Kerman, Past and
Kerman and Makran (former
Baluchestan) are said to have been the sons of Fars, the
offspring of Sam, Noah’s son. Bastani Parizi, professor of
Persian Literature and Kermanology believes that “Kerman is a compound
word comparising of “Kar” meaning “battle” and “Man” meaning
“place” deducing that it overally means “battle front” or
“the land of warriors”. He rules out two other theories saying that
“Kerman” is a cognate of “Kariman” and “Kerm” meaning
“generous people” and “worm” respectively.
According to the second
theory, a magic worm brought good luck to Haftwad, the
powerful governor of Kerman in early Sassanid era who lived
in Arg-e-Bam castle. Ardeshir, the Sassanid King, obtains
the worm through trickery and that enables him to defeat
Another theory which
supports the idea of “worm” being the origin of “Kerman” is
based on a long-lasting industry of the region. Weavers
extracted a red color from a special worm locally known as “Ghermez-Dooneh”.
Kerman’s booming weaving and carpet industries demanded the
worms which were expensive and imported from Europe and even
Australia. The worms played a key role in the weaving
industry which exported its surplus abroad.
The origin of the story
is again rejected. This time by Jamshid Sorooshian, a
Zoroasterian Iranian researcher who relies on the Darioos
Inscriptions in Shoosh to prove that since 2400 years ago, the area has been
called Kerman. Making use of the same historical evidence,
Sorooshian stipulates that “Ker” is the abbreviated form of
“Kar” meaning “work” and “Man” is a suffix meaning “place” and that is how
the two lexemes make up the meaning of “a place of work” ie.
The historic state of
Karmania southwest of the Loot Desert, encompassed the 5
regions of Kerman, Sirjan, Jiroft, Bam and Narmashir
expanding southward to the Persian Gulf coast where Hurmoz lay as its major
port city. Time and again the rulers of Karmania expanded
their territory to include the Sea of Oman and the other
coast of the Persian Gulf. Karmania was a crossroads of Fars and Khorasan states.
Geological studies show that in the long past the desert
part of the area had been much smaller than now and Jiroft
was circled by a thick forest.
Today’s Kerman is
referred to as Butia on the Bistoon Inscription and its
rulers were called “Shah” or king in the Sassanide era. The
state hosted a group of migrating Arabs before the emergence
of Islam. The state capital at the time of the Sassanides
was Shirgan Shahr or Sirjan.
The last Sassanide
emperor, Yazdgerd III fleeing the Arab’s assaults, sought
shelter in Kerman. In the wake of the Arab army’s advance on
the city, thousands of its residents retreated to the
mountains or the states of Sistan in the east and Khorasan
in the north in order to maintain their Zoroasterian
The mountain dwellers
remained independent for almost 3 centuries. Being far from
the center of the Caliphate, Kerman became the hub of a
group of rebels called Khavarij.The Ommayide Caliphate
increased its control over the city in 720 A.D.. Kerman
witnessed no major event throughout the
Abbassides. It then turned into a cradle of Iranian
movements, the Saffarides in particular.
The founder of the
Saffaride dynasty, Yaqub layth took over Kerman in 864 A.D.
It changed hands to the Samanides in 924 A.D.. Less than
half a century later, Ale Booyeh kings ruled the city and in
1040 A.D. it witnessed the domination of the Ghaznavids and
then the Seljuks, a period of relative calm. Kerman in 1202
A.D. surrendered to Malek Dinar Ghoz who handed it over to
Gordan Shabankareh in 1204 A.D. 7 years later, the city’s
governor gave alleigence the central government of
Kharazmshahian. Kerman survived the
Mongols’ attacks. In 1220 A.D.
In 1338 A.D Amir
Mobarez-ul-din Mozzaffari became the governor and
hispredecessors ruled the city until Timur captured the
state capital in 1391 A.D. After the Timurides, the Turkish
tribes of Qara-Quyunlu and Aq-Quyunlu seized Kerman. 1500
A.D. was a turning point in the city’s history.
That is when the Safavide
King Esmael took over Kerman and spread Shi’ism there.
Kerman lived in peace and tranquility for over a century
before Mahmood the Afghan raided the city. The Afsharide
King Nader restored calm to the war-torn state which was
again shatterred by war after Nader’s death. The broad-based
government of Karimkhan, the founder of the Zand dynasty was
a breath of life to the looted city. But it was not the end.
Kerman was hardest hit in the losing battle of the last Zand king
against Aqa Mohammadkhan Qajar.
According to history,
after forcing the castle of Kerman’s gate open and
unscrupulously taking the life of Lotfali-Khan, the Qajar
commander took 20,000 women and children as captive. 35
thousand men were blinded.A revolt by Aqakhan Mahallati in
1839 A.D. ended in failure. Kerman played an effective role
in the Movement of Constitutionalism but was given no share
in the government. The history of Kerman speaks of hundreds
of disastrous events such as that of Aqa Mohammad Khan.
Assailants always looted Kerman in revenge for crossing the
hot deserts which made it far-fetched. The tragedy goes back
in time to Alexander who levelled the city to ground enroute India.
Constitutionalism Movement, Kerman was ignored by the
Despite all this, the
province raised great men such as Shah Nematollah Vali and
Khaju, who highlighted their homeland’s name in the Iranian
Yesterday’s Kerman has a
lot to say about a hard past. But today’s Kerman tells a
The province is an
industrial and economic hub of the country. Its pistachio
brings Iran the largest revenues after oil and the quality
of its date products has won a gloal reputation.
Kerman’s coal mines
provide the energy needed for the country’s power-plants and
industrial units and the Iranian industry (including the
auto factories in Kerman itself) cannot do without its steel
and copper products a single day. In the agriculture sector,
Jiroft and Bam meet the domestic demands of citrus fruits.
And last but not least, Kerman’s hand-woven carpet is an
evidence of the province’s artistic heritage. Kerman
deserves a bright future in the wake of centuries of effort
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