BAHMAʾĪ, a Lur tribe of the Kohgīlūya (Kūh[-e] Gīlūya). Until well into the second half of the 13th/19th century, it was one of the largest and most powerful tribes of the Behbahān region. According to Layard, who visited the Bahmaʾīs in 1840, they comprised some 3,000 families, and had a fighting force of “about 2,000 excellent matchlock-men and a small but very efficient body of horsemen” (“A Description of the Province of Khuzistan,” JRGS 16, 1846, p. 23). According to C. A. de Bode, who was in the Kohgīlūya at the same time as Layard, the tribe comprised only some 2,000 families (Travels in Luristan and Arabistan, London, 1845, I, p. 280). But both travelers were equally impressed by the Bahmaʾīs’ refractoriness and energy as raiders (see e.g., Layard, “A Description,” p. 23). De Bode called them “the wildest and most unruly tribe among the mountaineers of Fārs” (p. 280).
The last important leader of the Bahmaʾīs was Ḵalīl Khan, who ruled the tribe from his fortress, the Qaḷʿa-ye Aʿlā (sometimes spelled Qaḷʿa ʿAlāʾ), 53 km northwest of Behbahān. He appears to have been a picturesque bandit in the manner of Fra Diavolo (see descriptions by Layard, p. 23, and De Bode, p. 280). During Ḵalīl Khan’s lifetime, his eldest son, Jaʿfar Khan, built the two strongholds of Qaḷʿa-ye Aʿlā and Dīšmūk, 20 km east of the Qaḷʿa-ye Aʿlā and since then the tribe became divided into the Garmsīrī, with headquarters at Qaḷʿa-ye ʿAlā, and Sardsīrī, with headquarters at Dīšmūk (M. Żarrābī, “Ṭawāyef-e Kohgīlūya,” FIZ 9, 1340 Š./1961-62, p. 291).
After the death of Ḵalīl Khan, which occurred late in the nineteenth century, there was a struggle for the succession between his sons and the sons of his brother, Moḥammad-Ḥosayn Khan. In the course of this contest for leadership, Moḥammad-ʿAlī Khan, a son of Moḥammad-Ḥosayn Khan, slew Jaʿfar Khan and declared himself the new chief of the tribe. But forty days later, Moḥammad-ʿAlī Khan was, in turn, killed by a son of Jaʿfar Khan. These two murders and the feud that ensued led to the division of the Bahmaʾī tribe into two separate tribes, the Bahmaʾī Moḥammadī and the Bahmaʾī Aḥmadī tribes (Żarrābī, pp. 291-93). But in spite of this the Bahmaʾīs continued their raids, retaining their warlike reputation, and, writing in the mid-1890s, Ḥasan Fasāʾī could still say that ten Bahmaʾī riflemen were worth a hundred Baḵtīarīs (Fārs-nāma II, p. 275).
Fasāʾī (ibid.), G. Demorgny (“Les réformes administratives en Perse: Les tribus du Fars,” pt. 1, RMM 22, March, 1913, pp. 117-18) and M. Kayhān (Joḡrāfīā II, p. 89) all estimated the number of Bahmaʾīs at 3,000 families. Today, the Bahmaʾīs are scattered over a wide area covering three adjacent dehestāns, Bahmaʾī Sarḥaddī, Bahmaʾī Sardsīr, and Bahmaʾī Garmsīr, northwest of Behbahān (Razmārā, Farhang VI, pp. 64-65). Because they have thoroughly blended in with the local population, it is no longer possible to give an accurate estimate of their population.
Given in text. See also M. Bāver, Kūhgīlūya wa īlāt-e ān, Gačsārān, 1324 Š./1945, pp. 120-29.
N. Afšār-e Nāderī, Monogerāfī-e īl-e Bahmāʾī, Tehran, 1347 Š./1968.
Originally Published: December 15, 1988
Last Updated: August 23, 2011
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Vol. III, Fasc. 5, p. 486