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Yazd

YAZD

Ancient Iranian city located in an oasis in the central desert region.

Yazd is the name of a province and its capital city in central Iran. The province, which extends over an area of 27,027 square miles (70,000 sq km), is largely desert, with the great salt desert known as the Kavir in the north merging into the great sand and stone desert (the Lut) of southeastern Iran. The province has lead and zinc deposits, many of which are sites of major commercial mining operations.

The city of Yazd was an important Zoroastrian religious center during the Sassanian dynasty (226642 c.e.) and has remained a stronghold of Zoroastrianism up to the present, although adherents of this faith comprise less than 10 percent of the city's population. In the early 2000s, about one-half of all Zoroastrians in Iran lived in Yazd, and the fire temples there and in some surrounding villages had become historic pilgrimage sites. Between the thirteenth and nineteenth centuries, the city was internationally renowned for its silk, cotton, and woolen textiles, but these handicrafts declined dramatically after 1850 as the volume of European manufactured textiles imported into Iran increased. By the mid-twentieth century, entrepreneurs had established modern cotton and woolen textile mills in the city, and Yazd gradually recovered its status as a regional commercial and production center. The railroad from Tehran to the Gulf of Oman port of Bandare Abbas, completed in 1995, passes through Yazd; its construction helped stimulate development in and migration to the city. Between 1976 and 1996, the population of Yazd increased more than 140 percent (an average of 7 percent per annum), from 135,925 to 326,776.

see also zoroastrianism.


Bibliography


Boyce, Mary. A Persian Stronghold of Zoroastrianism. Oxford, U.K.: Clarendon Press, 1977.

eric hooglund

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Yazd

Yazd (yäzd), city (1991 pop. 275,298), capital of Yazd prov., central Iran, in a desert region. The city is known for its elaborate silk products and remains a center for silk weaving. Grain, fruit, vegetables, and nuts are grown, and underground water tunnels exist in the city. Yazd is at the junction of several roads and former caravan routes and is served by a railroad. An old city, Yazd was an important Zoroastrian center in Sassanid times. It was conquered by the Arabs in 642, and in the 13th cent., when Marco Polo visited Yazd, it was a large, flourishing city. Shah Ismail annexed it to Persia in the 16th cent. Yazd is a picturesque city, with narrow, winding streets and several medieval mosques, religious schools, and tombs. Its Zoroastrian community, the largest in Iran, erected a modern fire temple in 1942. The city is also known as Yezd.

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