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Regions with significant populations
Sistan and Balochestan, Hormozgan, Khuzestan
Persian, Arabic, Balochi
Islam (predominantly Shia; Sunni)
Related ethnic groups

Afro-Iranians (Persian: ایرانیان آفریقایی‌تبار‎) are people of Black African descent residing in Iran. Most Afro-Iranians are concentrated in the coastal provinces of Persian Gulf such as Hormozagan, Sistan and Baluchestan and Khuzestan.[1]


The Indian Ocean slave trade begun in the 6th century BC and was multi-directional and changed over time. To meet the demand for menial labor, black slaves captured by Arab slave traders were sold in cumulatively large numbers over the centuries to the Persian Gulf, Egypt, Arabia, India, the Far East, the Indian Ocean islands and Ethiopia.[2] Others came as immigrants throughout the centuries or from Portuguese slave traders who had conquered southern Iran.

During the Qajar dynasty, many wealthy households imported Black African women and children as slaves to perform domestic work along side Eastern European Circassian slaves. This slave labor was drawn largely from the Zanj, who were Bantu-speaking peoples that lived along the coast of the Southeast Africa, in an area roughly comprising modern-day Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi.[3][4] However, Mohammad Shah Qajar, under British pressure, issued a firman suppressing the slave trade in 1848.[5]

Notable Afro-Iranians[edit]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Ehsaei, Mahdi (2015) "Afro-Iran", Heidelberg: Kehrer Verlag, ISBN 978-3-86828-655-7
  • Khosronejad, Pedram (2018), ", Unveiling the Veiled: Royal Consorts, Slaves and Prostitutes in Qajar Photographs.", Exhibition Catalogue: 44 pp "Unveiling the Veiled"
  • Khosronejad, Pedram (2017), "Qajar African Nannies: African Slaves and Aristocratic Babies.", Visual Studies of Modern Iran, 1: 70 pp "Qajar African Nannies"
  • Khosronejad, Pedram (2016), "Photography of African Slavery in Iran.", the Guardian: Interview of Dr. Louise Siddons, Associate Professor of Art History (Department of Art, Oklahoma State University) with Dr. Pedram Khosronejad "Photography of African Slavery in Iran"
  • Lee, Anthony A. (2012), "Enslaved African Women in Nineteenth-Century Iran: The Life of Fezzeh Khanom of Shiraz.", Iranian Studies, 45:3: 417–437, doi:10.1080/00210862.2011.637769
  • Mirzai, B. A. (2002), "African presence in Iran: Identity and its reconstruction in the 19th and 20th centuries", Revue française d'histoire d'outre-mer, 89: 336–337


  1. ^ Mirzai, Behnaz. Afro-Iranian Lives (documentary film). Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  2. ^ Gwyn Campbell, The Structure of Slavery in Indian Ocean Africa and Asia, 1 edition, (Routledge: 2003), p.ix
  3. ^ F.R.C. Bagley et al., The Last Great Muslim Empires, (Brill: 1997), p.174
  4. ^ Bethwell A. Ogot, Zamani: A Survey of East African History, (East African Publishing House: 1974), p.104
  5. ^ "UNESCO: Fugitive Slaves, Asylum and Manumission in Iran (1851 – 1913)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 March 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2010.

External links[edit]