If you have stumbled upon this article, you probably know that the nomads are a group of people that live in close harmony with nature. Their livelihood comes from their herds of sheep and goats, and thus, for providing their animals with abundant food and avoiding the cruel winters and scorching hot summers of the mountains they live in, they have to do a semi-migration or transhumance (in Farsi: Kooch) twice a year. In the spring they move from their winter pasture to their summer pasture, which is at a higher altitude, and at the start of autumn, they leave their summer pasture for the low-altitude winter pastures. The nomads of Iran come from three main tribes, but just one of these tribes still does the nomadic transhumance the way their ancestors did thousands of years ago. Even though each nomadic family follows the same pattern of migration year-long, they take different routes to their destinations, which we will elaborate on in this article. These routes can be referred to as nomadic pathways.
Bakhtiari people are divided into two main sub-tribes: Haft-Lang and Chahar-Lang. Each sub-tribe has its own nomadic pathway that is specific to them and others normally don’t pass through. It’s interesting to know that these families each have their own assigned pastures too. If you think pastures in nature are free lands able to be utilized by all, well, you’re mainly mistaken. Nomads can’t just set up camp on a first-come, first-serve basis. The right to camp and graze on each pasture is almost “owned” by each family and gets passed on to the next generation of that family.
1. Taraz Pathway
Located in the most northern part, this nomadic pathway is one of the main routes used by Hafrrt-Lang nomads, and it takes them 30 days to reach their pastures.
2. Hezarchame Pathway
Nomads spend around 10 days in this nomadic pathway
3. Tange-Falleh Pathway
The nomads usually spend around 10 days in this nomadic pathway.
4. Dezpart Pathway
This nomadic pathway is one of the main & oldest Bakhtiaris’ migration routes. It is the most southern nomadic pathway. Most Bakhtiari nomads whose summer pastures are in Boroujen & Farsan take this route to reach their winter pastures in Izeh & masjed Soleiman, and it takes them 30 days to pass it.
1. Mayvand Pathway
This nomadic pathway is about 400 kilometers and It takes 20 days for the nomads to pass through this nomadic pathway.
2. Freydan to Sardasht Pathway
Nomads go through this pathway in 25 days.
These are the main nomadic pathways but there are many other pathways that merge with these nomadic pathways in different seasons. Sometimes the families divide between these other pathways or they even choose different dates to start the transhumance so as to avoid their herds mixing up with other families’ herds and to ensure there is an abundance of free grass for every family. Needless to say that the more prominent families have better pastures and bigger herds.
Sometimes during Kooch (nomadic transhumance), a family has to wait for the rain to stop to begin moving again, in these examples, they stop in their own family’s nomadic pathway. These pathways are known to the nomads and the knowledge passes down from parents to children so that each family’s descendants know which pathways are theirs. It’s not that the families aren’t allowed to pass through different nomadic pathways, it’s more like a known agreement to avoid any unwanted quarrels or mishaps from happening. An example that we saw in our latest encounter with the nomads illustrated this perfectly. We (unaware of the boundaries between nomadic families) had gone to gather firewood. When we returned to our host family and told them where we had gathered our wood from, they quickly asked us to return the firewood to its place because the place that we gathered them was in another family’s pathway and technically it belonged to them. Our hosts didn’t think that the other family will come to us to ask about firewood, but they just thought it’s unfair to take something from another family’s territory.