Tabriz pronounced [tæbˈriːz] (Azerbaijani: تبریز, Təbriz, Persian: تبریز‎‎), is the most populated city in the Iranian Azerbaijan,[3] one of the historical capitals of Iran, and the present capital of East Azerbaijan Province. Located in the Quru River valley between the long ridge of the volcanic cones of the Sahand and Eynali mountains, Tabriz’ elevation range between 1,350 and 1,600 meters above sea level. The valley opens up into a plain that gently slopes down to the eastern shores of Lake Urmia, 60 kilometres (37 miles) to the west. With cold winters and temperate summers, the city is considered a summer resort.

Tabriz has a population of 1,549,453. The population consists mostly of Iranian Azerbaijanis who speak the Azerbaijani language.[4] It is a major heavy industry hub for automobile, machine tools, refineries and petrochemical, textile, and cement production industries.[5] The city is famous for its handicrafts including hand-woven rugs and jewelry. It is known for locally made confectioneries, chocolates, dried nuts, and traditional food. Tabriz is also an academic hub and a site for some of the most prestigious academic and cultural institutes in the northwest of Iran.

The city has a long and turbulent history with its oldest civilization sites dated back to 1,500 BC. It contains many historical monuments representing the transition of Iranian architecture in its long historical timelines. Most of the preserved historical sites in the city belong to Ilkhanid (of Mongol Empire), Safavid, and Qajar area,[6][7][8] among them is the grand Bazaar of Tabriz which is inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 2010.[9][10] From the early modern era, the city was pivotal in the development, movement, and economy of three neighboring regions, namely that of the Caucasus, Eastern Anatolia, and central Iran.[11] From the 19th century, it became the most important city in the country in numerous respects. As the closest Iranian hub to Europe, many aspects of the early modern modernisation in Iran started in Tabriz.[11] Prior to the forced ceding of Iran’s Caucasian territories to Imperial Russia following the two Russo-Persian Wars of the first half of the 19th century, Tabriz was the main city in the implementation of Iranian rule for its Caucasian territories due to its proximity. During almost the entire Qajar period (up to 1925), it functioned as the seat for the crown prince as well.

Etymology

According to some sources,[12] including Encyclopædia Britannica,[13] the name Tabriz derives from tap-riz, from the many thermal springs in the area. Other sources[14][15] claim that in AD 246, to avenge his brother’s death, king Khosrov I of Armenia defeated Ardashir I of the Sassanid Empire and changed the name of the city from Shahistan to Tauris, deriving from “ta-vrezh” (“this revenge” in Grabar). In AD 297, it became the capital of Tiridates III, king of Armenia.[16] However, this story has a popular origin and no ancient source has recorded such event. This is based on accounts of Vardan, the Armenian historian in 14th century.[17]

History

See also: Timeline of Tabriz, Iranian Azerbaijan, and History of the Caucasus

Early accounts

The early history of Tabriz is not well-documented. Some archaeologists suppose that the Garden of Eden was probably located in present-day location of Tabriz.[18] The earliest inscription about Tabriz, referring to the city as Tarui or Tauris, is on the Assyrian King Sargon II’s epigraph in 714 BC.[19] Tabriz has been chosen as the capital for some rulers commencing from Atropates era and his dynasty.

A recent excavation at the site of the Iron Age museum, in the north of the Blue Mosque site, uncovered a graveyard of 1st millennium BC.[20] More likely the city has been destroyed multiple times either by natural disasters or by the invading armies.

The earliest elements of the present Tabriz are claimed to be built either at the time of the early Sassanids in the 3rd or 4th century AD, or later in the 7th century.[21] The Middle Persian name of the city was T’awrēš.

From the Arab conquest to the Constitutional Revolution

16th-century schematic map of Tabriz by Matrakçı Nasuh

After the Arab conquest of Iran, the Arabic Azd tribe from Yemen resided in Tabriz. The development of post-Islamic Tabriz began as of this time. The Islamic geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi says that Tabriz was a village before Rawwad from the tribe of Azd arrive at Tabriz.[22] In 791 AD, Zubaidah, the wife of Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid, rebuilt Tabriz after a devastating earthquake and beautified the city so much as to obtain the credit for having been its founder.[6][16]

In the ramadan of 1208, Tabriz, as well as its adjacent cities and territories were conquered by the Kingdom of Georgia under Tamar the Great, as a response to the massacre of 12,000 Christians in the Georgian-controlled city of Ani on Easter day by Muslims. In nearby Ardebil, conquered by the Georgians as well, as many as 12,000 Muslims were killed.[23] The Georgians then pushed further, taking Khoy and Qazvin along the way.[24][25]

After the Mongol invasion, Tabriz came to eclipse Maragheh as the later Ilkhanid Mongol capital of Azerbaijan until it was sacked by Timur in 1392.[26]

Chosen as a capital by Abaqa Khan, fourth ruler of the Ilkhanate, for its favored location in the northwestern grasslands,[27] in 1295, his successor Ghazan Khan made it the chief administrative center of an empire stretching from Anatolia to the Oxus River and from the Caucasus to the Indian Ocean. Under his rule new walls were built around the city, and numerous public buildings, educational facilities, and caravansarais were erected to serve traders traveling on the ancient Silk Road. The Byzantine Gregory Choniades is said to have served as the city’s Orthodox bishop during this time.[citation needed]

In the 13th century many western expediters who visit Tabriz on their way to the east were amazed by the richness of the city, its magnificent buildings and its institutions.[28]

Marco Polo, who traveled thorough the Silk Road and passed Tabriz about 1275, described it as: “a great city surrounded by beautiful and pleasant gardens. It is excellently situated so the goods brought to here come from many regions. Latin merchants specially Genevis go there to buy the goods that come from foreign lands.”[29]

During the Middle Ages, a Jewish community existed in the town. In the 16th century a Jewish Yemenite traveler to the town described the deteriorating conditions of Jewish life there.[30]

From 1375 to 1468, Tabriz was the capital of Qara Qoyunlu state in Azerbaijan,[31] until defeat of Qara Qoyunlu ruler, Jahan Shah by Ag Qoyunlu warriors. Ag Qoyunlus selected Tabriz as their capital from 1469 to 1501. Some of the existing historical monuments including the Blue Mosque belong to the Qara Qoyunlu period.

In 1501, Shah Ismail I entered Tabriz and proclaimed it the capital of his Safavid state. In 1514, after the Battle of Chaldiran, Tabriz was temporarily occupied by the Ottomans. Tabriz retaken by Iranian forces and it remained the capital of Safavid Iranian empire until 1548. In that year Shah Tahmasp I transferred it to Qazvin to avoid the growing threat of Ottoman army to his capital.

Panoramic view of Tabriz sketched by Jean Chardin, 1673

Between 1585 and 1603, Tabriz was under occupation by Ottomans. Safavid king, Abbas I of Persia retake Tabriz after which the city grows as a major commerce center, conducting trade with the Ottoman Empire, Russia, and the Caucasus.[32]

In summer of 1721, a large earthquake shocked Tabriz, killing about eighty thousand of its residents. The devastation continued on 1724-1725 by a crucial invasion of the city by Ottoman army. During this round of invasion Ottmans imprisoned many and killed about two hundred thousand of Tabriz inhabitants.[33] Tabriz retaken by the Iranian army. In the years after retaking a widespread hunger combined with spread of fatal diseases killed some more of the remaining residents of the city. In 1780, a major earthquake hit near Tabriz killing over 200,000 people.[34] The tragic devastation reduced the number of inhabitants to about thirty thousand and turned the city to a mere ghost town.

At the end of the 18th century the city was divided to several districts each of which was ruled by a family, until 1799 when the Qajar Prince Abbas Mirza was appointed as the governor of the city.[35] During the Qajar dynasty the city was the residence for the Crown Prince. The crown prince normally served as governor of Azerbaijan province as well. One of the most important events in this period were the wars between Qajar Iran and neighboring Imperial Russia. Prior to the forced ceding of Iran’s Caucasian territories to Imperial Russia following the two Russo-Persian Wars of the first half of the 19th century, comprising what is now Georgia, southern Dagestan, Azerbaijan, and Armenia, Tabriz was the main city in the implementation of Iranian rule for its Caucasian territories due to its proximity. With the last series of the Russo-Persian Wars, the Russo-Persian War of 1826-1828, the city was captured by Russia in 1827 by General Prince Eristov, who marched into the city with 3,000 soldiers.[36] After Abbas Mirza and Ivan Paskevich signed the peace treaty, which granted for the irrevocable cession of the last remaining Caucasian territories, the Russian army retreated from the city however the Russian political and military influence remained a major thing in Tabriz and north-northwestern Iran up to the fall of Russian empire in the early 20th century.[36] After the retreat of the Russian army, Abbas Mirza, Qajar prince of crown, started a modernization scheme launched from Tabriz. He introduced Western-style institutions, imported industrial machinery, installed the first regular postal service, and undertook military reforms in the city. He rebuilt the remnants of Tabriz and established a modern taxation system.

Contemporary era

Thanks to the geographical closeness to the West and to communications with nearby countries’ enlightenment movements, Tabriz became the center of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution movements between 1905 and 1911, which led to the establishment of a parliament in Iran and the formation of a constitution. Sattar Khan and Bagher Khan, two Tabrizi reformists who led Tabriz people’s solidarity against absolute monarchy, had a great role in achievement to the goals of Iran’s constitutional revolution. Four months after the constitutional revolution’s success, in December 1911, the Russians started a campaign to invade Tabriz. After crushing the local resistance by invading Russian troops, they started suppressing the constitutional revolutionaries and residents of the city. Following the invasion Russian troops executed about 1200 of Tabriz residents.

From the very start of World War I, Iran declared neutrality. When the war erupted on a full scale, Tabriz and much of northwestern-northern Iran had already been de facto occupied by Russia for several years. In later years of WWI, the Ottoman troops intervened and took control of the city by defeating the Russian troops stationed there.[36] By this time, the Ottoman army led by Enver Pasha threatened the whole Russian army in the Caucasus region.[36] Russian troops recaptured the city from the Ottomans at a later stage of the war. By escalation of the revolution in Russia, the Russian armies in Iranian Azerbaijan were evacuated, and the actual power passed into the hands of the local committee of the democrat party, with Ismail Nawbari at its head.[36] Following Russia’s retreat, the Ottomans captured the city once again for a few months until the decisive end of the war, and retreated thereafter. After World War I, a new era in the county’s history began. Reza Shah, brigadier-general of the Persian Cossack Brigade, declared himself the king of the country following a coup d’état. He started with promises of modernization programs in Iran which was concentrated on the unification of the country, under the idea of one country, one nation. This included centralization of the power and imposing restrictions on the local culture, heritages, and language in Iranian Azerbaijan, and the city of Tabriz.[39] The modernization and nationalization plan of Reza Shah continued until the surge of World War II.

Tabriz Municipality Palace, built on 1934

At the final year of the World War II despite the declaration of the neutrality by the Iranian government, the country was occupied by the allied forces. The allied forces then urged Reza Shah to abdicate and installed his son Mohammad Reza as the new king of the country. The postwar situation further complicated by Soviets aid to set up a local government called Azerbaijan People’s Government in northwest Iran having Tabriz as its capital. The new Soviet-backed local government was run by Ja’far Pishevari and held power for one year starting from 1946. Pishevari’s government gave more freedom to speech and education in Azerbaijani language and promoted local cultural heritage and gained some popularity among the residents. However, after withdrawal of Soviet forces, Pishevari’s limited armed forces were crushed by the Imperial Iranian army and the Iranian government retook control of the city. One of the major establishments in the period of Pishevari’s government was opening of the University of Tabriz which played a major role in the later political movements and protests in the region.

For the next 30 years, after the collapse of Azerbaijan’s Soviet-backed government, Tabriz enjoyed a stable era until the revolution in 1979. During this period the city enjoyed a lot of investment in industries and had transformed into a heavy industries hub in the northwest of Iran. The need for a strong workforce increased the immigration from all around Azerbaijan toward Tabriz. During this era and because of the continuous policy of the government centralization in Tehran as well as changes in communication and transportation, the city lost its historical dominance in favor of being the gate for reform and modernization in the country.

Starting with 1978 and with the heat of the Iranian Revolution, Tabriz played a major role in the revolution. After revolution, the residents of the city were unsatisfied with the outcome, mainly because of the ignorance of the revolutionary government about the rights of the Azerbaijani minority[citation needed]. The other major source of dissatisfaction was the support of most of Iranian Azerbaijanis including Tabriz residents from a more liberal cleric, grand Ayatollah Shariatmadari, who was against the new constitutions content which was mixing religion and state together. The unrest in the city calmed down after brutal crush of the protesters in Tabriz and after house arrest of Shariatmadari.[42]

Aerial view of northeast Tabriz, May 2012

In the 1980s, due to the Iraq-Iran war, like the rest of the country, most of the construction and development projects in the city were stopped in order to fund the war costs. In addition to the indirect effects of the war, city’s industrial zone, specially the oil refinery was also a major target for air strikes by Iraqi’s air forces because of the closeness to the Iraqi border lines, and their strategic roles in the country’s economy. With escalation of the war the attacks turned to War of the Cities and the air attacks later turned into the random strikes on the residential areas of the city in the later phase of the war.[43]

In recent years, Tabriz is much more stable and the new developments in the city are rapidly changing the face of the city.

Capital of Iran

Tabriz was chosen as the capital by several rulers commencing from the time of Atropates. It was the capital of the Ilkhanate (Mongol) dynasty since 1265. During the Ghazan Khan era, who came into power in 1295, the city reached its highest splendour. The later realm stretched from the Amu Darya in the East to the Egypt borders in the West and from the Caucasus in the North to the Indian ocean in the South.[44] It was again the capital of Iran during the Qara Qoyunlu dynasty from 1375 to 1468 and then during the Ag Qoyunlu within 1468–1501. Finally, it was capital of the Iranian Empire in the Safavid period from 1501 until their defeat in 1555.[45]

During the Qajar dynasty, Tabriz was used as residence center of Iranian Crown Prince (1794–1925).

Excavation sites

See also: Iron Age museum

In 2002, during a construction project at the north side of the Blue Mosque (Part of Silk Road Project), an ancient graveyard was revealed. This was kept secret until a construction worker alerted the authorities. Radiocarbon analysis by Allameh Tabatabi University has shown the background of the graves to be more than 3800 years old. A museum of these excavations including the Blue Mosque was opened to public in 2006.

The other excavation site is in Abbasi Street at the site of Rab’-e Rashidi, which was the location for an academic institution since approximately 700 years ago. It was established in Ilkhanid period.

Geography

Topography

Tabriz is located in northwest of Iran in East Azerbaijan province between Eynali and Sahand mountains in a fertile area in shore of Aji River and Ghuri River. The local area is earthquake-prone and during its history, the city has been devastated and rebuilt several times.

Climate

Tabriz has a semi-arid climate with regular seasons (Köppen BSk). The annual precipitation is around 280 millimetres (11 in), a good deal of which falls as snow during the winter months and rain in spring and autumn. The city enjoys mild and fine climate in spring, dry and semi-hot in summer, humid and rainy in autumn and snowy cold in winter. The average annual temperature is 12.6 °C. Cool winds blow from east to west mostly in summer.[46] The inhabitants’ overall evaluation of climate is pretty negative; there is a popular saying that “Təbrizin alti ayii qişdir, altisi də qəmişdir!” (in Tabriz, six months of the year are winter and the other six months are a nuisance).

[hide]Climate data for Tabriz (1951–2010, extremes 1951–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 16.0
(60.8)
19.0
(66.2)
25.6
(78.1)
31.2
(88.2)
33.8
(92.8)
39.0
(102.2)
42.0
(107.6)
41.0
(105.8)
38.0
(100.4)
30.6
(87.1)
23.4
(74.1)
21.8
(71.2)
42.0
(107.6)
Average high °C (°F) 2.3
(36.1)
4.9
(40.8)
10.6
(51.1)
17.0
(62.6)
22.8
(73)
28.8
(83.8)
32.8
(91)
32.7
(90.9)
28.3
(82.9)
20.7
(69.3)
12.0
(53.6)
5.2
(41.4)
18.2
(64.8)
Daily mean °C (°F) −1.7
(28.9)
0.5
(32.9)
5.6
(42.1)
11.5
(52.7)
16.7
(62.1)
22.1
(71.8)
26.0
(78.8)
25.9
(78.6)
21.4
(70.5)
14.5
(58.1)
7.1
(44.8)
1.2
(34.2)
12.6
(54.7)
Average low °C (°F) −5.7
(21.7)
−3.9
(25)
0.6
(33.1)
6.0
(42.8)
10.7
(51.3)
15.4
(59.7)
19.3
(66.7)
19.1
(66.4)
14.5
(58.1)
8.4
(47.1)
2.1
(35.8)
−2.9
(26.8)
7.0
(44.6)
Record low °C (°F) −25.0
(−13)
−22.0
(−7.6)
−19.0
(−2.2)
−12.0
(10.4)
0.6
(33.1)
4.0
(39.2)
7.0
(44.6)
10.0
(50)
4.0
(39.2)
−4.0
(24.8)
−17.0
(1.4)
−19.5
(−3.1)
−25.0
(−13)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 22.0
(0.866)
24.2
(0.953)
40.0
(1.575)
51.6
(2.031)
41.1
(1.618)
16.4
(0.646)
5.6
(0.22)
3.3
(0.13)
7.9
(0.311)
22.5
(0.886)
27.1
(1.067)
22.1
(0.87)
283.8
(11.173)
Average rainy days 4.9 5.3 7.7 8.8 7.3 3.2 1.2 0.6 1.3 4.3 4.9 5.0 54.5
Average snowy days 9.3 7.9 4.9 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 1.8 6.2 31.4
Average relative humidity (%) 72 69 61 56 50 40 36 36 39 51 65 71 53
Mean monthly sunshine hours 125.9 146.3 179.7 200.8 268.7 334.3 352.5 337.7 301.4 231.6 180.3 136.8 2,796
Source: Iran Meteorological Organization (records),[47] (temperatures),[48] (precipitation),[49] (humidity),[50] (days with precipitation),[51][52] (sunshine)[53]

Air pollution

Due to the emergence of vehicular traffic, and modern industries such as the thermal power plant, petrochemical complex, and the oil refinery in the west of the city, air pollution levels have increased continuously since the second half of the 20th century. However, due to the efforts of local industries to comply with the new limits on pollution, as per the Environmental National Code, the level of industrial pollution has been reduced to 558,167 tons of pollutants per year. Although this is a significant improvement, air pollution remains a serious burden to overcome.[citation needed]

An immediate environmental disaster is looming on Tabriz due to the rapid shrinkage of Urmia (Urmiya) Lake. The lake has been facing a grave crisis since the late 20th century. Reduction of water depth, increasing water salinity to the saturation level, and the appearance of vast salt fields around the lake are alarming indications of gradual total desiccation of the unique ecosystem, which has occurred due to global warming and ever increasing demand for the inadequate fresh water sources in the basin. It is feared that in the foreseeable future, low-lying clouds of airborne salt and minerals can hover over large areas around the lake including Tabriz and pose serious health hazards.[54]

Governance

Further information: List of Tabriz Mayors

Authority for the city lies with the Mayor, who is elected by a municipal board. The municipal board is periodically elected by the city’s residents. The Municipal central office is located at the Tabriz Municipality Palace.

Demographics

According to official census of 2006, the population of Tabriz is about 1,800,000.[55] The majority of the city’s population are Azeri Turks, followed by Persians, Armenians and Assyrians.

Language

See also: Azerbaijani language and Old Azeri language

The predominant language spoken in Tabriz is Azeri Turkish (Azeri people call it Türkü or Türki language) which is a Turkic language mutually intelligible with modern Turkish. The language has a strong Iranian substrata since it has for many centuries been in close contact with Persian. Like every other part of Iran the lingua franca is Persian. For the first time, an academic program on Azeri Turkish language opened in Tabriz University in 1999.[56] Notable minority languages of the city include especially Armenian, and to a much lesser extent Assyrian.

Most inhabitants are familiar with Persian language, which is the official language of Iran and the sole language of education.[6]

A Page from the only manuscript of Safina-yi Tabriz. It contains a Persian and a Pahlavi poem

Before the Turkification of the area, Iranian languages were spoken in Azerbaijan.[57][58][59]

The 13th-century manuscript Safina-yi Tabriz has poems in what its Tabriz-born author has called the Tabrizi language (Zabān-e-Tabrizi). [60] Samples of the Tabrizi dialect of the wider Old Azari language include quatrains recorded in Tabrizi dialect by Abd al-Qadir Maraghi, phrases from Baba Faraji Tabrizi and poems in Tabrizi in the Safina-yi Tabriz, and poetry from Homam Tabrizi, Mama Esmat Tabrizi, Maghrebi Tabrizi and others.

Religion

After being crowned at Tabriz in 1501, Shah Isma’il Safavi determined that the Ithna Ashari branch of Shi’a Muslims should be the accepted sect in Iran, though adherents of Sunni sect (Shafi’ite interpretation) were at the time more numerous in the city. [61] At present, the majority of people are followers of Shia Islam. The city has a visible Armenian minority who follow Christianity. There used to be a small Jewish community, but most of them have moved to Tehran.[6] Tabriz is also home to a very large number of the followers of Yarsanism, a Kurdish folk religion. There is a small, embattled Baha’i community in the city where one of the founders of their faith, Ali Muhammad Bab, was executed on July 9, 1850. [62]

Culture and art

Literature

Sahand, o mountain of pure snow,
Descended from Heaven with Zoroaster
Fire in your heart, snow on your shoulders,
with storm of centuries,
And white hair of history on your chest …

Yadollah Maftun Amini (born in 1926)[63]

The proximity to Sahand, a mountain in the south of the city, has been a source of inspiration for contemporary revolutionaries and poets alike. The power of this inspiring source, however, goes to much earlier times. Tabriz was a house for numerous Iranian writers, poets, and illumination movements. In old times the city notables, supported poets and writers by organizing periodical meetings. Within its long history it was a residence for many well known Iranian writers and poets. The list can start from the old time Rumi, Qatran, Khaqani to recent years Samad Behrangi, Gholam-Hossein Sa’edi, Parvin E’tesami. The prominent Iranian Azeri poet Mohammad-Hossein Shahriar was born in Tabriz. The culture, social values, language and the music is a mixture of what exists in rest of Iran.

Tabriz also has a special place in Persian literature, as the following sample of verses from some of Iran’s best poets and authors illustrates:

ساربانا بار بگشا ز اشتران
شهر تبريز است و کوی دلبران

Oh Sārbān, have camels’ cargo unloaded,
For Tabriz is neighborhood of the beloved.
Molana

عزیزی در اقصای تبریز بود
که همواره بیدار و شبخیز بود

A beloved lived in Tabriz away from sight,
who was always alert and awake at night
Bustan of Sadi

تا به تبریزم دو چیزم حاصل است
نیم نان و آب مهران رود و بس

As long as I live in Tabriz, two things I need not worry of,
The half loaf of bread and the water of Mehranrud [river] are enough!
Khaqani

اين ارك بلند شهر تبريز است
افراشته قامتِ رسايش را

This is the tall Arg of Tabriz City,
Raised its outstanding height there!
Maftun

Music

Main article: Music of Azerbaijan

A century long autocratic nation building policies of central governments in Iran has succeeded in cultural assimilation in the favor of a government sanctioned culture.[64] As a result, Tabriz, by the turn of the 20th century had nearly become devoid of its once characteristic cultural identity. Thanks to the more liberal policies of the Khatami era (1998-2006, a cultural renaissance took place and the local music was revitalized.

The traditional Azeri music is divided into two distinct types, the music of “ashugh” and the “mugham”. Mugham, despite its similarity to Persian classic music, was not common among Iranian Azeris. In recent years, however, mugham is gaining popularity among educated middle class young generation. For instance, Nasir Atapur, from Tabriz, was the laureate of Mugam contest 2007.

The ashugh music had survived in mountainous region of Qaradağ and presently is identified as the characteristic form of music in all Azerbaijan. The ashugh music, throughout its long history, had been associated with nomadic life in mountainous regions and used to be dismissed as back-country folklore. The recent identity renaissance of Azeri speaking people has elevated the status of ashughs as the guardians of national culture.The new found unprecedented popularity and frequent concerts and performances in urban settings have resulted in rapid innovative developments aiming to enhance the urban-appealing aspects of this ashugh performances. A main factor for this developments was the opening of academic style music classes in Tabriz by master Ashugs, such as Aşiq Imran Heydəri.

Ashugs (Aşiq in Azeri language stemmed from the Arabic word for lover) were travelling bards who sang and played saz, an eight or ten string plucking instrument in the form of a long necked lute. Their roots can be traced back to at least the 7th century according to the Turkic epic Dede Korkut.[65] Naturally, the music was evolved in the course of the grand migration and ensuing feuds with the original inhabitants the acquired lands. Still, the essence of the original epics, i.e. metamorphic description of life in pastoral terms withdirect reference to mountainous landscape, persists to the present time. The characteristic aspect of the Ashugh music is its frequent allusions to a mountain with the intention of arousing an emotional state with a tone of mild melancholy in a listener. The first verses of a contemporary Ashug song, composed by Məhəmməd Araz, may well represent the essence of Ashugh music[66] may clarify the said statement.

Bəlkə bu yerlərə birdə gəlmədim (I may not come to these mountains again)

duman səlamət qal dağ səlamət qal (Farewell to the Mist and to the mountain)

arxamca su səpir göydə bulutlar (Clouds sprinkle drops of rain)

leysan səlamət qal yağ səlamət qal (Farewell to summer days, farewell to the rain)

Tabriz style in Iranian miniature

Painting

“Tabrizian style” painting was shaped in the era of Ilkhanids, Kara Koyunlu and the Safavids.[67] The paintings date back to the early 14th century and show significant influence from Chinese and Chinese-influenced pictures. Over years Tabriz became the center of the famous school of Persian miniature painting.[68] A fascinating fictional account of “Tabrizian style” painting in the Safavids era is narrated by Orhan Pamuk in My Name Is Red.

Cuisine

Main article: Iranian Cuisine
See also: Azerbaijani cuisine

Famous dishes in Tabriz include:

Ash is a kind of soup prepared with bouillon, various vegetables, carrots, noodles and spices.

Abgoosht or Shorva (آب‌گوشت) [69] is a hearty soup made of mutton (sheep meat) and chickpeas. It has been cooked in Iran for many years and, until recently, was the main dish of most families in Tabriz.

Chelow kabab, kebab and roasted tomatoes (and roasted hot peppers occasionally) served on a plate of steamed rice[70], is the national dish of Iran. Tabriz is famous for the quality of its chelow kabab.

Dolma is a traditional delicious Azerbaijani food. It is prepared with eggplant, capsicum, tomato or zucchini filled with a mixture of meat, split pea, onion and various spices.

Garniyarikh (meaning “the torn abdomen” in Azeri) is a kind of dolma filled with meat, garlic, almonds and spices.

Tabriz köfte is a special recipe from Tabriz with the appearance of big meatballs, which are prepared with a mixture of ground meat, rice, leeks and some other ingredients. The word kofta is derived from Persian kūfta: in Persian, kuftan (کوفتن) means “to beat” or “to grind”.[71]

There are also confections, biscuits and cookies, some of which are Tabriz specialties including qurabiya, Tabrizi Lovuz, eris, nugha, tasbihi, latifeh, ahari, lovadieh, and lokum.