CLOTHING xxv. Clothing of the Baḵtīārīs and other Lori speaking tribes



xxv. Clothing of the Baḵtīārīs and other Lori speaking tribes

Members of the Lori-speaking ethnic groups, including the Lors themselves, the Baḵtīārīs, and the Boīr-Aḥmadīs are characterized by similar styles of dress, with variations reflecting differences in tribe and social class of the wearer, variations that can have strong symbolic meaning, particularly among the Baḵtīārīs. There have been significant changes in the basic male dress in this century, as a comparison of current dress with that observed by travelers in the 19th and early 20th centuries reveals (d’Allemagne, IV, pp. 181-82; Bishop, II, pp. 106-07; Cooper, pp. 132, 236; Sardār(-e) Asʿad Baḵtīārī, pp. 233, 254, 416-17, 596, 647; Layard, 1887, passim; Lynch, pp. 540-45); the major changes occurred as a result of the clothing reforms imposed during the reign of Reżā Shah (1303-20 Š./1924-41; see xi, above).

The men of all these tribal groups wear a costume composed of the same basic elements: a felt cap (kola), a shirt and vest, long trousers of varying de­grees of fullness (tombūn or šawlār), and sandals (gīva). Nowadays a small cap (sometimes called šaw-kola) of beige, brown, or black felt is the most common head covering. Among the Baḵtīārīs, however, it is worn only by boys and shepherds; mature men and chiefs prefer the kola-ḵosrowī, which is taller, almost cylin­drical in form, and black (though formerly sometimes white among the ranking chiefs, ḵavānīn-e bozorg). Particularly characteristic of Lori male costume is the čuqā, a straight, knee-length, sleeveless tunic of natural white wool with vertical indigo stripes (Figure 74). Today it is often worn over a Western jacket (kot). The čuqā was probably once found only in Luristan and must have spread among the Baḵtīārīs in the 1940s, replacing the qabā (cloak). It is possible that Baḵtīārī men gave up the qabā more willingly than some of their other garments because it was commonly worn throughout Persia and did not constitute a distinctive part of their traditional costume. The finest čuqās are called čuqā-līvāsī, after a village in Luristan celebrated for making them. Travelers before 1338/1920 (see above) described a shirt with a straight collar buttoned on the side (jomā); it has now totally disappeared. The Lors wear narrow trousers (pāpūš) without any special features. The trousers constitute the most distinctive part of Baḵtīārī male dress, however, serving as a badge of tribal identification (Digard, 1981, pp. 211­-13); in fact, qorbatīs “foreigners” (to the tribe) are not permitted to wear them. These trousers (šawlār-gošād, tombūn) are black, cut very wide (120 cm around the leg), and are usually worn over underdrawers (zīr­šawlār), often simple pajamas; for reasons of economy, however, boys and shepherds often wear only the underdrawers. The trousers are held up by a leather belt or a large sash of rolled white cloth (šāl), in the folds of which it is customary to carry useful objects like a pipe and a knife. The sandals are of the gīva-­malekī type, with pointed leather toes that curve up­ward. Beside these basic elements several additional garments are worn for specific purposes, for example, the felt capes and mantles of the shepherds (abā-nemet, kordīn, šenel, ferej).

The women of the Zagros have never worn the veil (čādor) and still do not do so, except when they visit the towns. Their costume has varied less over time than that of the men. It consists of a headdress; a knee-­length dress slit on the sides, with long sleeves (pīrhan, jomā, jowa); and a long, full skirt (as much as 8-10 m around the hem) gathered at the waist (tombūn-zanūna) and worn over zīr-šawlār. The groups differ mainly in the headdress. In the north (Luristan) it consists of a kind of turban (tarā; Figure 75) wrapped over a scarf (tarā awwal), which allows the hair to flow free. In the south (Baḵtīārīs and Boīr Aḥmadīs) the women wear a hood (lačak; Figure 76) to which a veil (meynā) is pinned in such a way as to frame the face without hiding it. The hair, parted in the middle, is arranged in two braids, which are joined under the chin, thus also framing the face. In winter a velvet caftan (balkāl) completes the outfit. Female garments are usually in very bright colors, except during periods of mourning. There is hardly any difference in dress between social classes, except in the quality of fabrics and the richness of ornament (e.g., glass beads and coins).

Young children, both boys and girls, usually wear clothes only on the torso; their heads are also covered, and a number of amulets are worn suspended down the back. At about five or six years they begin to wear appropriate adult clothing, but until they reach mar­riage age their garments are only pallid imitations of those of their parents.



H.-R. d’Allemagne, Du Khorassan au pays des Bakhtiaris. Trois mois de voyage en Perse, 4 vols., Paris, 1911.

I. M. L. B. Bishop, Journeys in Persia and Kurdistan, Including a Summer in the Upper Karun Region and a Visit to the Nestorian Rayahs, 2 vols., London, 1891.

M. C. Cooper, Grass, London, 1925.

J.-P. Digard, “La parure chez les Baxtyâri,” Objets et mondes 11/1, 1971, pp. 117-32.

Idem, “Note sur quelques vêtements Baxtyâri,” Cahiers de la Délégation archéologique française en Iran 6, 1976, pp. 117-28.

Idem, Tech­niques des nomades Baxtyâri, Cambridge and Paris, 1981.

C. G. Feilberg, Les Papis, tribu de nomades montagnards du sud-ouest de l’Iran, Copenhagen, 1952.

A. H. Layard, Early Adventures in Persia, Susiana, and Babylonia, Including a Residence among the Bakhtiari and Other Wild Tribes, 2 vols., London, 1887.

R. Loffler, E. Friedl, and A. Janata, “Die materielle Kultur von Boir Ahmad, Südiran. Zweite ethnographische Sammlung,” Archiv für Völkerkunde 28, 1974, pp. 61-142.

H. H. B. Lynch, “Across Luristan to Ispahan,” Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society 12/9, 1890, pp. 533-53.

Sardār(-e) Asʿad Baḵtīārī, Tārīḵ-e Baḵtīārī, Tehran, 1333 Š./1954.

(Jean-Pierre Digard)

Originally Published: December 15, 1992

Last Updated: October 25, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. V, Fasc. 8, pp. 852-854