Naein, famed for carpets, handicrafts
The small town of Naein, lying on the crossroads to Yazd, Isfahan and Tehran, was once famous for its carpets and handicrafts. Naein has been an important juncture on trade routes across Isfahan province since the Sassanid times. It was famous for ceramics and textiles in the past whereas these days it is primarily known for its carpets and camel-wool cloaks — most which find their way to markets in Yazd.
Naein lies at an altitude of 1,545 meters above sea level. Like much of the Iranian plateau, it has an arid desert climate, with a maximum temperature of 41°C in summer and a minimum of -9°C in winter.
According to eurasia.travel, the Persians learned how to construct aqueducts to bring water from the mountains to the plains more than 3,000 years ago. In the 1960s, this ancient system supplied over 70 percent of the water used in Iran. Naein is one of the best places in the world to view the active aqueducts.
Unique to Naein are some of the most outstanding monuments across Iran: Jame’ Mosque, one of the first four mosques built in Iran following the onset of Islam in Iran; the Pre-Islamic Narej Fortress; Pirnia House; the old bazaar; Rigareh, an aqueduct-based watermill; and a Zoorkhaneh (a place for traditional sport).
Some linguists believe the word Naein may have been derived from the name of one of the descendants of Prophet Noah, who was called ‘Naen’. Many local people speak in an ancient Pahlavi Sassanid dialect, the same dialect spoken by the Zoroastrians in Yazd today. Other linguists state that the word Naein is derived from the word ‘Nei’ (meaning ‘reed’) which grows in marshlands.
One of the earliest remaining mosques in Iran as well as a Sassanid era fort, now in ruins, called Narin Qal’eh are also among the edifices in Naein.
A local ethnology museum is located just across the small square in the city. One display contains the ‘shalvar va qamis’ (trousers and tunic) as worn by Zoroastrian women in olden times, which are comparable in quality to items in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; those tiny motifs are not printed but hand-embroidered. The best is yet to come: The rooms on the right of entry are stunning with their plaster decoration intact. The small sitting-room next door is just as beautifully decorated. There is a striking correlation between this work and designs and compositions on famous Safavid court carpets in major Western museums, and of course Persian paintings of the same date.
It is also possible to visit a private house dating back to the Safavid period in Naein. The center of the house is its rectangular courtyard, lined with trees and in which stands a water fountain. There are two floors of vaulted chambers around it, some of which (on the first floor) still bear the original painted decorations: Panels with hunting scenes; miniature-style representations of garden parties; and star-shaped medallions of phoenixes and dragons. The latter is a good example of the modifications in painting styles in Persia following the Mongol invasion and the introduction of Chinese designs. The dragon and the phoenix are ancient motifs in China where are frequently epitomized together, as they are here, with coiled bodies.
Sar Kucheh Mosque is a small building resembling a shrine since it has no courtyard, which is unusual in Iran. Its real claim to fame is the fine Kufic inscription painted along the interior walls and the base of the dome. Some of it, especially around the ‘mehrab’, has now disappeared, but it has a specifically Sunni rather than Shia emphasis; given that the Seljuks, the champions of Sunni Islam, were then in control.
Some three kilometers away in a northeasterly direction is Mohammadieh, now virtually assimilated into Naein. It is known for its wind towers, some of which ventilate small weaving shops producing camel hair and pure woolen fabrics, exported to Syria and Lebanon. The entire suburb seems to be actively involved in some form of textile manufacture.
Campers can pitch their tents in the open ground near Hosseiniyeh (building used during the rituals to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hossein (PBUH), the third Shia Imam), located close to Jame’ Mosque.
The nearby public toilets are open round-the-clock.