The Basseri community is one of the traditional ethnic groups in Iran who inhabits the Fars province. They are one of the pastoral nomads who usually wander along the plains and hills near the Shiraz town. It is argued that they are delineated group who can be defined not by ethnic or geographical but rather political criteria. By 1950s the community was estimated to be of a population of about 16,000; however, no recent research has been carried out to determine the exact number of people in this community. The vernacular language of the Basseri is Farsi, although a remarkable number of them do speak Arabic or Turkish. As stated above, the Basseri communities are pastoralist, (Ronald, 2006). Therefore, in this easy I will be analyzing how the pastoralist mode of life has impacted the social, political, and economic organization.
Like the case in most pastoralist community, extensive pastures are seen as being the crucial part of Basseri. However, it has been noted that the large flocks of this community cannot be supported continuously by these pastures throughout the year. Despite the fact that this community keep a number of domestic animals, those with the greatest importance are the goats and sheep. Other animals includes; horses for riding notably by men, donkeys for transportation by women, camels for wool and weighty transport, and dogs, (Ronald, 2006). Besides, poultry are kept mainly as a source of meat.
Additionally, the community does not herd their cattle due to the rocky terrain and the migrations they make. As stated earlier, goats and sheep are considered as being special because of the milk, wool, meat and hides that they supply. In most cases, these products are consumed as soon as they are produced, although some may be stored or used as trade commodities. Arguably, these animal products facilitate trading as another economic activity among the Basseri.
Socially, the community is organized into groups the primary social units being a group that shares a tent. As per the community, their camp groups are defined in terms of tents. Notably, each tent is usually occupied by a nuclear family. Each and every tent represents a production and consumption unit which is headed by a male. The occupants of tents have rights over property and can also act as independent political units. In most cases, the units usually combine to form small herding groups whose composition depends on usefulness rather than kinship principles, (Khanam, 2008). During the winter periods a group of 2-5 tents of herding units form up small camps that are about 3-4 kilometers from each other. In the real sense, these camps form the principal communities of the Basseri nomadic society.
Among the Basseri, marriage is recognized as a social event that constitutes the whole households. Usually, the authority to make marriage contracts lies on the hands of the head of the household or tent, (Ronald, 2006). The contract is usually presided by a nontribal ritual specialist, or holy man. This contract is concluded by the bride-payments for the girl on top of the domestic tools she is expected to bring.
Finally, in terms political organization, each camp is headed by a recognized leader making administration easy. These leaders are of two kinds, that is, the headmen (Kakhoda) who are distinguished by the Basseri chief, and where there are no headmen, informal leaders (riz Safid) are chosen, (Thomas, 2009). Admittedly, the Basseri chief is recognized as being the head of a centralized political system. He has authority above all the individuals of the Basseri tribe. The chief draws his powers and influence from his dealings with the headmen. Moreover, sometimes the chief offers material goods such as weapons and horses to the headmen so as to win their trust. Politically, headmen are very influential leaders as they can interact with the chief freely unlike any ordinary people. However, they derive very restricted powers from the chief.
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Ronald, J. (2006). Encyclopeedia of World Cultures. Neew York: John Wiley & Sons