The Bakhtiari are much more than a localised tribe of pastoral nomads. They have been politically and strategically important at several turning points in the history of what is now called Iran. Most famously, they played a key military role in the Constitutional Revolution – even invading Tehran in 1909 – and an important political role both at that time and in the aftermath. Since then, although many Bakhtiari have ranked high in various (pre-revolutionary) government institutions, their power has dwindled somewhat.
This brief outline cannot attempt to provide a comprehensive political history of the Bakhtiari – Professor Gene Garthwaite has anyway already done this superlatively well, supplemented by Dr Stephanie Cronin in her review of the later period. I have drawn on both of these resources in the text below.
This section instead uses images – many rarely seen – to illustrate key events and individuals, including around:
- The Earliest Years
- The Great Khan, Hossein Gholi Khan, and the period of turbulence after his death
- Links with the British – related to the Lynch or Bakhtiari road and later to oil discovery and exploration
- The Constitutional Revolution, and the subsequent period of so-called Bakhtiari Domination
- The later period
To set this in context, Professor Gene Garthwaite has contributed a brief commentary on the social structure of the Bakhtiari – and how this, within a pastoral nomadic economy of shifting needs for grass and water, leads to a continually renegotiated system of internal alliances and disputes.
I am especially indebted for the images in this section to many members of the extensive and warm Bakhtiari family (see bakhtiarifamily.com and bakhtiari.ning.com (no longer available)). Many thanks to all of them!