ASĀLEM, a mountainous district in Ṭāleš, now a dehestān of the central baḵš of the šahrestān of Ṭawāleš, province of Gīlān, Iran. Stretching about 11 km along the Caspian Sea, it comprises the whole basin of the Nāv-rūd and the upper valley of the Rūd-e Dīnāčāl (or Rūd-e Lomer), the lower reaches of which mark the border with the district of Ṭāleš-Dūlāb to the south; to the north, the small stream of Ḵālačašma (or Sardāb) separates it from the district of Kargānrūd. It is inhabited by Sunni Ṭāleš, who speak a dialect that is close to those of Kargānrūd and Ṭāleš-Dūlāb, and by some Shiʿite Turks native of Ḵalḵāl. It had a population of 21,800 inhabitants in 1355 Š./1976.

This district possesses several ancient monuments, like the torba of Pīr-e Herāt in Gīlān-deh, the shrine of Čav Owlīā in Kārband, or the ruins of the Espīa Mazgat (white mosque) of Kīšḵāla, but it only appears in history in the time of Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah Qāǰār, who recognized the authority of Moḥammad Khan Asālemī in return for his help against Mīr Moṣṭafā Khan of Nāmīn (J. B. Fraser, Travels and Adventures in the Persian Provinces on the Southern Banks of the Caspian Sea, London, 1826, p. 145).

Its main economic activities are growing rice in the plain, wheat and maize in the mid-mountain region around the old villages of Nāv and Lomer, and raising cows and sheep, migrating between the qešlāq forests and the sub-alpine yeylāq; its very beautiful beech groves support an industrial sawmill at Ḵalīfaābād-e Asālem. Its present center, the bazaar of Asālem, has developed along the Bandar-e Anzalī-Āstārā road, half way between the residence of the ancient khans at Dīgasarā and the old market, situated on the Caspian shore at Sīāḥčāl. One of the only roads passable by motor vehicles across the range of Ṭāleš links Asālem to Herūābād, the center of the šahrestān of Ḵalḵāl.

See also Ṭāleš.


M. Bazin, Le Tâlech, une région ethnique au nord de l’Iran, 2 vols., Paris, 1980, passim.

Kayhān, Joḡrafīā II, pp. 278-80.

H. L. Rabino, Les provinces caspiennes de la Perse. Le Guîlân, Paris, 1917, pp. 101-06.

Razmārā, Farhang II, pp. 10, 229.

M. Sotūda, Az Āstārā tā Astārbād I, Tehran, 1349 Š./1970, pp. 69-83.

(M. Bazin)

Originally Published: December 15, 1987

Last Updated: August 16, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. II, Fasc. 7, pp. 701-702

Cite this entry:

M. Bazin, “ASĀLEM,” Encyclopædia Iranica, II/7, pp. 701-702, available online at (accessed on 30 December 2012).