KURDISH TRIBES. Kurdish tribes are found throughout Persia, eastern Anatolia and northern Iraq, but very few comprehensive lists of them have been published. The one most often cited is that of François Bernard Charmoy, which was based on the Šaraf-nāma by the 16th-century Kurdish historian Šaraf-al-Din Bedlisi (q.v.; I, pp. 55-85). An attempt to present an up-to-day list of Kurdish tribes follows.


Western Azerbaijan. The most important Kurdish tribes in that region are Jalāli (q.v.; around Māku), Milān (also around Māku), Ḥaydarānlu (on the Turkish border, southwest of Māku), Donboli (q.v.; Turki-speaking, around Ḵoy and Salmās), Korahsunni (Kurdicized Turks, southwest of Ḵoy), Šekkāk (south of Salmās), Herki (around Urmia), Begzāda (south of Urmia), Zerzā (on the Iraqi border, west of Ošnaviya), Pirān (on the Iraqi border, southwest of Naqada), Māmaš (around Naqada), Mangur (southwest of Mahābād), Mokri (around Mahābād), Dehbokri (east of Mahābād), Gowrāk (south of Mahābād, around Sardašt and northwest of Saqqez), Malkāri (around Sardašt), Suseni (west of Saqqez), Fayż-Allāh-begi (northeast of Saqqez). (For details, see Afšār Sistāni, pp. 137-95; Komisiun-e melli, pp. 117-29.)

Eastern Azerbaijan. In Qarājadāḡ (today Arasbārān), that is, the region between the Aras river and the Sabalān mountain range, there are six Shiʿite, Turki-speaking tribes of Kurdish origin: Čalabiānlu (q.v.), Moḥammad Ḵānlu, Ḥosaynāklu, Ḥāji ʿAlilu (q.v.), Ḥasan Beglu, and Qarāčorlu. In Ḵalḵāl, that is, the region between the Bozḡuš mountains and the Qezel Uzen (owzan) river, there are seven Shiʿite, Turki-speaking tribes of Kurdish origin: Delikānlu, Kolukjānlu (an offshoot of the Šekkāk), Šaṭrānlu (also an offshoot of the Šekkāk), Aḥmadlu, Šādlu, Rašvand, and Māmānlu. Finally, there are Shiʿite, Turki-speaking Šekkāk occupying vast areas northeast and northwest of Miyāna. (See Afšār-Sistāni, pp. 109-25; Oberling, 1964; idem, 1961, pp. 52-57, 80.)

Kurdistan. The most important Kurdish tribes in this region are: Saršiv (on the Iraqi border, south of Bāna), Tilakuʾi (Kurdicized Turks, around Sonnata and Zāḡa), Bani Ardalān (around Senna [Sanandaj]), Jāf (southwest of Senna [Sanandaj]), Hulilān (southeast of Kermānšāh), and the following tribes between Kermānšāh (present-day Bāḵtarān) and the Iraqi border: Gurān, Kalhor, Sanjābi, Šarafbayāni, Kerindi, Bājalān (q.v.), Nānakuli, and Zangana. (See Afšār-Sistāni, pp. 223-59; Komisiun-e melli, pp. 130-33; also multiple entries in Nikitine and Arfa.)

Hamadān. According to Marduḵ Kordestāni (I, pp. 86 and 98), the Kurdish tribes in this province are: Jamiri, Juzikān, and Šāhjān.

Luristan. According to Oskar Mann (p. XXIII), the Delfān and Selsela groups of tribes, the Armāʾi tribe of the Ṭarhān group of tribes, and the Bayrānvand tribe in the Piš-e Kuh speak Laki. According to Marduḵ Kordestāni (I, pp. 78, 86), both the Itivand and the Judeki tribes in the Piš-e Kuh are Kurdish. There is also a large tribe by the name of Kord in the Pošt-e Kuh (Rabino, 1916, pp. 40-45).

Ḵuzestān. There are three groups of Zangana and one of Jalāli in the Jānneki Garmsir, northeast of Ahvāz. They were brought there by Nadir Shah (Qāʾem Maqāmi). There was also a tribe by the name of Āl bu Kord which occupied seven villages on the Kārun river south of Ahvāz (Lorimer, II, pp. 121, 1042).

Gilān. There have been two important Kurdish tribes in this province: Rišvand (or Rašvand) and ʿAmārlu (q.v.). According to Rabino, the Rišvand formed part of the Bābān tribe of Solaymāniya and were moved to Gilān by Shah ʿAbbās I. Later, they were chased out of most of their choice pasturelands by the ʿAmārlu, who were moved to Gilān from northwestern Persia by Nāder Shah (Rabino, 1916-17, pp. 260-61; tr., pp. 304-6). The Rišvand now live mostly in Qazvin province. The ʿAmārlu occupy some fifty villages between Menjil and Pirākuh in southeastern Gilān. (See Fortescue, pp. 319-20; Marduḵ Kordestāni, I, pp. 100-1; Afšār Sistāni, pp. 132-34.)

Māzandarān. There are three major Kurdish tribes in the province: Modānlu (north of Sāri), Jahānbeglu (north of Sāri), and Ḵvājavand (south of Nowšahr). The Ḵvājavand tribe, according to L. S. Fortescue (p. 317), “was originally brought from Garrús (q.v.) and Kurdistán by Náder Sháh.” The Modānlu and Jahānbeglu tribes were probably also moved to Māzanderān by Nāder Shah. According to Rabino (1913, p. 441).

Qazvin. The most important Kurdish tribes in this province are Ḡiāṯvand (q.v.), Kākāvand, Rišvand, and Maʿāfi. The Ḡiāṯvand tribe dwells along the Qezel Uzen and Šāhrud rivers. According to Parviz Varjāvand (pp. 456-57), it was transplanted from western Persia by Āḡā Moḥammad Khan Qājār. The Kākāvand tribe lives northeast of Qerva, on the Siāh Dahān-Zanjān road. The Rešvand tribe occupies the districts of Alāmut and Rudbār. The Maʿāfi tribe dwells near the Qazvin-Tehran road (Fortescue, pp. 325-26). According to Varjāvand (pp. 459-60), there are also small groups of Bājalān, Behtuʾi, Čamišgazak, Jalilvand, and Kalhor in the province.

Tehran. The Pāzuki tribe is the principal Kurdish group in the province. According to Albert Houtum-Schindler (p. 50), it was once a powerful tribe residing near Erzurum in Anatolia; but it was broken up in the late 16th century, a fragment settling down around Varāmin and Ḡār. In the Tehran region are also fragments of the following tribes: Hedāvand, Burbur, Uryād, Zerger, Kord Bača, Nānakuli, and Qarāčorlu (Kayhān, II, p. 111); and in Sāva there are Kalhor Kurds (Afšār Sistāni, p. 1115).

Isfahan. According to Marduḵ Kordestāni (I, p. 79), there is a Kurdish tribe in this province by the name of Bāzinjān. Moreover, the name of the town Šahr-e Kord southwest of Isfahan evidence the existence of Kurds in that region in the past (cf. Kord in Fārs mentioned below). This is reinforced by the remarks of early Muslim geographers (Masʿudi, Tanbih, p. 88; EsÂṭaḵri, pp. 98-99, 115; Ebn Ḥawqal, p. 265; Moqaddasi, p. 447).

Fārs. According to Marduḵ Kordestāni (I, pp. 75-117), there are more than thirty small Kurdish tribes in Fārs. Many of these are undoubtedly remnants of tribes that followed Karim Khan Zand to Fārs; after the fall of the Zand dynasty, they were absorbed as clans by the Qašqāʾi tribal confederacy. They include the Saqqez, Zangana (five separate groups, including one that today forms a clan of the Kaškuli Bozorg tribe of the Qašqāʾi), Kuruni, Čegini (q.v.), Burbur and Uryād (clans of the Qašqāʾi ʿAmala tribe), Lak and Vandā (clans of the Qašqāʾi Darrašuri tribe), Kordlu (a clan of the Qašqāʾi Qarā Čāhilu tribe), and Kord-Šuli. (See Oberling, 1960, pp. 76-84; idem, 1974, pp. 225-31.) References to Kurdish tribes in Fārs, as well as to a town called Kord in the Isfahan area, go back to the 10th century (Masʿudi, Tanbih, pp. 88-89; Ebn Ḵordādbeh, p. 47; Eṣṭaḵri, pp. 113 ff., 125; Ebn Ḥawqal, pp. 264-65, 269, 270-71; Moqaddasi, p. 446). According to Ebn al-Balḵi, the five major Kurdish tribes of Fārs had been annihilated during the Arab conquest, and the Kurds that were in Fārs in the 12th century, other than the Šabānkāra, had been brought there by the Buyid ʿAżad-al-Dawla. There were many Kurds in Fārs in the 11th century, including as many as five tribes of Šabānkāra (Ebn al-Balḵi, tr. pp. 5-13). Although Ebn Balḵi distinguishes the Šabānkāra from the original Kurdish tribes of Fārs, the name of one of the Šabānkāra five clans, Rāmāni (the other four are Esmāʿili, Karzubi, Masʿudi, Šakāni), is identical with that of a Kurdish tribe of Fārs mentioned in early sources (Eṣṭaḵri, p. 114; Ebn Ḥawqal, p. 270; Moqaddasi, p. 446). The Šabānkāra seized power from the Buyids in Fārs in 1062 and founded a dynasty of tribal rulers there (Ebn Balḵi, pp. 164-67; Bosworth, p. 156). Some of the Šabānkāra settled down in the district of Simakān, between Shiraz and Jahrom (Ḥasan Fasāʾi, II, p. 314). Today, there is still a district by the name of Šabānkāra near Bušehr.

Khorasan. There are many thousands of Kurds in Khorasan, and most of them are descendants of tribesmen who were moved into the province by Shah ʿAbbās I around 1600. The most important Kurdish tribes in Khorasan are: ʿAmārlu (in the Marusk plain, northwest of Nišāpur), Šādlu (in the district of Bojnurd), Zaʿfarānlu (in the districts of Širvān and Qučān), Keyvānlu (in the districts of Joveyn, Darragaz, and Radkān), Tupkānlu (around Joveyn and Nišāpur), and Qarāčorlu (in the districts of Bojnurd, Širvān, and Qučān). (See: Afšār Sistāni, pp. 984-1104; Ivanow, pp. 150-52.) The recent study of Moḥammad-Ḥosayn Pāpoli Yazdi shows the extent to which the Kurds of Khorasan have become sedentary (pp. 23-37).

Kermān. According to Percy Sykes (p. 210), there was a small Kurdish tribe in the Sārdu (or Sārduya) region in 1900. Until recently, there was also a clan of the Afšār tribe of Kermān by the name of Mir Kord (Oberling, 1960, p. 115).

Baluchistan. There are Kurds in northeastern Persian Baluchistan, who might be the descendants of tribesmen who accompanied the luckless Loṭf-ʿAli Khan Zand on his desperate flight to Bam in 1794. Until the 1880s, they were dominant in Ḵāš, and their leader was known as the Sardār of the Sarḥad (Sykes, pp. 106, 107, 131; see also Bestor). Today, they are widely scattered, some of them living on the southern slopes of the Kuh-e Taftān, others dwelling around Magas (today, Zābol); and still others are settled in Sistān (Afšār Sistāni, p. 918). Hosayn-ʿAli Razmārā mentions eight villages in the district of Bampošt that are inhabited by Baluchi-speaking Zand tribesmen (VIII, pp. 187, 248, 313, 315, 322, 372, 384). These probably moved to Baluchistan at the same time as the Kurds of Ḵāš.


Most of the Kurds in Turkey have become sedentary and many have lost their tribal identity. According to Marduḵ Kordestāni (I, pp. 75-117), at the beginning of the 20th century the principal Kurdish tribes of Turkey were the following. They are listed according to district (velāyat). For more information on Kurdish tribes in Turkey, see Ott Blau (pp. 608-9), Mark Sykes (pp. 451-86), and Badile Nikitine (pp. 161-62).

Adıaman: Telyā.

Afyon: Jahānbegli.

Ağri: Sāderli, Ḵālati, Ḥaydarānli, Ḥamadikān, Zilānli, Bādeli, Ādamānli, Bašmānli, Jalāli, Bāzikli.

Amasya: Aruk.

Ankara: ʿAmarānli, Nāṣerli, Zirikānli, Judikānli, Tirikān.

Bitlis: Mudeki, Ḵāzali, Ḥasanānlu, Ātamānikān, Jabbarānli.

Diārbakır: Diārbakri, Musek, Šayḵdudānli, Surkišli, Dersimli, Ḵāzāli, Bešeri, Tirikān, Purān, Bekirān, Raškutānli.

Elaziğ: Gurus, Kulbaban, Sinān, Āšmišārt, Behirmāz.

Erzurum: Herkaʾi, Zirikānli, Ḥasanānli, Piziānli, Rašvān.

Gaziantep: Delikānli

Hakāri: Kekā, Šemsiki, Neri, Ḥakāri, Ḥasanānlu, Balikār, Dināri.

Kaysari: Ḥājibānli.

Kirşehir: ʿAmarānli, Ṭāburowḡli, Barakatli.

Konya: Ḵalkāni.

Malaṭya: Sināminli

Maraş (Marʿaš): Gugarišānli, Kikān, Vāliāni, Nederli, Nāšādirā, Duḡānli, Delikānli, Jelikānli, Balikānli.

Mardin: Dāḵuri, Turʿābedin.

Muş: Māmakānli, Lulānli, Šekerli, Panjinān, Silukān, Selivān, Ḥasanānli, Azli, Panijāri, Zerzān, Balikān.

Siirt (Seʿert): Mirān, Musek, Kaviān, Dersimli, Dāḵuri, Ḥosayni, Jaziriān, Panjinān.

Sivās: Kučeri, Āḵčešmi.

Tokat (Toqat): Aruk.

Tunceli (Tunjeli): Milli, Dersimli.

Urfa: Givarān, ʿAluš, Čāpkasān, Abu Ṭāher, Emerzān, Bārān.

Van: Maḥmudi, Herkaʾi, ʿIsāʾi, Yazidi, Sepikānli, Duderi, Ḵāni, Jelikānli, Tākuli, Tāpiān, Bārezānli.

Yozgat: Māḵāni, Ḵātunoḡli, Ṭāburoḡli.


There are still many powerful Kurdish tribes in Iraq. According to Moḥammad-Amin Zaki (pp. 399-410), the most important Kurdish tribes in Iraq in 1931 were the following. They are listed according to geographical region (urban center). For more information on the Kurdish tribes of Iraq, see Henry Field (1940), Cecil John Edmonds, and Hasan Arfa.

Arbil: Āko, Dizāʾi, Surči, Gerdi, Herki, Bārzān (q.v.), Buli, Širvān wa Barādust (q.v.), Zārāri, Ḵilāni, Bervāri Bālā, Bervāri Žiri, Ḵošnāv, Pirān.

Ḵāneqin: Bājalān, Zenda, Leylāni, Kākaʾi, Šayḵ-bazini, Bibāni, Dāwuda, Kāḵevār, Pālāni, Kāḡānlu.

Kerkuk: Šarafbayāni, Barzenji, Dilo, Ṭālebāni, Jabbāri, Šuhān, Zangana, ʿAmarmel, Ṣāleḥi.

Mandali: Qarā ʿAlus.

Mosul: Šeqqāq, Duski, Zibāri, Misuri, Ārtuš, Sendi.

Solaymāniya: Jāf, Marivāni, Pišdar, Ḥamāvand, Āvrāmi, and Esmāʿil ʿAzizi.

Bibliography: Iraj Afšār Sistāni, Ilhā, čadornešinān wa ṭawāyef-e ʿašāyeri-e Irān, 2 vols., Tehran, 1987. Hassan Arfa, The Kurds: An Historical and Political Study, London, 1966. Šaraf al-Din Bedlisi, Šaraf-nāma, tr. François Bernard Charmoy as Chèref-Nâmeh, ou fastes de la nation kourde, 2 vols., St. Petersburg, 1868-75. Jane Bestor, “The Kurds of Iranian Baluchistan: A Regional Elite,” M.A. Thesis, McGill University, 1979. Otto Blau, “Nachrichten über kurdische Stämme,” ZDMG 16, 1862, pp. 607-27. Clifford E. Bosworth, “Shabānkāra,” in EI2 IX, p. 156. Cecil John Edmonds, Kurds, Turks and Arabs, London, 1957. Ebn al-Balḵi, Fārs-nāma, ed. Guy Le Strange, Cambridge, 1921; geographical section translated by Guy Le Strange as “Description of the Province of Fars in Persia at the Beginning of the Fourteenth Century A.D.,” JRAS 1912, pp. 1-30, also published separately as Asia Society Monograph 14, London, 1912. Ḥasan Fasāʾi, Fārs-nāma-ye nāṣeri, lith., 2 vols., Tehran, 1895-96. Henry Field, Contributions to the Anthropology of Iran, 2 vols., Chicago, 1939. Idem, The Anthropology of Iraq, 2 vols., Chicago, 1940. L. S. Fortescue, Military Report on Tehran and Adjacent Provinces of North-Western Persia, Calcutta, 1922. Albert Houtum-Schindler, Eastern Persian Iraq, London, 1897. Wladmir Ivanow, “Notes on the Ethnology of Khurasan,” The Geographical Journal 67, January-June 1926, pp. 143-58. Masʿud Kayhān, Joḡrāfiā-ye mofaṣṣal-e Irān, 3 vols., Tehran, 1932-33. Komisiun-e melli-e Yunesko (UNESCO) dar Irān, Irānšahr, 2 vols., Tehran, 1963-65, I, pp. 117-38. J. G. Lorimer, Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, ʿOmān, and Central Arabia, 2 vols.,Calcutta, 1908. Oskar Mann, Die Mundarten der Lur-Stämme in sudwestlichen Persien, Berlin, 1910. Moḥammad Marduḵ Kordestāni, Tāriḵ-e Marduḵ: Tāriḵ-e Kord wa Kordestān, 2 vols. in one, Tehran, 1973. Basile Nikitine, Les Kurdes: étude sociologique et historique, Paris, 1956. Pierre Oberling, The Turkic Peoples of Southern Iran, Cleveland, 1960. Idem, The Turkic Peoples of Iranian Azerbaijan, Cleveland, 1961. Idem, “The Tribes of Qarāča Dāġ: A Brief History,” Oriens 17, 1964, pp. 60-95. Idem, The Qashqāʾi Nomads of Fārs, The Hague, 1974. Mohammad-Hossein Papoli Yazdi, Le nomadisme dans le nord du Khorassan, Paris, 1991. Jahāngir Qāʾem Maqāmi, “ʿAšāyer-e Ḵuzestān,” Yādgār 3/9, 1946-47, pp. 10-22. Hyacinth Louis Rabino, “A Journey in Mazanderan (from Rasht to Sari),” Geographical Journal 42, Jul.-Dec. 1913, pp. 435-54. Idem, Les tribus du Louristan, Paris, 1916. Idem, “Les provinces caspiennes de la Perse: le Guilan,” RMM 32, 1916-17, pp. 1-283; tr. by Jaʿfar Ḵomāmizāda as Welāyāt-e Dār-al-Marz-e Gilān, Tehran, 1978. Ḥosayn-ʿAli Razmārā, Farhang-e jogrāfiāʾi-e Irān VIII, Tehran, 1953. Mark Sykes, “The Kurdish Tribes of the Ottoman Empire,” The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 38, 1908, pp. 451-86. Percy Molesworth Sykes, Ten Thousand Miles in Persia, London, 1902. Parviz Varjāvand, Sarzamin-e Qazvin, Tehran, 1970. Moḥammad-Amin Zaki, Ḵolāsa tāriḵ al-Kord wa’l-Kordestān, Baghdad, 1939.


June 16, 2004

(Pierre Oberling)

Originally Published: July 20, 2004

Last Updated: July 20, 2004