Names and Appellations in the Shahsevan-E Baghdadi Confederacy

یورد....ائل شسون بغدادی

Names and Appellations in the Shahsevan-E Baghdadi Confederacy

by Ataollah Hassani


Cette etude met en evidence les criteres bien precis qui servent a attribuer noms, surnoms et titres honorifiques dans la tribu des Shahsavan Baghdadi (l'une des confederations tribales du centre de l'Iran). L'etude tente egalement de determiner l'origine des noms et surnoms utilises, tout cela a travers l'analyse de 994 noms et 221 titres honorifiques.

Le travail conclut a l'intervention de trois facteurs dans le choix des noms: region, langue et culture nationale qui agissent seuls ou en combinatoire. En revanche, le choix du surnom est determine par 18 variables parmi lesquelles les 'caracteristiques corporelles visibles' jouent le premier role.


Shahsevan-e Baghdadi is a tribal confederacy (el) consisting of two big branches, 'Lek' and 'Arixli', twenty nine tribes (tayfa), 220 sections (tire) and several hundred sub-sections (gobeg): All speak Turkish, are Shi'ite Muslims and Iranian nationals. The primary nucleus of this confederacy was relocated from the suburbs of Kirkuk to Khorassan in 1733 by Nader, the future king. He was still a regent when he attacked the region in an effort to conquer Baghdad and this is why the confederacy is known as 'Baghdadi'. Thereafter, the different tribes and sections of this confederacy dispersed across Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria, however, its main body migrated to the area of Fars after it had been moved to northeastern Iran upon the death of Nader Shah Afshar. Early on during the Qajar rule, it was settled in Saveh, Ghazvin, Hamedan and nearby areas. After a while, the 'Kharaqan' mountains were considered to be the most suitable place for the different tribes of the confederacy, and this area was handed over to them by Nasser ad-din Shah Qajar, a fact which was also officially recorded. During the years between 1928 and 1936 different tribes of Shahsevan-e Baghdadi were attempted to be settled. The last nomadic remnants of the confederacy were settled in the 1950s. Their settlements today are in Saveh, Tafresh, Ghom, Hamedan, Malayer, Zanjan, Ghazvin, Karaj, Shahriar, Tehran, some areas in Kordestan and vicinity of Kermanshahr.

The confederacy has been run by a chief (re'is), a chieftain (elbeyi) and sometimes chieftains, headmen (kedxudha) and elders (agseqqel). Based on this hierarchy, chiefs have been positioned at the head of the confederacy, chieftains to two or three branches of the confederacy and others to its various tribes and sections.

Names and Naming Patterns

Naming and assigning attributes to an individual is a cultural act which reflects both the intellectual and social and moral sensitivities of the nominators and, as such, is an important indicator of public culture, and the cultural tendencies of the nominator's society. Thus, in view of the free will and freedom of action of the nominators in choosing names and attributes for individuals, the study of these can play an important role in identifying the cultural functions of the society, particularly its hidden layers.

The present research is a case study, the results of which can help in better understanding the etymology of historical names and attributions of Turks that are frequently seen in historical texts of mediaeval and modern Iran. The research aims at discovering the patterns, and at categorising and finding the etymological significance of names and attributions among the people of the Shahsevan-e Baghdadi confederacy. 'What effects have language, national culture and religion had on the naming of individuals of this confederacy, and where should we search for the roots of attributions?', are the basic questions of this research. We assume that all three above-mentioned variables have had an influence on the naming of neonates. The statistical sample of the research consists of 993 names and 223 attributions from the Kuseler tribe. The names have been taken from a tax record of 1927, which covered all the then existing eighteen sections of the tribe. They are the names of all men (983 cases) and women (10 cases) who were responsible at the time for the tribe's families. The document is part of the personal collection of the late All Akbar Khan Gharabeigloo, the tax collector of the Ktiseler tribe, which is in the possession of Mr Hormoz Mohit. Appellations have been collected by me from reliable tribal informants during the past thirty years.

Naming of neonates among the Shahsevan-e Baghdadi confederacy takes place in the extended tribal families. The choice of names for boys and girls follows two different patterns. Most often names of animals, birds and beautiful flowers--such as Ceyran (antelope), Maral (deer), ...





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