The most important and emblematic element in the Bakhtiari life is the tent (“Bohon”) and the whole family lives in there. The campaments (“mâl”) gather the extended family and it is formed by several tents. If we look closely to these campaments we will be able to find out much information about the families living in there:
- The season: light and open tents are for the summer, and bigger and hotter ones are for the winter.
- The social status: from 10 to 12 for a chief campament and from 2 to 5 for the simple nomads.
- The wealth: A Spacious tent in good conditions with more than 10 posts means that it belongs to a rich family, and a used and repaired tent with seams and patches are for a poorer family.
- Nomad Tents
The traditional tent has an awning form. It consists of black vellum, made of strips of goat hair stitched together lengthwise, which is supported by two parallel rows of vertical poles simply placed on the ground. The stability of the whole is ensured by the tension of the velum created by the ropes that are connected to the floor by big stones or stakes planted on earth. The central row of masts delimits two sections, one descending to the ground, over a stone wall (“Chol”), the other being raised towards the front by the second row of masts.
- Caves as Nomads’ Shelter
In the mountains of the central part of Bakhtiari territories, the broken relief offers numerous natural caves (“Eshkoft”). These caves are used in winter as sheepfold or in some cases adjustment as habitations.
- Concrete Houses
Concrete houses (“Khuna” or “khonwa”) are common among Bakhtiaries. Especially after the sedentarization campaigns carried out by the government at the beginning of the XX century. Normally, these houses have a high wall made out of stones and/or adobe. The roof is covered with earth. Nomads living in houses doesn´t mean that they have abandoned the nomadic tradition. It’s usual to find nomads moving from one house to the other or from house to a camp for the summer.
The Inner Layout of Nomads’ Lodge
The inner layout is pretty much the same everywhere among Bakhtiaries. On one side, there is a domestic space (“Keyvânu”) for women and young children. Here we can find the firebox; the wood for the fire; the bottles for water and yogurt and bags with flour, sugar, thé or the loom. On the other side, we have the space reserved for the men (“lâmerdon”) which is adorned with a carpet, mats and pillows to receive visitors. In some cases (but not always), these two spaces are divided with a movable partition (A curtain or a mat).
Likewise the tent, all the belongings must be flexible and transportable. Goatskin Flask (“mashk”), saddlebags (“khorjin” or “hurzhin”) and bags will be always better than pottery or chests. These containers are aligned, with the bedding, on the stone wall that marks the bottom of the tent
The article is about Bakhtiari Nomads based on the book “Une épopée Tribale en Iran” written by Jean-Pierre Digard