ʿABD-AL-MALEKĪ, a Lek tribe of Māzandarān. Long ago (possibly during the reign of Shah ʿAbbās I, when many tribes were transplanted from western Iran to the northeastern marches), the ʿAbd-al-Malekīs were moved from Kurdistan to the Darragaz (Moḥammadābād) area of Khorasan. There they were absorbed by the Qašqāʾī tribal confederacy when it was moved from Fārs to the Darragaz, Kalāt-e Nāderī, and Saraḵs regions by Nāder Shah. Undoubtedly, they accompanied the Qašqāʾīs when Karīm Khan Zand granted Esmāʿīl Khan Qašqāʾī’s request to allow his tribesmen to return to Fārs, for we next find them in that province. Along with their Qašqāʾī overlords, the ʿAbd-al-Malekīs fought for Loṭf-ʿAlī Khan Zand, contributing 250 horsemen to the Zand army. After the defeat of Loṭf-ʿAlī Khan, Āqā Moḥammad Khan Qāǰār moved the ʿAbd-al-Malekīs to the district of Šahrīār, near Tehran. Some three years later, the Qajar ruler moved them to the districts of Nūr and Koǰūr, west of Āmol, in Māzandarān. Finally, about 1855, Mīrzā Āqā Khan Nūrī, the ṣadr-e aʿẓam, moved them towards Zāḡmarz, near Sārī, to serve as a shield against the Turkomans (cf. P.. Oberling, The Qashqāʾi Nomads of Fārs, The Hague, 1975, p. 42, n.; Fasāʾī, Fārsnāma I, p. 234; H. L. Rabino, Māzandarān and Astarābād, Cambridge, 1928, p. 12; H. Field, Contributions to the Anthropology of Iran, Chicago, 1939, p. 167). They are now sedentary and inhabit a number of villages in the dahestāns of Mīāndorūd and Qaraṭeqān, northeast of Sārī. They are divided into the following clans (tīras): Faraḥvand, Kalvand, Šayḵvand, and Zīnvand (cf. Field, op. cit., p. 167). In the early 1880s , J. M. Jouannin estimated their number at five to six thousand individuals (cf. J. M. Jouannin’s list of tribes in A. Dupré, Voyage en Perse, Paris, 1819, II, p. 461). About 1850, Lady Sheil estimated their number at “600 tents and houses” (Glimpses of Life and Manners in Persia, London, 1856, p. 396). Field writes that “according to their tradition” the ʿAbd-al-Malekīs numbered 4,000 families when they reached Māzandarān but were so reduced by the climate that by 1920 there were a mere 600 families left (op. cit., p. 167). According to Rabino, in 1913 the ʿAbd-al-Malekīs still spoke Kurdish.


See also: J. B. Fraser, Travels and Adventures in the Persian Provinces on the Southern Banks of the Caspian Sea, London, 1826.

W. R. Holmes, Sketches on the Caspian Shores, London, 1845.

Gazetteer of Persia, Simla, 1914, II, p. 4.

A. K. S. Lambton, Landlord and Peasant in Persia, London, 1953, p. 141.

J. J. Morier, “Some Account of the I’liyáts, or Wandering Tribes of Persia, Obtained in the Years 1814 and 1815,” JRGS 7, 1837, pp. 230-42.

H. L. Rabino, “A Journey in Mazanderan from Rasht to Sari,” Geographical Journal 42, 1913, pp. 435-54.

(P. Oberling)

Originally Published: December 15, 1982

Last Updated: July 14, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 2, pp. 128-129

Cite this entry:

P. Oberling, “'Abd-Al-Maleki,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/2, pp. 128-129; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abd-al-maleki-a-lek-tribe-of-mazandaran (accessed on 16 January 2014).