AMLAŠ, small town and district in southeastern Gilān (q.v.).
The town of Amlaš is located at lat 37°05′ N, long 50°11′ E, on the right bank of the Šalmānrud. After having long been the center of a rural district (dehestān) of the same name within the district (šahrestān) of Rudsar (q.v.), it was appointed as the center of a new district during the administrative rearrangements of 1998. Amlaš district corresponds with the former rural districts of Amlaš and Kojid, with an area of 408 km² and a population of 46,358 inhabitants according to the 2006 census (Markaz). The new district is divided into two sub-districts (baḵš): (1) Markazi, which includes the two rural districts of Amlaš-e jonubi and Amlaš-e šomāli, on the piedmont and lower hills of the Alborz, and (2) Rānekuh in the mountain area to the south, with the rural districts of Somām, Šabḵoslāt, and Kojid.
The Gilak population speaks Gilaki-Gāleši, which is somewhat different from the Gilaki dialect spoken in the plain in Lāhijān and Rudsar (Bazin and Bromberger, p. 14 and map 3). The population can be divided into two groups: the fully sedentary peasants on the plain, piedmont, and lower valleys, and the gāleš (cowherds) and čupān (shepherds) of the mountain area.
The former cultivate paddy in the plain and along valleys, which are irrigated by derivations from the Šalmānrud and local streams or from small reservoirs, and tea on the first slopes of the hills, covering respectively in 1986, according to S. Balai (p. 107), 4,435 ha (49.6 percent of the cultivated area) and 3,224 ha (36 percent). Sericulture, once very active, has sharply declined (only 245 ha, 1.5 percent). Large estates have been divided among peasants by the land reform, but the resulting holdings are extremely fragmented; half of the paddy area is cultivated in holdings smaller than one hectare (Balai, p. 127).
The gāleš and čupāns combine pastoral life and work migrations, resulting in especially complex migratory patterns (Pourfickoui and Bazin, pp. 62-67). On the one hand, they use four pastoral levels: winter pastures (qešlāq) in the low altitude forests, two intermediate levels (neṣfe-rudḵān) between 1,600 and 2,000 meters around mountain villages like Omām, where they sow some wheat and barley, and the highest summer pastures (yeylāq) up to 2,400 meters. Omām was the summer resort of the khans of Amlaš, whose magnificent residences can still be seen. On the other hand, they complete their income by working on the piedmont and plain. Men prepare paddy fields in late winter or pick citrus fruit in the eastern part of Rudsar district from November to March, and women work in transplanting paddy seedlings in spring and picking tealeaves in summer. Whereas weaving šāl (a woolen cloth pressed with soapy water to make it relatively waterproof) has almost disappeared, a number of specialized craftsmen press felt (q.v.) in villages around Amlaš. In the village of Eškar Meydān, 5 km to the northeast of Amlaš, a group of specialized (male) potters use the potter’s wheel to produce various earthenware vessels and also make churns (Achouri, pp. 34, 39, 45).
Before the mid-20th century, Amlaš was known only as a large village with a weekly market on Tuesdays. Since then it has rapidly developed as a commercial center and an important tea-processing place, with four factories. It was recognized as a municipality in 1970 and later ascended to the rank of šahrestān center in 1998. Its population has grown from 5,350 inhabitants in 1966 to 9,488 in 1986 and 15,047 in 2006 (Markaz, 1986, 2006).
M. T. Achouri, La poterie artisanale au Gilân, doctoral dissertation, Aix-en-Provence, 1977.
S. Balai, Aménagement hydro-agricole. Développement de la région rurale de Roudsar (Guilan Oriental, Iran), doctoral dissertation, University of Paris I, 1991.
M. Bazin and C. Bromberger, Gilân et Âzarbayjân oriental. Cartes et documents ethnographiques, Paris, 1982.
Markaz-e āmār-e Irān, Saršomāri-e ʿomumi-e nofus o maskan [decennial national census], Tehran, 1966-2006.
A. Pour-Fickoui and M. Bazin, Elevage et vie pastorale dans le Guilân (Iran septentrional), Paris, 1978.
H.-L. Rabino, Les provinces caspiennes de la Perse : le Guilân, RMM 32, Paris, 1915-16, pp. 197-208.
Originally Published: December 15, 1989
Last Updated: January 18, 2012