HARKI (Herki), a Kurdish tribe of western Azerbaijan, eastern Anatolia, and northeastern Iraq. As of 1963, the Harki of Persia were still predominantly nomadic and dwelled near the borders of Turkey and Iraq, west and southwest of Urmia. Their summer quarters were on the highlands of the dehestāns of Targavar and Daštbil, and their winter quarters in the lowlands of the dehestāns of Targavar, Daštbil, and Margavar. They numbered some 1,350 families, and their principal clans were the Mandān, the Sayyedān, and the Sarhāti (“Ilāt,” p. 120). The Harki of Turkey and Iraq are widely scattered. According to Mark Sykes, writing in 1908, “some are to be found near Erzerum [sic], others near Van, and great numbers near Mossul [sic],” but “it is impossible to mark them down with any accuracy, as they seem to have no fixed beats” (p. 458). There is very little information on the Harki of Turkey. As regards the Herki of Iraq, we know that in 1935 they numbered some four thousand families (Naval Intelligence, p. 369) and that as of 1956 they were still nomadic (“W. L. E.,” p. 424). They spent the summers along the headwaters of the Little Zab (Zāb-e Ṣaḡir) river, or across the Persian frontier near Ošnaviya (see OŠNUYA), and the winters between Erbil and Ravāndez (Naval Intelligence, p. 369; Eagleton,p. 17). There is a vivid description of their migrations (Dickson, pp. 373-74).

The Harki of Persia joined Shaikh ʿObayd-Allāh, the tribal leader who attempted to establish an independant Kurdish state and invaded northwestern Persia in 1880 (Arfa, p. 24). In 1946, they once more supported a Kurdish leader whose aim was to create an independent Kurdish state, namely Qāżi Moḥammad. The Harki chiefs Zero Beg and Rašid Beg played an important role in setting up the short-lived Mahābād Republic. When Russian forces evacuated northwestern Persia later that year and Qāżi Moḥammad’s government disintegrated, the two Herki leaders reaffirmed their loyalty to the Persian central government (Eagleton, pp. 62, 63, 79, 81, 91, 108, 112).



H. Arfa, The Kurds, London, 1966.

B. Dickson, “Journeys in Kurdistan,” The Geographical Journal 35, April 1910, pp. 357-79.

W. Eagleton, The Kurdish Republic of 1946, London, 1963.

“W. L. E.,” “Iraqi Kurdistan,” The World Today 12, 1956, pp. 417-32.

“Ilāt va ʿašāyer-e Irān,” in Komisiun-e melli-e Yune-sko dar Irān (UNESCO), Irān-šahr I, Tehran, 1342 Š./1963, pp. 114-66.

Naval Intelligence Division, Persia, Geographical Handbook Series, London, 1945.

M. Sykes, “The Kurdish Tribes of the Ottoman Empire,” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 38, 1908, pp. 451-86.

(Pierre Oberling)

Originally Published: December 15, 2003

Last Updated: March 6, 2012

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Vol. XII, Fasc. 1, pp. 6-7