The paper is about the Basseri tribes that are lived in the Iran. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the different aspect of their tribal lives that how and in which way these tribes live and fulfill their daily economical, social and political needs. The essence of this paper is to highlight the norms that play the key role in the different aspects of the tribe.
Due to the Pastoralists in nature, the Basseri tribes have no any proper way to do their social and economical activities.
The Basseri tribes are the conventional pastoral nomads who live in province of Fārs that is located in the world renowned country Iran and travel along the grasslands and mountains near the Shīrāz, the town of Iran. The Basseri are an obviously delineated segment that is described as are number of groups in the vicinity by political rather than geographical/ ethnic criteria.
According to the estimate during the period of 1950s the populations of Basseri people who were the citizen and resided inside the Iran are approx 16000. Although, the updated population of Basseri people could not fetched but right now their population is increasing because of their active role in Iranian economy, especially there energetic role in the domain of agriculture and its related services. ("Iranian ethnic groups," 2010)
Lush greenery and pastures are the vital element of the Basseri’s economy that is pastoral by nature, but these meadows cannot carry herd always over the year. Along the traveling courses of the Basseri, pastures are used by different Basseri segments in series. While snow envelopes these grass lands in the mountains that is located in the north, widespread though rather deprived grazing lands are vacant in the south. In the period of spring, healthy pastures are abundant in the middle and lower altitudes, but, at the early period of March in the far south area, they gradually vanished. However, usable pastures are there in the summer season at those areas that are located above the 6,000 feet height, but the grasses eroded in the last part of the summer season. While in the fall, when the pastures are generally not healthy, the leftovers of harvested fields become/ are available for grazing.
All of the key Fārs’s tribes have conventional routes that they use in their recurring relocations. Furthermore, they also have conventional agenda of occupations’ pasture at different places. The joint route and timetable, which explain the group locations at different times in the yearly series, constitutes their “il-rah”. The word “il-rah” is considered by the tribesmen as the belongings of their particular tribe, embedded within the notion of “il-rah” are the rights to pass on ways and over unfarmed areas, to have water from everywhere but except from private reservoirs, and to pasture herd remote cultivated areas. These types of rights are documented by the local people and authorities.
Even though the Basseri people have different types of domesticated animals’ species such as sheep and goats etc, which are considered as the utmost economic sources. Other type of domesticated animals such as donkeys that are used for transport and riding (generally by women, old people and children), horses are also used for riding only but predominantly by men, while camels are used for heavy carry and wool, and dogs are used for security purposes inside and around the camp. (Barth, 1964)
Furthermore, the Poultry are also occasionally kept as a good source of meat generally; however, normally Basseris are not so much eager for their eggs. Basseris do not herd the Cattle because of the extensive relocation and the rocky landscapes. However, camel, Sheep and goats keep herded as the key source of milk, wool and hides and meat. These all products are either consumed right away or stored for later utilization, or business. (Khanam, 2005) & ("Basseri nomadic tribes," 2010)
The Basseries usually depends on the broad use of seasonal grazing-lands because of the climate where they live, they usually use artificial irrigation. Normally, their daily meal is based upon the agricultural products and they "strongly depend on external market in sedentary and agricultural communities ….The total population of the tribe fluctuates between 2,000 and 3,000 tents (16,000 inhabitants), depending on the changing fortunes of their chiefs as political leaders and on the circumstances of South Persian Nomadism in general…. The Basseri "recognizes the authority of one supreme chief.” (Barth, 1965)
The Basseris of Iran speak different languages such as they speak a dialect of Farsi as well as they also speak Arabic and Turkish but the vast number of basseri people prefer and normally use Basseri dialect.
The Basseri tribe was the branch of the confederacy of Khamseh that were established during the nineteenth century’s time period. On the beginning, the Basseri hadn’t any predominant role in that organization but after that when they flourished their presence as the key element in the confederacy, the confederacy itself vanished its own significance as a socio-political identity. (Khanam , 2005)
The Perspective of Kinship Organization
One of the key social units of Basseri tribes is the cluster of people who use and share a tent. The Basseri, habitually keep a count of their numbers and express their groups’ camp in terms of tents. Every tent is occupied by a sovereign family, generally comprising of a nuclear family. Tents are component of consumption and production; each is characterized by its male leader. The holder of Tent has rights over all property with flocks etc, and they can act as autonomous elements for political intentions. For the aim of further proficient herding, these all type of households unite in tiny herding units, the amalgam of which rely on expediency than to on the other basic principles of organization or/and kinship. Here it should be noticed that Kinship is the system of association among the entities that interlink with genealogical origin, via cultural, social, biological or chronological descent. The descent groups such as lineages, etc. are their own classifications.
Kinship is considers is one of the important principles for systematizing the individuals into the different segments of societal groups, categories and descent. Family associations can be portrayed concretely such as brother and mother etc or conceptually. The relationship may have considered as the comparative purchase or imitate an utter such as the dissimilarity among the mother and non-mother ladies. Relationship extents are not indistinguishable to heirship. The number of ethical codes deemed the kinship’s bond as developing the responsibilities among the correlated persons stronger than the strangers. (Britannica, 2010)
However, back to the point, in the winter season, two to five tents’ groups that are linked in shepherding units established the local camps that are alienated upto 4 kilometers from 3 kilometers from the subsequently group. While, At all other time periods of the year, camps size are larger typically comprising ten to forty tents.
These camps are in a real sense the primary communities of Basseri society that are nomadic by its nature. The camp’s associates are a very obviously enclosed social group. Their relationships to each other as ongoing neighbors are comparatively steady, while all other links are governed, passing and ephemeral by chance.
The camp’s care as a type social element needs daily common accord on questions of relocation, the choice of campsites, and all other type of economically imperative deliberations etc. Such type of agreement may be gained in a variety of ways that ranges from oppression by an authoritative leader to joint approval via negotiation by all concerned entities. The composition of a camp will therefore ultimately be determined by variable situations in the development of an agreement whereby the activities of economically autonomous households can be controlled and synchronized. The camp’s unity is improved by the existence of a acknowledged head, who represents the group for organizational and political purposes. Heads of other different camps may be characterized in two different kinds that are: headmen (sing, katkhoda ), who are officially acknowledged by the Basseri chief, and, in those camps where no headman resides, informal leaders (sing, riz safid ; lit., "white beard"). The second one, by general approval, is recognized to portray their camp in the way as a head-man does but without the official acknowledgment of the Basseri chief. Technically, therefore, the “riz safid” is work under the orders of a headman in different camps. (Bradburd, 1989)
In the Basseri tribe, a marriage is considered as the deal among the kin groups comprising whole households, and not only between contracting the spouses. The household’s head or tent has the authority to build marriage contracts for his household associates. A married man may organize consequent marriages for himself, while all women and unmarried boys are subject to the influence of a marriage guardian, who is the head of particular household. In the tribe, the contracts of marriage is regularly drawn up and documented by a nontribal ritual authority. It specify certain bride-payments for the girl and the household equipment she is predictable to bring, and the widow's or divorce’s insurance, that is an agreed share of the estate of husband that are payable upon divorce or in case of death.
When a particular family was recognized and established by marriage, generally the groom's father gave the new household as an "anticipatory inheritance", the groom received from his father's flock the fraction that he would get as a beneficiary if his father were to pass away. From the onward, the new home was on its own. If its flocks unsuccessful, it received no second legacy, nor was it loaned animals to assist it care itself.
The political system
The chief of Basseri tribe is the head of a highly powerfully centralized political system and has huge power over to the all other associates of the Basseri tribe. The chief, in the dealing or/and negotiating with the headmen, draws on their control and authority but does not handover any of his possessive power and authority back to them. Some material goods, typically some economic and prestige valuable gifts and items, such as riding animals and weapons, come from the chief to the headmen. A headman is in a politically suitable position; the headman can correspond much more liberally with the chief than can normal tribesmen, and therefore can bring up issues that are to his own personal benefit and, to some degree, delay/ block the discussion of those matters that detrimental to his own interests. However, the political power of headman that derives from the chief is not unlimited.
The headmen’s power is derived from the agnatic kinship system in a ramified descent system, as well as from the affinal and matrilateral relations. As is generally the issue in the region of Middle East, the Basseri’s agnatic lines are chief in the succession issues. The son of a Basseri is considered as Basseri, in any case, even though his mother belongs to another tribe or segment. On the other side, when a Basseri lady marries outside the tribe, she conveys no any type of rights in the tribe to her children. Even though, patrilineal kinship joins larger kin-based segments, solidarity’s bonds also tie matrikin jointly. e.g., the relation between a mother's brother and a sister's child is a lenient one amongst the Basseri. Affinal relations are also considered as the relations of kinship and solidarity. They appear to be highly efficient in developing political bonds among the tents. (Salzman, 2000)
After having discussion on the specific primary mode of subsistence and the impact of these modes on the different cultural aspects that are Kinship Social organization, Political organization and Economic organization, the key aspect that is unmasked is that in spite of the tribal nature, the Basseri tribes has the proper sociopolitical and kinship systems that act as guide to do their different activities that are the part and parcel elements of their tribal lives and on the other hand are inevitable to flourish and nurture their needs and tribal requirements.