FASĀ i. Geography and History



i. Geography and History 

The sub-province (šahrestān) of Fasā, with an area of ca. 3,820 km2, is bounded to the north by the šahrestāns of Eṣṭahbān/Estahbān (q.v.) and Shiraz, to the east by Eṣṭahbān and Dārāb (q.v.), to the south by Dārāb and Jahrom (q.v.), and to the west by Jahrom and Shiraz. It comprises three šahrs (towns or cities): Fasā, Šešdeh and Zāhedšahr; five baḵšes (districts): Šešdeh, Qarabolāḡ, Šībkūh, Nowbandagān, and the markazī (central) baḵš; and eight dehestāns (subdistricts; Wezārat-e kešvar, p. 13; Markaz-e āmār, Naqša-ye . . . Fārs).

Only about two-fifths of the area consist of flatlands. The highlands include the mountains of Ḵarmā/an (highest point: 3,185 m above sea level) in the north, Pānaʿl (2,790 m), Gač, and Dehū in the west, and Naṣīrābād (2,066 m) in the southwest (Edāra-ye joḡrāfiāʾī, fasc. 112, s.v. “Fasā”). The greater part of the indigenous population is engaged in farming and animal husbandry. Farming and drinking water is supplied by qanāts (underground channels; formerly also called kārīz), deep wells, and a few natural springs. The main agricultural products are wheat (processed in several local flour-mills), barley, cotton, and sugar beet (mostly used in a local sugar factory). Local industry includes carpet- and gelīm-weaving (Jehād-e sāzandagī, s.v. “Fasā”). Plants native to the region which have uses in medicine, industry, etc., include the bādām-e kūhī (mountain almond, Amygdalus scoparia; see BĀDĀM); bana (Persian turpentine tree, Pistacia acuminata); anjīr-e kūhī (mountain fig, Ficus carica spp.; see FIG); golābī-e waḥšī (wild pear, Pyrus glabra [?]); dermana (wormwood; semen contra); opopanax; and asafetida. Local wild fauna include boz-e kūhī (Persian ibex, Capra aegagrus; see BOZ), bears, wild boars, leopards, jackals, wolves, and hyenas (Sāzmān-e joḡrāfiāʾī). Gypsum and lime are mined at several places (Wezārat-e maʿāden, pp. 73, etc.).

Fasā, the šahrestān’s capital, is situated 1,382 m above sea level at lat. 28° 56ˈ N and long. 53° 39ˈ E, about 171 km southeast of Shiraz (administrative center of the ostān) and to the northwest of Mt. Ḵommār (1,494 m; Markaz-e āmār, 1993a, p. 41; Sāzmān-e hawā-šenāsī, p. 75; Wezārat-e rāh, pp. 153-54; Edāra-ye joḡrāfiā’ī).

The earlier name of the town and district, Pasā, before being supplanted by the arabicized form Fasā after the Muslim conquest, was still used in some geographical works in the Islamic period, e.g., in Ebn al-Balḵī (p. 115) and in the Ḥodūd al-ʿālam (tr. Minorsky, 2nd ed., pp. 65, 128, 129; with the ms. variant Basā in Sotūda’s edition, pp. 134, etc.). The nesba to Fasā, now Fasāʾī, was Fasawī (see Samʿānī, ed. Yamānī, s.v. “Fasawī”). Samʿānī (ed. Yamānī, II, p. 218) has also mentioned the adjective basāsīrī which, according to him, “was the nesba of a Turk, Abu’l-Ḥāreṯ Arslān Basāsīrī, chief of the Turkish [mercenaries] in Baghdad under the caliph al-Qā’em be Amr-Allāh, who later rebelled against the caliph. . . The people of Fārs say and write basāsīrī as the nesba to the town of Fasā.” Yāqūt (Boldān III, pp. 891-92) reports that “the original meaning of Fasā. . ., which the ʿAjam [Persians] themselves call Basā, . . . is ‘the north wind’”; then he quotes the following interesting point from the partly preserved Mowāzana bayna’l-ʿArab wa’l-ʿAjam by Ḥamza Eṣfahānī (q.v.): “The nesba to Fasā. . . is basāsīrī; [the natives] do not say ‘fasāʾī.’ In their parlance, basāsīr is like [such words as] garm-sīr [“warm region”] and sard-sīr [“cold region”]. Similarly, the nesba to Kasnā [?], a place near Nāʾīn, is kasnāsīrī.”

According to popular traditions, the town of Fasā owed its name to Pasā, a son of Fārs b. Ṭahmūraṯ (or Tahmūraṯ) to whom his father had granted this town (Ebn al-Faqīh, pp. 195-96). Its foundation was attributed to Bahman (q.v.), son and successor of Esfandīār (q.v.) and father of Dārāb (q.v.; Ebn al-Balḵī, pp. 54, 130). But Ḥamd-Allāh Mostawfī (Nozhat al-qolūb, ed. Le Strange, p. 125) has the following legend about Fasā’s development: “Originally built by Fasā b. Ṭahmūraṯ Dīvband, it [gradually] fell into ruin. The Kayanid Goštāsb b. Lohrāsb undertook its reconstruction, which was completed by his grandson Bahrām b. Esfandīār, who renamed it ‘Sāsān’ [sic]. At first, it was triangular in shape, but in the time of [the Omayyad governor] Ḥajjāj b. Yūsof Ṯaqafī, his agent (ʿāmel), Āzād-mard, following his orders, changed its shape and reconstructed it.”

Apart from these myths, archeological as well as historical linguistic evidence indicates that the antiquity of Fasā goes back at least to the Achaemenid period, when Fasā was an important settlement site with fortifications (Hansman, pp. 299, 302-3, 307) or, in Harold Bailey’s interpretation (p. 311), the southern stronghold of Persia in that period. According to George Cameron (quoted by Bailey, p. 310), the origins of Fasā probably antedate the Achaemenid period Moreover, Aurel Stein, during his archeological explorations in Fārs (November 1933 to May 1934), found prehistoric mounds (mostly belonging to the Eneolithic period) at numerous places in the area of Fasā including, for instance, the Tall-e Sīāh (Stein, p. 153; Vanden Berghe, p. 46; tr., p. 47). The nearby mound of Tall-e Żaḥḥāk (see below) is surrounded by abundant archeological remains and contains archeological strata indicating human settlement in that area in different periods (Hansman, pp. 295, 297).

The Islamic period. Towards the end of ʿOmar’s caliphate, in 23/644, the Arab general ʿOṯmān b. Abi’l-ʿĀṣ took Dārābgerd (q.v.) and Fasā peacefully because the hērbadò (Zoroastrian religious leader; see HĒRBAD) of these two towns reached a compromise with him by offering him some māl (money, goods; Balāḏorī, Fotūhá, p. 388). Ebn al-Balḵī has specified the terms of that compromise: “[The hērbaḏ of the kūra of Dārābgerd] was a wise and astute man. [When ʿOṯmān’s troops were advancing,] he went out to meet and welcome him, and prevented strife and fights by pledging that the community of the kūra would offer two million dirhams to the Muslims’ bayt al-māl [fisc] in exchange for ʿOṯmān’s amān [immunity from being punished or killed] to them, and that the community would further pay an annual jezya [poll tax or tribute on free non-Muslims under Muslim rule]. After this agreement, ʿOṯmān took the money, and the Arabs went back” (p. 115). But again, under the caliph ʿOṯmān, in 29/650 another Arab general, ʿAbd-Allāh b. ʿĀmer, after he was appointed governor of Baṣra, again dispatched troops to Fārs to conquer Sābūr, Dārābgerd, Fasā, and Eṣṭaḵr (Yaʿqūbī, Taʾrīkò II, p. 192).

According to Eṣṭaḵrī (d. 340/951), Fasā was the largest town of the kūra of Dārābgerd, almost as large as Shiraz (then the capital of Fārs), with buildings more spacious than those of the latter, and wide thoroughfares. The buildings were made of mud; the wood mostly used in these was cypress wood. It had a citadel, a moat, and a rabaż (business or market quarter outside the town walls). Its weather was more salubrious than that of Shiraz. Both cold and warm region fruits were produced in the district. The people of Fasā, like those of Kāzerūn, were engaged in overland trade, had thus acquired great wealth, and enjoyed comfort and a life of affluence. The predominant religion in Fasā (as in Shiraz and Eṣṭaḵr) was Sunnism “according to the maḏāheb of the people of Baghdad” (pp. 97, 127, 139). Already in 372/982 the author of the Ḥodūd al-ʿālam (ed. Sotūda, p. 134; tr. Minorsky, p. 128) had referred to the economic prosperity of Fasā: “Pasā, a large and flourishing towņis a resort of merchants and has abundant merchandise.” Fortunately, Eṣṭaḵrī (p. 442) has itemized the local trade goods that had secured its commercial prosperity: “silk cloths, good delicate costumes, besāṭs [tablecloths; qālīs], fūṭas [napkins; towels], wašy [multicolored silk cloths, sometimes brocaded], precious setrs [curtains; bed sheets], excellent carpets, tablecloths, ḵargāhs [tents worthy of kings], mandīls [handkerchiefs; turban-like headgear], safflower, etc.” In 375/985, Moqaddasī (p. 431) noted that Fasā’s natives were “the most righteous, pleasant, and liberal people of Fārs;” that Fasā had a sūq (bazaar street; market) all of wood and a (Friday) mosque larger than that of Shiraz, made of bricks, with two courtyards connected by a roofed passage, designed like those of Baghdad’s Friday Mosque.

Fasā sustained a heavy blow in 379/989-90; following the death of Šaraf-al-Dawla Šīrzīl, the Deylamite overlord of Iraq, during the bloody conflicts in Fārs between his Turkish mercenaries, who constituted the strongest military force in Iraq, and the Deylamite soldiers and mercenaries supporting and guarding his brother and rival Ṣamṣām-al-Dawla Abū Kālījār (see BUYIDS), Abū ʿAlī, the former’s son, with a multitude of Turks took and pillaged Fasā, then one of Abū Kālījār’s headquarters, and killed all the Deylamites there; then they returned to Shiraz and Arrajān to confront Ṣamṣam-al-Dawla (Ebn al-Aṯīr [Beirut], IX, pp. 62-63). In 442/1050 Alp Arslān (q.v.), on his own initiative “and without anybody’s knowledge,” decided to raid and pilfer the wealthy town of Fasā, still part of the Buyid dominion. He and his military party secretly reached Fasā through the desert, “entered the town, killed a thousand Deylamites and a large number of the common people, plundered a million dinars’ worth [of valuables], took three thousand people captive… and then returned to [Marv in] Khorasan” (Ebn al-Aṯīr [Beirut], IX, pp. 564-65). By the first decade of the 6th/12th century, Ebn al-Balḵī wrote that “although Pasā is as large as Isfahaņ, it is in complete disarray, and the largest part thereof in ruiņ Šabānkāra [tribesmen] had destroyed it; the atābeg Čāvlī had it rebuilt” (p. 130; see also Nozhat al-qolūb, ed. Le Strange, p. 125).

Probably on account of its gradual decline, Fasā is seldom mentioned in later chronicles. An event that might have had serious socio-economic and cultural consequences for Fasā is reported many centuries later by Nāmī Eṣfahānī (d. 1204/1789-90; pp. 120-21), chronicler of Karīm Khan (q.v.), founder of the Zand dynasty. Because of the Baḵtīārī tribe’s wrongdoings and unruliness, in 1176/1762-63 Karīm Khan, having decided to punish them, sent separate detachments from Isfahan to raid Baḵtīārī territory to dislodge the Baḵtīāris from their mountain fastnesses and hideaways, and to confiscate their properties. The members of the two branches of the Baḵtīārī tribe, the Haft Lang and the Čahār Lang (see BAḴTĪĀRĪ TRIBE i), when subdued, were forced to migrate to and settle down in the districts of Qom and Fasā respectively. As a gesture of goodwill, Karīm Khan ordered agricultural lands to be provided to the immigrants for farming, and he enrolled in his army the younger or skillful tribesmen. In his Bostān al-sīāḥa (q.v.), Zayn-al-ʿĀbedīn Šīrvānī (1194-1253/1780-1837) has the following remarks remarks about Fasā (p. 387): “It is a pleasant townlet … Most of its inhabitants are tājīk…; all of them are Shiʿite and not devoid of mardomī (civility) …Now it includes nearly two thousand houses, and its countryside nearly thirty hamlets and cultivated fields.”

A number of notable men were natives of Fasā. In the Sasanian period, according to Ṭabarī (II, p. 893), “a dissembler native of Fasā, named Zarāḏošt-e Ḵorrakān, had originated a heresy in the Zoroastrian religion, and a group of people had embraced his doctrine; this heresy was suppressed by Ḵosrow Anōšīravān [r. 531-74 C.E.] after his dominion was firmly established.” From the Islamic period, Yāqūt has mentioned three notables from Fasā: the famous Muʿtazilite grammarian and litterateur, Abū ʿAlī Fāresī Fasawī (q.v.; 900-987/288-377; the only well-known learned man from Fasā mentioned by Ebn Ḥawqal, p. 267); Abū Yūsof Yaʿqūb b. Sofyān Fasawī (d. 277/890-91), a traditionist “who traveled eastwards and westwards to collect aḥādīṯ, and from whom the grammarian Ebn Dorostawayh [q.v.] has transmitted some traditions;” and Abū Sofyān b. Abī Moʿāwīa Fāresī Fasawī, who traveled to Damascus several times to gather Hadiths, and from whom numerous ʿolamāʾ have related traditions (Wūstenfeld, ed., III, pp. 891-92). Some other eminent scholars of Fasā are the aforementioned Ebn Dorostawayh (258-347/871-958), the Šayḵ-e Šaṭṭāḥ Rūzbehān Baqlī (522-606/1157-1209), and, in more recent times, Mirzā Ḥasan Šīrāzī known as Fasā’ī (1237-1316 /1821-98), author of the Fārs-nāma-ye nāṣerī (q.v.).

No monuments of architectural or historical significance survive that attest to Fasā’s size and importance in early Islamic times. Two extant shrines are documented by Sayyed Moḥammad-Taqī Moṣṭafawī (pp. 430-31), that of Emāmzˊada Moḥammad and that of Emāmzˊada Ḥasan (see EMĀMZĀDA). While their foundations may be old, both buildings appear to be constructions of the nineteenth, if not the early twentieth, century. The former (Moṣṭafawī, fig. 267) is distinguished by an imposing conical dome, set on a high drum; the latter (Moṣṭafawī, fig. 268) by an entrance portico supported by two columns with moqarnas-decorated capitals.

Several kilometers southeast of Fasā is the mausoleum of Sayyed-al-Dīn, with a turquoise-tiled dome; it dates to at least the Safavid period but has undergone subsequent restorations and repairs (Moṣṭafawī, p. 497).


Bibliography (for cited works not given in detail, see “Short References”):

H. W. Bailey, “Nasā and Fasā,” in Monumentum H. S. Nyberg III, Acta Iranica 6, Leiden, 1975, pp. 309-12.

Edāra-ye joḡrāfiāʾī-e arteš-e…Īrān, Naqša-ye ʿamalīyāt-e moštarak (zamīnī): Jahrom [map], repr. Tehran, 1360 Š./1981.

B. Finster, Frühe iranische Moscheen, Berlin, 1994, pp. 16-17, 27-28, 270.

J. Hansman, “An Achaemenian Stronghold,” in Monumentum H.S. Nyberg III, Acta Iranica 6, Tehran and Liège, 1975, pp. 289-309.

Jehād-e sāzandagī, Farhang-e eqteṣādī-e dehāt o mazāreʿ: ostān-e Fārs II, Tehran, 1363 Š./1984.

Markaz-e āmār-e Irān, Āmārgīrī-e jārī-e jamʿīyat, 1370. Natāyej-e ʿomūmī: koll-e kešvar, Tehran, 1372 Š./1993a.

Idem, Āmārgīrī-e jārī-e jamʿīyat, 1370. Natāyej-e ʿomūmī: ostān-e Fārs, Tehran, 1372 Š./1993b.

Idem, Naqša-ye taqsīmāt-e kešvarī-e sāl-e 1370: ostān-e Fārs [map], Tehran, n.d. M.-T. Moṣṭafawī, Eqlīm-e Pārs, Tehran, 1343 Š./1964.

Moḥammad-Ṣādeq Nāmī Eṣfahānī, Tārīḵ-e gītīgošā, Tehran, 2nd ed., 1363 Š./1984.

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Sāzmān-e joḡrāfīāʾī-e nīrūhā-ye mosallaḥ-e…Īrān, Farhang-e joḡrāfīāʾī-e ābādīhā-ye…Īrān, fasc. 112, Tehran, 1369 Š./1980.

Zayn-al-ʿĀbedīn b. Eskandar Šīrvānī, Bostān al-sīāḥa, Tehran, 1315; repr., Tehran, n.d.. Schwarz, Iran II, pp. 97-100.

A. Stein, “An Archaeological Tour in the Ancient Persis,” Iraq 3, 1936, pp. 111-225.

L. Vanden Berghe, Archéologie de l’Iran ancien, Leiden, 1959; tr. ʿĪ. Behnām, Bāstān-šenāsi-e Īrān-e bāstān, Tehran, 1345 Š./1966.

Wezārat-e kešvar, Taqsīmāt-e kešvar-e…Īrān, Tehran, 1373 Š./1994.

Wezārat-e maʿāden o felezzāt, Fehrest-e maʿāden-e kešvar, Tehran, 1363 Š./1984.

Wezārat-e rāh o tarābarī, Daftarča-ye masāfāt o rāhhā-ye kešvar, Tehran, 1362 Š./1983.


Originally Published: December 15, 1999

Last Updated: January 24, 2012

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Vol. IX, Fasc. 4, pp. 386-389