Bakhtiari - Encyclopedia

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BAKHTIARI, one of the great nomad tribes of Persia, whose camping-grounds are in the hilly district, known as the Bakhtiari province. This province extends from Chaharmahal (west of Isfahan) in the E., to near Shushter in the W., and separated from Luristan in the N. by the Dizful river (Ab i Diz), and in the S touches Behbahan and Ram Hormuz. The Bakhtiári are divided into the two great divisions Haft-lang and Chahar-lang, and a number of branches and clans, and were known until the 15th century as the "Great Lurs," the "Little Lurs" being the tribes settled in the district now known as Luristan, with Khorremabad as capital. According to popular tradition the Lurs originally came from Syria in the Toth century, but it is now held that they were in Persia long, perhaps fifteen centuries, before. They speak the Lur language, a Persian dialect. The Bakhtiari number about 38,000 or 40,000 families, under 200,000 souls, while the area of the district occupied by them is about 25,000 sq. m. In the middle of the 19th century they could put 20,000 well-equipped horsemen into the field, but in consequence of misrule and longlasting feuds between the different branches, which the government often fostered, or even instigated, the district has become poor, and it would now be difficult to find 4000 horsemen. The province is under the governor-general of Arabistan, and pays a yearly tribute of about £5000. The chiefs of the Bakhtiari in 1897, having obtained the shah's permission for improving the road between Shushter or Ahvaz and Isfahan, an iron suspension bridge with a span of 120 ft. was erected over the Karun river at Guar i Bulutek; another, with a span of 70 ft., over the Bazuft river at Pul i Amarat; and a stone bridge over the Karun at Do-pu-lan.

For accounts of the Bakhtiari see Mrs Bishop (Isabella Bird), Journeys in Persia and Kurdistan (London, 1893); C. de Bode, Travels in Luristan (London, 1841); Lord Curzon, Persia and the Persian Question, vol. ii. 283-303 (London, 1892); Sir H. Layard, Early Adventures in Persia (London, 1894). (A. H.-S.)

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