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The Bajalan tribe, also called Bajilan, Bajwan, Bazhalan, Bajarwan and Bajlan, are a Kurdish[1] tribe in Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan) and Iran (Iranian Kurdistan), however they also have sub-groups in Turkey and Armenia. Many of the Bajalan people in Armenia moved to Turkey.


Their ethnonym means "home of the falcons".[2] The tribe originates from Abdal Bey, an Ottoman commander in the Ottoman–Safavid War (1623–39).[3]


The seat of the Bajalan Pashas was Zohab which they founded according to James Silk Buckingham.[4] SARPUL-I ZOHAB ("bridgehead of Zohab"), a place on the way to Zagros on the great Baghdad-Kirmanshah road, taking its name from the stone bridge of two arches over the river Alwand.[5] Austen Henry Layard observes the river Holwan issues at Ser-puli-Zohab from a deep gorge through lofty precipices.[6] The Bajalan Pass was noted by foreign travelers for its monasteries, bridges, castles and aqueducts.[7] The Bajalan Pashas were also guardians of the Anobanini rock relief.


17th century[edit]

The Bajalans under the command of their leader Abdal Bey participated on the side of the Ottomans in the Ottoman–Safavid War (1623–39), his forces numbered some 4000, they fought successfully against the Persians and helped Sultan Murad IV conquer Baghdad in 1638.[8]

Murad IV In recognition of services rendered to the Ottoman Empire in the capture of Baghdad rewarded Abdal Bey and his descendants with title of Pasha (of one tail) and hereditary rights to the newly established Zohab Pashalik under the Treaty of Zuhab of 1639.[9] Under the terms that the Sultan ceded Zohab to Abdal Bey on the condition that he raise 2,000 horsemen when required, and pay a yearly tribute of 300,000 piastres to the State. However, in reality as an Ottoman vassal, they were lightly taxed and furnished a body of 1,200 horsemen to the crown.[10] David McDowall described the Bajalans as formidable fighters[11] and George Bournoutian stated that their sheer looks brought on terror to the enemy in their chain mail.[12] Sir Henry Rawlinson, 1st Baronet notes the Kalhur tribe were ousted from Zohab by Sultan Murad IV who gave their lands to the Bajalan tribe.[13] The accompanying imperial decree expelled the Kalhur tribe who had previously dominated the Zohab province as punishment for fighting on the side of the Persians. The Government of the Pashlik continued to be hereditary in his family till its conquest and abolishment by the Persians. Abdal Bey settled in Zohab and created a new town with his followers in 1639. The installment of the Bajalan by Murad IV in the area was also intended as a bulwark against the Persians because Baghdad itself could be threatened from Zohab.

The pashalik of Zohab is a district of considerable extent, lying at the foot of the ancient Zagros, the capital was surrounded by a mud wall. The Pashalik is dependent upon that of Bagdad, and consists of two divisions Derna and Zehav. The Bajalan tribe was made up of a confederacy of lesser sub-tribes who were loyal to the Bajalan family and it's Pasha, the first main sub tribe was Jumur (Jomur) which itself had eight branches including Hajilar, Gharibawand, Shirawand (Siravand), Charkalao, Mamawand, Daudawand (Dandavand) and Jalil Agha, the second main tribe was Qazanlu which had three branches Haji Khalil, Wali Agha, Abdurrahman Agha. George Nathaniel Curzon mentions the Sagwands in his book Persia and the Persian question.[14] Owing to weakness of the Baghdad Pashaliq during and after the wars with Muhammad Ali Mirza, son of Fath Ali Shah, the Bajalan family and its dependents had to fight Muhammad Ali Mirza unaided.

18th century[edit]

A Bajilan Pasha moved against and fought Nadir Shah of Persia in Pataq and Zohab in January 1733. Nadir Shah subsequently expelled a part of Bajalan's tribe to Khurramabad.[15] The Bajalans became embroiled in the civil wars which were unleashed by the death of Karim Khan Zand in 1779.[16]

19th century[edit]

Robert Curzon British Commissioner in Erzurum noted that Osman Pasha in 1843 was the seventh hereditary Pasha of the Bajalan family.[17]

20th century[edit]

Rashid Pasha was founding member of the first Kurdish political party in Iraq, Hiwa. Later, he was appointed a member of the central committee of the KDP on August 16, 1946 in Baghdad.[18]


Members of the ruling begzadas Bajilan family spoke Kurmanji as well as a dialect of Gurani.[19] Mehrdad Izady states that the Bajalan speak a Gorani dialect. However, the Bajalani dialect has been replaced among many Bajalans by the use of Sorani Kurdish.

Bajilan Pashas[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Moosa, Matti (1987). Extremist Shiites: The Ghulat Sects. USA: Syracuse University Press. p. 163. ISBN 0815624115. 
  3. ^ Soane, Ely Banister (1918). Notes on the Tribes of Southern Kurdistan. UK: Government Press. p. 3. 
  4. ^ Travels in Assyria, Media, and Persia, Volume 1, James Silk Buckingham
  5. ^ Houtsma, M. Th (1993). First Encyclopaedia of Islam: 1913-1936. E.J. Brill. ISBN 9789004097964. 
  6. ^ Layard, Austen Henry (2011). Early Adventures in Persia, Susiana, and Babylonia: Including a Residence Among the Bakhtiyari and Other Wild Tribes Before the Discovery of Nineveh, Volume 1. UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 218. ISBN 9781108043427. 
  7. ^ Island of salvation, Włodzimierz Odojewski
  8. ^ Ateş, Sabri (2013). Ottoman-Iranian Borderlands: Making a Boundary, 1843–1914. UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 106. ISBN 1107245087. 
  9. ^ Ateş, Sabri (2013). Ottoman-Iranian Borderlands: Making a Boundary, 1843–1914. UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 163. ISBN 1107245087. 
  10. ^ Historical gazetteer of Iran, Volume 3, Ludwig W. Adamec
  11. ^ The Kurds, Issue 4, David McDowall
  12. ^ History of the wars: (1721-1736), Abraham Erewantsʻi, George A. Bournoutian
  13. ^ Minorsky, Vladimir (1931). Medieval Iran and its neighbours, Volume 1. Russia: Variorum Reprints. p. 253. ISBN 0860781143. 
  14. ^ Persia and the Persian question, Volume 2, George Nathaniel Curzon of Kedleston (Marquess)
  15. ^ Nadir Shah: a critical study based mainly upon contemporary sources, Laurence Lockhart
  16. ^ Yar-Shater, Ehsan (1988). Encyclopaedia iranica, Volume 3, Issues 5-8. USA: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 533. 
  17. ^ Curzon, Robert (1854). Armenia: A Year at Erzeroom, and on the Frontiers of Russia, Turkey, and Persia. John Murray. p. 81. 
  18. ^ Mustafa Barzani and the Kurdish liberation movement 1931-1961, Masʻūd Bārzānī, Ahmed Ferhadi.
  19. ^ Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Cambridge University Press. 1921. p. 58. 


  • Syncretistic Religious Communities in the Near East, Krisztina Kehl-Bodrogi, Barbara Kellner-Heinkele, Anke Otter-Beaujean.
  • The Kurdish National Movement: Its Origins and Development, Wadie Jwaideh.
  • Encyclopædia Iranica, Volume 3, Ehsan Yar-Shater.
  • The Kurds: a Concise Handbook, Mehrdad R. Izady.
  • Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Volume 11, University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies.
  • Records of Iraq, 1914–1966, Volume 1, Alan de Lacy Rush, Jane Priestland.

External links[edit]