Shāhsevan Nomads

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History of Shāhsevan Nomads

The history of the Shāhsevan nomads is related to the clans and Turkmens connected to the Ghoz Turks, who have lived a nomadic life in the east of the Caspian Sea since the distant past. They left for Khorasan about 1000 years ago and after the rebellion against Muhammad Ghaznavi, left for the plains and slopes of Mount Sabalān, and some settled in Ardabil and some in Moghan Plain, and since then, the Turkish language has spread among the people and residents of Azerbaijan, which today is called the Azeri language.

Settlement of the Shāhsevan Nomads

The fertile plain of Moghan in the wide plain of Ardabil, which is influenced by the weather and climatic conditions of Mount Sablan, is one of the greenest and most fertile places in the country and shelters the Shāhsevan nomads in the Qeshlāq area (temporary settlement of ​​the nomads and their herd in the autumn and winter seasons that is relatively warm). Kooch (biannual migration) is one of the necessities of nomadic life, which is practiced in two ways: vertical migration and horizontal migration. In Ardabil province, the migration is vertical and starts from the lowest altitude and continues up to the altitude of 4500 meters. The migration continues for more than 400 km, which includes spring migration and autumn migration.


The Shāhsevans are groups of Iranian Turkish clans that were organized by Shah Abbas I to secure the position of Qezelbāsh Turk clans, which have since become known as the Shāhsevans of Ardabil and Meshgin Shahr. During the rule of Qājār dynasty, many activities took place in the territory of Shāhsevans. Especially during the time of Fath Ali Shah, with the conclusion of the Golestan Treaty between Iran and Russia, the Russians settled in the Tālesh region and the northern parts of Moghan, and this caused a threat to the Qeshlāq lands of the Shāhsevans, and according to the Treaty of Turkmenchay, Iran’s borders were limited from the north. As a result, a large part of the Qeshlāq area of the Shāhsevan nomads was lost.


Livelihood of the Shāhsevan tribe’s nomads is solely based on animal husbandry in the summer and winter pastures (Yeylāq and Qeshlāq respectively). The main residence of the Shāhsevan tribe in Qeshlāq (winter pasture) is usually a building and in Yeylāq (summer pasture), gazebo (which has wooden structures and a wooden dome-shaped hemisphere called Chanbareh). Its outer cover is made of white felt made from sheep wool and decorated in a unique way. Its external covering (felt) is cut into regular pieces called tarak by the men and sewn according to the desired size and shape. Gazebo is the main place to live and receive guests in celebrations and ceremonies.
Another type of house of the Shāhsevan tribe, Komeh, is a gray house in the form of a hallway. Kumeh is often used as a kitchen and is basically a place to obtain dairy products and do other nomadic chores that are principally done by nomad women.


In the contemporary period, the clothes of men and women of the Shāhsevans are the same as the clothes of the villagers of Meshgin Shahr, Moghan and Arasbārān regions, but some changes and transformations have occurred in the type and shape of the clothes of the Shāhsevans as well. For example at the beginning of the contemporary solar century, the men of the region also had special clothing, which today, even in the most remote part of Azerbaijan, no traces of it can be seen. Currently, the clothes of the Shāhsevan men are similar to the clothes of rural and urban men, and although according to job requirements, lifestyle, habits, and tastes, their clothes do not have the color and polish of urban men’s clothes, the combination of clothes in summer or winter or different types of hats and the shoes are quite the same with a little difference in the material.
Nevertheless, the women of Shāhsevan have preserved the originality and traditional texture of their clothes to some extent, and even in some cases, they have not introduced any new pattern or combination in the traditional texture of their clothes.