The Qashqai are one of tribes of migratory
herders in Iran. Not really a tribe exactly but rather a tribal
confederation of people sharing closely related dialects and ethnic
identity. The Qashqai are primarily descended from Turkman or Azeri/Ersari tribes. They speak a
language that is in the Southern Azeri/Ersari
language family. Some suggest Qashqai is a separate language but I do
not think that can be supported. I am pleased to see that the
Ethnologue in the most recent edition changed its classification to
agree with me.
Social order of the Qashqai Confederation.
The base of the group are small voluntary pasture
groups of as few as five families. This group is called an Oba, the
same word oba is also used for a single family. Obas group into larger
groups called tireh which we might translate as sub-tribe.
The IL-Khan of the Qashqai Confederation is
traditionally a man of the Shahilu family of the Amaleh. The Amaleh is
the dominant or elite confederation of the Qashqai Confederation.
Historically the Amaleh were a small group of the IL-Khans personal
household and retainers.
The Qashqai revolted against the Ayatollah Kohmenni in
1980. The CIA set them up and enticed them to revolt. The Qashqa'i were
supposed to be supplied with arms through the Israelis. Then the Iran
Iraq war started and after 30 days the CIA pulled the plug on the war
and refused anymore arms and aid to the Qashqai. The Qashqai held out
for two years against the revolutionary guard but they paid dearly in
blood. I wrote more about that in: A
tale of two Shiraz Rugs on eBay
Khosrow Khan was hung in Shiraz October 8th 1982 by the
Revolutionary Guards. He was the brother of the Qashqa'i IL-Khan Naser
Khan Qashqa'i. A friend of mine from Teheran used to tell me stories
about Khosrow Khan. Her mother had been in his social set.
The Amaleh tayefeh (tribe) is roughly 45,000
people in about 54 tirehs (sub-tribes). The Amaleh are the tayefeh of
the IL-khan. At one point we might of considered the Amaleh the
extended family of the IL-Khan but in the war with the Islamic Republic
of Iran only several hundred stayed loyal to Shahilu family leaders,
IL-Khan Naser Khan Qashqa'i and his brother Khosrow Khan.
The Amaleh pastures are near Firuzabad in the
winter and is spent Khosrow Shirin in summer. These are traditionally
the best pastures and the Amaleh held them as the elite tayefeh.
The Igdir were are a tireh of the Amaleh, The
Igdir were one of the 23 original tribes of the Oguz. The main body of the
Igdir joined with the Chodor
The Darrehshuri tayefeh takes its name from
Darreh Shur or "Salty Valley" near Semiron, Iran. Beck
reports 45,000 members in 44 tirehs in the 1960s. Their winter pastures
are near Dogonbadan, northwest of Shiraz and their summer are just
north of Semiron.
Illustration 2. "Shekarlu" (Qashqa'i/Luri),
late 19th century, 4'6"x7'9". "Shekarlu" rugs come from a Luri
dominated group allied with the Qashqa'i Confederacy. Courtesy of
Timothy and Betsy String. Animal Figures in
South Persian Rugs
Sigmund Freud covered his psychoanalytic
couch with a Qashqai Shekarlu rug.
Shish Boluki or "Six clans" number 35,000 with
twenty large tirehs and 20 small. Their winter pastures are near
Farrashband, and their summer pastures are near Eqlid.
Qashqai rugs average 70 to 170 knots per square
inch according to Stone.
Traditional Qashqai rugs have all wool construction including wool wefts and warps. Newer village pieces
may have cotton wefts
and are generally more coarsely woven.
"Three generation of “Qashqâi”
inside a tent at “Yeilâq”. Beddings are placed on top of food sacks and
storage containers, and new carpets and cushions on top of all.
“Qarâvol” plain, near “Abâdeh’, Fârs." Nomads Of
Please note the Qashqai hat on the
man in front. For many years owning one of these hats would bring the
Revolutionary Guards down on the owner. For this man to wear one in an
image from the State broadcasting company shows a real change in
I am not an expert on the Qashqai,
just a fellow who enjoys reading and making lists. Much of what I got
right about the Qashqai I got from Dr. Lois Beck. I do not footnote
every detail since I am going on all of her books, some lectures and
some conversations. What you find correct in all this is probably from Beck but
all errors are my own. Not to say it is all from Beck, Jim Opie, Brian MacDonald
and many others have influenced my thoughts on this subject.