The some 400,000 Bakhtiyaris are an Iranian- speaking ethnic group or tribe with their own particular dialect living in a mountainous region of southwestern Iran. They are closely related to the Kurds. The Bakhtiyaris are divided into two main groups: the Haft-Lang (Seven Limbs) consists of 55 tribes, while the Cahar-Lang (Four Limbs) number 24. Each is controlled by a single powerful family, while an overall khan alternates between the two main groups biennially. Oil was discovered in their region early in the 20th century.
   Apparently, the Bakhtiyaris migrated from northern Afghanistan or southern Tajikistan—ancient Bactria (whence the term Bakhti-yaris) — some 1,000 years ago and settled first in Syria and then in the southern Zagros area just south of the Kurdish areas in Iran and close to the Lurs, with whom they are also closely associated. Indeed, up to the 15th century, the Bakhtiyaris were known as the Great Lurs. In Iranian mythology, the Bakhtiyaris consider themselves to be descendants of Fereydun, a legendary hero from the Persian national epic, the Shahnameh.
   Historically, the Bakhtiyaris journeyed great distances semi-annually in search of pastures, but today most of them are settled. They are Shiite and famous for their courage, independence, and remarkable music. The Bakhtiyaris have many interesting customs regarding birth, marriage, and death, as well as their own special games, poems, folk stories, love songs, and funeral hymns. Their women go unveiled and enjoy a high position. Soraya, the daughter of a Bakhtiyari chieftain, was married to Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi from 1951 to 1958.
   The tribe has also produced some of the most influential political leaders in the modern history of Iran. Shapour Bakhtiar, for example, was the last prime minister under Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi in 1979.

Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. .

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  • Chronology — 401 BCE Kardouchoi harass retreating Greeks, as recorded by Xenophon in his Anabasis. Mid 7th century CE Kurds are Islamicized. 1169 Saladin (most famous Kurd) establishes Ayyubid dynasty in Egypt and Syria. 1187 Saladin defeats Crusaders at the… …   Historical Dictionary of the Kurds

  • Lurs —    The Lurs are a people closely related to the Kurds and living in Luristan, or the southern Zagros Mountains of Iran south of the mainly Kurdish area of Iran. The Lurs apparently began to be distinguished from the Kurds some 1,000 years ago. It …   Historical Dictionary of the Kurds

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