BĀWĪYA, a Shiʿite tribe of Ḵūzestān. They range east and south of Ahvāz, between the Kārūn and Jarrāḥī rivers, to the south of Band-e Qīr and north of Māred. Estimated at 20,000 individuals in the early years of this century, of which 18,500 were nomadic, and 2,320 families in the 1930s, they were formerly camel breeders but have progressively sedentarized and diversified their livestock. They are organized in six sections with fifteen clans (Lorimer, Gazetteer II, pp. 119, 293-96; Oppenheim, IV, pp. 25, 90; Field, pp. 190-91; Persia, pp. 378-380).

They claim a proud lineage, which includes the pre-Islamic hero Mohalhel, but their early history is obscure. They apparently originated in the Banī Rabīʿa of Iraq and moved into Iran in the late 10th/16th century along with the Banī Lām. Their territory was immediately northwest of that of the Banī Kaʿb (q.v.), with whom they have had a long association and rivalry, including occasional hostilities. In the winter of 1914-15, in common with several other of the Ḵūzestān tribes, they attacked the British force occupying Ahvāz, with which Shaikh Ḵaẓʿal of the Kaʿb was in alliance. Since the late 1940s they have entirely sedentarized, in some sixty villages (Oppenheim, III, p. 356, IV, pp. 89-91).

Splinter groups of Bāwīya have dispersed among other tribes in both Iraq and Iran; there is a Bāwīya subsection of the ʿArab, a constituent tribe of the Ḵamsa confederacy (ʿAzzāwī, IV, pp. 191-92; Oppenheim, IV, p. 92).



(Great Britain) Admiralty, Persia, Geographical Handbook Series, Oxford, 1945.

ʿA. ʿAzzāwī, ʿAšāʾer al-ʿErāq, 4 vols., Baghdad, 1947.

H. Field, Contributions to the Anthropology of Iran, Chicago, 1939.

M. Freiherr von Oppenheim, Die Beduinen, ed. W. Caskel, 4 vols., Wiesbaden, 1967.

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(J. Perry)

Originally Published: December 15, 1988

Last Updated: December 15, 1988

This article is available in print.
Vol. III, Fasc. 8, p. 876