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صفحه اصلی

Send an email to Allaverdi

تماس با آقای اللهوردی

Photos of Ghashghai

عکسهائی از مردم قشقائی

Basic Ghashghai info

درباره مردم قشقائی

More info on the Ghashgai

و باز هم درباره مردم قشقائی

Development projects

طرح توسعه

A map of the Ghashghai

نقشه سرزمين قشقائیها

Read a book in Ghashghai

يک کتاب به زبان قشقائی

Link to Farsi language cool stuff

چند سايت خوب فارسی

Listen to story in Farsi

يک داستان فارسی بشنويد

Link to the Holy Book in Farsi

انجيل به زبان فارسی

Read guestbook comments

درباره دفتر بازديدکنندگان

Sign my guestbook

دفتر بازديدکنندگان را امضاء کنيد

Listen to story in Ghashghai

يک داستان قشقائی بشنويد


و باز هم درباره مردم قشقائی

More info on the Ghashgai


THE QASHQA'I or GASHGAI are mainly a Turkic people of nomadic shepherds.

There are 860,000 of them living in south west Iran, north and south of Shiraz, the capital of Fars Province. Shiraz has a million inhabitants and is an important centre for the tribal peoples of the area. The Qashqa段 form a Confederation, il-e Qashqa段, consisting of some fourteen tribes and other affiliated groups. Their territory is between the Lur tribes of the Kuhgiluyeh to the northwest and the Khamseh confederation, including the Basseri, to the southeast. The Khamseh are a mixed Arab and Persian group of tribes set up a hundred years ago to balance the power of the Qashqa段. Their migration pattern is northwards into the Zagros Mountains between the summer pastures of these two confederations. The Boyr Ahmed of the Kuhgiluyeh Lur are their nearest neighbour and the Qashqa段 Darrehehuri migrate through their territory.

The Qashqa段 territory is remote and defensible. They have been in the region for centuries. They have a mixture of origins and the Qashqa段 identity has only formed with the political and military pressures of outside Empires and the formation of modern Iran during the last hundred and fifty years. Those who have never attended the tribal schools do not consider themselves Iranians. They tend to see the government as a remote authority over which they have no influence. They experience only what they see as oppression and corruption in local officials who have constantly interfered with their nomadism. The Qashqa段 migrate between winter pastures on the plains near to the Persian Gulf to the northwest and southeast of the town of Kazerun and mountain pastures over the Zagros Mountains in the north to territory north and south of Semirom. Each family has a herd of about 70 goats and sheep. Camels are kept as status symbols and for transport, which other tribes in Farsi province do not keep. In the past the clans had wheat and barley plantations in southern winter areas, and grow apple trees and vegetables in northern summer areas, while sending the flocks to nearby grasslands. Families of Kowli or Qorbati (apparently interchangeable names) attach themselves as ironsmiths to some of Qashqa段 bands. To avoid the marshy ground formed by the winter rains and snow their winter camps are scattered along the higher ground between the mountains and the plain. Often they have to alternate their flocks between the plain and the slopes. They use thicker tents that often have a pen for the lambs. The flocks are enclosed at night because of predators and thieves. Many of them have to pay rent to Lur villagers, carry water up from the plains and buy fodder to get through the winter. This is also an area where commercial and military traffic is heavy.

They migrate in the spring diagonally across the high ridges and fertile valleys of the Zagros, in many places following difficult routes for the flocks. Villagers are often hostile in order to guard their fields. Most of the tribes pass near the strategic city of Shiraz. The summer pastures are high in the mountains swept by high winds. However, those Qashqa段 who have settled have chosen to build houses around Semirom, finding the harsh winters easier than the dry long heat of summers on the plains. These summer pastures are now largely devoid of vegetation for fuel so dung has to be collected by the younger girls. The fields of the villagers, Persians and Lur, encroach on the Qashqa段 territory. But this means there is less cover for predators such as leopards, wolves, hyenas, foxes and bears, so that guarding the flocks is easier with shepherds and dogs. Summer is a relaxed time for the nomads. However, they must move camp a number of times, fight off or negotiate with intruders.

Qashqa段 Social Life

Each oba or household is independent to control its own economic affairs in flock management. They group together in flexible, temporary encampments or villages, of which a number in turn form pasture groups. The pasture groups together form a tireh or subtribe, defined by kinship ties and allegiance to a headman or kadkhuda. The tribe or tayefeh is led by a family of khans. The il or confederacy is led by the ilkhani. The use of winter and summer pasture are allocated by the khans, who live in the towns themselves but have considerable flocks cared for by shepherds.The Qashqa段 tribes range in size from 1,000 to 50,000 strong. On average a tribe is divided into twenty subtribes. The subtribes consist of lineages that consist of on average fifteen to fifty households of say five or six individuals. The following are the five main tribes:

Amaleh, 45,000 in about 54 subtribes. The name means retainers of the paramount prince and his deputy of the confederation. Only about five hundred of them are actually part of the household. The traditional winter pastures are near Firuzabad and summer is spent in Khosrow Shirin.

Darrehehuri or 鉄alty Valley people. They had 45,000 with 44 sub-tribes in 1960. They winter near Dogonbadan, northwest of Shiraz and camp in summer at the most northern part of the Qashqa段 territory close to the Bakhtiari.

Shish Boluki or 鉄ix Families number 35,000 with forty subtribes. They winter near Farrashband, 70 km. west of Firuzabad.

Kashkuil Bozorg, 25,000 with 40 subtribes. The name refers to the begging bowl of the sufis. Many of them can trace their roots to the Lurs. They winter near Mahur-e Milati.

Farsi Maden, 典hose Who do not know Persian a name that shows their Turkic origin. They are about 20,000 strong in 21 subtribes. They spend the summer in Padena. Their winter location is near Jereh.

There are a number of small tribes, such as: The Qarachahi 釘lack Well, thought to be a remnant of the first Turkic people to reach Fars, (3,000-10,000) and are dispersed among the other tribes. The Kashkuli Kuchek consisting of Bakhtiyari, Kurd and Lur groups of Lak, Mamassani and Boyr Ahmad. The main group are Turkic Nafar, the majority of whom belong to the Khamseh confederation with the Basseri. The Kashkuli numbered 4,300 in the 1970s. Safi Khani, 典hose of Safi Khan whoever he was, has 4,000 with ten subtribes. Namadi, 擢elt Rug, 7,000 and a number of other small tribes.

The Qashqa段 are not culturally homogeneous, so that 轍ashqa段 and 典urk in Fars has a socio-political meaning, suggesting affiliation to that political hierarchy, rather than an ethnoliguistic meaning. The non-Turkic groups adopted some of the Turkic features of the culture only in the early twentieth century. This gives some unity sufficient to distinguish those affiliated from those that were not. Having at least some family engaged in nomadic pastoralism was one of these features. By the 1960s, the khans and wealthy elite gained their wealth by owning much of the agricultural land of non-Qashqa段 farmers. The majority of the Qashqa段 were nomadic pastoralists who received the use of pastures in exchange for their political allegiance. The khans gave them military protection against other confederations. Other Qashqa段 served as hired shepherds, camel drivers, field labourers, etc., which has meant that they could continue to be integrated into the tribe and its nomadic pastoralism. This is a different situation from other pastoral societies, such as the Basseri, in which those unfortunate not to have their own animals have to leave for the towns, to become 渡omads in waiting. They also have had no inhibitions in being cultivators as well as pastoralists.

Reza Shah exiled, imprisoned or executed the Qashqa段 leadership in the 1930s, confiscated their pastures and stopped their nomadism by imposing military rule and dress codes on them. This had the effect of making the lower leadership more politically active to defend the Qashqa段 identity with its cultural and linguistic traditions. With the Shah's abdication in 1941 after the Allied occupation of Iran, the Qashqa'i leadership revived pastoralism. About this time the distinctive do gushi or 鍍wo-eared felt cap was adopted as a symbol of Qashqa段 independence.

An Enterprising Educational Programme

Mohammed Bahmanbegui learnt to read and write himself, only because his father was on the staff of the Ilkhani and rich enough to employ a scribe. Mohammed studied law in Teheran and the USA. He was a translator and liaison agent during the Second World War for the U. S. Aid Programme. He started a literacy programme in Qashqa段 and Farsi in 1952, which was extended by 1979 by the government and US aid to 212 tent schoolsin every subtribe of the Qashqa段. Other tribes of the Lur, etc. also gained schools. A Tribal Teachers Training School in Shiraz was founded in 1957 serving most tribal groups. A Tribal High School with 1,000 student was started in 1967. A Tribal Carpet Weaving School and a Tribal Technical School with courses in midwifery, paramedic and para-veterinary skills. Bahmanbegui had great skill to get all involved to co-operate together in these projects. Bahmanbegui recognised that tribal life would eventually end. For some reason, he encouraged women to wear the most elaborate traditional dress, but the men to dress as Persian town dwellers.

However, the Shah痴 government favoured non-Turkic farmers and land reforms meant that the Qashqa段 pastures were converted into agricultural land, even in areas beyond the reach of village water supplies and new pumps lowered the water table and caused environmental damage. Seventy five per cent of the uncultivated land, including the nomads pasture, was put under state ownership. Qashqa段 leaders were dismissed or exiled and the tribes were placed under the police. Pasture was then allocated by the police, the nomads being forced to stay on one small plot for the season, irrespective of over grazing, flock size, etc. Persian commercial stock -raisers and non-Qashqa段 village pastoralist were allowed to use the pasture first each season. During the 1970s up to 40 % of the people settled and fifty settlement areas near new industries were set up. In 1975 the tribes were 殿bolished, and the nomads had to apply for grazing licences last in the queue after other land users.

Qashqa段 Religious Life

Qashqa段 are moderate Shia Muslims, but few are practising Muslims. After the Islamic Revolution, the anti-clerical Qashqa段 surprisingly supported the change of government. At this time the Qashqa段 were the best armed tribal group. This enabled them to regain the pastures confiscated by the Shah. During this period the prices of meat and milk went up, making pastoralism more attractive even to those who had settled. About 25,000 estimated to be still nomadic. Their political and military capability, together with their lax religious practice has made them to be out of favour with the theocratic state. The government attempted to remove the ilkhani, Naser Khan, and resistance was revived, again with the do gushi as a symbol. The Islamic Revolution banned co-education and imposed Islamic dress, discouraging the girls from attending school. It also prohibited Qashqa段 music and dances. From 1980 to 1982, Revolutionary Guards attacked the Qashqa段 and their Bakhtiyari allies in the mountains with tanks and helicopter gunships. Key battles were fought at Farrashbad, spring 1981 and Jahrom in the summer of 1982. After two years of resistance the leaders were betrayed and the revolt came to an end. The Revolution has proved itself to be biased against non-Persians as much as the Shahs were, restricting cultural and political expression of the tribal peoples.

They originated in the Caucasus, coming into Iran in eleventh century. They call themselves "Turks" and their language is Turkic and close to Azerbaijani, but many are bilingual in Farsi. Land and grazing rights have been distributed to some 25,000 individual families by the pre-Revolutionary government, rather than being concentrated in the hands of chiefs, and the clans were disarmed in the 1970s. Land pressure due to lack of grasslands, means that the end of the nomadic life is predicted by 2000 AD.

Further reading:

Lois Beck:The Qashqa段 of Iran, New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1986.

Lois Beck Nomad a year in the life of a Qashqa段 Tribesman in Iran, London: I.B.Taurus, 1991.

Bart McDowell: Gypsies on the Kowli or Qorbati groups. Ethnologue Dallas: SIL 1992.

M. Bahmanbegui: "Hardy Shepherds of Iran's Zagros Mountains: Qashqa'i Build a Future Through Tent-school

Education" in Nomads of the World, Washington NGS 1971. pp. 94-108. Unreached Peoples '80 p. 179..

International Research Office March 1996


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