TĀLEŠ (Ṭāleš) DISTRICT, Gilān. The Tāleš region altogether stretches north from the Safidrud, which cuts through the western Alborz mountains in western Gilān, to the the Araxes-Kura (see ARAXES RIVER) plain in the south of the Republic of Azerbaijan; there it includes the districts of Āstārā, Lenkarān, Lerik, Yardymly, Masally, and Jelilābād, with the exception of the small subdistrict of ʿAnbarān locatedon the western side of the mountain chain in the province of Ardabil. The region is inhabited by an ethnic group speaking tāleši, one of the northwestern Iranian languages. The present author took the use of a single term, Tāleš, to designate both a geographical entity (toponym) and an ethnic group (ethnonym) as a starting point of his study (Bazin, 1974) of this area, focusing on the links between ethnic identities and regional geography, a rather rare feature in the Iranian world (Bazin, 1980a).
A comprehensive article on Tāleš as a whole, describing its general characteristics and including the northern part, will be published online; the districts belongingpartially or totally to Gilān (e.g.,Asālem, Āstārā, Fuman, Māsāl, Māsula, Reżwānšahr, Ṣamaʿa Sara, Šaft) are treated in detail in individual articles. The district that now bears the official name of Tāleš is presented below.
Present-day Ṭāleš District. Since the administrative reform of 1998, when Reżwānšahr and Māsāl were assigned the rank of šahrestān, the name Tāleš officially designates the remaining part of the former Ṭavāleš or later Tāleš district, that is, its former central part (baḵš-e markazi), corresponding to the ancient khanates of Asālem and Kargānrud (see Chodzko, pp. 263-64; Häntzsche, pp. 27-29, 50-54; Melgunof, pp. 273-75; Rabino, p. 89-136). The former dehestān of Asālem has become a baḵš with three dehestāns (Asālem, Ḵāla Sarā, and Ḵarjagil), that of Kargānrud-e Janubi now comprises the Markazi bakš (dehestāns of Tulārud, Jowkandān-e Sāḥeli, and Kuhestāni-e Tāleš), and that of Kargānrud-e Šomāli has been divided into two bakš of Kargānrud (dehestāns of Lisār and Ḵoṭba Sarā) and Ḥaviq (dehestān of Ḥaviq and Čubar).
The district encompasses the catchment basins of Nāvrud, Kargānrud, Rud-e Hara Dašt and a number of smaller rivers to the north. The cultural features of its population mark the transition between the traditional tāleši-speaking and Sunnite core of Tāleš, to which Asālem belongs, and the turkicized and “Shiʿitized” northern area (with the exception of Vizna valley, which is still totally tāleši-speaking and Sunnite). Christian Bromberger has pointed out the peaceful coexistence between the Sunnite and Shiʿite communities, marked by common pilgrimages, for instance, to the mausoleum of Šāh Milarzān on a hill above Ḵoṭba Sarā (for this shrine, see Sotuda, pp. 39-42; Ketāb-e Gilān II, pp. 570), and mixed marriages. The narrow coastal fringe is devoted to rice paddies with some tobacco fields around Jowkandān and Kašli (Bazin, 1980b) and various orchards, and the mountain area has kept a significant agricultural activity with wheat and barley fields together with intensive pastoral life. Complex migratory patterns consistof simple movements of paddy-growers, who take their cattle to one single summer pasture, such as in Ḵāla Sarā (Pourfickoui and Bazin, pp. 33-35), and movements of specialized stock raisers with a greater mobility, using up to five different pastoral levels for their cattle and sheep, as in the valley of Lomir (Pourfickoui and Bazin, pp. 62-65). This seasonal rush of population to the mountains gives a flourishing activity to summer bazaars in the villages of Nāv and Āq Evlar and the summer pastures of Aspā Huni along the Asālem-Ḵalḵāl road and Subātān above Lisār (Bazin, 1977; idem, et al.).
The permanent commercial centers are all located along the Anzali-Āstārā main road, which carries the important traffic of long-distance travel buses (Ardabil-Rašt or Ardabil-Tehran) and local minibuses. The most important locations have been designated as baḵš centers: Ḥaviq in the north (1,237 inhabitants in 2,006), Lisār north of Haštpar (2,500 inhabitants) and Asālem in the south (3,347 inhabitants), with a considerable sawmill nearby in Ḵalifa-ābād-e Asālem. All these centers are dominated by Haštpar, which has rapidly grown as the district center (41,486 inhabitants in 2006; see HAŠTPAR). Thus the urban population reaches a total of 48,669 inhabitants out of a total population of 178,803 in 2006, that is, only 27.2 percent (Markaz-e āmār, 2006).
Ludwig W. Adamec, ed., Historical Gazeteer of Iran I: Tehran and Northwestern Iran, Graz, 1976, pp. 641-42.
Marcel Bazin, “Le Tâlech et les Tâlech : ethnie et région dans le nord-ouest de l’Iran,” Bulletin de l’Association de géographes Français, no. 417-18, 1974, pp. 161-70; tr. Sirus Sahāmi, as “Ṭāleš wa sākenān-e ān,” MDAM 11, 1975, pp. 383-401.
Idem, “Les bazars saisonniers de montagne dans le Tāleš,” in Güthner Schweizer, ed., Beiträge zur Geographie orientalischer Städte und Märkte, Beihefte zum Tübinger Atlas des Vorderen Orients, Reihe B, Nr. 24, Wiesbaden 1977, pp. 201-11.
Idem, Le Tâlech, une région ethnique au nord de l’Iran, 2 vols., Paris, 1980a.
Idem, “La culture du tabac dans le Gilân,” Studia Iranica 9/1, 1980b, pp. 121-30.
Marcel Bazin and Christian Bromberger, Gilân et Âzarbayjân oriental: Cartes et documents ethnographiques, Bibliothèque iranienne 12, Paris, 1982.
M. Bazin (Bāzen), A. Pour-Fickoui (Purfikuʾi), B. Raḥmāni, and H. Afrāḵta, “Taḡyirāt-e jadid-e eqteṣādi wa sāzmāndehi-e fażā dar Tāleš,” Faṣl-nāma-ye taḥqiqāt-e joḡfrāfiāʾi no. 38, 1995, pp. 65-79.
Christian Bromberger, “La solution Tâlech,” in Anne-Marie Grange, Pernette Grandjean, and Alain Reynaud, eds., Les vertus de l’interdiscipliniraité: mélanges offerts à Marcel Bazin, Reims, 2009, pp. 105-9.
Alexander Borejko Chodzko, “Le Ghilan ou les marais caspiens,” Nouvelles annales des voyages et des sciences géographiques, nelle série, 1849, no 4, pp. 263-64.
Julius Cäsar Häntzsche, Talysch: eine geographische Skizze, Dresden, 1867, pp. 27-29, 50-54.
Markaz-e āmâr-e Irān, Sar-šomāri-e ʿomumi-e nofus wa maskan [decennial national census], Tehran, 1966-2006.
Grigori Melgunof, Das südliche Ufer des Kaspischen Meeres, oder die Nordprovinzen Persiens, Leipzig, 1868, pp. 273-75.
Ali Pour-Fickoui and Marcel Bazin, Elevage et vie pastorale dans le Guilân (Iran septentrional), Paris, 1978.
Ketāb-e Gilān, 3 vols., Tehran, 1995, passim.
Hyacinth Louis Rabino, Les provinces caspiennes de la Perse: le Guîlân, Paris, 1916-17, pp. 89-136; tr. Jaʿfar Ḵomāmizāda, as Welāyāt-e dār-al-marz-e Irān: Gilān, Tehran, 1978, pp. 94-149.
Ḥosayn-ʿAli Razmārā, ed., Farhang-e joḡrāfiāʾi-e Irān II, Tehran, 1950, passim; IV, Tehran, 1951.
Cyrus Sahami, Le Gilân: l’économie rurale et la vie paysanne dans la province sud-caspienne de l’Iran, , Clermont-Ferrand, 1965.
Manučeher Sotuda, Az Āstārā tā Estārbād I: āṯār wa banāhā-ye tāriḵi-e Gilān Biapas, Tehran, 1970, pp. 35-82.
Last Updated: October 1, 2012