Academic journal article Nomadic Peoples

Sustainable Development among the Bakhtiari Tribe *

Academic journal article Nomadic Peoples

Sustainable Development among the Bakhtiari Tribe *

Article excerpt


Les Bakhtiyari representent 16,40 pour cent des populations nomades pastorales d'Iran, et possedent 9 pour cent du betail du pays: c'est a dire qu'ils occupent une position unique sur le plan social et politique. Le developpement est devenu une de leurs priorites depuis vingt anset l'auteur de l'article montre que l'experience des Bakhtiyari peut servir d'exemple pour les strategies de developpement dang les domaines de l'elevage, de l'agriculture et de l'industrie.


The Bakhtiari are the largest tribe in Iran and with an history of about eight thousand years and a spatial dispersion over several provinces, they have played a major role in economic, social and political developments in Iran, particularly in the last century. The tribe has undergone changes in coping with political, social and environmental issues. A survey of the past and present situation of the tribe and an analysis of its ecological, social, economic and cultural potentials can be very helpful in discerning its future prospects. The present research will offer an analysis of the tribe's circumstances as it moves towards sustainable development. The latest reliable figures and statistics have been used in this report, and the term 'population' is used to indicate the population of nomadic clans of the tribe.

A General Profile of Bakhtiari Tribe

The territory and natural environment of the Bakhtiari which includes both its winter and summer regions is bounded on the north by Faridan and Fereidoonshahr (Isfahan province), on the east by Ardal, Lordegan, Farsan (Chaharmahal Bakhtiari province), and on the south and west by Izeh, Baghmalek, Masjed Soleiman, Ramhormuz, Shoushtar, Andimeshk and Dezful (Khuzestan province).

According to the latest economic and social census conducted in 1998 among nomadic tribes of the country by the Iran Statistics Centre, the population of the Bakhtiari was 181,505 individuals divided into 27,172 families. In other words, the Bakhtiari form 16.4 per cent of the total tribal population of Iran. They own about 1,860,749 head of livestock, which represent about 9 per cent of the entire livestock in the country. Each family of the tribe has an average of about 68 head of small stock (sheep/goats). According to this census about 51.5 per cent of six-year-olds and over are literate. Literacy among the six to ten year age group is about 64 per cent and about 42.5 per cent of the six to twenty-four year age group has received some education. Results of the social-economic census of July 1998 show that 3.75 per cent of the tribes in mountains and 4.31 per cent in the lowland areas had access to one or more motorised vehicles; 26.5 per cent had a radio and tape recorder; 6.6 per cent had television; 54.2 per cent had kerosene lanterns; 15.4 per cent owned a sewing machine and 93.4 per cent used wood and charcoal for cooking and heating purposes (Iran Statistics Centre 1999: 15-26).

Based on the results of this latest census, the types of economy practised on the mountain slopes of the Chahar Mahal Bakhtiari province are as follows: 99.3 per cent private farms, of whom 24.1 per cent practised animal husbandry only, 63.6 per cent practised animal husbandry and farming, 0.6 per cent animal husbandry and gardening, and 11.7 per cent animal husbandry, farming and gardening. Each family has on average 0.9 hectare of land in the mountain area, of which about 0.2 hectare is irrigated and about 0.6 hectare is dry land. 11.9 per cent of households have women weaving carpets, 10.8 per cent weave flat or pileless weaves (floor covers and carrying sacks) and 11.8 per cent weave heavy cloth for men's overcoats known as cuqa. All this weaving is done in the summer in the mountain areas, where 96.2 per cent of families use only tents to live in, while 2.9 per cent used seasonal houses as shelter.

A Comparison of the Figures from the Two Censuses, 1987 and 1998

In 1987 the population of the nomadic clans of the Bakhtiari was 181,777 or 27,960 families. …

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