ETHNOGRAPHY, the basic field research method in anthropology. This article, which treats the corpus of ethnographic data, complements the article on anthropology (q.v.) which treats the history of ideas underlying the research. It is divided into four sections: (1) Introduction, which discusses the objectives and limitations of the ethnographic enterprise; (2) Guide to available material, which surveys the types of data that ethnography has produced in Iran; (3) Index of localities, communities, and topics described, and (4) Bibliography, which gives full references to available sources.


Ethnography has become an established component of the repertoire of research methods. It was developed in anthropology, but in recent decades its use has spread widely in the social sciences and the humanities. The critical evaluation of ethnographic data is not yet well developed. Appropriate use of this type of material therefore requires an understanding of its special strengths and weaknesses. These derive not only from the objectives that underlie ethnographic work, both conscious and unconscious, but also from the cultural background of the investigators, the various factors that condition each particular relationship between investigator and subject, and other factors that arise from the particular time and place of the observation. All of these factors have changed over time and continue to evolve.

The term “ethnography” first appeared in England in the 1830s. It was coined after a German model to characterize the burgeoning literature in English on the manners and customs of the “races” (ethna) of the world. By the end of the 19th century ethnography had become the general term for qualitative data on other cultures and societies, and also for the field inquiries that produced them. It began as the study of tribal, non-literate societies. Later, and especially since the 1950s, it has moved progressively into the arena of contemporary societies generally, including modern industrial societies, and now deals consciously with the entirety of the human record. It developed as an integral component of anthropology (within the branch sometimes called ethnology, later mainly social or cultural anthropology), which was first established in major universities in England and America in the 1880s with the mandate to document and make sense of the full range of human variation.

The first landmark in the history of ethnography was the compilation in 1839 (long before anthropology was professionalized), by a committee of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (Section H) and the Anthropological Institute in London, of the lines of inquiry to be pursued by ethnographers, entitled “Notes and Queries on Anthropology.” This handbook was updated in successive editions until 1971. However, ethnography was formally conceptualized as a systematic research method by Bronislaw Malinowski (see Argonauts of the Western Pacific, London, 1922, especially pp. 2-25).

In the United States a comprehensive and rationalized framework for the collection and organization of ethnographic data was provided in a work entitled Outline of Cultural Materials (by G. P. Murdock, New Haven, 1938). The historical development of ethnography up to the middle of the century was reviewed by A. L. Kroeber (in Ethnographic Interpretations, University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 47/2, 1957, pp. 191-204).

The hallmark of the ethnographic method as developed in England after Malinowski is intensive participant observation over an extended period in a culturally alien community. The ethnographer gathers data on the day-to-day community life by observing while actually participating in it. The work usually extends over at least one full year, and is conducted in the vernacular language. Observation is supplemented by discussion with local informants. The core of anthropological training for ethnographic research consists primarily in the comparative study of ethnographic reports from various parts of the world. This study culminates typically in a first ethnographic experience, often lasting as much as two years, which is intensely personal in both emotional and more general psychological terms, and occasionally traumatic. Many of the ethnographic monographs in the bibliography below, and most of the dissertations, derive from such an experience. For some this was the only such experience, and if successful (from the professional point of view) the field notes might be mined for data to support various theoretical arguments throughout the ensuing professional career.

Ethnographers do not observe randomly or report comprehensively. Each ethnographic field project is designed within the framework of the evolving corpus of theoretical discussions on the explanation of variation and difference in human thought and behavior from community to community. Although the development of theoretical awareness among ethnographers was gradual, by the 1950s it had become at least equally as important in the choice of a research community as the objective of finding new material from areas of the world as yet unstudied. It required them, for example, to demonstrate how local, culturally specific ways of seeing the world made sense in their own terms, how community life “worked” in the sense that each unit of the ethnographer’s description served to reinforce the cohesive functioning of the life of the community. Other more complex ways of making sense of ethnographic data, and of formulating problems for ethnographic investigation have emerged since the middle of the century.

The primary objective of professional ethnography is therefore both descriptive and synthetic: the extrapolation of patterns from what can be recorded of the everyday life of a community for the purpose of comparison and contrast with similar data from elsewhere, and the further development of our theoretical understanding of social and cultural processes. The ethnographer’s cross-cultural training enables him to record and make sense of the experience of a community of which he has no previous experience according to an agenda developed from a broad exposure, both personal and vicarious, to cultural variation in general, in order to make cross-cultural comparisons that will assist in the study not only of particular cultural processes, but also of the human condition in general—human nature, irrespective of cultural variation. This is too large an objective to be achieved routinely. A number of specializations have therefore evolved, some perennial, others changing with intellectual interest.

The strengths of this orientation inevitably bring with them a number of potential weaknesses. The need to see order in observed phenomena by extrapolating regularities encourages the ethnographer not only (a) to be more interested in pattern than process, but (b) to assume that modernization and various external influences have disrupted many regularities and (c) to reconstruct a recent past when such influences can be assumed not to have been operating. This assumption is often encouraged by local informants.

Awareness of the various ways in which these strengths and weaknesses affect the ethnographic product make it significantly more valuable. To begin with, it is important to understand how ethnographers formulate their research problems and organize the larger ethnographic library for which the data are gathered. They have always been confronted by the challenge of how to reduce the infinite variety of social and cultural data to some sort of order. They therefore classify it, and develop their research projects in the light of their classification, which then in turn conditions what they pay most attention to in their observations and documentation. Early classifications were largely geographical, but by 1900 or so historical factors had also become important. Towards the 1940s structural factors were being added liberally to this mix. For example, it was a larger interest in tribal organization that led Elizabeth Bacon to develop a classification of available materials that included the Iranian region in terms of “culture areas” and of types of nomadic pastoralism. Defining an Iranian culture area is problematic because of the added dimension of literacy in Persian, the distribution of which over a vast area of Central, Western and South Asia and even beyond is not co-terminous with the types of cultural traits that most ethnographers are trained to study. Given ethnographic experience among the tribal populations of pre-contact America as a primary frame of reference, American anthropologists paid insufficient attention to the cultural importance of literate traditions and textually based universalistic religions (e.g. Islam) on the tribal populations of the Old World, and were slow to appreciate the dialectical relationship within Islamic history between the tribal and nomadic on the one hand and the settled, agricultural and urban elements of the population on the other. Bacon’s (1946) attempt to delineate the culture areas of Asia ignored the textual dimension of Iranian (as well as other Asian) cultures. Gross variations in natural conditions that were reflected in the basic economy of nomadic pastoralists seemed to offer an obvious criterion for classification, and historical and structural factors were sought to complement them. Adaptation to natural conditions, though not a focus of investigation until the late 1950s, was taken for granted. Even now defining an Iranian culture area in terms of the spread of Persian as a koine westwards with the Turks and east and south into China and India, and its use as a bureaucratic and literary medium over the past millennium, which might seem unexceptionable to historians, might not achieve general acceptance among anthropological ethnographers. Although Bacon had little direct influence on later investigators, her work represents a basic orientation in anthropology, especially in the United States, which explains several of the emphases of later ethnographic work: tribal organization was seen as culturally separate from sedentary societies, and the cultural significance of Islam was underestimated. Other anthropologists, especially from England, focused on the internal workings of individual communities irrespective of their larger cultural or historical context, still with a preference for the tribal, partly because tribes seemed easier to delimit methodologically.

Anthropological ways of classifying ethnographic data have continued to evolve. The earlier criteria of ecology and economy (even though anthropology has generally been ambivalent about the explanatory value of ecological arguments) and structural form continue to play a part, and history receives more attention than before. But as anthropology has become divided into branches specializing in different dimensions of community life, specific classifications have diverged and tend to treat smaller sectors of the field. Examples include the distribution of (oral) linguistic traits (much anthropological theory is derived from the study of language); the relation to national government; and in the study of pastoralists: migration patterns, choice of species of domesticate, and the degree of integration in the larger economy. Each classification has helped to shape the ethnographic record. The same is true of each of the theoretical interests that have motivated anthropologists to pursue ethnographic research opportunities in Iran in order to test their hypotheses (these are reviewed in the article ANTHROPOLOGY).

Conventional ethnographic research is most likely to produce significant results in open societies where ordinary people readily welcome foreigners not only as transient guests but as intimate participants in their daily lives. However, although it is difficult to do ethnography in conditions inimical to foreigners, the determination required to do it in relatively closed conditions can sometimes produce rich data. In some parts of the world (for example, much of Africa) villagers typically welcome the opportunity to discuss community life and traditions with an ethnographer; in others, an ethnographer’s inquisitive participation tends to be unwelcome and is steered away from many of the obvious topics of anthropological interest. It is not surprising that Islamic interest in ensuring the privacy of the household inhibits inquiries that by their nature intrude on the privacy of family life. It may be particularly difficult for the ethnographer to break into the public life of a community without the advantage, at least to begin with, of quasi-socialization in the private arena. For these reasons although ethnographic activity peaked in Iran in the 1970s, the corpus that has resulted contains relatively little of the rich analytical description of social interaction that characterizes the best work from some other parts of the world. Inquiries were often more successful when channeled into the areas of technology and the use of natural resources. Material culture would have been an obvious avenue to explore, but it was often missed because it did not fit the theoretical interests of the time (for exceptions see Edelberg, Feilberg, Ferdinand, Hansen, Leach, and Loeffler). Most ethnography in Iran has been conducted in tribal and especially in nomadic communities, where the distinction between public and private is more subtle and community life is more open for the ethnographer’s participation. It flourished in the 1970s up to 1978 when it was interrupted by the breakdown of social order. The post-revolutionary regime has been generally less favorable to ethnographic research.

It is difficult for the ethnographer to gain the confidence of the people he or she studies without also taking the next step and becoming their advocate in issues that involve a conflict of interest between them and neighboring communities or the government. Successful ethnographers inevitably have to guard against the tendency to “go native” and become advocates of their subjects, because of the obvious risk to the credibility of their data.

More recently ethnography has been accused of the opposite fault. It has been indicted, along with “Orientalism” (in the meaning promoted by Edward Said, in Orientalism, New York, 1978), for political bias inspired by, and serving the purposes of, the imperialist governments under which it evolved. According to this criticism it evinces the writers’ sense of their own military and cultural, perhaps even natural, superiority. Whatever the truth of this indictment, and it is certainly more difficult to find evidence for it in some works than others, cultural distortion is simply one variety of the type of distortion from which all data inevitably suffer, whether ethnographic or not, and the dangers engendered by it may, like other dangers, be obviated by our increasing sophistication in the critical use of data. The interpretations and syntheses attempted in what follows should of course be judged according to the same criteria.

Partly because of the anthropologist’s ahistorical interest in generalization, ethnography is often written in an artificially timeless “ethnographic present.” A Western tendency to see all life outside the modern West as somehow timeless makes it easy to overlook the temporal specificity of all data. Although this problem is less conspicuous in more recent work, because of the increased tempo of change all over the world it is still necessary to emphasize that all ethnographic data need to be carefully historicized before use.

The accelerating rate of social and cultural change and the growing fragmentation of modern societies is generally reflected in ethnographic writing, but no useful summary of how ethnography has recently been evolving has yet appeared. Since the 1950s ethnography has changed in significant ways, to the extent that data from different decades are not always directly comparable. Changes in theoretical interest have changed what ethnographers look for, and what they see and record. Recently, since the mid-1970s, the understanding that conflict and contradiction may be normal in the life of any community has come to be reflected in most ethnographic work. Although some ethnographers continue to emphasize observation of everyday community life, others (especially in recent decades) have been more concerned with the experience of individuals and have concentrated more on eliciting data from informants than on direct observation. Most recently, interest in the experience of the individual has intensified and led to the emergence of a literature of cultural biographies. It is important to remember that the objectives of professional ethnography proceed necessarily not only from the academic tradition that produces them but also from the larger cultural environment of the investigator, which is typically Western. Since the work discussed in this article encompasses a period of accelerating change in both the development of anthropology as an academic discipline and of the ambient Western culture, it is imperative in any discussion of ethnographic work on Iran to pay attention to the changing objectives that underlie it and the changing training of the ethnographers. Partly in response to the perception of weaknesses in the method and partly as a result of changes in Western cultural perceptions of the world there have been a number of changes of emphasis, from community to cultural process and individual experience, and from scientific objectivity to humanistic reflexivity. Any treatment of ethnography must take account of change, both in the culture under study and in the home culture. The degree to which ethnography should be, or even can be, an objective method of science or a reflexive method of the humanities and the arts is an issue that has arisen since the 1970s and is unresolved.

Ethnography is not the only anthropological research method. Although it remains the most characteristic field research method, much anthropological work, especially in recent decades, is at least partly based on one or more complementary methods, such as ethnohistory (the correlation of documentary and various circumstantial materials with oral history), and other methods borrowed and adapted from linguistics, history, and the other social sciences.

While remaining the key method of social and cultural anthropology, starting in the 1960s ethnography has spread more generally through the social sciences, and even into the humanities. Non-academic applications have also emerged, especially for purposes of cultural salvage or to assist economic development. In such circumstances it is typically constrained by deadlines, a condition which tends to vitiate the advantages of the method, but it should be noted that other market pressures have also conspired to reduce the average length of all ethnographic field seasons.

The original emphasis on the significance of cultural distance between the ethnographer and his or her subject necessitates some special discussion of the work of Iranians in this field. It is important to remember that not all ethnography is cross-cultural. Apart from a number of ethnographic studies by Americans in America beginning in the 1930s and studies by English anthropologists in London in the 1950s, anthropologists in Europe and America began as early as the 1930s to accept students from other parts of the world, who then mostly returned to study their own societies. The numbers were small at first, but have increased since the 1960s. This intra-cultural ethnography was based on the assumption that the ethnographer was enabled by his training to approach his own culture as though from outside, but this assumption is no longer dominant. The need for cultural distance between observer and observed was taken for granted. Systematic observation was possible only across a cultural discontinuity. Ethnographers who worked within their own cultural tradition were handicapped because they would be likely to take for granted much of what they saw, and fail to see much that would be anthropologically interesting. Although intra-cultural ethnography is now common, discomfort with it lingers and its potential weakness when compared with cross-cultural observation is still recognized. Since the early 1960s many Iranians have conducted ethnographic research in Iran, first following an amateur interest in cultural heritage, and later both as part of degree programs (in the West at first, later in Iran as well) and as employees of government agencies, and as amateurs. However, although a great deal of important data on rural communities in Iran has been published by Iranian scholars and writers, most of it is relatively short-term and focused on the documentation of external aspects of cultural life, such as material culture, local lore and other questions that in the West would more commonly be included in folklore and musicology, concerned with national heritage and cultural salvage. (It is perhaps significant that no technical term for “ethnography” has emerged in Persian.) The journals Honar o mardom and Mardom-æenāsī in particular are valuable sources of this type of material.

Two more types of material similarly should be distinguished. First, a category of writing which is commonly associated with ethnography is the work of travelers, missionaries, government employees, adventurers and other incidental observers, who for their own professional reasons reside and travel in the community they are describing. However, although ethnography began from these origins, this work became a distinct genre, and though discussed briefly below it is treated at greater length in a later article (see TRAVELERS). Secondly, the work of Iranian observers and commentators, modern and earlier, who although not consciously applying an ethnographic method, are nevertheless describing community life for non-participants. This type of work includes also a considerable body of writing that evinces various degrees of cultural introspection, reflection and analysis of common behavior and thinking (cf. e.g. Mostawfī), not only treatises on how to do things (i.e. professional or trade manuals), but didactic essays on correct behavior and reminiscences. This material is mainly in Persian, and may occasionally be found in other languages of the region. It increases during the nineteenth century, and again in the 1970s.

It is difficult to find work by Iranians that would match the definition of ethnography given above before the 1960s, at which time it was a Western graft into an Iranian academic environment. But the history of Iranian cultural awareness that would be comparable to Western ethnographic work remains to be written. Just as many writers on the history of anthropology in the West find progenitors in periods long before the interests were explicitly defined, episodes of writing that evince similar cultural awareness may certainly be found in Iran in the later Qajar period, if not before. In this article, however, such work is included only incidentally. It is should also be noted that until well into the 1960s there was very little collaboration with Iranians in ethnographic work.

In light of this discussion it is not always easy to determine what should be included in this article. The boundaries necessarily remain fuzzy. But it has seemed most useful to err rather on the side of inclusion, in line with the objective to provide a guide to all qualitative data that would not obviously fall under other headings, such as historical or literary, and in order to complement other related articles, such as ANTHROPOLOGY, ʿAŠĀYER, and others on specific regions and communities. Whereas the article ANTHROPOLOGY focuses on the anthropologists and the ideas they were pursuing, this article deals with the information they have produced, insofar as it serves Iranian studies, rather than anthropological theory. An effort has been made to extrapolate what may be characteristically Iranian without losing sight of the diversity of the Iranian region. The emphasis throughout is on summarizing significant ethnographically reported information about communities conditioned by the Persian koine, with an emphasis on work based on relatively long-term participant observation. At the same time it is important to bear in mind that much of what at first appears distinctively Iranian, when seen in the context of the larger ethnographic literature turns out to have a more extensive distribution, not just in the Islamic world or among pastoral nomads, but further afield in Asia and even beyond.

Three examples will serve to illustrate the major types of similarity and the reasons for them. Firstly, the definition of the right hand as the eating hand, though distinctive in traditional Iran, is at least as important in Hindu communities in India, where it has been the subject of an important linguistic study (Emeneau) that demonstrates how linguistic processes have been the vehicle of its expansion throughout India in recent times. Secondly, similarities in the technologies associated with animal husbandry, especially among nomadic pastoralists, beyond the Iranian region, for example in ex-Buddhist areas of eastern central Asia and Tibet, may be partly historical and partly independent consequences of adaptation to environmental factors and to pressures from markets and political centers. Thirdly, although the details of the expression of female modesty (ḥejāb) vary widely, the justification of them is integral to Islam as a blueprint for the organization of public life, and the underlying principles (which pre-date Islam and are culturally and geographically more widely distributed) are found in similar form in Hindu India and in the Christian Mediterranean. The elaborate framing of public interaction by means of formulaic language, generically known as taʿārof in modern Persian provides yet another obvious example of an organizational form that is a general trait of civilization in Asia and could fruitfully be studied cross-culturally in South and East Asia as well as the Iranian region. What is distinctive in Iran is the particular historical experience of working out these principles in daily life, which produces a characteristic but elusive cultural configuration. The distinctiveness of the Iranian tradition is the result of the particular historical conjunction of social and cultural factors, of which some ethnographers are more aware than others.


Any guide is selective. It is not feasible here to tour the entire ethnographic corpus on Iran. The purpose rather is to illustrate what types of data are available and how they might be used. The selection derives from two related objectives: to show what types of subject matter are characteristic of the ethnographic enterprise, while at the same time emphasizing the kind of material that scholars in other disciplines might turn to ethnography for. Interpretation and evaluation is kept at a minimum. Only at the end is some assessment offered of the usefulness of the corpus as a whole.

Apart from ancient and mediaeval travelers such as Herodotus (mid-5th century B.C.E.), Marco Polo (late 13th century) and Clavijo (early 15th century), the record of close firsthand observation by foreigners in the Iranian region begins with the reports of travelers to the Safavid Court in the sixteenth century. They came to Persia along routes that had recently been opened up by the penetration into Russia of traders from the south (especially from India). Their interests were primarily commercial and they wished to open up land routes into Asia in competition with the sea routes that were controlled by the Portuguese. They wrote detailed descriptions of the urban markets they sought and the life of the court and the wealthy, whose protection and cooperation they needed. The land routes ultimately failed and these data are now mainly of historical interest, but may nevertheless enrich our understanding of the more recent past, especially since they deal mostly with urban society which until recently was not a major interest for modern ethnographers. Their work is usefully summarized by George N. Curzon (Persian Question, especially I, p. 16 and II, pp. 528-54; see also articles on CHARDIN, DELLA VALLE, HANWAY, HERBERT, OLEARIUS, SHERLEY, and TAVERNIER among others). In the later eighteenth century the European presence in Asia, and especially the British presence in India, began to increase. The major access routes to the Iranian region shifted to the southeast. Political interests gradually took precedence over commercial. Travelers’ eyes became more sensitive to the details of everyday life in the countryside, partly perhaps because it must have appeared both poorer and more exotic (because unindustrialized) to Victorians than to Elizabethans, but also because of emerging defense interests in India. Travelers from England, occasionally other parts of Europe, and later Russia, crisscrossed the Iranian region between Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Central Asia and India, and published detailed accounts of what they saw. In some early cases (e.g. Pottinger, 1810), their observations suffered from efforts to disguise their objectives. Later accounts were often vitiated by an unconscious arrogance. Some were more concerned with monuments of the past than with the description of contemporary life. Nevertheless, this quasi-ethnographic reporting from before the establishment of professional anthropology constitutes a rich corpus of firsthand information and includes much that is still of great value for the critical reader. It has yet to be mined systematically. Apart from a general preoccupation with location and spatial distribution, its major strengths lie in the retailing of what seemed to be characteristic incidents and occasional portrayals of personalities and relationships—often reported as detail for the sake of exoticism, and now adding a dimension to the accounts of later professional ethnographers whose interest in detail was mainly as a stepping stone to generalization. For examples of particularly useful reporting, see Bellew, Biddulph, O’Donovan, and Raverty (in this section, where data are discussed by a particular author in more than one of the publications cited in the Bibliography below, only the author’s name is given). Nearly two hundred of these writers have been listed for the years 1800-1891 only (Curzon, Persian Question II, pp. 528-54). The reports not only of these but of earlier and later travelers to the region have been usefully summarized by Curzon and Gabriel among others.

For the areas under British control this genre was the foundation for a monumental effort associated with the decennial censuses of India, which aimed to provide an ethnographic as well as statistical baseline for the whole of the subcontinent in an extensive series of “Gazetteers.” Although the final product, the bulk of which was published between 1903 and 1912, was of uneven quality, the volumes that dealt with the areas most relevant to this Encyclopaedia, viz. Baluchistan, Sindh, Punjab and the North West Frontier Province were among the best, and remain nearly a century later repositories of some of the richest ethnographic description up to that time not only for Iranian studies but also for anthropology. The emphasis in this material is on tribal genealogies, cultural history of particular communities, economies, crafts, and all forms of accepted practice. The anthropological interest in social or cultural process, the give and take of actual interaction, was yet to develop.

Although some Russian travelers are included in the listings of Curzon and Gabriel, and Russian scholars had begun systematic documentation in some of the areas that had come under Russian control in the Caucasus and Central Asia by the time of Curzon’s work, there are relatively few reports by Russians who penetrated beyond what was actually in Russian hands, and most of them are from the two decades following Curzon and are motivated by political interest in the buffer zone between the Russian and British empires. Little was produced by Russian travelers with commercial interests, and there is no convenient summary or even listing of the Russian travel ethnography on the Iranian region in Russian or English. Although Russians did not form a single intellectual community either with Iranians or with West Europeans or Americans, either in terms of commercial or political interests, or classifications of ethnographic interest, field methods, or theoretical objectives, they assembled a similarly large corpus of material. Their main concerns were tribal and ethnic identities, cultural histories and material culture; for examples see Soviet Ethnography (in English) and Sovetskaya Etnografia, Andreev, Karmysheva, Peshchereva (in Russian). This type of work continued through the Soviet period, largely under the direction of the local Academies of Science, with not inconsiderable participation from St. Petersburg (Leningrad) and Moscow, until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1989.

The first professional ethnographer to visit the Iranian region, Elizabeth Bacon, entered Kazakhstan from Moscow in 1933-34. Later, in 1938-39, she worked with Hazāra communities, known as Berberī, in Mašhad and Quetta, and in the Sar-e časma and Pūrī valleys on the eastern edge of the Hazārajāt (central Afghanistan). Bacon was also the first to make systematic ethnographic inquiries using Persian, but she chose to work with the Hazāra because of the presumed Turko-Mongol background of their tribal organization, and she presents her data in the larger historical and cultural context of tribal organization in the Old World. Consciously working towards the classification outlined in the previous section, she investigated and recorded the distribution of Hazāra communities and a number of other factors relating to their tribal organization. Later more extended research among the Hazāra in the 1960s led to a monograph and a number of articles on this predominantly Shiʿite minority in central Afghanistan (see also Canfield). Bacon’s work was hampered by local conditions and aborted because of political developments in Europe. Before she could complete it, she was upstaged by the publication in England of rather differently oriented work on tribal organization in Africa. Consequently, little attention has been paid to her work either in anthropology or in Iranian studies, even though it was sophisticated for the time and contains significant data on kinship and social organization in relation to property and politics among the Hazāra in particular, which is not available elsewhere.

Two other projects were begun in the 1930s. Feilberg from the National Museum in Copenhagen spent four months with the Pāpī (Lor) in 1935, and published a survey which included useful documentation of material culture. The only other pre-war contribution came from England: Leach conducted a pilot study of a Kurdish community at Rovāndūz in northeastern Iraq in the summer of 1938 with the intention of returning for a full year, which was prevented by political developments. He therefore published his notes, which constitute an informative survey in which the type of data that can be collected easily in six weeks—material culture—naturally predominates. After the war the Copenhagen Museum mounted expeditions to Afghanistan in 1948 and Persia in 1953 (see Edelberg, Ferdinand). As might be expected their work was mainly museological, but this type of documentation is a perennial interest that serves a number of objectives. It has continued up to the present not only in cultural anthropology, but also in associated disciplinary traditions: in cultural geography (mainly French, see Bazin, Desmet-Grégoire and Fontaine), and in ethno-archaeology (mainly American, see Kramer, Horne, Watson). There is also a notable full-length treatment of traditional technologies (Wulff), and a detailed catalogue of 188 objects from an ethnographic collection in western Persia with information on production, use, distribution and terminology, and discussion of rates of change, which seem to be less here than in northwestern Persia at the time (Loeffler, 1965-66). Other work in this genre deals with jewelry (Tual), glass production in Herat (Reut), carpets (Spooner), village architecture and yurts in Gīlān, Khorasan and various parts of Afghanistan (Behforūz; Hallet and Samizay; and Horne, 1982, 1994), and milling (Pūrkarīm). In the 1950s anthropologists began to form a closer community internationally, and to pose new and different types of questions for ethnographers to organize their work around. Furthermore, these questions began to evolve at an accelerating rate. The first representative of these new developments to work in the Iranian region was Barth. During the 1950s he worked with Kurds (in Iraq), Yūsofzī Pashtuns (in Swat, Pakistan), and the Bāṣerī (in Fārs). Although the ideas put forward in his monographs on the Kurds (1953) and the Pashtuns (1959) both inspired important ethnographic projects later, his monograph on the Bāṣerī (1961) had more immediate consequences. It was well reviewed outside anthropology in Iranian studies, leading to a closer relationship between anthropology and other disciplinary interests in Iran. And it inspired a series of ethnographic projects by young anthropologists that sought to build on it through the study of other nomadic communities in Persia and Afghanistan. The resulting ethnographic corpus on Iranian pastoral nomadism that accumulated between 1966 and 1990 is the most important single component of the ethnographic contribution to Iranian studies.

Barth’s Bāṣerī research was undertaken while he was engaged in a project on nomads and the problems of sedentarization under UNESCO’s Arid Zone Major Project. His monograph (1961) was the first full-length study of nomadic pastoralists in Asia. He was conscious of the opportunity, and the book reflects both the ecological framework of his commission from UNESCO and the social and cultural interests that derived from his training as an anthropologist. While paying careful attention to the features of nomadism that are particularly exotic to a Western observer—the “drama” of seasonal migration, the enforced idleness of the shepherd, the austerity of everyday life, the majesty of the landscape, and without ignoring what he called “the eclectic modernism of the ordinary nomad,” he focused on the functionality of cultural forms in relation to the ever present sanctions of the natural environment. This framework allowed him to interpret everything as mutually interdependent, as well as making it possible for him to fit a broad range of data on all aspects of the nomadic economy into a simple, lucid and brief exposition. Although the book is short (153 pp.) it set the agenda for a generation of ethnographic work and suggested the working hypotheses for most projects on nomads that were conducted over the ensuing two decades. In particular, it deals with the various nested levels of local and tribal organization in relation to natural constraints, from the individual ownership of animals and access to grazing, the details of sheep and goat management, combination of individual holdings, flock size, the organization of the biannual migration, milk production and processing, household composition, division of labor, camp membership and collaboration among camp members, the significance of kinship, the centrality of marriage arrangements and wedding events, camp leadership, and the problem of maintaining a balance between resources and the animal and human populations. He draws a distinction which has since been generally accepted between the socio-political organization up to the level of camp leadership on the one hand, and the relationship between camps, between tribal sections, and between the tribe and the outside world on the other. He also deals with the relationship between the pastoral economy and the surrounding villages. Several of the ideas introduced in the book are elaborated in other articles. Barth’s work on political processes among the Yūsofzī Pashtun and their neighbors in Swat (northern Pakistan) was probably more important for anthropology as a whole, but it was less influential among ethnographers within the Iranian region. The Swat study should be noted particularly, however, for the attention it gives to the hierarchical articulation of a plurality of ethnic and tribal groups in the political economy of the valley and the adjacent hills. Barth’s earlier publication on the Kurds (northeastern Iraq) includes similar material. Stratification among nomads and between nomads and settled groups has since been treated by a number of ethnographers (see e.g. Beck, Bradburd, Spooner).

Since the mid-1960s a steady stream of publication has provided material from other nomadic tribal communities in Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan on each of the topics that Barth mapped out on the basis of his three months of participant observation among the Baseri and three months survey of other nomadic communities in southern Iran. Most of this work adds important detail to Barth’s models; some advances and modifies his interpretations. The most important work comes from the Marī Baluch (Pehrson), Bahmaʾī of Koh-Gīlūya (Afšār-Nāderī, 1967), the Bāmadī Baḵtīārī (Varjāvand, 1967), the Sarawani Brahui (Swidler, 1967), the Sarāvānī Baluch (Spooner, 1969), the Yomūt Turkmen (Irons, 1971), the Boir Aḥmad (Fazel, 1971), the Šahnavāzī Baluch (Salzman, 1971), the Šāhsavan (R. Tapper), the Lor (Black-Michaud, 1986), the Taymūṟī (Singer, 1973) the Kaškūlī Kūček Qašqāʾī (Salzer, 1974), the Ḡilzay Pashtun (Anderson, 1975), the Darrehšūrī Qašqāʾī (Beck, 1978), the Baḵtīārī (Digard, 1979), the Kirghiz in Waḵān (Shahrani, 1978), the Kurds (van Bruinessen, 1978), the Afšār in Kermān (Stöber), transhumant pastoralists in Towrān (Nyerges; Martin, Spooner), the Komāčī in Kermān (Bradburd, 1980), the Baraftowi (Bar-aftābī) Kūhakī in Fārs (Pourzal, 1981), the Kordšolī (Swee), the Dorrānī Pashtun in eastern Afghanistan (Glatzer). Scattered articles document particular aspects of several other nomadic and/or tribal communities. Each of these authors explores a particular feature of Barth’s model; all include discussion of tribalism in relation to the pastoral economy in their particular field situation. Some of the richest description may be found in Beck, 1990; N. and R. Tapper; and Black-Michaud.

The ethnographic investigation of pastoral adaptation, nomadic economy and tribal organization still continues. The product is complex for a number of reasons, not least that social and cultural change among the nomadic communities of the Iranian region has been accelerating as a result of national administrative and economic integration since before Barth’s work, and each study documents a particular stage in the process—a process which of course has to do with modernization, but cannot be assumed to be unilinear.

The data that emerge from these studies, therefore, are neither complete nor homogeneous, but they are extensive. Apart from their value as information on the particular groups studied, on a more general level they amplify our understanding in each of the three directions originally blazed by Barth: pastoral adaptation, nomadic economy and tribal organization. With regard to pastoral adaptation the work illustrates a range of variation in the size of holdings, in the composition of flocks, in preferred products, in pressure of market forces, in migration patterns, and in camp and community size. The variation may be ordered in terms of particular environmental, biological, logistical, economic and political parameters; quality of grazing, reliability of water supplies, access problems, the behavioral traits of the animals, the logistics of shepherding, and production priorities in relation to market opportunities. These all have to do with adaptation to the natural environment, except the last which depends on the degree of market involvement or integration into the larger economy—perhaps the most important from a historical point of view. The accumulated data show that pastoral adaptation up to this level of organization—the herding camp in its annual cycle—has to do with problems of maintaining a balance among the various pressures that apply: resources, numbers of animals, size of holdings, and market involvement. Animals are invariably owned individually, but access to pasture, and security, depend on community membership, and the ability to manage herding depends on the ability to join a camp. Within these parameters the Zagros migrations, of which that of the Baḵtīārī (recorded in the film Grass in 1924) is the most celebrated, are unique as a biannual test of nomadic fitness. The best published description of a migration is of a particular Qašqāʾī camp in 1970-71 (Beck, 1990). Survival in these conditions demands a high degree of flexibility in the organization and reorganization of camps from year to year (Beck, Spooner, Swidler). Although pastoral adaptation has to deal with the typically wide range of variation in precipitation of arid and semi-arid rangelands, it is fluctuation in the larger economy rather than in the local ecology that provides the greatest challenge. The ability to adapt to occasional drought conditions or other natural pressures is within the nomadic pastoralist’s own repertoire of skills and self-reliance, but insofar as his economy depends on other sectors of a larger economy he is at the mercy of events beyond his competence. Dependence on the market tends to bring indebtedness. At one end of the range of relative affluence nomads cultivate a wide variety of possible sources of income and subsistence (cf. Salzman, 1972, on Šahnavāzī Baluch in the Sarḥadd), while at the other end, mainly in the Zagros, some groups are highly specialized and often deeply indebted. However, even among multi-resource nomads it is animal husbandry (rather than the need to move periodically from one economic resource to another) that keeps them nomadic. There is nothing to suggest that nomadic pastoralists commonly move out of pastoralism to remain nomadic, by joining itinerant groups such as Ḡorbat, Jāt, or Gypsies, who, it should be noted, also typically work out their social relations according to a similar tribal model (see Amanollahi, Beck, Beidelman, Berland, and Rao). Relations with villagers in and around grazing lands and on migration routes are complex, depending largely on who is politically dominant. There is an underlying conflict of interest in that in many areas, especially in the modern period, government has encouraged agricultural expansion, which can only be achieved at the expense of the nomads’ better pastures. The anti-agricultural ideology of nomads, a general antagonism to settled life, is noticed by several authors. But nomads often invest in villages and given appropriate economic incentive move out of nomadism into the settled agricultural sector (Barth, Beck, Salzman). Involuntary sedentarization legislated by Reżā Shah was not successful, and is so remembered (Beck, R. Tapper). One monograph treats a village community which was founded by Boir Aḥmadī nomads who decided to settle in the 1870s. It is interesting that in this case the leader had claimed ownership of all land, and large wealth differentials had developed (Loeffler). Finally, with regard to tribal organization, in general nomads are documented as egalitarian and difficult to control, but vary widely both in their internal cohesion and stability and in their relations with neighbors, whether nomadic or settled, pastoral or agricultural. Although all the populations studied use patrilineality as the basic principle of organization, in every case the resulting patrilineages are shallow, both small in numbers and amounting to no more than three or four generations in depth—poor examples of the form of descent-based social organization discussed as lineages by ethnographers working in other parts of the world, which is no doubt a condition related to the instability of herding arrangements. As the basic economic unit, the household based on the nuclear family maximizes its stability and longevity by allowing older sons to move out on marriage with their portion, and the identity of the family shifts eventually in many communities from the father to the youngest son (Irons). Small groups, such as the Komāčī in Kermān and the Baraftowi Kūhakī in Fārs have no centralization of authority and no integration above the camp level. At the camp level in all groups leadership has to be re-earned or reasserted from day to day, and cultural factors of political legitimacy such as seniority count for little. Most ethnographers show evidence suggesting that small groups have historically moved in and out of the larger tribes, and that each group large enough to be known as a tribe (īl) is in origin a confederation with a history that needs to be seen in a larger context. There is always the possibility of tension between the two levels of organization. The upper level is historically imposed, usually by local strong men, but often with some connivance by the state, related to social control and revenue-raising or other coercion—the purview of the historian rather than the ethnographer. It is difficult therefore to compare tribal organization in Persia with situations that seem comparable elsewhere, even other parts of the Iranian region or the Middle East, because of its more intimate relation with the state, and (in the Zagros) with the settled agricultural society (R. Tapper, 1984). But the same basic language of tribalism is used. Many groups have terms that translate easily as tribe (īl), section (ṭāʾefa) and subsection (tīra), and patrilineal ties are always privileged in theory, though not reliably in practice. In this connection ethnographers have sought to document marriage choice in order to fuel the larger anthropological discussion of the structural implications of particular marriage preferences, in this case for marriage with the patrilateral parallel cousin, or father’s brother’s daughter, whether first cousin or more distant collateral. But in general the data show simply a preference for marriage with any collateral, matrilateral or patrilateral, close or relatively distant. It is perhaps not surprising that the most conspicuous events in the life of nomadic communities are weddings. The reinforcement of existing relationships through marriage, and the forging of new relationships, are the most crucial social concerns in any community. The appropriate symbolization of weddings, as well as financial investment in them, are guarantees of social stability. This is perhaps the most important structural feature of Iranian society in general, but it is most crucial in nomadic situations where herding futures are at stake, and property is volatile. It is well documented in most of the sources (see especially Beck, Bradburd, N. Tapper). There is, however, also always the possibility of individual romance taking precedence over careful political arrangement, and occasional elopement is also documented (Beck).

It should not be surprising therefore that ethnographers are interested in nomadism as much as an adaptation to the sociopolitical as to the natural environment. Historically nomads have rejected authority and both avoided the state and competed with it. There are memories on both sides of the role of nomads in rural insecurity (Holmes). Security is a perennial concern even in recent times. But insofar as there is a nomadic culture distinct from the culture of settled communities it has its own morality. This morality is formulated most explicitly among the Pashtuns, where it is known as Paḵtūnwalī (Ahmad, Anderson). The fundamentals relate to general hospitality, protection of guests and fugitives, the appropriate treatment of women, and rules for fighting. There are close equivalents in every tribal group throughout the Iranian region and beyond.

The interests that attracted ethnographers to sedentary and nontribal communities were diverse. Several were interested in tribal populations, but for various reasons chose settled rather than nomadic examples (e.g. Loeffler, Marsden, N. Tapper). A particularly interesting example of this type deals with the Sayad who until recently exploited the various resources of the Hāmūn in Sīstān, and appear to be related to the Kurds further south in the Sarḥadd, whose historical connection to the Kurds of western Iran is questioned (Bestor, Stöber, Elfenbein). Most, however, have been involved to a greater or lesser extent in issues of economic development. The first intensive study of a village community was conducted in 1956 in Garmsār, a cluster of mainly non-tribal communities 100 km east of Tehran on the road to Khorasan, by an American (Alberts). This study introduced a set of objectives into Iranian ethnography that has often characterized the study of village communities elsewhere, and as time went on more and more frequently became a justification for any ethnographic study. The study still stands as perhaps the most comprehensive documentation of a Persian village community yet available (1156 pp.), though others have since treated certain topics in more detail. It was also the first long-term study (twenty months). It illustrates the articulation of a range of different economic and ethnic components in an ecologically transitional location between mountain and desert on the delta of a seasonal river flowing south out of the Alborz mountains. Seasonal river flow is enhanced by long canals (jūy) and supplemented by qanats, a situation typical of towns and village clusters on the edge of the plateau, though no others have been so fully described. It is also typical that there is no historically dominant primary settlement in the cluster of villages. The study is in a part of Persia that has received little other ethnographic attention—most ethnographic studies have been conducted in the western half of Persia. It is full of detailed description that provides a base line for later studies (although few later ethnographers appear to have read it, perhaps because Landlord and Peasant in Persia by A. K. S. Lambton, which though not ethnography contains firsthand observation gleaned from many years of travel in rural areas throughout Persia, had appeared in 1953). Particularly noteworthy are the sections on ethnic pluralism in the area and on the bona, which is an institutionalized form of perennial cooperation in agricultural work, especially plowing (cf. Ṣafī-nežād, 1978). It also provides the first account of the articulation of different types of farming in a community system—irrigated (ābī) and rainfed (daymī) field crops and orchard crops (bāḡ), large landowner (arbāb), smallholder (ḵorda mālek), endowed land (waqf), and state-owned land (ḵāleṣa).

Most of the later studies of village life in Iran are related more or less directly to programs of economic development, although some of the studies by Iranians show a special interest in material culture and folklore. Work in Towrān, on the edge of the central Kavīr between Semnān and Khorasan, and in isolated villages in southwestern Khorasan, though financed and facilitated primarily by development interests was mainly concerned with the social and environmental implications of traditional technologies of cultivation and irrigation (Martin, Spooner). Major topics in this work include the scale of organization required to establish and maintain an irrigation system, and its relevance to processes of cooperation and conflict (Spooner). Pastoralism is illustrated as a major component in the village economy, often requiring some families to specialize as transhumants to ensure adequate grazing for all the village animals from late spring through the summer, and there are detailed descriptions of the processing of milk and other foods (Martin). Several French investigators working in the north and west of Iran provide useful comparative data (Bazin, Desmet-Grégoire and Fontaine). Watson, Kramer, and Horne document the material dimension of village life (which often receives only incidental attention from ethnographers) with a view to assisting the interpretation of archaeological materials. Social description is in general less well developed for non-tribal village life, but particular attention has been devoted to the widespread form of cultivator cooperation in plow teams, (bona, see Alberts; Hooglund; Ṣafī-nežād, 1978). Detailed economic and political data may be found in Kielstra and in Goodell. The most detailed data on the structure of social relations in a village situation is from Afghanistan in Badaḵšān (Uberoi) and the Hazārajāt (Canfield), and among Dorrānī Pashtun tribal communities in the northern valleys of the Paropamisus (N. Tapper, R. Tapper). Here also weddings are the most crucial and pivotal events in the life of the community as well as the life cycle of individuals, and nearly all writers devote attention to them (cf. also Peshchereva). There is shown to be little explicit structure or institutionalization in village community life. Unless a larger tribal or land-owning framework legitimizes a particular local authority, there is little besides public opinion, and a variety of somewhat vague notions of correct behavior (taʿārof), honor (ʿezzat), and religion (dīn) to bolster social order (Loeffler).

Since ethnographers are conditioned by their basic methods to be community oriented, they have been slow to trace relationships between communities. But an interest in the dynamics of traditional markets which serve a plurality of communities and interrelate pastoral, agricultural and urban sectors is represented by a study in Māzandarān (Thompson), in Qazvīn (Rotblat), and in Tāšqorḡān, northern Afghanistan (Centlivres, Charpentier). Work that deals with areas rather than communities invariably draws attention to the plurality of tribal, religious, linguistic, economic and other identities. Western interest in ethnicity has led several ethnographers to look for it in other parts of the world. In the Iranian region, while it is easy to find identities that can be compared to ethnicity in the West, the ethnographic evidence mostly suggests that they fit differently into the larger social context. The use of ethnicity as an analytical concept can therefore be misleading (Digard 1988). For example, in the part of eastern Uzbekistan and western Tajikistan that previously formed the eastern part of the Bukhara Khanate the cultural, social and demographic relations between Tajiks in the mountains and semi-nomadic Uzbeks in the lower valleys and plains in recent times have been dynamic: while the identities have been historically stable, individuals and groups have continually moved back and forth between them (Karmysheva). Interaction and demographic exchange between communities leads to parallel social and cultural development, even though the identities remain separate. Large patriarchal families are documented among Tajiks, Uzbeks, Arabs, Turkmen, Persians, gypsies, Baluch, Hindus, Jews, and others in the Samarqand area, often including not only two or three generations but several married couples. Agricultural land was owned by the undivided family, under the supreme authority of the senior male, but there has been gradual change to nuclear families since the 1920s (Vasil’eva and Karmysheva). Similar phenomena are documented for Central Asia, Afghanistan and Khorasan (Andreev, Ivanov, Jarring, Monogarova, Schurmann). There are examples of similar ethnic pairs and even larger pluralities elsewhere in the Iranian region, especially Azerbaijan and Baluchistan. The prevalence of bi- and multi-lingualism, though it seems never to have been a major focus of ethnographic enquiry, appears in many sources, and is obviously a related factor. In many areas most people, especially adult males, are comfortable in two or more languages, and the domestic language of a particular community can be shown to have changed more than once in the recent past. Like the identities the languages remain distinct, and none of them necessarily gains precedence over the others as a medium of oral communication (Balland, Desmet-Grégoire and Fontaine, Emeneau, Morgenstierne, Stilo). Even among Baluch and Pashtuns, where language is a significant identity factor, there is evidence of language change and change of identity (Anderson; Barth, 1964; Spooner).

Apart from the tribal communities of nomadic pastoralists discussed above, not only a number of ethnic groups but also particular areas with distinct identities stand out in the literature, as a result of the tendency of ethnographers to seek out the more isolated examples of regional cultures. Areas that have received particular attention include the Pamirs, Nuristan, and Gīlān (see Index below). The Pamirs are of particular interest because the high isolated valleys contain small Ismaʿili communities that remain culturally distinct in language, ethnicity and various aspects of technology. Examples include the Wāḵī, Šuḡnī, Eškāšmī, Kuranī, Munjānī, Zibakī, Šahranī. The Yaḡnōbī (whose language is a lineal descendent of Soghdian) are a similar minority in western Tajikistan (Andreev, Peshchereva). But the most prominent of such communities in the literature are those of Nuristan in eastern Afghanistan. Forcibly converted to Islam in 1896, they are closely related linguistically and culturally to neighboring communities across the border in Chitral (Pakistan) and have attracted considerable ethnographic interest. They live in autonomous village communities with a division of labor in which the women manage cereal cultivation with terrace irrigation and the men conduct transhumant sheep and goat husbandry. No larger political organization or sense of identity has been found among them. Published work focuses on kinship and descent (Keiser) and conflict resolution (Jones, Ovesen), but their mixed economy and related technologies are also described. Much of what has been published since 1978 about Nuristan is in reaction to the communist coup and the subsequent Russian occupation of Afghanistan (Nuristanis played a major role in the resistance) and is written on the basis of earlier ethnographic experience. Finally, there is also some material on a few provincial towns: for example, Arāk, Tafreš, Hamadān (Desmet-Grégoire et Fontaine), and with special reference to local provincial elites—Marāḡa (M. Good), and Shiraz (Royce).

Muslim minorities have also received some attention. There is material on ritual practice among the Kurdish Qāderī Sufis (van Bruinessen). Religious specialists are described among the Ismaʿilis in the Pamirs: known as šāh or pīr, they claim to be either sayyed (descended from the Prophet) or ḵᵛāja (descended from Abū Bakr, ʿOmar, or ʿOṯmān), and form a distinct group which intermarries and acknowledges an internal rank order. They act as community leaders, sometimes appointing their own representatives (ḵalīfa) in villages where they have followers (who officiate at all public occasions and collect a tithe on all forms of income), and respect the supreme authority of the Āqā Khan (q.v.). Another significant religious minority are the Ahl-e Ḥaqq (q.v.), who are concentrated in Kurdistan, but are also to be found in the Kurdish diaspora in other parts of Persia, and even more recently among non-Kurds in the cities (Mir-Hosseini). Non-Muslim identities are also represented. Armenians of the Gregorian rite, Assyrians of the Nestorian rite, and Bahai, Jewish and Zoroastrian communities not only in Yazd and Shiraz but also clusters of families scattered in and around Arāk and Hamadān (Desmet-Grégoire and Fontaine, Fischer, Loeb, Magnarella, Schwartz). Information on Jews is most detailed for Shiraz (Loeb), and on Zoroastrians for Yazd (Bekhradnia, Boyce, Fischer). Bahai communities and scattered clusters of Bahai and Hindu families are mentioned in Khorasan and Baluchistan (Spooner). As might be expected these descriptions give precedence to information that explains the persistence of the particular communities and identities. Firsthand description of Zikri communities in Panjgur (Pakistani Makrān) is also available (C. Pastner, S. Pastner; see also article BALUCHISTAN). The most important factor in the survival of such communities appears to lie in their ability to control marriage. The Esḥāqzī Dorrānī in western Afghanistan, and perhaps most Dorrānī, manage to maintain absolute prohibition of marriage of their women to other groups—obviously an effective boundary maintenance mechanism. The fact that there is essentially no divorce among them similarly reduces the opportunities to cross the boundary. In such tribal cases the sanctions may be unilateral, whereas in the case of non-Muslim minorities the boundaries are commonly reinforced from both sides (R. Tapper).

It remains to give a brief guide to work on what most anthropologists would probably now call national culture, but until recently was generally known as urban ethnography. Ethnographers have only gradually come to grips with the challenge of describing their own society, and only since the mid-1970s have they begun to work out ways to deal with life at the national level, and modernity in its various cultural forms, in countries like those in the Iranian region. Here, insofar as they are dealing with the culture of literacy, they are treating subject matter that has already been investigated by other methods, historical, statistical and literary, and their data are more obviously and directly supplementary, or complementary. Furthermore, the ethnographic method evolved in and specifically for the documentation and analysis of everyday life in a face-to-face community. In modern situations where face-to-face interaction is largely inaccessible to the ethnographer and anyway accounts for only a fraction of social life, the value of direct observation, though obviously important, is limited. Since modern urban society in Iran, as elsewhere, is also highly literate with heightened self-awareness, the ethnographic method is likely to produce only defective results at the national level, unless integrated in some systematic way with other methods. It is not surprising that the richest description of society in the Iranian region at this level is that of a historian (Mottahedeh, 1980), which describes by extrapolation from 10th and 11th century historical sources how loyalties were acquired and played out over time, how people were informally, even unconsciously, categorized and assessed—basic ingredients of an impalpable social fabric which will be familiar to any student of modern Iran. The work also devotes attention to the ways in which inequality is used as a basic factor of social articulation, how it is recognized and managed, reaffirmed and modified. The fragility of relationships of equality is also analyzed. Since there are as yet no full length monographs based on ethnographic work in Iranian urban society, these books are still the closest approximation to full-length studies of Iranian urban culture. However, an ethnographic perspective, together with incidental participation in urban life, has contributed significantly to the work of a number of anthropologists who have addressed modern life between 1975 and 1995 (see especially Beeman, Fischer).

When Tehran and the national society began to emerge as a focus of ethnographic attention in the mid-1970s the work was dominated by American anthropologists (though with some Iranian participation), who dealt mainly with the differences—and the boundaries—between public and private life, and the ways in which unequal relationships are continually explored and redefined, manipulated and renegotiated as a priority in social interaction, both in the external world of appearances (ẓāher, bīrūn) and in the internal world of intimacy, familiarity, sincerity and the essential self (bāṭen, andarūn). Various examples are given of hierarchical but mutual obligations, and of the equal and unequal relations which they energize through repeated services in anticipation of noblesse oblige, illustrating both maintenance and rupture, in public and in private. Emphasis is given—appropriately—to the linguistic dimension (Bateson et al., Beeman, Betteridge, Thaiss). There is also work on the social construction of emotion, which is interesting to compare with work on the same topic in tribal societies (Grima, N. Tapper). A picture of typical middle-class life begins to emerge: The son does not express anger at his father. Public insults to one’s family, person or religion are publicly redeemed. Reconciliation is publicly mediated. Attitudes cannot be managed independently of appearances. They are parallel and related, but not equivalent. Expressions of self work differently according to whether they are in public (ẓāher) or private (bāṭen). In the former they are rarely seen; in the latter they are normative. Gifts given in the public arena are therefore likely to be stereotyped, whereas in the private arena they may express the personality of the donor (Betteridge). Both public and private extend into the religious. The mosque and its ritual is public, but relations with the saints, at shrines, and with personal guides (in Sufism), and with God, as for example with vows and offerings (naẓr, naẓrī), and pilgrimage, are as with intimates (Betteridge, Spooner). The giving of gifts over a period of time, whether formally in public or to personal friends, close relatives and saints (pīr), symbolizes the progress of relationships and individual careers, reflecting the actual working of the society. The continuity of a relationship is symbolized, and affirmed, whether weakened or strengthened, by the mechanism of prestation on an appropriate occasion; a rupture is represented by the lack of it, or by an inappropriate prestation. Gifts can be used to reduce ambiguity, or to introduce it. To be a guest is to bestow favor. To be a host requires recognition of that favor—according to the status of the guest. Since gifts are important not in themselves, but in being given, they may be regiven. They facilitate the liquidity of social relations: wherever interaction is desirable, at festivals, in illness, before travel, a rite of passage, a new house, as well as the routine affairs of daily life. Where experience of the other party is least, between mere acquaintances, and both sides are dependent on formality, the correctness of the gift, or service, is most important in order to minimize the ambiguity of the situation. Neither side is in control; each tries to reveal little. Where each is relatively certain of the other, self- expression is more permissible and comes more easily. The way individuals present themselves illustrates what others look for in the personality of any party to a relationship. Preferred qualities include kindness, modesty, sensitivity, generosity, and loyalty where personal interest is at risk, integrity and simplicity of action and motivation, all epitomized as arising from inner purity (ṣafā-ye bāṭen); the qualities most often criticized include opportunism and insecurity (Bateson et al.).

Increased interest in the individual has led recently to the investigation of life-histories. Although the life cycle was recounted earlier (e.g. Bray), it was in general terms, now the documentation is intensely personal without obvious interest in generalization (see especially Beck 1990). Another important focus among contemporary ethnographers is the relative status of women and general issues of gender. A number of accounts illustrate a wide range of behavior relating to interaction between men and women, and especially the restrictions on relations between the sexes, in public and private, much of it at the national level, (see Ahmed, Bauer, Beck, Boesen, Friedl, M. Good, Grima, J. Gulick and M. Gulick, Haeri, Hansen, Irons, N. Tapper, Vieille). However, very little of this work appears to derive from ethnographic projects that were designed specifically to enrich our understanding of these issues. This limitation is further complicated by the fact that the investigators were of course themselves hampered in their work by the norms of gender segregation. The particular value of much of this work therefore lies in the writers’ ability to bring an ethnographic perspective to a new issue, rather than from the quality of actual ethnographic observations. The description of the religious dimension of the lives of ordinary Iranians has received little attention from ethnographers, and in general little ethnographic activity either in Iran or elsewhere has been focused on the religious life of Muslims. But once again a number of topics have been treated that do not appear in historical and other sources: for example, the details of the private religious lives of villagers (Loeffler), of minor pilgrimages in Shiraz (Betteridge), the uses of the power of the symbolism of Imam Ḥosayn in private gatherings, such as dowra (see Thaiss), the spread of rituals relating to the Imam Ḥosayn among Hindus as well as Muslims in India, and in the Caribbean, and its use in political protest (Thaiss, Chelkowski). Incidental details of everyday religious belief and practice are scattered throughout most of the ethnographic monographs, and various aspects are given special attention both among nomads (Barth, Beck) and among villagers (Spooner). One work that deals with the organization of religion at the national level and the reproduction of the religious class should also be noted (Fischer).

Personal religion is suffused with ways of thinking about purity and uncleanness, which are symbolic classifications that shape the way people think about their bodies, about health and about food, as well as each other. These topics have an inherent appeal for anthropological ethnographers, but once again relatively little ethnographic inquiry has been specifically directed to them, either qua Islam or qua the traditional Galenic medicine, both of which have shaped the literary tradition underlying Persian haute cuisine, perhaps because of the methodological problems involved in applying ethnography to cultures of literacy. However, once again an ethnographic perspective has been applied to the symbolic associations of food selection, food preparation and eating, and the related structural rationalizations. There are discussions of the symbolism of water, wine and blood (N. and R. Tapper), and of the social referents of various foods and dishes (Spooner), and their relation to identity (Bromberger). Various aspects of the treatment of the body have also received attention: on circumcision (Beck, Kieffer), and more generally on health and traditional medicine (B. Good, for whom it was the major focus).

Many cultural associations emerge in particularly interesting ways in what has come to be called expressive culture—socially structured creative activities. But since most forms of performance are features of complex societies, rather than the tribal societies where ethnography was developed, they have so far attracted few ethnographers in the Iranian region. However, there are interesting exceptions relating to folk theater (rū-ḥawżī), coffee-house recitation (naqqālī), the passion plays of Moḥarram (taʿzīya), and the activities of the Zūrḵāna, and of Nowrūz (see Amanollahi, Beeman, Chelkowski). Some attempts have been made to bring expressive culture at the national level into the discussion (Fischer), and recent trends in ethnographic work elsewhere suggest that this is only a beginning. It is a short step from expressive culture to sport and public games, neither of which generally receive much attention from ethnographers. But there is a description of hawking in Afghanistan (Kuhnert), of stick-fighting among the Qašqāʾī (Beck), and even the circumstances of actual fighting between Marrī Baluch and Wanetsi Pashtuns which is captured in a text collected in Quetta (Vogel). The most significant ethnographic account of public sport at the national level is a monograph on boz-kešī (a game with wide distribution in Central Asia), the precursor of polo, as played in northern Afghanistan, in which the players are sponsored by powerful leaders at the local and national levels, and episodes of the game and the political moves of the sponsors are closely intertwined. Here the unbridled competition of a public contest looses all inhibitions and the segregation of public face and private emotion is lost (Azoy).

Ethnography in the Iranian region developed on three major fronts: nomads and tribes, sedentary agricultural communities, crafts and material culture (related to the interests of museums and archaeologists). A fourth front had begun to emerge in the 1970s: modern urban life. There were also geographical emphases, which can be seen in the following Index. These fronts had barely begun to coalesce in any practical way when all field research was interrupted by political developments in the final months of 1978. In general the published ethnographic corpus supplies a large amount of detail that enriches the picture of the daily life of ordinary people in areas where other scholars of the humanities and the social sciences rarely have access. It presents a picture of diversity and flexibility. But it is difficult to determine whether what seem to emerge as characteristically Iranian themes are significant enough to justify classification of a “culture area,” or whether they are as much a product of the orientation and conditions of the research—over and beyond, that is, the vague and perhaps fading cultural identity that has its roots in the historical depth of the Persian koine.

The most conspicuous problem that confronts the potential scholarly user of any detail from this corpus lies in the issue of its representativeness. The difficulty is least in the case of data on nomadic pastoralism and on the lower levels of tribal organization, because this is where the data are most ample and the ethnographic method is obviously the most appropriate method of investigation. These are sectors of Iranian culture and society about which the vast majority of all available sources of any relevance (though by no means all) are ethnographic. But in almost every other sphere, even the day-to-day activities of isolated farmers, ethnography is by no means the only source of information. Most ethnographic data from the Iranian region, therefore, should be used not as stand-alone sources, but as independent perspectives on situations and processes for which complementary information is likely to be available with which they should be reconciled.


Plate I. Girls returning to transhumant summer camp with firewood they have collected to use for milk processing. Towrān, Semnān.

Plate II. Men making ḥalīm (q.v.) for ʿĀšū;rā. Bāḡestān, Towrān, Semnān.

Plate III. Workers restoring the domed mud roof of a village house. Gowdjū, Towrān, Semnān.

Plate IV. Spinning goathair and saddle making. Towrān, Semnan.

Plate V. Cleaning grapes for šīra (grape syrup). Towrān, Semn ān.

Plate VI. Winnowing wheat. Towrān, Semnān.


This classification of ethnographic sources is designed to facilitate use of the bibliography which follows. It is neither exhaustive nor definitive and, as with all classifications, anomalies are unavoidable. Not all work lends itself to tidy classification, and some works that merited inclusion in the bibliography do not fit comfortably under any single heading. There are three parts. The first lists the sites of significant ethnographic work; the second lists tribal, ethnic, and religious communities; and the third lists selected topics. Each list directs the reader to authors in the bibliography. Items in the first two lists are identified by country (except Persia, which is the default) or province where this seems desirable. Where the date of an author’s earliest observations is known, it is added in brackets on the first occurrence only, except that additional dates are given for some authors who published on more than one site. In using these dates it should be kept in mind that although many ethnographers worked only in the year given, others either stayed longer or returned intermittently, in some cases even up to the present time. Moreover, many publications also benefitted from coincidental observations and inquiries in other places which are not listed.

1. Localities.


Abūzaydābād: Behforūz.

Afghanistan: Allen, Amoss [1957], Anderson [1973], Andreev, Aslanov, Azoy [1972], Bacon [1938], Balland, Barfield [1975], Beattie, Bellew [1857], Biddulph [1873], Boesen [1977], Canfield [1966], Casimir [1976], Centlivres [1968], Charpentier [1970], Demont [1969], Dianous, Dor and Naumann [1971], Doubleday, Dupaigne, Dupree, Edelberg [1948], Edwards, Einzmann, Elpinstone [1809], Feilberg [1935], Ferdinand [1953], Ferrier, Franz, Gawecki [1976], Glatzer [1970], Grima [1978], Groenhaug, Hallet [1971], Janata, Jarring, Jettmar, Jones [1958], Katz [1975], Kieffer, Klimburg, Kristiansen, Kuhnert, Kussmaul, Mills [1974], Olesen [1975], Olufsen [1896], Orywal [1976], Pedersen [1975], Rao [1975], Rathjens, Raverty, Reut [1968], Robertson, Sakata, Schurmann [1954], Scott [1971], Senarclens de Grancy [1970], Shahrani [1972], Shalinsky [1976], Singer, Slobin, Snoy [1955], Spooner [1963], Strand [1967], Szabo, N. Tapper [1968], R. Tapper [1968], Tavakolian [1976], Thesiger [1965], Uberoi [1959], Zadran.

Andarāb (Badaḵšān): Uberoi.

Arāk: Desmet-Grégoire [1978] and Fontaine [1978].

Azarbaijan: Bazin [1972], B. Good [1972], M. Good [1972], Guliev, Nikitine, Ono [1964], Op’t Land [1961], Sāʿedī, Safinezad [1959], Safizadeh, Schwartz [1970], N. Tapper [1965], R. Tapper [1963].

Badaḵšān: Barfield, Dupree, Kussmaul, Shahrani, Uberoi.

Bahrain: Hansen [1960].

Baluchistan: Afšār-Sīstānī, Bestor [1976], Borqaʿī [1967], Piacentini [1982], Pottinger [1810], Salzman [1967], Spooner [1960].

Baluchistan (Pakistan): Barth [1960], Ferrier, Masson, C. Pastner [1968], S. Pastner [1968], Pehrson [1954], Raverty, Spooner [1963], N. Swidler [1963], W. Swidler [1963].

Bukhara: Burnes [1831], Schuyler, Wolff.

Caucasus: Kavkazskiĭ Ethnograficheskiĭ Sbornik, Kaloyev, Luzbetak.

Dāḡestān: Shilling.

Deh Salm (Khorasan): Spooner [1970].

Esfahan: J. Gulick [1970], M. Gulick [1970].

Farāh (Afghanistan): Casimir, Glatzer.

Farḡāna: Gault.

Fārs: Afšār-Nāderī [1966], ʿAjamī [1966], Amanolahi, Āyatallāhī, Bahmanbeygī, Barth [1957], Beck [1970], Betteridge [1975], Fazel [1968], Friedl [1970], Hegland [1971], Hooglund [1971], Loeb, Loeffler [1970], Marsden, Monteil, Pourzal, Royce, Salzer [1969], Shahshahani [1976].

Garmsār: Alberts [1956].

Ḡarjestān (Afghanistan): Glatzer.

Gīlān: Ashouri, Bazin, Bromberger [1972], Mir-Hosseini [1978], Op’t Land.

Gonābād: Spooner [1960].

Ḡōr (Afghanistan): Janata.

Gorgān: Antoun [1972], Irons [1965].

Hamadān: Desmet-Grégoire [1975], Rahmani.

Helmand: Scott.

Herat: Doubleday, Groenhaug, Mills, Reut.

Hormozḵān: Fabietti, Fornara, Piacentini.

Īlḵčī [Azarbaijan]: Saʿīdī.

Indus valley: Berland [1971].

Isfahan: J. Gulick and M. Gulick.

Jūzjān (Afghanistan): N. Tapper [1968], R. Tapper [1968].

Kabul: Burnes, Elphinstone, Hallet, Kieffer.

Kalārdašt: Mir-Hosseini.

Kalāt (Pakistan): Masson, N. Swidler.

Ḵārg: Ḵosrawī [1962].

Kavīr: Horne [1975], Martin [1974], Nyerges [1975], Spooner [1958].

Kermān: Bradburd [1973], Dillon, Stoeber [1978].

Kermānšāhān: Kramer [1974].

Khorasan: Andrews, Holmes [1964], Ivanov, Nadjmabadi, Papoli-Yazdi [1975], Saʿīdī, Sheil [1850], Singer, Spooner, Street.

Kurdistan: Barth [1951], Hansen [1957], Leach [1938], Sheil, van Bruinessen [1967], Watson [1959].

Ḵūzestān: de Bode, Goodell.

Ḵᵛāf: Naderi.

Lahore: Berland, Ewing [1975]

Lārk: Nadjmabadi [1977].

Lorestān: Black [1969], Black-Michaud [1969], de Bode, Mortensen, Sanadjian.

Lūṭ: Reut, Spooner.

Makran: Piacentini, Spooner.

Marāḡa: B. Good and M. Good [1972].

Marv: O’Donovan [1879].

Mašhad: Street.

Māzandarān: Thompson [1971].

Nayband [Khorasan]: Spooner [1969].

Nuristan: Boesen, Centlivres, Christensen, Dilthey, Edelberg, Frembgen, Jettmar, Jones, Katz, Keiser, Kristiansen, Lievre, Ovesen, Palwal, Robertson, Snoy, Strand [1968], Thesiger.

Oman: Dostal, Thomas.

Pakistan: Ahmed [1974], Alavi, Barth [1954], Bellew, Berland, Dilthey, Donnan [1977], Eglar [1949], Ewing, Hart, Honigmann, Howell [1905], Korom, Kurin [1976], Lindholm [1969], Loude, Masson, Mayer, Morgenstierne, Nayyar, C. Pastner, S. Pastner, Pehrson, Sakata, Spooner [1963], Sweetser, N. Swidler, W. Swidler, Westphal-Hellbusch.

Pamir: Dor and Naumann, Olufsen, Patzelt, Shahrani.

Panjgūr (Pakistan): C. Pastner, S. Pastner.

Punjab: Alavi, Eglar, Ewing, Honigmann, Kurin..

Qazvīn: Rotblat.

Qondūz (Afghanistan): Barfield.

Rūdbār: Eškevarī.

Šāhsavān: N. Tapper [1965], R. Tapper [1963].

Saraḵs: Sāʿedī.

Sarāvān: Spooner [1963].

Sarawan (Pakistan): N. Swidler, W. Swidler.

Sarḥadd (Sīstān and Baluchistan): Bestor, Salzman.

Shiraz: Beeman [1975], Betteridge [1974], Loeb, Royce.

Sindh: Burton [1844].

Sīstān: Afšār-Sīstānī, Orywal, Stoeber.

Swat: Barth, Lindholm.

Tajikistan: Andreev, Gault, Karmysheva [1948], Kusmaul, Peshchereva, Vasil’eva [1960].

Ṭālebābād: Ṣafīnežād [1960].

Ṭāleš: Bazin.

Tašqorḡān (Afghanistan): Centlivres, Centlivres-Demont, Charpentier.

Tehran: Bateson [1974], Bauer [1977], Beeman, Cronin [1975], Fischer [1969], Haeri, Hourcade, Jahangiri, Mostowfī, Vieille [1960].

Towrān (Semnān): Horne [1975], Martin [1974], Nyerges [1975], Spooner [1974].

Waḵān (Afghanistan, see also Pamir): Biddulph, Gratzl, Patzelt, Senarclens de Grancy, Shahrani.

Yaḡnob (Tajikistan): Andreev, Peshchereva.

Yazd: Fischer, Goldstein [1973].

Zarafšān: Vasil’eva, Karmysheva.

2a. Tribal and Ethnic Communities.


Afrīdī (Pashtun): Hart.

Afšār (Kermān): Stoeber.

Afšār (Azarbaijan): Nikitine.

Aḥmadzī (Pashtun): Pedersen.

Arab: Barfield, Ivanov, Kieffer.

Bahmaʾī: Afšār-Nāderī.

Baḵtīārī: Afšār-Nāderī, Amanolahi, Brooks, Digard [1969], Varjavand, Wilson, Zagarell.

Baluch: Afšār-Sīstānī, Barth, Bestor, Borqaʿī, Fabietti, Masson, Orywal, C. Pastner, S. Pastner, Pehrson, Pottinger, Salzman, Spooner, N. Swidler, W. Swidler.

Baraftovī (Fārs): Pourzal.

Bāṣerī: Barth.

Boir Aḥmad: Fazel, Friedl, Kešāvarz, Loeffler [1970], Nashat, Pārsī, Ṣafinežād.

Brāhūī (Pakistan): Bray, N. Swidler, W. Swidler.

Čahār Aymāq (Afghanistan): Ferdinand, Janata.

Ḡilzai (Pashtun): Anderson.

Göklen (Torkman): Bates.

Hazāra (Afghanistan): Allen, Amoss, Bacon, Canfield, Dianous, Ferdinand, Gawecki, Hudson, Kopecky, Mousavi, Prince Peter, Thesiger.

Jāt: Rao, Westphal-Hellbusch.

Ḵaṭak (Pashtun): Grima.

Kazakh: Bacon, Hudson.

Kirghiz: Dor and Naumann, Olufsen, Shahrani.

Kohgīlūya (Kūh-e Gīlūya): Afšār-Nāderī, Amanolahi, Bāvar, Fazel, Kešāvarz, Pārsā, Raḵš-e Ḵoršīd, Ṣafīnežād.

Komāčī (Kerman) Bradburd.

Kurd: Barth, Edmonds [1930], Hansen, Leach [1938], Magnarella, Mir-Hosseini, Sheil, van Bruinessen, Vinogradov.

Kurd (Khorasan): Papoli-Yazdi, Peck.

Lor: Amanolahi, de Bode, Black, Black-Michaud, Sanadjian.

Maḥsūd (Pashtun): Howell.

Mamasānī: Amanolahi, Shahshahani.

Moḡol, Mongol, Barbarī (Afghanistan): Dianous, Ferdinand, Schurmann.

Mungan (Afghanistan): Snoy.

Ōrmur (Afghanistan): Kieffer.

Ossetes: Kaloyev.

Parāčī (Afghanistan): Kieffer.

Pašai: Ovesen, Wutt [1975].

Pashtuns: Ahmed, Anderson, Barth, Bellew, Boesen, Christensen, Dani, Ferdinand, Glatzer, Grima, Hart, Howell, Kieffer, Lindholm, Masson, Pedersen, Singer, Tavakolian, N. Tapper, R. Tapper, Vogel, Zadran.

Peripatetics (various, non-pastoral): Amanolahi, Beck, Berland, Digard, Olesen, Rao.

Qašqāʾī: Amanolahi, Beck, Kortum, Peymān [1962], Salzer, Swee.

Šāhsavān: Op’t Land, N. Tapper, R. Tapper.

Sangsarī: Parsā.

Sayad (Sīstān): Stoeber.

Shihuh (Oman): Dostal, Thomas.

Tajiks: Janata, Karmysheva, Kussmaul, R. and M. Poulton Uberoi.

Turkmen: Andrews, Bates, Franz, Irons [1965], Logashova, Olufsen [1896], Pūrkarīm, Sheil, Vambery.

Uzbek: Karmysheva, Olufsen [1896], Shalinsky, N. Tapper, Vasil’eva, Zadykhina.

Yomūt [Turkmen]: Irons.

Yāsofzī: Barth, Bellew.

2b. Religious Minority Communities.


Ahl-e Ḥaqq: Mir-Hosseini

Christians: de Mauroy, Schwartz, Sheil.

Jews: Desmet-Grégoire, Fischer, Goldstein, Ivanov, Loeb, Magnarella.

Mandaeans: Drower [1923].

Sufis: Sāʿedī, van Bruinessen [1975].

Yazīdīs: Edmonds.

Ẕekrī: S. Pastner.

Zoroastrians: Amighi [1972], Bekhradnia, Boyce, Fischer.

3. Topics.


Addiction: Charpentier.

Agriculture: Alberts, Allen, Antoun, Ehlers, Goodell, Kurin, Lambton, Spooner.

Architecture: Bromberger, N. Christensen, Edelberg, Gratzl, Gulick, Hallet, Horne, Kramer, Szabo, Watson, Zhilina.

Biraderi: Alavi.

Bona: ʿAjamī, Ṣafīnežād, Hooglund.

Circumcision: Kieffer.

Costume: Scarce.

Crafts, material culture: Andrews, Ashouri, Demont, Dupaigne, Feilberg, Ferdinand, Fontaine, Gandolfo, Hallet, Horne, Kramer, Leach, Lindholm, Loeffler, Martin, Olesen, Prince Peter, Reut, Szabo, Spooner, Watson, Wulff.

Dogs. Digard.

Economics: Barth, Bazin, Beck, Black-Michaud, Bradburd, Centlivres, Charpentier, Dillon, Fazel, Ferdinand, Huntington, Irons, Kielstra, Loeffler, Rao, Rotblat, Salzman, Scott, Spooner, Thaiss, Thompson, Vieille.

Ethnoarchaeology: Horne, Kramer, Watson.

Fishing: S. Pastner, Vieille.

Food: Bazin, Bromberger, Casimir, Centlivres, Desmet-Grégoire, Martin, Spooner, N. Tapper, R. Tapper.

Fuel: Horne, Martin.

Gender: Amanolahi, Anderson, Bauer, Betteridge, Boesen, Doubleday, Fazel, Fischer, Friedl, Goldstein, M. Good, Grima, Gulick, Haeri, Hansen, Hegland, Irons, Nashat, C. Pastner, Rao, Shahshahani, N. Tapper, Vieille, Wright.

Honor: Ahmed, Anderson, C. Pastner, Steul, N. Tapper, R. Tapper.

Humor: Beeman, Bromberger.

Identity: Bateson, Beeman, Bromberger, Canfield, Centlivres, Fischer.

Irrigation: Alberts, Holmes, Ṣafīnežād, Spooner.

Kinship and marriage: Ahmed, Alavi, Anderson, Barth, Beatti, Beck, Bradburd, Centlivres-Demont, Christensen, Cronin, Digard, Ferdinand, Gulick, Haeri, Holmes, Irons, Keiser, Lindholm, Loeb, Luzbetak, Mills, Mir-Hosseini, C. Pastner, Raḵš-e Ḵoršīd, Rotblat, Rudolph, Salzman, Shalinsky, Spooner, Strand, W. Swidler, N. Tapper, R. Tapper, Uberoi, Van Bruinessen, Vieille, Zadran.

Language and culture: Barth, Bateson, Bazin, Beeman, Behzadi, Bromberger, Centlivres, Emeneau, Fischer, Jahangiri, Morgenstierne, Spooner, Stilo, Strand.

Medical topics: Behzadi, Friedl, B. Good, M. Good, Nashat.

Music and culture: Amanolahi, Sakata, Slobin.

Nomads and Pastoralism: Afšār-Nāderī, Amanolahi, Barfield, Barth, Beck, Casimir, Centlivres-Demont, Cooper, Digard, Ehlers, Eškevarī, Fazel, Ferdinand, Field, Fornara, Glatzer, Huntington, Irons, Karmysheva, Martin, Nyerges, Palwal, Pedersen, Pourzal, Rosman, Rubel, Salzman, Shahrani, Spooner, Swee, W. Swidler, R. Tapper, Tavakolian.

Performance: Beeman, Thaiss.

Personality and culture: Anderson, Bateson, Beeman, Betteridge, Fischer, Lindholm, Mostawfi, Mottahedeh.

Political Organization: Barth, Beck, Borqaʿī, Bradburd, Brooks, Fabietti, Fazel, M. Good, Goodell, Irons, Keiser, Lindholm, Salzman, Spooner, N. Swidler, R. Tapper, Van Bruinessen.

Popular culture: Beeman, Digard, Fischer.

Pottery: Demont, Prince Peter.

Refugees: Boesen, Centlivres-Demont, Pedersen, Shalinsky, Sweetser.

Religion: Ahmed, Bazin, Betteridge, Calmard, Canfield, Centlivres, Centlivres-Demont, Drower, Einzmann, Ewing, Fischer, Friedl, Hansen, Hegland, Jettmar, Kurin, Lievre, Loeffler, Massé [1923], Mayer, Mir-Hosseini, Mottahedeh, Olesen, C. Pastner, S. Pastner, Saʿīdī, Spooner, N. Tapper, R. Tapper, Thaiss, Van Bruinessen.

Sport: Azoy, Balikci, Beck, Kuhnert, Rubel.

Symbolism: Anderson, Beeman, Betteridge, Boyce, Drower, Emeneau, Fischer, Jettmar, Lindholm, Massé, Mottahedeh, Spooner, N. Tapper, R. Tapper, Thaiss.

Tents: Andrews, Centlivres-Demont, Edelberg, Feilberg, Ferdinand.

Tribal Organization: Afšār-Nāderī, Ahmed, Amanolahi, Anderson, Āyatallāhī, Bacon, Barth, Beck, Bradburd, Brooks, Digard, Hand, Hart, Loeffler, Manābeʿ, Pehrson, Rubel, Rudolph, Ṣafīnežād, Salzman, Scott, Spooner, N. Swidler, W. Swidler, R. Tapper, Tavakolian, Varjavand.

Urban and national life: Behzadi, Betteridge, Chardin, Cronin, Fischer, M. Good, Gulick, Hourcade, Loeb, Magnarella, Mostawfī, Mottahadeh, Rotblat, Royce, Spooner, Street, Thaiss, Vieille.

Village organization: ʿAjamī, Alberts, Antoun, Behforūz, Dupree, Eglar, Eškevarī, Friedl, Gawecki, Goodell, Hegland, Holmes, Honigmann, Hoogland, Horne, Kielstra, Kramer, Marsden, Martin, Ono, C. Pastner, S. Pastner, Pūrkarīm, Saʿīdī, Ṣafīnežād, Safizadeh, Spooner, Ṭāhbāz, Uberoi.

Weaving: Dillon, Ehlers, Fontaine, Gandolfo, Martin, Spooner.

Windmills: Ferdinand.


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(Brian Spooner)

Originally Published: December 15, 1998

Last Updated: January 20, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. IX, Fasc. 1, pp. 9-28

Cite this entry:

Brian Spooner, “ETHNOGRAPHY (Text),” Encyclopaedia Iranica, IX/1, pp. 9-28, available online at (accessed on 30 December 2012).