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Basseri of Iran - Research Paper Example

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Basseri of Iran- The pastoral nomads The Middle East, the cradle of civilization, has a long-standing history of nomadic life. The life of nomads in the vast deserts is more than often a typical example of pastoral nomadism. It is pointed out that “prior to the twentieth century, (all of) Iran’s tribes had economies based on nomadic pastoralism” (Beck, 1980)…
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Basseri of Iran

Download file to see previous pages... One definition offered for pastoral nomads is that they are “societies specializing in animal husbandry requiring periodic movement” (Barfield, 1984). For such societies, “animal husbandry is …an ideal way of making a living” and “movement of all or part of the society is considered a normal and natural part of life” (Barfield, 1984). Another interesting aspect of this people is that in the modern context, though they may be making more income out of activities other than pastoralism, still “the concept of nomadic pastoralism remains central to their own identities” (Barfield, 1984). Generations who have remained pastoral nomads have instilled a unique culture into this people, which cannot be erased by modernity that easily. Phillips (2001) has observed that “Basseri are true nomads, sometimes moving camp nearly everyday” (p.286). Studies (Phillips, 2001) about Basseri have shown that a group of Basseris may establish and re-erect their tent on an average of “120 times a year” (p.286). As seasons change, they follow a route that take them into pastures along the valleys and also help their cattle cope with the rising temperatures (Philipps, 2001, p.286). During summer, thus they reach the high altitudes and in the autumn, commence the return journey to the valleys (Philipps, 2001, p.286). In this way, Basseri is a people constantly on the move. And the movement in their life is connected with their primary mode of subsistence. A section of these nomads have now become sedentary while another major section still remains true to their nomadic culture (Philipps, 2001, p.283). Primary mode of subsistence As discussed above, the primary mode of subsistence for Basseri tribe has been pastoralism. They have a pattern of “annual movement cycles” which make them travel according to the climate and availability of grass for their cattle (Marx, 1977, p.344). They are also seen to move around based on “subsistence units”, which are specific areas that they move into under the norm that it is their “territory” (Marx, 1977, p.344). The livelihood of Basseri tribe has been by selling meat and skin, and other pastoral products (Tapper, 1997, p.21). Anthropologists have even named the pastoral and nomadic tribes of Iran as “units of subsistence”, a nomenclature indicative of how the very mode of subsistence becomes their socio-cultural identity. Pastoralist Being pastoral does not mean that the only subsistence of a society is pastoralism. Instead such a nomenclature is just indicative that “as long as economic alternatives are insecure, and pastoralism serves as the economic base, …people are justly called pastoral nomads” (Marx, 1977, p.344). But the more important aspect, as discussed above is that pastoralism is always “the mainstay of their culture” (Marx, 1977, p. 344). Another fact is that pastoralism is found to develop only in places where “water is seasonally in short supply” (Marx, 1977, p.345). In the deserts of Middle East, every year, there are alternating dry and wet spells of weather. It is to cope with this climatic condition that Basseri tribe became nomadic and pastoral. Culture The Basseri culture is distinct with strong ties of kinship, which has resulted in the formation of independent families who inhabit a tent. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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