Qashqai women spinning
|c. 820,000 (1997 est.)|
|Regions with significant populations|
Persian as second language
|Shia Islam |
|Related ethnic groups|
|other Oghuz Tukic peoples|
Qashqai (pronounced [qaʃqaːʔiː]; also spelled Ghashghai, Ghashghay, Gashgai, Gashgay, Kashkai , Qashqay, Qashqa'i and Qashqai: قشقایی) are a conglomeration of clans of different ethnic origins, including Persian, Lori, Kurdish, Arab and (especially) Turkic. They mainly live in the Iranian provinces of Fars, Khuzestan and southern Isfahan, especially around the city of Shiraz in Fars. They are bilingual, speaking the Qashqai language - which is a member of the Turkic family of languages and which they call Turki - as well as (in formal use) the Persian language. The Qashqai were originally nomadic pastoralists and some remain so today. The traditional nomadic Qashqai travelled with their flocks each year from the summer highland pastures north of Shiraz roughly 480 km or 300 miles south to the winter pastures on lower (and warmer) lands near the Persian Gulf, to the southwest of Shiraz. The majority, however, have now become partially or wholly sedentary. The trend towards settlement has been increasing markedly since the 1960s.
The Qashqai are made up of a number of tribes and sub-tribes including the Amele, Derre-Shuri, Kashkyoli, Shesh(6) Baluki, Farsimadan, Qaraja, Rahimli and Safi -Khanli.
Historically, the Turkic languages are believed to have arrived in Iran from Central Asia from the 11th or 12th centuries onwards.
- "To survive, nomads have always been obliged to fight. They lead a wandering life and do not accumulate documents and archives.
- But in the evenings, around fires that are burning low, the elders will relate striking events, deeds of valour in which the tribes pride themselves. Thus the epic tale is told from father to son, down through the ages.
- The tribes of Central Asia were forced by wars, strife, upheavals, to abandon their steppes and seek new pasture grounds . . . so the Huns, the Visigoths, and before them the Aryans, had invaded India, Iran, Europe.
- The Turks, forsaking the regions where they had dwelt for centuries, started moving down through the Altai mountain and Caspian depressions, establishing themselves eventually on the frontiers of the Iranian Empire and in Asia Minor.
- We are of Turkish language and race; some say that we are descendants of the Turkish Oghuz Tribe, known for its cruelty and fierceness, and that our name is derived from the Turkish "Kashka" meaning "a horse with a white star on its forehead". Others think this name indicates that we came from Kashgar in the wake of Hulagu. Others still that it means "fugitive".
- Though these versions differ, we believe that the arrival of our Tribes in Iran coincided with the conquests of Jengis Khan, in the thirteenth century. Soon after, our ancestors established themselves on the slopes of the Caucasus. We are descendants of the "Tribe of the Ak Koyunlu" the "Tribe of the White Sheep" famed for being the only tribe in history capable of inflicting a defeat on Tamerlane. For centuries we dwelt on the lands surrounding Ardebil, but, in the first half of the sixteenth century we settled in southern Persia, Shah Ismail having asked our warriors to defend this part of the country against the intrusions of the Portuguese. Thus, our Tribes came to the Province of Fars, near the Persian Gulf, and are still only separated from it by a ridge of mountains, the Makran.
- The yearly migrations of the Kashkai, seeking fresh pastures, drive them from the south to the north, where they move to their summer quarters "Yailaq" in the high mountains; and from the north to the south, to their winter quarters, "Qishlaq".
- In summer, the Kashkai flocks graze on the slopes of the Kuh-è-Dinar; a group of mountains from 12,000 to 15,000 feet, that are part of the Zagros chain.
- In autumn the Kashkai break camp, and by stages leave the highlands. They winter in the warmer regions near Firuzabad, Kazerun, Jerrè, Farashband, on the banks of the river Mound, till, in April, they start once more on their yearly trek.
- The migration is organised and controlled by the Kashkai Chief. The Tribes carefully avoid villages and towns such as Shiraz and Isfahan, lest their flocks, estimated at seven million head, might cause serious damage. The annual migration is the largest of any Persian tribe.
- It is difficult to give exact statistics, but we believe that the Tribes now number 400,000 men, women and children." Told to Marie-Tèrése Ullens de Schooten by the 'Il Begh' Malek Mansur, brother of the 'Il Khan', Nasser Khan, Chief of the Kashkai Tribes, in 1953.
The Qashqai were a significant political force in Iran during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During World War I they were influenced by the German consular official Wilhelm Wassmuss and sided with the Germans. During World War II the Qashqais organized resistance against the British and Soviet occupation forces and received some help from the Germans by the means of Operation François, once again becoming the major political force in southern Persia. In 1945–1946 there was a major rebellion of a number of tribal confederacies, including the Qashqais, who fought valiantly until the invading Russians were repelled. The Qashqais revolted during 1962–1964 due to the land reforms of the White Revolution. The revolt was put down and within a few years many Qashqais had settled. Most of the tribal leaders were sent to exile. After the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979 the living leader Khosrow Khan Qashqai moved back to Iran from Germany. He was soon arrested and executed in public for promoting an uprising against the government.
Qashqai carpets and weavings
The Qashqai are renowned for their magnificent pile carpets and other woven wool products. They are sometimes referred to as "Shiraz" because Shiraz was the major marketplace for them in the past. The wool produced in the mountains and valleys near Shiraz is exceptionally soft and beautiful and takes a deeper color than wool from other parts of Iran.
- "No wool in all Persia takes such a rich and deep colour as the Shiraz wool. The deep blue and the dark ruby red are equally extraordinary, and that is due to the brilliancy of the wool, which is firmer and, so to say, more transparent than silk, and makes one think of translucent enamel".
- Nissan Motors have introduced a small SUV named Qashqai. In 2006, Nissan named its new European model after the Qashqai people. The designers believe that the buyers "will be nomadic in nature too". The new unconventional name was however met with surprise and even skepticism.
- In Philip Kerr's political fiction novel, Hitler's Peace, Qashqai fighters are used by the Abwehr in an operation aimed at assassinating the three Allied leaders convened in the Tehran Conference. Betrayed to the Soviets, they are then executed by the NKVD.
Qashqai women weaving a carpet
- April Fast, Iran the Land, Crabtree Publishing Company, 2010, p.18
- Ullens de Schooten, Marie-Tèrése. (1956). Lords of the Mountains: Southern Persia & the Kashkai Tribe. Chatto and Windus Ltd. Reprint: The Travel Book Club. London, pp. 53-54. See also pp. 114-118.
- Ullens de Schooten, Marie-Tèrése. (1956). Lords of the Mountains: Southern Persia & the Kashkai Tribe. Chatto and Windus Ltd. Reprint: The Travel Book Club. London, p. 114.
- Federal Research Division, p.125
- Hawley, Walter A. (1913) Oriental Rugs Antique & Modern. Reprint: Dover Publications, New York (1970), p. 116.
- Bennett, Ian (1978) "Later Persian Weaving." In: Rugs & Carpets of the World, edited by Ian Bennett, pp. 241, 243. Ferndale Editions, London, 1978. ISBN 0-905746-24-4.
- Hawley, Walter A. (1913) Oriental Rugs Antique & Modern. Reprint: Dover Publications, New York (1970), p. 117.
- Nissan Qashqai :: Concept Car Database
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- Hitler's Peace. New York: Marian Wood, 2005. ISBN 0-399-15269-5
- Beck, Lois. 1986. The Qashqa'i of Iran. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-03212-9
- Hawley, Walter A. 1913. Oriental Rugs: Antique and Modern. Reprint: Dover Publications, New York. 1970. ISBN 0-486-22366-3.
- Kiani, M. 1999. Departing for the Anemone: Art in Gashgai Tribe. Kian nashr Publications, Shiraz. ISBN 964-91200-0-9.(This beautiful book has hundreds of photos, both black and white and colored, illustrating daily life of the Qashqai people, their rugs and weaving. The text is in Persian but the color photos also have English captions).
- Ullens de Schooten, Marie-Tèrése. (1956). Lords of the Mountains: Southern Persia & the Kashkai Tribe. Chatto and Windus Ltd. Reprint: The Travel Book Club. London.
- Ure, John. (2003). In Search of Nomads: An English Obsession from Hester Stanhope to Bruce Chatwin, pp. 51-71. John Ure. Robinson. London.
- Beck, Lois. 1991. Nomad: A Year in the Life of a Qashqa’i Tribesman in Iran. University of California. Berkeley, Los Angeles. ISBN 0-520-07003-8 (hbk); ISBN 0-520-07495-5 (pbk).
- Oberling, Pierre. Qašqāʾi tribal confederacy. (i) History at Encyclopædia Iranica
- Shahbazi, Mohammad. 2001. "The Qashqa'i Nomads of Iran (Part I): Formal Education." Nomadic Peoples NS (2001) Vol. 5. Issue 1, pp. 37–64.
- Shahbazi, Mohammad. 2002. "The Qashqa'i Nomads of Iran (Part II): State-supported Literacy and Ethnic Identity." Nomadic Peoples NS (2002) Vol. 6. Issue 1, pp. 95–123.
- Federal Research Division (June 30, 2004). Iran A Country Study. Kessinger Publishing. p. 340.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Qashqai people.|
- www.qashqai.net(An excellent site containing information on the history, woven arts, poetry, society and an extensive bibliography).
- A personal site on the Qashqai (A good background introduction to Qashqai history and society.)
- "Qashqai" on the Encyclopedia Iranica A detailed and authoritative entry on this tribe and their history
- Guide to Qashqai rugs A guide to Qashqai rugs with many useful links and references.
- Archeo: website of an American gallery dealing in Qashqai rugs including images of rugs and Qashqai people