KAŠKULI BOZORG, one of the five major tribes of the Qashqāʾi (Qašqāʾi) tribal confederacy of Fārs province. Its name is probably derived from kaškul, a word of Arabic origin, but used in both Persian and Turkish, to denote a bowl, or hollowed-out gourd, carried by shepherds or mendicant dervishes. Some claim that the Kaškuli are of Kurdish origin and came from the Kermānšāh region (Beck, p. 182; Magee, p. 79). But because the Qashqāʾi tribal confederacy was a union of Turkic tribes and many of the Kaškuli tiras, or clans, have Turkic names, it is more likely that the Kaškuli tribe was of Turkic origin, but that it absorbed some Kurdish and Lori tribes after the downfall of the Zand dynasty at the end of the 18th century. On the other hand, the ruling family of the tribe is almost certainly of Zand origin (Beck, pp. 182-83; Magee, pp. 79 and 92; Garrod, p. 40). According to Magee, the first Zand kalāntar (chief) of the tribe was a certain Ḥosayn Khan Zand, who accompanied Karim Khan Zand to Fārs and whose daughter, Nāzli, married Jāni Khan, the first ilḵāni (paramount chief) of the Qashqāʾi tribal confederacy (p. 92).

Esmāiʿl Khan Ṣowlat-al-Dowla (q.v.), who was the ilḵāni of the Qashqāʾi tribal confederacy almost continually between 1904 and 1930, had a Kaškuli mother and a Kaškuli wife. Yet he was on very bad terms with most of the Kaškuli khans. During the years prior to World War I, a major disagreement arose between some of these khans and the Qashqāʾi leader over one of the tribe’s main sources of revenue, namely the exaction of tolls on the Kāzerun stretch of the Bušehr-Shiraz route, which crosses Kaškuli territory. As a result, the Kaškuli khans supported the British in their struggle against Ṣowlat-al-Dowla and the German agent, Wilhelm Wassmuss, during the war. After the war, Ṣowlat-al-Dowla punished the Kaškuli. He dismissed the Kaškuli leaders who had opposed him and “deliberately set out to break up and impoverish the Kashkuli tribe” (Magee, p. 79). Two sections of the tribe, which consisted of elements which had been loyal to Ṣowlat-al-Dowla, were then separated from the main body of the tribe and given the status of independent tribes, becoming the Kaškuli Kuček (“Little Kaškuli”) and Qarāčāhi tribes. The remaining tribe became known as the Kaškuli Bozorg (“Big Kaškuli”) tribe.

All three sections of the tribe suffered great hardship under the harsh rule of Reżā Shah Pahlavi (1925-1941), when they were compelled to adopt a sedentary way of life without adequate preparations (Magee, p. 79). The Kaškuli Bozorg leaders Eliās Khan and Esfandiār Khan played an important role in the tribal rebellion of Fārs in 1929 (Kāva Bayāt, pp. 42, 49, 50, 58, 66, 93, 126, and 133), and in 1932 both leaders were exiled to northern Persia (Magee, pp. 79, 90-91).

Following the abdication of Reżā Shah in 1941, the Kaškuli Bozorg, like all the tribespeople of Persia, were once more able to resume their pastoral way of life. Eliās Khan and Esfandiār Khan returned home, but they remained independent of the authority of the Qashqāʾi ilḵāni (Schulze-Holthus, p. 282), a fact which Sohrāb Khan, Eliās Khan’s son, underscored when I interviewed him in April 1957.

After World War II, Eliās Khan served as a representative in the Majles (Parliament). In spite of their at times troubled relationship with the Qashqāʾi ilḵānis, leaders of the Kaškuli Bozorg tribe formed part of the core group of Qashqāʾi insurgents against the government of the Islamic Republic in the mountains of southern Fārs in the early 1980s (Beck, pp. 329-31).

The winter quarters of the Kaškuli Bozorg tribe are around Kāzerun, as well as around Čenār Šāhijān, Māhur-e Milāti, Bābā Kalān, and Bakeš, to the northwest of that city. Its summer quarters are around Ardakān, Komehr and Kākānin northwestern Fārs. According to an Iranian Army list of the tribes of Fārs, in 1958 the tribe consisted of the following tiras, the number of households being in parentheses: Begdili Lori (240), Begdili Torki (69), Goštāsp Lori (50), Goštāsp Torki (140), Jarkāni (140), Guri Bahā-al-Dini (150), ʿAmala-ye Eliās Ḵāni (140), Oruḵlu (150), Kuruni (190), Jāmʿa Bozorgi (75), Ardeširi (87), Zangana (120), Owlād Mirzāʾi (60), Bolvardi Soleymāni (140), Bolvardi Kamandi (70), Koruši (80), Hahnavāz Ḵānlu (60), Čahārdah Čarik (15), Šeš Boluki (10), Gardāni (10), Karim Ḵāni (60), Uriyād wa Bollu (60), Āl-e Qoyunlu (50), ʿAmala-e Fereydun Ḵāni (70), Qarāčāhi (30), Salhuʾi (60), ʿAli ʿAskarlu (70), Aḥmad Maḥmudi (50), Farhādlu (15), Bolvardi Gardāni (60), Guri Bumandi (150), ʿAmala-e Jehāngir Ḵāni (70), Ṭayyebi (80), Čelāngar (60), Dizgāni (180), Moḥammad Ṣāleḥ (370), Mišān (140), Vandā (40), Bolvardi Azdahākeš (160), Kohvāda (80), Buger (60), and Yādkuri (140) (Oberling, pp. 229-30).

According to Irānšahr, the Kaškuli Bozorg tribe comprised 4,862 households in 1963 (Vol. I, p. 145). As Oliver Garrod observed, the Kaškuli Bozorg are “especially noted for their jajims, or tartan woolen blankets, and for the fine quality of their rugs and trappings” (p. 40). The Kaškuli Bozorg are Shiʾites and speak a Western Ghuz Turkic dialect which they call Turki.



Iraj Afšār-Sistāni, Ilhā, čādornešinān wa ṭawāyef-e ʿašāyeri-e Irān, Tehran, 1987, p. 628.

Kāva Bayāt, Šureš-e ʿašāyeri-e Fārs, Tehran, 1987.

Lois Beck, The Qashqāʾi of Iran, New Haven, 1986.

Oliver Garrod, “The Nomadic Tribes of Persia To-Day,” Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society 33, 1946, pp. 32-46.

Komisiun-e melli-e Yunesko (UNESCO) dar Irān, Irānšahr, 2 vols., 1963-65.

G. F. Magee, The Tribes of Fārs, Simla, 1945.

Pierre Oberling, The Qashqāʾi Nomads of Fārs, The Hague, 1974.

Berthold Schulze-Holthus, Daybreak in Iran, London, 1954.

Sir Arnold Talbot Wilson, Report on Fārs, Simla, 1916.


March 19, 2004

(Pierre Oberling)

Originally Published: May 1, 2012

Last Updated: July 20, 2004

This article is available in print.
Vol. XVI, Fasc. 1, pp. 78-79