Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Lur are a Shi’ite Muslim people found mainly in the provinces of Luristan (the collection focus) and Kohkiluyeh in western Iran. They speak Northern Luri and Southern Luri. The Luri languages are closely related to modern Persian (Farsi). Prior to the twentieth century the Lur were primarily pastoral nomads, but after 1900 they also developed agriculture in response to economic and political pressure. The Iran government under the Pahlavi dynasties (from 1925-1979) imposed changes on the Lur designed to force them to settle down; only a few retained pastoral pursuits. Lur tribal society is divided into two “blocks” or strata based primarily on economic stratification, wealth, and the control of vital resources.


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Middle East --Middle East



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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF collection and referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

The Lur collection consists of seven English language documents covering a broad time span from approximately 9000 B.C. to 1997, with an emphasis on the period from 1920-1994. There are two major documents in this collection that together provide a broad general coverage of Lur ethnography: Black-Michaud, 1986, no. 3, and Mortensen, 1993, no. 4. The Black-Michaud study covers the period from 1920-1975 and deals with the relationship of pastoral nomads and sedentary villagers living in close proximity to one another in Luristan Province. Emphasis in this work is on economic production of both groups and changes that have taken place in Lur society in the 1970s. The Mortensen volume deals with the history, society, and material culture of the Lur pastoralists living in the regions of Hulailan and Bala Gariveh in Luristan Province from approximately 9000 B.C. to 1979. Much of the data on material culture are based on the ethnographic collections and photographs by C.G. Eeilberg in 1935 and Lennant Edelberg in 1964. Amanallah i Baharvand (1988, no. 2) provides a description of the Lur tribal divisions and geographical distribution in the heavily populated provinces of Luristan, Bakhtiari, Kuh Gilu, Boir Ahmad, and Fars, Iran. In addition the author also provides background information on the etymology of the term "Lur", the language of the Lur people, and their ethnic affiliation and culture history. Amanolahi's work is a collection of tales, fables, and folk poetry (Amanolahi, 1986, no. 5). The two studies by Friedl (1989, 1997, nos. 6 and 7), present detailed analyses of the roles of women and children in the village society of Deh Koh, Fars Province, Iran. Bawer (1954, no. 1) is a brief ethnography of the tribes inhabiting the Kuhgalu region of Iran.

This culture summary is based on the article "Lur" by Ronald Johnson in the Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Vol. 9, Africa and the Middle East, John Middleton and Amal Rassam, eds. 1995. It was revised and expanded with the addition of the Synopsis and indexing notes by John Beierle in June, 2005. Boston, Mass.: G. K. Hall & Co. We thank Daniel Bradburd for bibliographical advice and we also thank William Beeman and Lois Beck for providing general advice on cultures in Iran.

ABRU - honor - use "ETHICS (577)", and "SOCIAL CONTROL (626)"

Agro - pastoral combines - use "SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS AND GROUPS, (571)", and "COOPERATIVE ORGANIZATION (474)"

ASA - a sacred staff - use "SACRED OBJECTS AND PLACES (778)"

ATABEG - military territorial governor - use "TERRITORIAL HIERARCHY (631)"

BARAKA - a blessing or divine grace - use "SACRED OBJECTS AND PLACES (778)"

BAZAARI - influential tradesmen - use "MERCANTILE BUSINESS (441)", and "CLASSES (565)"

Brokerage - use "AGENCY (676)"



GASSA - an accident - use "LUCK AND CHANCE (777)", and "BODILY INJURIES (752)"

GIVEH - a cloth shoe - use "NORMAL GARB (291)"; manufacture of , use "CLOTHING MANUFACTURE (294)"

HUNA - tent or household - use "HOUSEHOLD (592)"

IL - a political group composed of several genealogically distinct subtribes; a tribe (see TAIFEH) - use "TRIBE AND NATION (619)"

IMAMZADEH - a holy individual or shrine dedicated to him - use PROPHETS AND ASCETICS (792)", and "SACRED OBJECTS AND PLACES (778)"

KASHK - small, sun-dried curd cakes - use "DIET (262)"

KATKHODA - head of a patrilineage or nomadic camp - use "COMMUNITY HEADS (622)", and "LINEAGES (613)"

KHAN (KHAVANIN) - the upper classes; the hereditary chief of each tribal group - use "CLASSES (565)", CHIEF EXECUTIVE (643)", and "TRIBE AND NATION (619)"

KHISH (KHISHSWAN)" - kinsmen or relatives - use "KIN RELATIONSHIPS (602)"

KULA - a summer hut - use "DWELLINGS (342)"

Lumpen Proletariat - use "CLASSES (565)"

LUTI - an outcast group of itinerant musicians and artisans - use "CLASSES (565)"

MAST - yoghurt - use "DAIRYING (234)"

MASTI-I DUGH - a skin bag - use "UTENSILS (415)", and "ANIMAL BY PRODUCTS (237)"

MULLA - a priest - use "PRIESTHOOD (793)"

NUKAR - servant - use "DOMESTIC SERVICE (357)"

OULAD - a federation of localized kinship groupings; a sublineage - use "LINEAGES (613)"

PIR - an elder or holy man - use "STATUS AND TREATMENT OF THE AGED (888)", and "PROPHETS AND ASCETICS (792)"

QANAT - a type of irrigation system - use "AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE (242)", and "WATER SUPPLY (312)"

RAYYAT - peasant - use "CLASSES (565)"

RISH SEFID - white beard, head of a sublineage - use "LINEAGES (613)"

RUMI - a pastoral herding section - use "TRIBE AND NATION (619)", "SETTLEMENT PATTERNS (361)", and "COMMUNITY STRUCTURE (621)"

- SEYD (SEYYID) - a descendent of the prophet - use "PROPHETS AND ASCETICS (792)"

Shah - a ruler of Iran - use "CHIEF EXECUTIVE (643)"

TA'ROF - polite speech - use "ETHICS (577)", and "ETIQUETTE (576)"

TAIFEH (TAYEFAH) - the tribe - use "TRIBE AND NATION (619)"

TIREH - patrilineage - use "LINEAGES (613)"

ULAMA - a learned man - use "STATUS, ROLE, AND PRESTIGE (554)"

VALIS - ruling dynasties - use "TRADITIONAL HISTORY (173)", and "CHIEF EXECUTIVE (643)"

ZEMGAS - the semi-subterranean winter dwelling of the Lur - use "DWELLINGS (342)"

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