozaffarid dynasty that dominated the central provinces of Iran in the fourteenth century. Amir Mobarezoddin, founder of the dynasty and former officer of the Ilkhanid army, is known in history as the one who refused to ally himself with Djanibeg, the great kaan of the Golden Horde.

Some literary critics want to find in the character of the mir Mobarezoddin the reference of the notion mohtaseb, quoted in the poems of Hafez. The Mam Mobarezoddin ibn Mozaffar is also the one who defeated Abu Eshagh Inju, Emir of Shiraz, close friend of Hafez. The poet recites a eulogy of funerals for the ex-emir, reproaching Mobarezoddin's intolerance. Yet, for the hafezologists, the most famous emir of this dynasty is the ة mir Shoja ', admired by the poet of Shiraz. The writer 'Obeyd Zakani is another literary representative of this period who lives the' Shoja '. Obeyd was also a regular at the court of Abu Eshagh Inju. The Mozaffarid dynasty, after a short sovereignty (1318-1393), will be dismantled by Tamerlane. The famous conqueror ordered the massacre at Ghomcheh of the entire Mozarid family.

Many of Meybod's historical monuments were built or renovated by the Mozaffarids. The Mozaffariyeh School in Meybod, for example, houses the tomb of its builder, the late Sharafoddin Mozaffari. We will talk further about the castle Narin, the main military headquarters of the Mozaffarids. Thus, many historical and tourist monuments recite the long history of Meybod.

The tourist attractions of Meybod

The great mosque of Meybod, the mausoleum of Khadijeh Khatoun (a respected saint, presumed descendant of the Shiite Imams), the caravanserai Shah-'Abbasi, the dovecote superbly restored, the bdgir (wind towers) open only to the north, the mills underground, the well-preserved cooler and a hundred or so traditional water tanks, usually built by men without children or male heirs, using an ash-based material and calcite to protect the quality and purity of the water . All these monuments are part of the historical sites of Meybod. But without a doubt, the greatest historical pride of Meybod is Narin Castle.



View of the city of Meybod


The origin of the maiden makes its history go back almost 3000 years. According to local legends, the prophet Solomon hid his treasures there. Dja'fari, the 14th century historian, has mentioned the name of this castle several times in his Yazd History. The Mozaffarids have made this four-story fortress their military seat by surrounding it with a large ditch still visible. This castle was conquered and demolished by Tamerlane's army. Today, Narin Castle is the subject of archaeological research but some floors are nevertheless open to visitors.

The chapar-khaneh of Meybod

Some old buildings in Meybod have almost identical replicas in neighboring towns; however, the tchapar-khaneh (the equivalent of a post house) in Meybod is a unique historical site in Iran. The current building dates back to the Qadjar period, but this tchapara-khanneh bears witness to a long history of the postal system in Iran. Herodotus and Xenophon described this advanced network as one of the achievements of the Achaemenid reign. Although this system worked, at the time, for government and security requirements and not civil, it is nonetheless evidence of the level of development achieved by the Achaemenid administration. The Arsacids, Sassanids, as well as the dynasties of the Islamic period benefited from the same postal network. The Frenchman Maxime Siroux, a former professor of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Tehran, studied the architecture of other chapar-khaneh similar to that of caravanserais.
The Cultural Heritage Organization of Yazd Province, after renovating the Chepod-khaneh of Meybod, has developed an interesting museum of the Post, including stamps, models, photos and tools telling the long history of postal country. Among these objects, those that attract the attention of the French-speaking visitor are the old boxes on which one can read the French expression of "Mailbox", reminding the strong presence of the French language in Iran qadjar.

The chapar-khaneh of Meybod



Gallery of meybodian portraits

In addition to the Mozaffarid emirs and politicians like Khatir-ol-Molk, the famous vizier of the Seljuk sultans, Meybod has been the cradle of many scholars, poets and thinkers in the intellectual history of Persia. In contemporary times, this list naturally begins with Ayatollah Abdolkarim Hateri, one of the masters of Imam Khomeini and founder of the theological school of Qom, home of the Islamic Revolution. Imam Khomeini always referred to him as "Our Sheikh". The house of Ha'eri Meybod is still preserved and visitable.

We can also mention the name of Abolfazl Rashidoddin Meybodi, the great Sufi master of the twelfth century, disciple of Khajeh Abdollah Ansari (Sheikh of Herat), and the author of Kashf-ol-Asrar wa 'Oddat-ol-Abrar (Discovery Secrets and Provision of the Righteous), one of the first Persian-speaking Exegesis of the Qur'an.

Today, the boulevard of the old district of Meybod is named after Ghazi Mir Hossein Meybodi, whose fate is at the center of a long historical-religious controversy. The orientalist Edward G. Browne describes the death of this character based on the assumption of his assassination by the Safavid king Ismail I. The English Iranian also recognizes the presence of envoys of the Ottoman caliph Bayazid II during the execution of this fanatical Sufi and victim of Safavid intolerance.


Meybod economy, harmony of tradition and modernity

Despite the harsh climate of the region, Meybod is surrounded by fields and fruit farms, mostly pomegranate orchards. In the inhabitants, the pomegranate even has a scent of sanctity. Traditionally, at the funeral of their relatives, the inhabitants have the custom of putting under the arm of the deceased a branch of grenadier, tree paradise and to bury it with him. Agricultural irrigation at Meybod is done by qanats that originate in the Shir-Kouh mountain south of the city. Some underground mills, located on the path of these qanats, provide the villages with flour. In addition to its considerable agriculture, Meybod also owns and matures poultry. This city is also the second producer of quail in the Middle East. Indeed, meat has long been an element of the gastronomy of the region and Meybodians have more than ten kinds of ab-gousht (literally "water-meat", typical Iranian dish) served with traditional breads. Beryuni, a special kabab made with a specific piece of sacrificed goat meat or ram, is distributed on April 15 of each year, during the annual Pilgrimage to the Pir-e Herisht Mausoleum.
The city of Meybod also has an industrial economy. It is considered today as the center of the industrial production of pottery, tilery and ceramics in Iran. It owes this reputation to a long heritage of traditional pottery; the former small workshops having become mostly large international manufactures. This marriage of modern industry and traditional craftsmanship is a successful model of modern day adaptation of Iranian classical craftsmanship.

Meybod, the city of potters

The Meybod pottery and earthenware museum, inaugurated a few years ago in an old water reservoir in the city, sketches for the foreign visitor a chronological expression of meybodian pottery. For some millennia, simple pottery towers have been turning around and returning to Meybod's tiny workshops. The potters-masters, very proud of their activity, formerly formed a distinguished hierarchy in the society of Meybod. Their work met the many needs of the inhabitants: besides the objects and containers of daily life, their products were used in building construction and in irrigation systems. Although for foreign researchers, the pottery of other regions of Iran, including Laledjin, is much more famous than that of Meybod, this city located at the crossroads of the Silk Road became so enriched as a result of these contacts that it is possible to note in his styles of pottery aesthetic traces of all Asia - from China to Arabia. In addition, the Meybod quality clay, the silica of its mountains and the natural dyes of the region presented ideal raw materials for the potter's work. The local language uses two essential terms for the products: kevareh for clay-based potteries and nani (Nani) for earthenware made of silica (white earth).


Meybod, the city of potters


In addition to mastering the technique, the pottery Meybod also flatters its significant and mysterious patterns. In 1971, at the Munich International Film Festival, Meybod's art of pottery was applauded and the city's pottery and ceramics won the gold medal of the competition thanks to its singular motifs. Many art researchers are interested in these mysterious and richly expressive patterns. Micheline Centlivres-Demont, in a thesis entitled "A pottery community in Iran; the center of Meybod, supported at the Neuchatel University in Switzerland, offers a perfect interpretation of these motifs. Here is an excerpt from this multidimensional thesis: "Nature, a source of inspiration for Persian art [...] The bird, a motif well known in Iranian art, has a symbolic value that goes back to pre-Islamic times, [...] it has a talisman value and is supposed to protect the house. [...] Finally remember the symbolism of the fish, lucky charm and symbol of life, placed symmetrically opposite the aerial realm of the bird, at the bottom of the water, source of life and abundance. Patterns such as the sun-lady (khorshid khanom), fish and bird are ubiquitous in the aesthetics of meybodian pottery. The sun, symbol of the desert, is a sublime being since the Mithraist era, and the sun-lady is a very well-known version especially in the art qadjar; figure that refers to the ideal woman of the qadjair period. The fish represents a desert dream: water, strategic stake of the current geopolitics and the Iranian history. The potter of the desert, by his art, perhaps envisages to realize his dreams, his desires in the land of mirages. In fact, at Meybod, the potters decipher the mysteries of the desert, the country of strangers; the only space where men and jinns, angels and demons obey the same god, the Lord of the Sahara.