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Bakhtiaris

Who are they?

Where are they?

Bakhtiari's History

Pictures from Bakhtiaris

Bakhtiari's Carpet

More about Bakhtiaris is available in Persian

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Who are they?

The Bakhtiari tribe, which numbers more than 800,000, inhabits an area of approximately 67,000 sq. km (25,000 sq. mi) that straddles the central Zagros Mountains in Iran. Although only about a third of the tribe is nomadic (the rest are settled agriculturists), the nomads embody the Bakhtiari cultural ideals. They specialize in producing meat and dairy products and migrate seasonally with their sheep, cattle, or goat herds from high plateau pastures, where they spend the summer, west of the city of Esfahan, to lowland plains in the province of Khuzistan for winter herd grazing. Their migration is among the most spectacular known among nomadic paternalists anywhere. They are obliged to cross mountain passes at about 3,050 m (10,000 ft) and therefore have to time their movement with extreme care in order to minimize the danger of early snowfall, flooding mountain rivers, and lack of grazing. Traditionally these dangers took a heavy toll, but in recent years the government has helped the migration by building bridges, improving the route, and setting up fodder supplies en route.

The Bakhtiari speak a dialect of Persian called Lori and are Shiite Muslims. Politically the tribe used to form a confederacy under a chief appointed by the shah, but this position has now been abolished. The confederacy was most effective in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the Bakhtiari played an important role on the national level in Iran's constitutional movement. More recently many tribesmen have left the traditional way of life for employment in the oil industry in the cities.
Brian Spooner
Bibliography:
Metz, Helen, Iran: A Country Study, 4th ed. (1989); Moss, W., Peoples of the World: Mid East, North Africa (1992).

'The Fabulous land of Iran, Colorful and vigorous Folklore' The Bakhtiari's are the largest and most purely Iranian of all the Persian tribes. They belong to the Lur race and their language is closely related to the oldest known forms of Persian. The annual Bakhtiari migration in April from their Garmsir, or winter quarters in Khuszistan, to their Sardsir, or summer pastures in the Chahar Mahal region of the plateau south/west of Esfahan, takes from four to six weeks. It is an epic of human courage and endurance in which men, women and children of all ages, with their animals and household goods, travel by five different migrations routes across some of the wildest and most difficult mountain country in Persia in their search for grass.

The bakhtiaris are divided into two major groups- the Haft Lang and the Chahar Lang - which in turn are divided into tribes, sub/tribes and clans. No on seems to know precisely how many Bakhtiaris there are in Persia (Iran); one estimate, which may be on the high side, is of 450,000, perhaps half being migratory and pastoral, the rest agricultural and settled.

The Bakhtiari men and girl live permanently in the village of Karyak, about 120 miles south of Esfahan where the Kershan River, a tributary of Karun, serves as the boundary between the Bakhtiari and Boyer Ahmadi tribes.

('The Fabulous land of Iran, Colorful and vigorous Folkloric Selected works of Iranian photographers, Designed by Javad Yassavoli)

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