BAHDĪNĀN (Kurdish Bādīnān), name of a Kurdish region, river, dialect group, and amirate. The region comprises roughly the largely mountainous northern qażās of Mowṣel lewā of Iraq (according to the pre-1973 administrative division) including ʿAmādīya, ʿAqra, Dahōk, Zāḵū, Zībār (divided between Arbīl and Mowṣel lewās in 1944), and Šayḵān. The first four qażās were regrouped into a new administrative division, Dahōk moḥāfaẓa, in 1973. The majority of the population are Kurds (see figures in Edmonds, p. 439) and speak Kurmanji, the major Kurdish dialect group, also called Bādīnānī (see, among others, Jardine and Blau). The dominant religion is Islam (Shafiʿite Sunni), although the area, especially Šayḵān and Jabal Senjār, has been the stronghold of the minority religion Yazīdī. Other sizable, but declining, minorities are Christians (Chaldean/Assyrian) and Jews. The Zēy Bādīnān river is a stretch of the Great Zab River (Times Atlas, pl. 34) between its two tributaries, Ḵāzer River and Rūbār-ī Rawāndez. It forms the eastern boundary of Bahdīnān territory.

The Bahdīnān amirate, one of the more powerful and enduring Kurdish principalities, was founded by the eponymous Bahāʾ-al-Dīn, originally from Šams-al-Dīnān (q.v.; Kurd. Šamzīnān, region now forming part of Hakkari province in Turkey), who established his hereditary rule in the town of ʿAmādīya (Bedlīsī, pp. 145-46) in the wake of the decline of Zangid power (7th-8th/13th-14th centuries). Threatened by the expansionist and centralizing efforts of the Ottoman and Safavid empires, Bahdīnān princes were drawn into prolonged confrontations with these two rival powers. Inseparably linked with these external wars was the endless conflict with other Kurdish principalities, tribal chiefs, and religious and ethnic minorities. In spite of these upheavals, Bahdīnān survived until the mid-13th/mid-19th century when Moḥammad Pasha of Rawāndūz, the conqueror amir of the neighboring Soran principality captured ʿAqra and ʿAmādīya and deposed the rulers Esmāʿīl Pasha and Moḥammad Saʿīd Pasha (1248/1832). Bahdīnān authority was, however, restored under Esmāʿīl Pasha soon after the Ottoman government succeeded in defeating the Soran amir and putting an end to this principality in 1834. Pursuing their protracted centralization policy, the Ottomans were able to overthrow the Bahdīnān amirate in 1842 (Yaḥyā, no. 43, p. 157; Jwaideh).



Maḥfūẓ ʿOmar ʿAbbāsī, Amārat Bahdīnān al-ʿabbāsīya, Mosul, 1969.

Amīr Šaraf Khan Bedlīsī, Šaraf-nāma, ed. M. ʿAbbāsī, Tehran, 1343 Š./1964, pp. 145-56.

J. Blau, Le Kurde de ʿAmādiya et de Djabal Sindjar: Analyse linguistique, textes folkloriques, glossaires, Paris, 1975.

Ṣ. Damlūjī, Amārat Bahdīnān al-kordīya, Mosul, 1952.

C. J. Edmonds, Kurds, Turks and Arabs, London, 1957, p. 439.

R. F. Jardine, Bahdinan Kurmanji: A Grammar of the Kurmanji of the Kurds of Mosul Division and Surrounding Districts, Baghdad, 1922.

W. Jwaideh, The Kurdish Nationalist Movement. Its Origins and Development, Ph.D. dissertation, Syracuse University, 1960, pp. 165-68, 173-75.

Anwar Māʾī, al-Akrād fī Bahdīnān, Mosul, 1960.

The Times Atlas of the World, 7th ed., New York, 1985, pl. 34.

ʿAbd-al-Fattāḥ ʿAlī Yaḥyā, “al-Mollā Yaḥyā al-Mezūrī wa soqūṭ amārat Bādīnān,” Kārvān (Arbīl) 4, 1986, no. 41, pp. 149-59; no. 42. pp. 147-55; no. 43, pp. 149-60.


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(A. Hassanpour)

Originally Published: December 15, 1988

Last Updated: August 23, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. III, Fasc. 5, p. 485