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Final Baseri Culture

In: English and Literature

Submitted By jinetter87
Words 1916
Pages 8
Basseri Culture
Name: Jinette Rivera
Course Name: Cultural Anthropology
Presented To: Cynthia Livingston
Date: January 9, 2012

Table of Contents

1. Abstract 2

2. Introduction 3

I. Basseri Culture: 3

a) Domestic Tasks: 4

b) Frequent Migration: 4

c) Herding 4

II. Thesis Statement: 5

3. Mode of subsistence 5

4. Three Aspects of culture: 6

I. Kinship and socio political Organization: 6

II. Beliefs and Values 7

a) Evil Eyes and Envy: 7

b) Religion: 8

c) Marriage: 8

d) Anticipatory Inheritance: 8

e) Other Beliefs: 9

5. Conclusion 9

6. References 10


The purpose of this paper is to shed some light on Basseri culture. First part of the paper covers the introduction to basseri culture and their mode of subsistence. Basseri society is the nomadic parodists and migrates frequently so that they can have an advantage of seasoning grazing resources. Livestock is the primary source of their subsistence.

Next part of the paper covers the three main aspects of basseri culture. Kinship, Socio Political Organization and their Beliefs have been cited in detail. Last part of the paper is ended with the conclusion.


Basseri Culture:

Basseri community lives in the area of Southern Iran and is commonly known due to their traditional pastoral practices. Southern Iran is considered to be more effective in terms of usage of pasture land. There are almost 16000 people in Basseri community. Firm political situation and background is the unique characteristic of Basseri Tribe. Majority of Basseri people know Basseri dialect but still they prefer to use Farsi as a language. Most of them can also speak Turkish and Arabic. “The Basseri are a large, Persian speaking nomadic population who dwell in Fars province in south western Iran.” (Bradburd, 1996) One of the Main aspects of the lives of basseri people are agriculture and trading. They rely on seasonal pastures. Main parts of their diet are the agriculture products. Flour is quite important and they take it as unleavened bread in their meal.

“The basic diet of the Basseri people includes a great bulk of agriculture produce, of which some tribesmen produce at least a part of themselves.” (Barth, 1961: Pg 9)

Luxury items and other necessities have been obtained through trade. The staple things that they sell are usually wool, butter, curd and lambskins. They belief in working together and share each other’s responsibilities which helps in strengthen their relations with other members in the community.

Labors are divided keeping in view the age and sex of the person. Tasks have been divided into three categories:

Domestic Tasks:

Girls and women are mainly responsible for the domestic tasks. Domestic tasks include preparing food and washing clothes. Men and boys are mainly responsible to provide wood and water. Repairing of any equipment and maintenance of tent are usually done by men.

Frequent Migration:

Due to the frequent migration, too much time of the people has been consumed and it affects them also. Boys or men are responsible for caring the shepherd. “Family members usually ride on the top of loaded donkeys while one boy, man, girl or occasionally women follows on foot and drives the beasts.” (Brath, 1961: Pg 15)


Flocks of lambs are usually looked by the children of smaller age. It can either be a girl or boy. Married men or women have rarely been seen to do such work. Members who are responsible to drive the herd have the responsibility to determine the route and are also responsible to decide the place to camp each evening.

Thesis Statement:

Study the main aspects of Basseri culture including Kinship, Sociopolitical organization and their Beliefs.

Mode of subsistence

Pastrolaism is the mode of subsistence for Basseri Tribe. They usually rely on domesticated animals as a source of subsistence. They have goats and sheep that have been used to provide their subsistence products. According to Barth (1961), “Successful Basseri (of Iran) build up their herds, accumulating hundreds or thousands of animals” (as cited in Nowak & Laird, 2010).

Primary source of their living are the livestock. They are nomads and used to travel with their livestock and migrate frequently so that they can get the optimal use out of their herd. They are traditionally herders of the goats, camels and sheeps. The main focus of Basseri people is to raise their sheep.

“Basseri allocate much of their time towards raising sheep” (Huntington, 1972). Monetary returns and taxes have been given through butter, curds, lambskins or wools. Moreover, this production process also yields milk and butter which is the source of their subsistence.

They rely on foraging by hunting large animals and by finding plants especially in spring time. Patroalism affects economic, politician and social organization of Basseri community. “The stability of a pastoral society depends on the maintenance of a balance between pastures, animal population and human population.” (Dowling, 1975)

Three Aspects of culture:

Kinship and socio political Organization:

The primary and basic social unit of Basseri community is the group of people who share a tent. Basseri people enhance their social ties by sharing their tents. ”The external sign of the existence of the existence of such a social unit is a tent.” (Barth, 1961: Pg 11) They set large camps and there are almost 30 to 40 tents in a camp. Tent consists of the nuclear family. Nuclear family is composed of father, mother and their children. Representative of the tent are the male who is considered as the head of the house. The residents of the tents hold all the rights over their movable property. Movable property includes flock. In order to be more efficient in herding, the residents of households combine to make a small unit which depends upon the expediency ignoring the kinship principle. Group of three to five tents usually formed to make a small unit usually in winters. These small tents are separated from other groups that are at a distance of 3 to 4 kilometers. These camps will be getting larger and at one time in a year, there are almost 10 – 40 tents in a single camp. The members and residents of the camp form social group. Their relation with other members of the tents is as a neighbor makes their relations more strong. In order to maintain the camp, there is agreement between the households regarding the selection of the sites of the camps, migration and other economical matters. Leader is elected to enhance the unity among the members of the camp. There can be two kinds of leaders that can be the representatives of different camps.
1) Headmen
2) Informal Leaders Headmen are formally recognized by the chief of Basseri. The chief of the Basseri is the head of centralized political system. He has the authority and has a great influence over all the members of Basseri tribe. The chief doesn’t delegate and transfer his authority to headmen. The headmen are responsible to communicate with the chief. Tribe men rarely communicate with the chief. In short, the political power of the headmen transferred by the chief is very limited. Headmen are a separate and autonomous of chief. Head of each household has a direct connection or access to chief. When migrating, the leaders make an agreement to avoid any conflict. Leader’s influence plays a significant role in strengthening the kinship ties and contacts.

Political unity under the chief plays key role to unite all the members into one tribe. Chief exercises coercive power. The main functions of the chiefs are:

➢ Responsible to co-coordinate migrations

➢ Resolve issues and setting disputes

➢ Allotting pastures

➢ Representative of the tribe

Agnatic kinship is the factor which helps in identifying the authority of headmen. Agnatic lines of basseri are the equally important regarding the matters of succession. Affinal relations plays a significant role in establishing and strengthening the political binds between the tents, That is why the affinal relations are also termed as the relations of solidarity in their culture.

Beliefs and Values

Evil Eyes and Envy:

According to their belief, Envious thoughts and evil eyes can badly affect them which can also cause illness or death. In case of any joyful event i.e. hunting a large animal, the person usually distributes the sweets to the members of the community. This is mainly done to prevent evil eye and envy.

“More diffuse are the beliefs in the evil eye of envy and in the means of production against it.” (Brath, 1961)


Basseri are official Shia Muslims. Most of the Basseri people are comparatively not interested and seem unfamiliar regarding the matters of their religion. The most important feasts of Islam are hardly considered by few basseri. Rituals regarding marriage, birth or death are done keeping in view the Islamic practices and traditions.


Females are mostly getting married during the age of sixteen to twenty. Males get married at quite older age as compared to females. Bride’s father provides her daughter with the household items and can also give some sheep’s as a gift to his son-in-law. Mullah is responsible to help in performing the marriage ceremony. Religious practices and rituals are usually performed with little passion.

After marriage, the husband and wife usually form an independent economic unit. They share the responsibility and believe in equal rights to both men and women.

Anticipatory Inheritance:

Basseri people do practice Anticipatory inheritance. Anticipatory inheritance is a system in which son receives the portion of his father’s herd after marriage.

Other Beliefs:

Herd in the animals shows the wealth. As the herd grows ultimately lead to increase in wealth.

Horse is not allowed to come near to sheep while they are being milked.

Kids, Lambs and foals are not permitted to enter in a tent where there is a new infant lies.


Basseri people are the nomadic parodists. Pastoral communities face demographic problems. For this they have to make their animals private. This is not in the case of non-pastoral societies as the animals are used as a personal property. Their subsistence strategy is to migrate frequently in search of food water. Their main focus is to raise their sheep, goats and donkeys. They are hardworking and belief to work together and share each other’s responsibility which ultimately strengthen their social relations. Moreover, In order to share work and each other’s responsibilities the tasks have been divided according to the age and sex of the person. They enhance their social relations by sharing the tent with other members of the community and eventually form a social group. They are the Shia Muslims and rituals of their lifestyles have been practiced according to their religion.


1. Nowak, B., & Laird, P. (2010). Cultural anthropology. Pastoral society. Retrieved Dec 23, 2011, from 2. Dowling, J. (1975). Property Relations and Productive Strategies in Pastoral Societies. JSTOR, 2(3), 419-426. Retrieved Dec 22, 2011 from 3. Huntington, H. (1972). The rate of return from the Basseri’s Livestock Investment. JSTOR, 7(3), 476-479. Retrieved Dec 22, 2011 from 4. Bradburd, D. (1996). Producing Their Fates: Why Poor Basseri Settled but Poor Komachi and Yomut Did Not. JSTOR, 16(3), 502-517. Retrieved from 5. Brath, F. (1961). Nomads of South Persia. The Basseri Tribe of the khamseh Confederacy. Retrieved Dec 28, 2011 from…...

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