Bakhtiaries are one of the main nomadic tribes of Iran. We have discussed the nomads of Iran in Blog posts. The Bakhtiari Nomads, with a population of around 800 thousand members, live in an area equal to 67 thousand square kilometer. These lands are in the central areas of Iran and part of Zagros mountain range. Today, only one third of the Bakhtiaries migrates. Nevertheless, they still have the biggest population of migratory tribes among Iranian Nomads. At the end of summer, they head to the Khuzestan Plain and in winter, they live in highlands of Isfahan. Bakhtiaries’ migration takes around four to six weeks and happens through five different routes. The time of migration must be precise to avoid possible early snow, flood, or the lack of pasture.
Appellation of Bakhtiari
Bakhtiar as a word means a fortunate person. In the Safavid dynasty, however, this term was used to refer to people who moved from one place to another and from one pasture to another. There is also the possibility that Bakhtiar was a leader in a tribe and slowly the whole group has come to be known with his name. Nevertheless, Bakhtiaries are descendants of Aryans that migrated to Iran from north. They are now Shitte Muslims and speak in Bakhtiari dialect.
Hierarchy among Bakhtiaries
As a social institution, the Bakhtiari Nomads have social hierarchy. There are different sections run by a person that has to answer to his/her higher ups. Since the nomadic life is patriarchal, the heads of the social units are usually men.
In the Bakhtiari Nomads, the smallest social unit is a family. The family includes a mother, father, and the unmarried children. They live in a tent known in Farsi as Siah Chador. This social unit is Bohon among Bakhtiaries. The families that are related usually set up their tents close to each other and make a larger unit. Bakhtiaries call this unit Maal. From the combination of Maals, an Ulad is formed. Then, the Ulads come together to make a Tash. After that, the Tashes make a Tireh. At last, the Tirehs make a Tayefeh or Tribe.
In this regard, Bakhtiaries have two different tribes of Haft Lang and Chahar Lang. Haft Lang is the bigger of the two tribes. Because it is bigger, it has also what Bakhtiaries call Bob. Bobs are combination of several Tayefeh. Haft Lang tribe has four Bob and each Bob has several Tayefehs. However, Chahar Lang is smaller. It has four main Tayefehs.
Bakhtiari men wear loose, long, black pants. It is tight in the waist but very loose on the legs. Today, the wear the shirt with modern shirts. Over that, there is a long, knee length vest. The vest is from wool with black vertical line. The usual color of clothing for men is dark colors like black and dark brown. Except for the vest which is in Beige too.
The female clothing is exact opposite of the men. It is full of color. The usual attire of a woman has three sections, a three-piece headwear, a skirt and a dress. Ornamentation is very important for women. Their dresses usually have some traces of handwork on it. The colorful dress, the ornamentation and the hairstyle gives a Bakhtiari woman a unique and magnificent look.
The nomadic life of Bakhtiaries is far more than what we could discuss here. It is a culture that needs through studying and exploring. Nothing like living next to them can give you an insight to this culture and lifestyle. And what can be more interesting than experiencing the simplistic life of these nomads. In our Zagros zone trekking and skiing packages, we camp near the nomads and give our travelers a chance of getting to know them.