Nomads of South Persia

Barth, Fredrik: Nomads of South Persia. The Basseri tribe of the Khamseh Confederacy

This study is based on the author’s three-month-stay among the Basseri nomads in Iran in 1958. Before the publication of this book, there were few previous studies in the literature on any of the nomadic groups in the Middle East, and none on the Khamseh. From a general ecologic viewpoint, Barth describes the different kinds of pastoral adaptation in the South Persian environment – starting with the elementary units of tents, or households, a description is given of the progressively larger units of herding groups, camps, the whole tribe and its major divisions, and the unifying political structure of the tribe and the confederacy.

In this thorough analysis, Barth explores the features of and the economic, social, and political adaptations to the nomadic, pastoral existence of this tent-dwelling population: the drama of herding and migration; the idleness of a pastoral existence where the herds satisfy the basic needs of man; the freedom, or necessity, of movement through a vast, barren landscape.

Table of Contents

1. History, Ecology and Economy
2. Domestic Units
3. Camps
4. Tribe and Sections
5. Chieftainship
6. Attached Gypsy Tribe
7. External Relations
8. Economic Processes
9. Demographic Processes
10. The Forms of Nomadic Organization in South Persia
Appendix. The Ritual Life of the Basseri

First published: 1961, Universitetsforlaget

Fredrik Barth: Biography and bibliography

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