ĀVA, the basic modern form (and the older spoken form) of the name of two small towns of northern Persia, normally written Āba in medieval Islamic sources. The geographers of that time had difficulty in distinguishing the two places, but usually designate them by the names “Aba of Hamadān” (Maqdesī, pp. 25, 51, “Āba of Qazvīn”) and “Aba of Sāva.”
1. Āba (now Āvaj) of Hamadān. This, the more northerly of the two, lies on the Qazvīn-Hamadān road approximately halfway between the two, 49° l5’ east longitude and 35° 35’ north latitude, on a high plateau, and was considered as belonging to the sardsīr or cold regions. Ḥamdallāh Mostawfī reckons it as belonging to the district of “the two Ḵarraqāns,” dependent administratively on Hamadān and comprising forty villages, of which Āba was one of the chief (Nozhat al-qolūb, p. 73, tr. p. 76). The present town, now known as Āvaj, had 1,800 inhabitants, Persian- and Turkish-speaking, in 1950.
2. Āba of Sāva (with which town Āba of Hamadān was usually linked). This seems to have been the more important of the two in medieval times. The town lies in 50° 20’ east longitude and 34° 45’ north latitude, on the Zarrīn-rūd (or Qara-sū, former Garmāsa-rūd or Garmās-āb), which rises in the Alvand district of Hamadān and flows down to the plain of Āba and Sāva; there it was, in Saljuq times, dammed and the waters stored used for irrigation in the summer (Nozhat al-qolūb, p. 221, tr. pp. 212-13). The Ḥodūd al-ʿālam (tr. Minorsky, p. 133, sec. 31.22) describes Sāva and Āva as two flourishing towns on the pilgrimage route from Khorasan; Yāqūt (pp. 57-58) mentions that the people of Āba were ardent Shiʿites and frequently at odds with their Sunnite neighbors in Sāva. It was from Āba that two celebrated statesmen of the 5th/11th century sprang, both with the nesba al-Ābī: Abū Saʿd Manṣūr b. Ḥosayn, protégé of the Ṣāḥeb Esmāʿīl b. ʿAbbād (vizier to the last Buyid amir of Ray and Jebāl, Majd-al-dawla Rostam) and author of an adab work, the Ketāb naṯr al-dorar (extant) and a lost Taʾrīḵ al-Rayy. He died in 421/1030 (Brockelmann, GAL2 I, pp. 429-30; Sezgin, GAS II, p. 646). 2. His brother, Abū Manṣūr Moḥammad was vizier to “the king of Ṭabarestān” (one of the Ziyarids?). In the early 6th/12th century, the governor of Āba and Sāva on behalf of the Great Saljuqs was the atābak Anūštigin Šīrgīr, builder of the dam on the Garmāsa-rūd (see above), and active against the Ismaʿilis of the Alborz mountains; in the later part of this century, the Shiʿite madrasas of ʿEzz-al-molk, ʿArabšāh, and others are mentioned at Āba (C. E. Bosworth and A. Bausani in Camb. Hist. Iran V, pp. 118-19, 294-95). Although attacked by the Mongols, like Sāva, Āba apparently regained its importance, for we possess a fair number of coins minted at Āba (presumably Āba of Sāva) in the post-Mongol period under the Il-khanids, Jalayerids, Mozaffarids, and Timurids (E. von Zambaur, Die Münzprägungen des Islams, zeitlich und örtlich geordnet I, Wiesbaden, 1968, p. 138; earlier, coins were minted at Āba by the Samanids briefly and more extensively by the Buyids, see von Zambaur, loc. cit.). The present small town or village of Āba had 885 inhabitants in 1950.
See also Le Strange, Lands, pp. 196, 211.
Schwarz, Iran, pp. 549-50 (Āba of Hamadān), 542-43 (Āba of Sāva).
Razmārā, Farhang I, pp. 26-27.
L. W. Adamec, ed., Historical Gazetteer of Iran I: Tehran and Northwestern Iran, Graz, 1976, p. 57 (Āba of Sāva).
Kayhān, Joḡrāfīā II, pp. 374, 398.
(C. E. Bosworth)
Originally Published: December 15, 1987
Last Updated: August 17, 2011
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Vol. III, Fasc. 1, pp. 29-30