Kerman (kĕrmänˈ) [key], city (1991 pop. 311,643), capital of Kerman prov., E central Iran. It is noted for making and exporting carpets. Cotton textiles and goats-wool shawls are also manufactured. Kerman was under the Seljuk Turks in the 11th and 12th cent., but remained virtually independent, conquering Oman and Fars. Marco Polo visited (late 13th cent.) and described the city. Kerman changed hands many times in ensuing years, prospering under the Safavid dynasty (16th cent.) and suffering under the Afghans (17th cent.). In 1794 its greatest disaster occurred: Aga Muhammad Khan, shah of Persia, ravaged the city by selling 20,000 of its inhabitants into slavery and by blinding another 20,000. Reminders of historic Kerman include medieval mosques, the beautiful faience found among the extensive ruins outside the city walls, and 16th-century mosaics with Chinese motifs. Nearby is the shrine of Shah Vali Namatullah, a 15th-century Sufi holy man.
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