Basseri Tribe of Iran

Topics: Nomad, Tribe, Kinship Pages: 7 (2639 words) Published: May 20, 2012
Basseri of Iran

June 8, 2011

Life of the Basseri of Iran
Spread throughout the mountainous regions in Iran live the tribal people better known as the Basseri. Iranian Basseri’s are a “pastoralist tribe that practice under a chiefdom under leaders known as Khans of various villages” (Nowak & Laird, 2010). Basseri people have the means to self-govern and reside in small settlements while raising their families and animals on the open ranges of Iran. Basseri pastoralists have a culture that is deeply rooted in a chiefdom that roams the region in small bands of tent villages. The tribe is pastoral since they don’t raise their own crops and all the cattle, sheep and goats to graze the land and they depend on the animals for their primary means of food. Everything that the Basseri do is central to the animals that they raise and kinship is vital to their society. Purpose of this paper will to explain the Basseri primary modes of substance are their cultural beliefs, kinship, leadership, and economics of the tribe. Each mode has an important role with how the Basseri society has endured for so long in this region of the world. CULTURE

Basseri tribal people live in a region known as the “land of nomadic tribes” within Iran (Marx, 1977). The region is idea for pastoral nomadic tribes and fits their livelihoods in agriculture with vast areas of open land for animals to graze on and abundance of wildlife for food. Since they do not grow crops and all the cattle, sheep and goats to graze for feed, the animals are their primary means of food. Life as a pastoral society is defined as “those who regularly move in search of naturally occurring grass and water” to feed their herded animals (Nowak & Laird, 2010). The Basserie’s control all aspects of their herding operation. While agriculture is their way of life, there are times when it is necessary for members of the band to work outside the village to earn. Tribal members go off to other villages or into cities to compensate their tribe by working various trades. This is done while the rest of the family or band members tend to the herd of animals or crops. As the herds graze and seasons change, the Basseri tribe will move to other areas in Iran where vegetation is more plentiful. This also leads to why they live in tents versus hardened shelters. Being able to pick up and move their homes for each season is essential. Moves will occur with the seasons as stated and follow where there is good grazing land, “every 120 days and therefore much preparation goes into moving the large camp” (Marx, 1977). Migrating through the year helps to keep the herd healthy while also opening up markets for their products. Trade partnerships are made in the different villages or tribes as they move around. What opens the door for various trading partners is the adaptability of the Basseri to blend their own culture with others. Skill of other languages within the region helps to secure trade and maintain peace for the whole migratory tribe. The native language of the Basseri people is called Farsi, but they have been known to speak a variety of Turkish and Arabic due to geographical location in the Middle East (Marx, 1977). Diverse language skill helps to increase markets in many areas within the region while migrating with the herd. With the increase in market availability, Brasserie can trade and sell off goods they make or produce. Products produced of such things as milk, butter, meat, and hides that are harvested from their herd to provide income. Additionally, they can also assist others with assistance with as laborers. Another area of their culture that is important to the Basseri is how religion plays in a role in their lives. Many of their religious customs are Muslim even though it has been documented that the Basseri are not active participants of the religion. The Basseri tribes are considered...

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Coon, C. S. (1962), Nomads of South Persia: The Basseri Tribe of the Khamseh Confederacy. Fredrik Barth. American Anthropologist, 64: 636–638. Retrieved October 15, 2011, from
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Nowak, B. & Laird, P. (2010).  Cultural Anthropology.  (Ashford University ed.). California: Bridgepoint Education.
Marx, E. (1977). The Tribe as a Unit of Subsistence: Nomadic Pastoralism in the Middle East. American Anthropologist, 79(2), 343-363. Retrieved October 5, 2011, from JSTOR database
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