|Sheikh-shahab tomb, Ahar, Iran|
|Coordinates: 38°28′39″N 47°04′12″E / 38.47750°N 47.07000°E / 38.47750; 47.07000Coordinates: 38°28′39″N 47°04′12″E / 38.47750°N 47.07000°E / 38.47750; 47.07000|
Ahar (Persian: اهر) is a city in and the capital of Ahar County, East Azerbaijan Province, Iran. According to the 2006 census, Ahar was the fifth most populated city of the province with a population of 85,782 in 20,844 families.Contents
In the wake of Russo-Persian War (1804–13) Ahar, with 3500 inhabitants, was the only city of Qaradağ. Around the mid 1830s the population was estimated to be from five to six thousand inhabitants in about six hundred houses. By 1956 the population had increased to 19816. At the 2006 census, its population was 85,782, in 20,844 families. Despite this population boom the city has been losing its former importance to the much smaller neighboring Kaleybar city as the later is gaining nationwide fame as a tourist destination.Appellation
In early nineteenth century, James Morier, who visited Ahar, proposed the following idea, "There appears to be in the name of Ahar a better ground for conjecture that it is Hara, one of the three cities mentioned in 1 Chronicles, v. 26., to which the Reubenites, the Gadites, and half tribe of Manasseh were carried away by Tilgath Pilneser, King of Assyria, than Tarom or Tarim, which Major Rennel has adopted in his luminous disquisition concerning the disposal of the Jewish tribes. -f The letters which exist in Hara also exist in Ahar; and a transposition of syllables or letters having nearly the same sounds, is common in the East: such as Lezgee for Legzee, Corbal for Colbar; Tilgath Pilneser, is also written Tiglath Pileser." Subsequently, other writers, for instance Edward Farr, found Morier''s conjecture plausible.History
Ahar is one of the ancient cities of Azerbaijan, its name before Islam was "meimad". In the 12th-13th centuries, Ahar was a minor and short-lived, but prosperous emirate ruled by the Pishteginid dynasty of Georgian origin (1155—1231). Yaqut al-Hamawi, writing in early thirteenth century, describes Ahar as very flourishing despite its small extent.
The city lost most of its importance during the rule of Ilkhanate. Hamdallah Mustawfi, writing in mid fourteenth century, descries Ahar as a little town. He estimates the tax revenue of the town to be comparable to that of Mardanaqom, which presently is a medium sized village.
Ahar was in the focus of Safavid dynasty''s agenda for casting of Azerbaijan as a Safavid dominion. Thus, Shah Abbas rebuilt the mausoleum of Sheikh Sheikh Shihab-al-din in Ahar.
Ahar suffered enormously during Russo-Persian War (1804–13) and Russo-Persian War (1826–28). Western travelers in 1837-1843 period had found Ahar, a city with around 700 households, in wretched condition. Their impression was that the Qajar pricess, who where dispatched as the governors of Qaradagh hastened to collect as much wealth as possible before their removal.
Ahar was one of the epicenters of Persian Constitutional Revolution due to the involvement of Arasbaran tribes in armed conflicts; the revolutionary and ati-revolutionary camps were headed, respectively, by Sattar Khan and Rahimkhan Chalabianloo, both from Qaradağ region. When in 1925 Rezā Shāh deposed Ahmad Shah Qajar and founded the Pahlavi dynasty, Ahar''s gradual decline started. The new king insisted on ethnic nationalism and cultural unitarism and implemented his policies with forced detribalization and sedentarization. He renamed Qaradağ as Arasbaran to deny the Turkic identity of the inhabitants. This policy, in particular, resulted in suppression of ethnic Azeris.
For further information on the history of Ahar and Arasbaran region one may consult the following scholarly books (all in Persian language):
Two concise English language articles are the following:
Until early 1960s Ahar was the economic hub of Arasbaran region. Arasbaran nomadic tribes bartered their produce in Ahar''s bazaar. The charcoal produced in villages adjacent to Arasbaran forests was carried by muleteers to Ahar and from there was transported to Tabriz. In addition, Ahar was a distribution center for the Arasbaran rug. The gradual settlement of nomads, widespread use of fossil fuels, changing life-styles, and establishment of new marketplaces such as Kaleybar through facilitated transportation, have diminished Ahar''s economical importance.Tourism
The main tourist site in the city is the mausoleum of Sheikh Shaabe-deen, who was the teacher of Safi-ad-din Ardabili, the founder of the family of Safavid dynasty. The monument has been described by James Morier in early nineteenth century as the following, "The mausoleum is of brick, with a foundation of stone, and faced by an elevated portico, flanked by two minors or pillars encrusted with green tiles. A little wooden door was opened for us in the back of the building, which introduced us into the spot that contained the tomb of the Sheikh, which was enclosed by a stone railing, carved into open work, and surrounded by a sculptured arabesque ornament, of very good taste. The tomb is distinguished by a marble cover, on which is an Arabic inscription in relieve.".Notable people
All notable people from Arasbaran region would have counted Ahar as their home town. Here we list some prominent figures who have spent parts of their lives in Ahar or the neighboring villages: