ĀRĀN, a small town about 10 km north of Kāšān. In 1354 Š./1975, Ārān was amalgamated with nearby Bīdgol to form a town with municipal status under the name of Golārā; the ordinance was apparently revoked after the revolution of 1357 Š./1979 and the old names reinstated. Both Ārān and Bīdgol are counted among the villages of the hot zone (garmsīr) of Kāšān. They lie 930 m above sea level on the edge of the central salt desert (Dašt-e Kavīr), south of the Masīla salt lake, and are flanked on the east and north by a barrier of shifting sand dunes (band-e rīg). Ārān was the name of the chief place of the ḵorra (sub-district) of the Kavīrāt of Kāšān (Dehḵodā, s.v. Ārān). In the 4th/10th century Ārān belonged to the ṭasūǰ (tax district) of Qāsān (Kāšān) and was one of the villages liable for payment of ḵarāǰ (Ḥasan b. Moḥammad Qomī, Tārīḵ-e Qom, ed. J. Ṭehrānī, Tehran, 1313 Š./1934, pp. 114, 138). In 703/1304 towards the end of the reign of the Il-khan Ḡāzān, the revenues of Bīdgol and two other villages were assigned as waqf (endowment) for the Kāšān Dār al-Sīāda (which served residents of the city claiming descent from ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭāleb; the text of the waqf-nāma in ʿAbd-al-Raḥīm Kalāntar Żarrābī, Tārīḵ-e Kāšān, ed. Ī. Afšār, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1341 Š./1962, notes, pp. 473-75). In the Safavid period, Ārān and Bīdgol flourished as semi-agricultural, semi-industrial communities; Ārān appears to have been more important than Bīdgol. Chardin, who visited Ārān in the later part of the period, does not mention Bīdgol, probably because he regarded it as a quarter of Ārān; he states that there were 2,000 houses in Ārān and 1,000 silk weavers among its inhabitants (J. Chardin, Voyages du Chevalier Chardin en Perse, Paris, 1811, III, p. 4). Under the Safavids and down to the middle of the Qajar period, Ārān and Bīdgol suffered much from repeated raids by the Afghans and by Arabic- and Turkish-speaking tribes (Eskandar Beg, I, p. 532; Żarrābī, Tārīḵ-e Kāšān, pp. 210-16). Both villages appear to have declined steadily after the Safavid period. In 1893 a local chronicler ascribed the decay to “killing and raiding by Afghan troops, requisitioning ordered by Nāder, recurrent insecurity due to the passage of armies marching to or from Isfahan and Shiraz, and other calamities such as drought, high prices, plague, cholera, and lack of demand for the types of cloth woven in the village because of the popularity of imported fabrics” (W. Bīdgolī, “Čerāḡān,” FIZ 24, 1358 Š./1979, pp. 5-6).
The people of Ārān and Bīdgol derived part of their livelihood from the kavīr, through the extraction of salt (for human consumption) and alum (for fixing dyes); these were distributed in Kāšān and the district. Also important were camel-driving and camel-breeding. In the second half of the 13th/19th century, Ārān, which was irrigated by three qanāts, had forty-one farms; Bīdgol, with two qanāts, had sixteen farms (Żarrābī, Tārīḵ-e Kāšān, pp. 98, 142-43). The arable lands of both villages were rather salty and were used mainly for growing barley, wheat, and other winter crops. Two industrial staples, tobacco and silk, were also produced (Żarrābī, Tārīḵ-e Kāšān, p. 160; Bīdgolī, “Čerāḡān,” p. 5). On the whole, however, the prosperity of Ārān and Bīdgol depended on the textile industry and related activities. From the beginning of the 19th century, they shared in the growth of the Kāšān carpet industry and became important carpet-weaving centers. The general stagnation of the Iranian economy in the second half of the 13th/19th century, together with the disastrous famine of 1288/1871, brought both villages near to ruin (Ḥālāt wa kayfīyāt-e balada wa bolūkāt wa mazāreʿ-e Dār al-Moʾmenīn-e Kāšān, anonymous MS dated 1296/1879, Coll. Nāṣerī, Golestān Library, Tehran, p. 20). In 1296/1879 Ārān had 4,877 inhabitants, 512 houses, 6 mosques, 7 ḥammāms, and 70 shops, while Bīdgol had 3,695 inhabitants, 435 houses, 6 mosques, 7 ḥammāms and 60 shops (Ḥālāt wa kayfīyāt, pp. 16, 41). In 1345 Š./1966 the combined population of Ārān and Bīdgol was 23,265 (Markaz-e Āmār-e Īrān, Saršomārī-e nofūs wa maskan-e šahrestān-e Kāšān, Tehran, 1345 Š./1966, p. 4); ten years later the population of Golārā was 32,032 (idem, 1355 Š./1976).
A significant monument midway between Ārān and Bīdgol is the tomb of Helāl b. ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭāleb, which attracted many pious visitors from Kāšān and the whole district on special days such as Ḡadīr Ḵomm, Ramażān, and the ten days of ʿĀšūrā (Żarrābī, Tārīḵ-e Kāšān, pp. 431-32).
Distinguished figures from the two villages include the poet Ḥāǰǰ Solaymān Ṣabāḥī of Bīdgol (d. 1207/ 1793; see Dīvān, ed. Ḥ. P. Bayżāʾī, Tehran, 1338 Š./1959, preface), and the modern littérateur and poet Neẓām Wafā (b. 1306/1888-89) from Ārān.
Ārān possesses a Central dialect, locally called de(h)ī, akin to those of Bīdgol and the Jewish community of Kāšān. It is commonest in the Deh-e now and Zīrdeh districts of Ārān but is now gradually giving way to Persian. (See Bīdgolī for a description of these dialects.)
See also N. Pākdāman and K. Eṣfahānī, “Kāšān, Qazvīn, Hamadān dar ṣad sāl pīš,” Alefbā 1, 1361 Š./1982, pp. 63-65.
(ʿA. N. Rażawī)
Originally Published: December 15, 1986
Last Updated: August 10, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. II, Fasc. 3, p. 262