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province of Iran located between Fars and Sistan va Balučestān; also the name of its principal city and capital.

A version of this article is available in print

Volume XVI, Fascicle 3, pp. 246-315

KERMAN (Kermān), a province in southeastern Iran; also the name of one of its sub-provinces as well as that of its principal city and capital.

KERMAN i. Geography

Physical geography. Kerman province is situated in southeast Iran, to the southwest of the Kavir-e Lut (see DESERT). Covering an area of 182,000 km2 (70,000 square miles), Kerman is the largest province in Persia, constituting 11 percent of its area. The province lies between latitudes 26°29′ and 31°58′ north and longitudes 54°20′ and 59°34′ east; it forms roughly an inverted right triangle facing west, with the side to the north reaching 470 km from east to west and the eastern side running 630 km from north to south. The province is bounded in the southwest by Hormozgān and Fārs provinces, in the northwest and north by Yazd province, in the northeast by Khorasan province, and in the east by Sistān va Balučestān province (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Map of Kerman Province: Mountains, cities, and roads (courtesy of Habib Borjian and Amirali Merati).Figure 1. Map of Kerman Province: Mountains, cities, and roads (courtesy of Habib Borjian and Amirali Merati).

The physical features that delineate the province are primarily deserts. The Kavir-e Lut separates Kerman from historical Qohestān (now South Khorasan province) and Sistan, while the southerly extension of the Kavir encircling the Jāz Muriān marsh (hāmun) is a barrier between Kerman and historical Makrān (present-day Baluchistan). In the west of the province there are patches of wasteland, most notably the Kavir-e Namak-e Sirjān, locally known as Kafa-ye Qaṭru (Abbott, p. 66), that form a natural boundary between the two provinces of Kerman and Fārs. However, in the south the last stretches of the Zagros mountain chain provide some natural continuity between southern Kerman and Lārestān district in Fārs.

Bordering the low-lying desert, the province’s north and center form a plateau typically 2,000 to 2,500 m in elevation (Figure 1), characterized by mountains that offer shelter to its settlements. The plateau includes a succession of mountain chains with a general pattern from northwest to southeast spanning the province. The northern range has the summits Ḵᵛāja (2,175 m), Čehel Doḵtar (3,084 m), Lakar (2,965 m), Bāḡbālā (3,711 m), and Palvār (4,233 m). To its south runs a parallel, but much narrower, tangled ridge with angular crests and the summit Jupār (4,089 m) overlooking the city of Kerman. Further south, the massif in the center of the province is punctuated with the peaks Čehel Tan (3,765 m), Lālazār (4,234 m), Hazār (4,465 m), and Bahr Āsemān (3,046 m). It is in the foothills of these mountain chains that the upland oases of the province lie (topographic data obtained from online sources, especially satellite images at Google Earth).

The province falls into the arid and semi-arid zones and like much of the Iranian plateau suffers from scarcity of water—a dire condition as the population continues to grow. There are several, but mostly seasonal, mountain streams. The only significant river is the Halilrud, about 400 km long, which is joined by its tributary, the Ābšur river, near Jiroft. The Halilrud river irrigates the vast fertile plain of Jiroft-Rudbār and disappears further south into the marshes of the Jāz Muriān. The latter, originally a lake basin (cf. HĀMUN i), has been reduced to an essentially dry marshland since the Halilrud’s water was regulated, after construction of the Jiroft dam. The average annual rainfall is low and decreases towards the southeast, although the topography gives rise to many local variations. Maximum precipitation occurs in winter; the annual average rainfall is 80 mm and 142 mm in the cities of Bam and Kerman respectively (see Table 1 for details). But precipitation is more abundant at higher elevations, and the snow that falls in the mountains refills the aquifers from which manmade underground channels (qanāt, kāriz) draw water for irrigation, notwithstanding the brackishness of the qanāts’ outflow in many places. Most of the older subterranean watercourses have dried up, whether because the flow in the aquifers is entirely consumed or the underground water is sucked out by electric pumps; since the 1940s, the use of deep wells has become prevalent for creating islets of intensive cultivation (Beckett, 1953; English, pp. 30-38, 135-40; Spooner and Salzman, p. 112).



Mean Temperature (oC)

Mean Total Precipitation (mm)

Mean Number of Precipitation Days

Daily Min.

Daily Max.





























































Note: The data are monthly averages for the 30-year period 1961-90. Source: World Meteorological Organization.



The binary climatic division of the Iranian Plateau into warm and cold zones (garmsir and sardsir; see also CLIMATE) is quintessential in Kerman. The province is divided into two distinct macroclimates, sardsir in the upland north and garmsir in the lowland south, generally speaking. The upland Sirjān has a temperate climate, while Kerman, Rafsanjān, Zarand, and Rāvar have hot summers and mild winters. The southern districts of Jiroft, Kahnuj, and Manujān, as well as Bam, are characterized by having warm climate with an increasing humidity towards the Sea of Oman and the Indian Ocean. At the city of Kerman, with an elevation of 1,762 m, the average high temperature in January is 11.8° C, and the average low is -4.0° C. In July the average maximum and minimum are 35.5° C and 17° C, respectively. Put in a national perspective, with consideration of temperature and precipitation combined, the district of Kerman lies within a “steppe” climate, compared with the desert status of Yazd and Zāhedān and the humid status of Bandar ʿAbbās (cf. English, p. 8).

The province’s flora reflect its climatic dichotomy. The highlands contain traces of a dry forest of shrubs and trees such as pistachio and almond; the plains and accessible areas of the foothills have been deforested—the natural vegetation has been lost due to charcoal making and overgrazing by goats and sheep (see FORESTS AND FORESTRY). Nevertheless, there still survive several wild species that are used as dyes in the carpet weaving industry of Kerman (English, p. 14). The lowlands are covered thinly with steppe-like flora, most notably species of lotus (konār), myrtle, oleander, tamarisk, and acacia (see FLORA). A clear-cut demarcation line between these two climatic zones reveals itself in agriculture. While in the upland districts temperate horticulture is the norm, citrus and date palm farming prevail in warm zones.

Despite the favorable conditions that the mountains provide for human settlement, they are also the cause of destructive earthquakes (see Afsari for historical earthquakes). Modern documentation (Table 2) reveals an average return period of five to ten years for significant seismic events. The highest seismic activity belongs to the fault system called Gowk along the longitudinal edge separating the Kerman plateau from the Kavir-e Lut. It extends some 100 km approximately from Šahdād to Golbāf, traversing Čahār Farsaḵ, Sirč, Ābgarm, Jowšān, Fandoqā, Zamānābād, and Golbāf (Berberian et al.; Nalbant et al.). A shorter fault in the south, also running longitudinally, was responsible for the devastating Bam earthquake in December 2003; its destructiveness was not so much due to the earthquake’s (moderate) magnitude as it was to the poor quality of the physical infrastructure. With adobe as the chief construction material, the Bam citadel (Arg-e Bam) was susceptible to even moderate earthquakes and therefore could not have been an ancient construction, given the relative frequency of seismic events in the region.












11 June 1981






28 July 1981






20 Nov. 1989





14 Mar. 1998


Čahār Farsaḵ



18 Nov. 1998





26 Dec. 2003






22 Feb. 2005






15 Jan. 2011



Sources: Berberian et al.; Nalbant et al.; IIEES.



Latitude (North)

Longitude (East)

Elevation (m)

















































Sources: SCI, pp. ii-iii; Jaʿfari, III, p. lxi; Veloroutes.org.

Table 2

Table 3

Administrative boundaries and divisions. Although the geographical concept of Kerman in its narrow sense pertains chiefly to the cold highlands or the northern plateau that covers the current province, in a wider sense, at least in modern history, Kerman was one of the four eyālats or super-provinces (together with Azerbaijan, Khorasan, and Fārs) that formed four quadrants over the map of Persia, an arrangement perpetuated by the law of territorial divisions of 1907 (Wadiʿi). In this setting, Kerman province, also known as Kermān va Makrān or Kermān va Balučestān, extended eastward up to the Indo-Persian border and southward to the Sea of Oman (Keyhān, II, pp. 244-57). The administrative reforms of 1934-38, which divided Persia into ten provinces, made little change in the borders of the former Kerman province, which was now called the “Eighth Province” (constituting Kerman, Bam, Bandar ʿAbbās, Ḵāš, and Zābol; see Wadiʿi). The territory of the Eighth Province shrank over the subsequent decades, to what is now called Kerman province, due to two major secessions. The eastern half of the historical province was incorporated into the new province of Sistān va Balučestān, and the southern coast was carved off to form what is known today as the province of Hormozgān.

The administrative mosaic of the province has increasingly become finer over the decades. Kerman province, within its present borders, began with five sub-provinces (Kerman, Bam, Jiroft, Sirjān, and Rafsanjān; Razmārā, 1953, pp. 430-31; cf. SCI, 1970), and grew into a dozen in the 2000s and to more than twenty by 2011 (see KERMAN iii. POPULATION). The number of districts within each sub-province has grown in a proportional manner. In spite of all these variations, the city of Kerman (1,038 km distance to Tehran) remains the most important provincial capital in the southeastern quarter of Iran.

Economy. Having economically ranked low among Iranian provinces and cities for most of the 20th century, Kerman became engaged in the national economy through exploitation of its rich mines, expansion of transportation infrastructure, and establishment of educational and tourism services. Kerman city, although still the commercial center of the province, no longer monopolizes urban development: Rafsanjān has joined the competition thanks to political favoritism toward the Rafsanjāni clan, who have roots in the booming town of Rafsanjān.

Agriculture still plays an important role in the economy of Kerman province. The upland regions have diversified subsistence farming of cereals, potatoes, cotton, sugar beets, oilseeds, vegetables, and a large variety of fruits, including peaches, cherries, apples, pears, persimmons, as well as nuts (English, pp. 117-20; WAP, II, pp. 951-54). Kermani cumin, mostly cultivated in Bāft, enjoys such a nationwide reputation that it has led to the proverb zira ba Kermān bordan (lit. “carrying cumin to Kerman”), much like the phrase “carrying coals to Newcastle” in English. Pistachios, another famous product of the province that is farmed in Rafsanjān, has in recent decades become subject to semi-mechanized agronomy and is produced in such a large quantity that it is exported abroad after saturating national markets. Production of another labor-intensive crop, sugarcane, is rapidly expanding, especially in Bardsir (Razavi). Poppy farming was an important cash crop for Kermani farmers, but, ever since its ban in the mid-20th century (see AFYUN), the high amount of opium consumed in the province is smuggled from Afghanistan. In the warm lowlands of the province, rice, cereals, fruits, and henna are grown. The agriculture of Bam has come to be dominated by date palm and citrus farming, the produce of which is marketed throughout Iran (SCI, 1970). Banana cultivation had been introduced in the garmsir regions by the end of the 20th century.

Animal husbandry has lost its edge in the province. Tending large flocks of sheep and goats was partly an occupation of various nomadic groups throughout the province (Razmārā, 1944, pp. 144-53), including the Afšārs who wintered in Jiroft and summered in Bāft (see ʿAŠĀYER). They produced wool, including down wool (kork), which was used in weaving the famous shawls of Kerman. Erosion of the traditional nomadic and rural base and destruction of the grassland through overgrazing has resulted in a sharp decline in animal herding, while mechanical raising of livestock has gained very little success (English, pp. 107-8; WAP, p. 954).

Kerman has long excelled in manufacturing textile and weaving carpets (see below KERMAN xv). The Kerman carpet is as famous as its cumin and is the subject of a Persian metaphor meṯl-e qāli-e Kermān (“like a Kerman carpet”), implying the idiomatic expression “the older, the better.” Carpet manufacture remains one of the main industries of Kerman city and its neighboring districts, although its international market is far less promising than it used to be (see CARPETS vii. PAHLAVI PERIOD). Hand-woven carpets have increasingly given way to the much cheaper machine-made rugs, which are produced in large factories. There were also many textile factories that produced Kerman’s famous shawls, brocade (terma; see CLOTHING xxvii), and ʿabāʾ, but these are no longer flourishing, while pata-duzi, an embroidering art (see CRAFTS), still survives as a cottage industry (WAP, p. 957).

Since Kerman sank to a city of second rank for most of the 20th century, other manufacturing sectors were not highly developed there. Modern industries of some significance are the construction industry, producing cement and brick; sugar refining; and the food industry—all producing for local consumption (WAP, p. 958; Wezārat-e defāʿ, pp. 31-32). In the 1960s, in a project to develop a national steel mill, Kerman province was considered as a site because of its iron ore and coal mines, but insufficient water sources in Kerman made Isfahan (see ISFAHAN xiv. MODERN ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES) the choice candidate, to which Kerman’s coal and iron ore are now shipped. There is little heavy industry in the province as of 2017.

No business engages Kerman with the national networks to a greater extent than mining does. Extensive mining of coal, iron ore, and copper is being carried on in various parts of the province. Coal deposits extend in the mountains from Zarand to Rāvar, yielding most of national coal consumption in Iran; the mines are operated chiefly by Iran National Steel Mill Corporation (see also COAL). The iron ore deposits of Gol Gowhar in Sirjān sub-province are one of the largest worldwide. The mined ore is pelletized in a local plant, yielding up to five million tons of iron ore annually (see STEEL INDUSTRY IN IRAN). Copper deposits of Kerman province extend along a beltline from Šahr-e Bābak southeastwardly (see COPPER ii). The richest copper mine, one of the largest in the world, is at Sarčašma, located 50 km south of the city of Rafsanjān. Systematic mining operations were begun in 1972 by the Sarčašma Copper Company, operated since 1976 under the auspices of the National Iranian Copper Industries Co. The company’s prosperity is evident from the presence of its football team, Ṣanʿat-e mes-e Kermān, in the national league, as well as the construction of a stadium with a capacity for 35,000 fans (NICIC). All these mining operations in Kerman province are supported by a gas pipeline from Bandar ʿAbbās to Kerman and a network of electricity transmission lines.

The service sector has been growing rapidly in the province, especially in higher educational infrastructure, which has seen an enormous growth since the establishment of the Rāzi Nursing School (1962) and the Institute of Technology (1969). The reemergence of Kerman on the national stage was sought through the founding of a full university in the 1970s. At present, the University of Kerman and Kerman University of Medical Sciences, both in the city of Kerman, rank among national universities; Rafsanjān, too, has its own general and medical universities established during the administration of ʿAli-Akbar Hāšemi Rafsanjāni (president of Iran, 1989-97). Additionally, the Islamic Āzād University has a range of campuses (see EDUCATION xviii. HIGHER EDUCATION), operating in sub-provincial capitals at Kerman, Bāft, Zarand, Jiroft, Bam, Bardsir, and Kahnuj. These institutions attract a large number of students from all over the country, with symbiotic effects that used to be entirely unknown in the province. Moreover, tourism has been on a sharp rise thanks to promotion of the province’s architectural attractions. These include the Safavid-period complex built by Ganj-ʿAli Khan, the 19th century Bāzār-e Wakil (see below KERMAN ii), and Zoroastrian fire temples, all in Kerman city; Šāh Neʿmat-Allāh’s mausoleum and Bāḡ-e Šāhzāda in Māhān; the renowned fort of Bam; and the prehistoric excavations in Jiroft.

Modern transportation infrastructure has been the most essential means in bringing Kerman out of its historical isolation caused by deserts and mountains. In addition to the grid of modern highways that connect urban centers within and without the province, the Yazd-Kerman line of the trans-Iranian railway extends as far south as the city of Kerman and is anticipated to reach Zāhedān in future. Another railway branch from Yazd, to Bāfq and Bandar ʿAbbās, bypasses Kerman city but cuts across the western parts of the province to reach the copper mines of Sarčašma and iron ore mines of Gol Gowhar. The railroad also gave rise to the idea of a Sirjān Free Trade Zone, designed to become a nodal point on a commercial transit grid between the southern seaport terminals and the inner plateau. Last, but not least, is air transport: In 1992, a group of Kermani businessmen undertook the surprising initiative of establishing Mahan Airline, which has grown to one of the largest airline companies in the country.


Keith Edward Abbott, “Geographical Notes -Taken during a Journey in Persia in 1849 and 1850,” JRGS 25, 1855, pp. 1-78.

Reżā Afsari, “Zelzelahā-ye maʿruf-e Kermān o wabā-ye sardār,” Waḥid, serial nos. 219-20, 1977, pp. 69-78.

Philip H. T. Beckett, “Qanats around Kerman,” Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society 40, 1953, pp. 47-57.

Idem, “Agriculture in Central Persia,” Tropical Agriculture 34, 1957, pp. 9-28.

Idem, “The Soils of Kerman, South Persia,” Journal of Soil Science 9, 1958, pp. 20-32.

Philip H. T. Beckett and E. D. Gordon, “Land Use and Settlement Round Kerman in Southern Iran,” The Geographical Journal 132/​4, 1966, pp. 476-90.

M. Berberian et al., “The 1998 March 14 Fandoqa Earthquake (Mw 6.6) in Kerman Province, Southeast Iran: Re-rupture of the 1981 Sirch Earthquake Fault, Triggering of Slip on Adjacent Thrusts and the Active Tectonics of the Gowk Fault Zone,” Geophysical Journal International 146/​2, 2001 pp. 371-98.

Michael E. Bonine, “The Morphogenesis of Iranian Cities,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 69/​2, 1979, pp. 208-24.

Mohammad Dastanpour, “The Devonian Stratigraphy of Kerman, Southeast Central Iran,” Ph.D. diss., University of Bristol, 1990.

Paul Ward English, City and Village in Iran: Settlement and Economy in the Kirman Basin, Madison, 1966.

Gitāšenasi Cartographic Institute, Aṭlas-e rāhhā-ye Irān, Tehran, 2007.

Google Earth, at https://earth.app.goo.gl/T3U1G; consulted 21 May 2013.

ʿAbbās Jaʿfari, Gitā-šenāsi-e Irān II: Rudhā va rud-nāmahā-ye Irān, Tehran, 1997.

ʿAbd-al-Rafiʿ Ḥaqiqat “Rafiʿ,” Farhang-e tāriḵi o joḡrāfiāʾi-e šahrestānhā-ye Irān, Tehran, 1997, pp. 438-39.

[IIEES] International Institute of Seismology and Earthquake Engineering, at www.iiees.ac.ir.

Masʿud Keyhān, Joḡrāfiā-ye mofaṣṣal-e Irān, 3 vols., Tehran, 1931-32.

Anne K. S. Lambton, “Kirmān,” in EI2 V, 1986, pp. 147-66.

Guy Le Strange, “The Cities of Kirman,” JRAS, 1901, pp. 281-90.

Laurence Lockhart, Persian Cities, London, 1960.

John Gordon Lorimer, Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Omān and Central Arabia, Calcutta, 1908; repr. two parts in 6 vols., II: Geographical and Statistical, Westmead, UK, 1970.

Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Moṣāḥeb, Dāyerat al-maʿāref-e fārsi, 2 vols., Tehran, 1966-77, II, pp. 2251-52.

Soleyman S. Nalbant, Sandy Steacy, and John McCloskey, “Stress Transfer Relations among the Earthquakes that Occurred in Kerman Province, Southern Iran Since 1981,” Geophysical Journal International 167/​1, 2006, pp. 309-18.

[NICIC] National Iranian Copper Industries Co., at www.nicico.com.

Shahrashoub Razavi, “Agrarian Change in Two Regions of Kerman,” Iran 29, 1991, pp. 161-79.

Ḥosayn-ʿAli Razmārā, Joḡrāfiā-ye neẓāmi-e Kermān, Tehran, 1944.

Idem, ed., Farhang-e joḡrāfiāʾi-e Irān VIII: Ostān-e Haštom. Kermān o Makrān, Tehran, 1953.

Sāzmān-e barnāma va budje, Markaz-e āmār-e Irān, Village Gazetteer: Farhang-e ābādihā-ye kešvar XX-XXI: Ostān-e Kermān, Tehran, 1970.

Idem, Saršomāri-e ʿomumi-e nofus o maskan: ostān-e Kermān, Tehran, various years. Idem, Saršomāri-e ʿomumi-e kešāvarzi 1367: farhang-e rustāʾi, Tehran, 1991.

Sāzmān-e Fār, Rāhnemā-ye šahrestānhā-ye Irān: barā-ye mohandesin-e mošāwer. . . , ed. Ebrāhim Eṣlāh ʿArabāni, Tehran, 1967.

Brian Spooner and Philip C. Salzman, “Kirman and the Middle East: Paul Ward English’s City and Village in Iran: Settlement and Economy in the Kirman Basin,” Iran 7, 1969, pp. 107-13.

L. E. Stockwell, World Mineral Statistics 1993-97: Production, Exports, Imports, Keyworth, UK, 1999.

Veloroutes.org, at http://veloroutes.org/elevation/?location=kerman%2C+iran&units=e.

Kāẓem Wadiʿi, “Edāra va taqsimāt-e kešvar-e Irān,” Barrasihā-ye tāriḵi 4/​2-3, 1969, pp. 233-54.

Aḥmad-ʿAli Waziri Kermāni, Joḡrāfiā-ye mamlakat-e Kermān, ed. Moḥammad-Ebrāhim Bāstāni Pārizi, in FIZ 14/​1-4, 1966-67, pp. 5-286.

[WAP] Wezārat-e āmuzeš o parvareš, Joḡrāfiā-ye kāmel-e Irān, ed. ʿAbd-al-Reżā Faraji et al., 2 vols., Tehran, 1987, II, pp. 922-63.

Wezārat-e defāʿ o poštibāni-e niruhā-ye mosallaḥ, Sāzmān-e joḡrāfiāʾi, Farhang-e joḡrāfiāʾi-e ābādihā-ye ostān-e Kermān: šahrestān-e Kermān, Tehran, 2003.

World Meteorological Organization, “Kerman: Iran, Islamic Republic of,” at http://worldweather.wmo.int/en/city.html?cityId=941.

KERMAN ii. Historical Geography


In the early Achaemenid period, the name of Kerman (for most recent discussion, see Schmitt, 1996; idem, 2003) is first found in a trilingual inscription of Darius I (r. 522-486 BCE; see DARIUS iii)—the “palace foundation charter” represented by inscriptions DSf (Old Persian) and DSz (Elamite; Vallat). The name occurs as Old Persian (ablative) Kṛmānā (DSf 35) and Elamite hkur-ma-na-mar (DSz 32), the name of a region from which sissoo wood (OPers. yakā-) was imported for the construction of the palace at Susa (Steve, p. 69). This Elamite form occurs again, in the same reign, in the Persepolis Fortification tablet PF 15a: “71(?) boys. . . , (who) carried treasury [sic] from Kerman and went across (to) Susa” (Hallock, 1978, p. 121). Other tablets, recording traffic to and from Kerman (e.g., “they went from Susa to Kerman,” PF 1348; Hallock, 1969, p. 381), have the form hkur-ma-an and variants. The name does not occur again in Iranian sources until the third-century CE Sasanian monumental inscriptions, as Mid. Pers. klmʾn and Parth. krmn, and thereafter in Zoroastrian Pahlavi literature, as kylmʾn or klmʾn (see examples below).

The Arab geographers knew the name either in its present form, Kermān, which appears to have been adopted in popular usage, or in the form Karmān, which was considered preferable and the only one to be used by the cultivated (cf. Yāqut, IV, p. 263; tr., p. 482). Other geographers accepted both forms, while at least one opted for the form Kermān exclusively (Schwarz, III, p. 211, n. 4). The name for the region was transcribed by Greek authors, from the Seleucid period on, as Karmanía (Strabo, 15.2.14), which corresponds to the Old Persian ethnonym *Kṛmāniya- (Schmitt, 2003), derived from the name of its ancient capital Carmana (Ptolemy, Geographia 6.8; Ammianus Marcellinus, 23.6.48).

As for the people, Strabo (15.2.14) refers to them once, as Karmanitoi, while Polybius (5.79.3, 7) gives Karmánioi, as did Ctesias earlier (Karmaníōn, in Photius’s summary, Persica 8). Already in the fifth century BCE, Herodotus (1.125.3) was informed of a tribe called Germánioi that was one among the tribes (génea) of the Persians who were cultivators, as opposed to being pastoral nomads. This form of the name, with its voiced initial consonant, once stimulated much discussion. Some attempted, on the basis of a common Indo-European origin, to connect it with the name of the Germans (the Germani of the Latin authors) and thus find in it the earliest historical attestation of the existence of a Germanic branch of peoples (Neckel, pp. 30-32; Paul). The comparison is phonetically impossible, since the Iranian *k would have to correspond to a fricative in Germanic (Schmitt, personal communication, 6 July 2005). The simultaneous existence of these two Greek transcriptions of the initial consonant (with /k/ and with /g/) remains an open question.

According to Rüdiger Schmitt (1996; 2003), the transcription Germanioi, which appears in the manuscripts of Herodotus and in the literary tradition derived from it, is doubtless the result of late contamination by the copyists (the earliest known manuscripts date from the 9th-10th cents. CE), to whom the name of the Germans was quite familiar. Occurrence of the form Karmánioi as a variant in texts of Herodotus is attested by Stephanus of Byzantium’s citation of Herodotus, 1.125 (s.v. Deroúsioi; ed. Meineke, p. 228; Schmitt, 1996, p. 51). The opposite hypothesis (Paul, p. 114) of the introduction into Greek of initial k- in place of an original g- as a Macedonianism by authors contemporary with Alexander’s conquest is contradicted by the excellent transcriptions in every Greek text of the period (Schnetz; Eilers, 1982, pp. 20-21; Schmitt, 1996, pp. 49-50).

The etymology of the name remains unknown (Huyse, II, p. 29, n. 68; Schmitt, personal communication, 2005). Explanations via Old Persian *garma “hot” (Paul, pp. 117-18) or a Mongolian kerman “town” are not plausible; derivation from a personal name *karma (Eilers, 1982, pp. 19-20; on the name, see Mayrhofer, p. 178) also seems unlikely; although the name is found in Elamite in the Persepolis tablets (Hallock, 1969, index, p. 711), parallel survivals of pre-Iranian toponyms in the region based on personal names are lacking. There are, however, unfounded folk etymologies, most notably the association of the name with kerm, NPers. “worm,” Mid. Pers. “dragon”—the designation of one of the enemies vanquished in the legend of the Sasanian Ardašir I (r. 226-40; see, e.g., Browne, 1929-30, I, pp. 145 ff. with translations; see also HAFTANBOXT; KĀR-NĀMAG Ī ARDAŠĪR Ī PĀBAGĀN [KAP]; and below).


The development of a Carmanian identity can be followed through the course of time on the administrative level. Herodotus classifies the Germanioi (see above) among the tribes of the Persians, and it is clear that, at the time of Darius I and his inscriptions, their domain was included in Pārsa and did not constitute a dahyu, that is, satrapy (see, e.g., the region list DB 1.12-17; Schmitt, 2003, p. 47). However, the Persepolis Fortification (PF) tablets also point to a distinct administrative identity within Pārsa. One of the (at least two) officials named Karkiš (see Hallock, 1969, index, pp. 710-11; Cameron, p. 121, PT 22.28; Briant, pp. 262-63 and 239-40) apparently worked there (PF 1377) and received the title of “satrap” (PF 681). Before Darius, in the account of Ctesias (Persica 8, 10-11), Cyrus II the Great (d. 530 BCE; see CYRUS), at the end of his reign, assigned the crucial eastern power center of the Bactrian people (see BACTRIA), along with the Chorasmians (text: Choramnians; see CHORASMIA), the Parthians, and the Carmanians, to his younger son, Tanyoxarces (see BARDIYA), as overlord (despótēs). If in this tradition the inclusion of Carmanians together with three known dahyu peoples is an anachronism, it may imply that Carmania had become a satrapy by the time of Ctesias and Artaxerxes II (r. 405-359 BCE; cf. Stronk, pp. 15 ff., on the problem of Ctesias’s claim to have used Achaemenid archival sources).

At the time of the death of Darius III (r. 336-330; see DARIUS v) and the conquest by Alexander the Great, Carmania is said (by Quintus Curtius, 9.10.21, 29) to be ruled by a satrap, Aspastes, whom Alexander left in office. But on the return march from India through Carmania in 326, Alexander had the satrap executed on suspicion of rebellion such as was occurring elsewhere in the east. He settled on the general Tlepolemus as the new satrap (Arrian, Anabasis 6.27.1-4), and the latter was confirmed, after Alexander’s death in 323, by the regent Perdiccas in 321 (Diodorus, 18.3.3) and by the regent Antipater in 320 (18.39.6); he is mentioned again under year 317-16 BCE, when he and the other eastern satraps and Perdiccas, satrap of Persia, collected troops to support Eumenes against Antipater (19.14.6). Diodorus also names Carmania in his description of the satrapies (18.6.3).

Thus the consolidation of power over this area that had been something of a backwater was significantly reinforced. The main contribution of this region to the economy of the Achaemenid empire, aside from monetary tribute, according to the statements of Strabo (15.2.14), was derived from its mines (silver, copper, ochre, orpiment, and salt). Acculturation with the Persian peoples had clearly taken place, and its effective road communications with the rest of Iran appears exemplified by the speed with which men, animals, and supplies were assembled there from north and east to reinforce and re-supply Alexander after the hard march from the Indus across coastal Makran (Arrian, Anabasis 6.27; Quintus Curtius, 9.10.17-24). Kerman was not, however, on the northern route between western Iran and India that was described by Isidorus of Charax in the Arsacid period (Schoff). Strabo (15.2.14), quoting Nearchus, writes that the language and way of life of the Carmanians was similar to those of the Medes and the Persians, and that they had adopted agricultural techniques similar to those of the Persians, including viticulture, and their wines were famous; they were warlike in religion and customs. Arrian (Indica 38.1) similarly notes that the inhabitants of Carmania lived like Persians, who were their neighbors, and were equipped in the same way for war.

A degree of special identity for the country within the Iranian domain persisted over the centuries. The fourth-century historian Ammianus Marcellinus may be drawing on earlier sources reflecting the Parthian period (see ARSACIDS) when he lists Kerman as one of the eighteen major provinces of the “kingdom of the Persians” ruled by bidaxš, kings, or satraps (23.14). But it was apparently the Sasanians who were responsible for the first systematic attempt to organize under more centralized control this area, which was still probably to some extent in a state of lawlessness (see Spiegel, III, pp. 240-47, and Christensen, pp. 87 ff. on the rise and reign of Ardašir I). According to Ṭabari, Ardašir I (r. 224-40) overthrew a local king (malek) in Kerman named Balāš, possibly a family member of the Arsacids or of the great families (Ṭabari, I, p. 817; tr., V, p. 10 and note; on the families, see COURTS AND COURTIERS ii). The Pahlavi KAP also has him fight there after overthrowing the last Arsacid ruler, Ardawān (Artabanus IV); previously, he had already collected troops against Ardawān from Kerman and Makran, as well as his home province of Pars (Kar-nāmag, ed. Sanjana, 9.2 and 4.12; tr. Grenet, 10.1 and 5.10).

Following his practice for other key provinces (see, e.g., Christensen, p. 102), Ardašir appointed one of his sons, Ardašir, as governor with the title Kirmānšāh; the latter continued to rule under Šāpur I [r. 240-272] (Šāpur Kaʿba-ye Zardošt inscription [ŠKZ], ed. Huyse, secs. 41, 44; Huyse, II, p. 131; Ṭabari, I, p. 817; tr., V, p. 10). Kerman (Mid. Pers. Kirmān) is listed (just before Sistan and the other southeastern lands) as one of the “lands” (šahr) ruled by Šāpur (ŠKZ, sec. 3). Kerman likewise occurs in the expected position (before Sistan) in the province list given by the contemporary Zoroastrian priest Kirdēr (see KARTIR; Sar Mašhad [KSM] 17, Naqš-e Rostam [KNR] 35, in Back, p. 421). Although few administrative seals of the Sasanian period from Kerman are in evidence (Gyselen, pp. 49, 64, 86), they are significant, given the sparseness of cities in that province, and at least one mint assignment can be made, for its capital city, as KL (Göbl, Table 16; see also SASANIAN COINAGE, Table 2; Gariboldi, nos. 27, 34, 39).

Whatever the actual state of coherence of this provincial entity might have been in ancient times, it is significant that the exact location of its capital is unknown. Ptolemy (6.8) and Ammianus Marcellinus (23.6.48) are the only sources to mention the names of any cities. Ptolemy includes an Alexandria and a Kármana mētrópolis, and Ammianus “Carmana mother of all [the province’s cities]” (23.6.48), but they provide no further specific information in this regard. The practice of attributing the same name to both a province and its capital has been a common feature in Iran, which makes it likely that a town already bore this name before the Islamic conquest.

The present-day city of Kerman was founded by Ardašir I (d. 242). The names Bardsir/Bardašir or Govāšir, by which it was known to the early Muslim geographers (Eṣṭaḵri, p. 161; Ebn al-Ḥawqal, p. 308; Ḥamza Eṣfahāni, I, p. 46; Moqaddasi, pp. 461-62; Ebn al-Balḵi, p. 60; Ḥodud al-ʿālam, p. 129, tr., p. 125, comm., p. 375; Lambton, p. 152), represent the original form Beh-Ardašir, Mid. Pers. Weh-Ardašir: “The city Weh-Ardašīr was built by three lords; it was finished by Ardašīr son of Pāpak” (Šahrestānīhā ī ērān [ŠĒ] 40, ed. Markwart, p. 18; comm., p. 91). Present-day Bardsir (lat 29°55′ N, long 56°34′ E) is the historical Māšiz, 69 km southwest of Kerman on the road to Sirjān. The foundation Beh-Ardašir is to be distinguished from that of the same name (also represented in a later form, Ar. Bahurasir), which was applied to the city of Seleucia; its founding likewise was attributed to Ardašir I (Ṭabari, I, p. 819; tr., V, p. 15 and note; see also Gyselen, p. 62; cf. discussion in Daryaee, pp. 49-50).

Beh-Ardašir was located in a privileged spot that included a long series of towns established alongside the mountain chains of the Zagros, which occupy the south and southwest of Iran, and along the desert hollows of the Great Kavir and Dašt-e Lut (see DESERT) in the center and northeast of the country. Its location on the northwest-southeast line that provided successive stations (stopping points) or entrepots on the road to India rendered it a pioneering outpost, a base of power for the nascent dominion of the Sasanian dynasty. In this already sub-arid environment (the average precipitation in the town is 137 mm per year: see above, i, Table 1), the urban agglomerations avoided the very edge of the desert in favor of seeking out the closest interior basins within the mountainous region, where abundant waters descending from the mountains feed groundwater that can be tapped by underground irrigation canals (qanāt or kāriz).

The Kerman basin, in which the city of Kerman is situated (Figure 1; English, p. 6, fig. 2), is located at an elevation of about 1,700 m with land sloping very gently from northwest to southeast. It is entirely surrounded by a series of high massifs: Kuh-e Darmanu to the northeast, more than 3,000 m high; Kuhpāya and Kuh-e Sekonj to the east, which form a nearly continuous barrier more than 3,500 m high; Kuh-e Jupār to the south, 3,300 to 4,000 m, whose peaks are crowned with snow in the winter; and Kuh-e Bādāmān (nearly 3,500 m) and Kuh-e Čehel Doḵtar (3,084 m) to the west. They are connected by relatively accessible passes at an elevation of about 2,000 m, the most important of which are those to the west, at Bāḡin district between Kuh-e Bādāmān and Kuh-e Čehel Doḵtar, which provide access to the northwest through Yazd and Isfahan. To the southeast, the pass between Kuh-e Sekonj and Kuh-e Jupār extends toward Bam on the main road to India. Toward the north, between Kuh-e Bādāmān and Kuh-e Darmanu, a minor road joins the village of Rāvar (150 km north of Kerman) on the edge of Dašt-e Lut desert. Between these borders the dimensions of the basin are some 45 km north-south and about 35 km east-west. The break in the slope between the mountain borders and the basin proper is found at about 2,200 m to the north and 2,000 m to the south, resulting in many sites suitable for human habitation. The center of the basin, however, is occupied by a major mass of dune sand, entirely inhospitable, about 30 km broad from west to east and 20 or so km north to south.

Figure 1. Topography of the Kerman basin: “Data from American Map Service Sheets H-40J, H-40I and 1956 aerial photographs (1:60,000).” (Paul Ward English, City and Village in Iran, p. 6, fig. 2 © 1966 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. Reprinted by permission of The University of Wisconsin Press).Figure 1. Topography of the Kerman basin: “Data from American Map Service Sheets H-40J, H-40I and 1956 aerial photographs (1:60,000).” (Paul Ward English, City and Village in Iran, p. 6, fig. 2 © 1966 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. Reprinted by permission of The University of Wisconsin Press).

Immediately to the north of this area, some small isolated relief features in the heart of the plain and others just a few kilometers from the edge of the sand desert provided favorable sites of habitation, with defensive possibilities that proved to be particularly valuable in the still troubled context of the early days of the Sasanian conquest. Two rocky heights near the modern city of Kerman, Qalʿa-ye Ardašir and Qalʿa-ye Doḵtar, rise some 300 to 350 m above the surrounding plain and accommodated, respectively, two fortresses. The town developed to their west and northwest, with the water supply being provided by underground canals originating in Kuh-e Darmanu and Kuhpāya (for map of the channels throughout the basin, see English, p. 32, fig. 7).

The main town of Kerman, even through the ʿAbbasid period, was Sirjān, some 180 km southwest of Bardsir. The old city lay 8 km away from the present-day site (former Saʿidābād; see Waziri Kermāni, 1967, pp. 151-54). All the main roads connecting Fārs and Isfahan with the important city of Bam, with Hormuz and other towns, and with Sistan, converged there (see Lambton, pp. 151, 152; English, p. 25 and n. 42). Thus Sirjān is probably the “capital of Kerman” (šahrestān ī kermān) whose Sasanian foundation is attributed to the Kermānšāh Wahrām (later king, 388-99 CE: see BAHRĀM; ŠĒ 39, following ed. Markwart, p. 90; Ṭabari, I, p. 847; tr., V, p. 69; cf. Daryaee, p. 49; for his Kerman drachm coin, see Gariboldi, no. 27).


After the defeat of the Sasanians in Iraq, according to Ṭabari, three focal areas of Fārs, plus the regions of Kerman, Khorasan, Sistan, and Makran each became a destination for an Arab force under a separate commander, sent by the caliph ʿOmar (r. 13-23/634-44); the armies advanced in the year 18/639 (Ṭabari I, p. 2569; tr., XIII, p. 149). In the year 20/640 the Kerman army apparently reached Jiroft in the center south of the province (Ṭabari, I, p. 2704; tr., XIV, p. 74). One of the accounts known to Ṭabari regarding the last years of the Sasanian king Yazdegard III (r. 632-51) has him spending as much as several years in Kerman before he continued his escape from the victorious Arabs, to Sistan and thence to Khorasan and his death (Ṭabari, I, p. 2876; tr., XV, p. 82). In other accounts, and in that of Balāḏori (p. 315; tr., I, pp. 490-91), his stay seems briefer, in the year 29/649-50, and is said to have ended with a falling out with the governor (marzbān) of the province—similar to Ṭabari’s account (loc. cit.), in which the king disputes with the local magnate (dehqān). After the Arab mastery of Fārs, the conquest of the major towns of Kerman, one by one, likewise is described by Balāḏori (pp. 391-92; tr., II, pp. 136-38); the marzbān died in battle early on, engaging the Arabs on the island of Abarkāvān. “Many of the people of Kerman,” Balāḏori says (p. 392; tr., II, p. 137) fled eastward to Makran and Sistan and were replaced by Arab settlement. The subsequent period of Islamic dominion in the distant, marginal province of Kerman long remained highly troubled—for instance, with the establishment of the Kharijites there. (See further v, below, and .)

Zoroastrian elements seem to have maintained control of many mountain regions between Sirjān and Bardsir for nearly 200 years, until the 9th century—perhaps under late 7th-century peace terms agreed upon with the Arabs, such as those ratified in Kōhestān (Balāḏori, p. 403; tr., II, pp. 159-60; cf. the volatile relations between local ruler and Arabs in Sistan, pp. 399-402; tr., II, pp. 150-55). This geographical term applied to southern Khorasan, adjoining the mountain country of present-day northern Kerman and Yazd provinces, but could easily be applied more widely, within the latter (cf. Kramers). In any case, there are allusions to a militant presence within Kerman expressed in Manučehr (on whom, see below), Epistle 1.3.11, 2.5.14 (ed. Dhabhar, tr. West; cited by English, p. 24). Close-knit, intact communities of observant Zoroastrians persisted in the province after the Arab invasion and up to modern times (see, e.g., Boyce, 1977, pp. 1-28). The tenacity of their religious tradition, evidenced in the compiling, copying, and conveying to India of Pahlavi texts that survive to the present, may have been rooted in the hereditary transmission of priestly authority and the close sharing of religious doctrine and practice among the temples of Sasanian Pārs and Kermān. From the Sasanian period, we have only one well-represented scriptural commentator of (or from) Kerman, “Kay Ādur-bōzēd of Kermān” (kermānīg, in Pahlavi Vendidad 4.10, ed. Anklesaria, 1949, p. 74; Hērbedestān and Nērangestān: see Kotwal and Kreyenbroek, indices; for the priest’s name, cf. ĀDUR-BŌZĒD and Gignoux, p. 134).

From the ninth century there is a more extensive view of community life and the conflict of tradition and change. Manuščihr son of Juwān-Jam, who inherited the position of chief priest of Fārs and Kerman, composed three Pahlavi Epistles, addressed to Sirjān, his brother, and the general community, respectively; the last letter is dated to 881 CE (ed. Dhabhar, tr. West), while his brother was priest at Sirjān; the two were adversaries in a controversy regarding the barašnom ritual. Manuščihr’s views on a range of questions survive in the compilation of religious judgments known as the Dādestān ī dēnīg. The collection of doctrine written by his brother is preserved as the Selections [wizīdagīhā] of Zādspram (ed. and tr. Anklesaria, 1964). Also from this same extended family (ham-dūdag) was Farrbay son of Ašwahišt, the last-named compiler of the Bundahišn (Bd. 35A; ed. and tr. Anklesaria, 1956, pp. 304-5). He emphasizes the continuity of the “family of the mobads” and traces their geneology back to the famous fourth-century priest Ādurbād ī Mahrspandān (for further family connections, see Zādspram, pp. xviii ff.).

The tradition of the Indian Parsis, set down in summary fashion in the 17th-century Qeṣṣa-ye Sanjān (tr. Hodivala, p. 100; Williams, ll. 101, 104, comm., pp. 168-69), attributes to their forebears a period of residence in Kōhestān. They are said to have migrated to Hormuz and ultimately to have sailed to India from there, possibly in the 9th century. (See Williams for discussion of the Qeṣṣa-ye Sanjān and of the problem of Parsi chronology; see also IRĀNŠĀH.) The traveler Ebn Baṭṭuṭa, recording his 1347 visit to (Old) Hormuz, noted the city’s byname as Muḡestān (tr. Defrémery and Sanguinetti, II, pp. 95-96), which associates it with Zoroastrians (for mug, Mid. Pers. moγ, see MAGI). The term continued to be used, at least in the Persian Gulf region (see, e.g., a Portuguese usage, Couto, p. 56).

During the turbulence of the early Islamic period, Bardsir grew in size and importance (LeStrange, 1966, pp. 302-4; English, p. 25). But within the basin, its prominent position was matched by that of Māhān, located to its southeast between Kuh-e Jupār and Kuh-e Sekonj. Māhān is said (Waziri Kermāni, 1961, p. 23) to have been founded by a Sasanian governor Āḏar Māhān. (The well-attested name is the patronymic of Mid. Pers. Ādurmāh [Gignoux, 1986, p. 66; Justi, p. 51] and is known, e.g., as the name of a general in Ḵosrow I’s Byzantine wars [see Shahid, s.v. Adarmahan] and of a ninth-century Zoroastrian of Fārs or Kerman [Dādestān ī dēnīg, introd.; West, p. 3].) The city lies at a strategic position at the edge of the mountains that assured it an abundant water supply, while commanding one of the passes out of the basin (Waziri Kermāni, 1961, p. 23; 2nd ed., I, p. 270; idem, 1966-67, p. 82). Bardsir’s strategic significance rose in the 10th century, when the Samanid governor of the province, Abu ʿAli b. Elyās, asserted his independence and moved his capital to the town, which was less exposed than Sirjān to the attacks of the Buyids of Fārs (Le Strange, 1901, pp. 283-84; idem, 1966, pp. 302-4; tr., pp. 325-26; Schwarz, III, p. 220, n. 5; English, p. 25 and n. 43; Waziri Kermāni, 1961, pp. 59-62; 2nd ed., I, pp. 319-21).

This was the starting point for the real rise of the city, described in some detail by Muslim geographers (quoted with references in Schwarz, III, pp. 220-22), especially Moqaddasi (pp. 461-62; see also Ḥodud al-ʿālam, tr., comm., p. 375). Its early expansion was in the Māhāni quarter (which in early modern times was to be one of the poorest sections; English, p. 41) west of the Qalʿa-ye Ardašir. Moqaddasi (fl. mid-4th/10th cent.) refers to Bardsir (p. 461) as a city “not big, but fortified,” confirmed by a note in Ebn Ḥawqal (p. 307; tr., II, p. 303), where it is described as a “small town,” although quite prosperous, marked by its rich culture and sizeable population. The town was protected by a fortress built on the rocky heights (see above), which dominate the town and its environs, and a second citadel was built on the other side of Māhāni, within the town itself, close to the site where the Great Mosque would be erected (cf. Le Strange, pp. 303-6; Figure 2).

Figure 2. Nineteenth-Century Kerman: “Data from map in Sykes, 1902, facing p. 188; other travel descriptions; and field observation.” (Paul Ward English, City and Village in Iran, p. 40, fig. 11 © 1966 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. Reprinted by permission of The University of Wisconsin Press).Figure 2. Nineteenth-Century Kerman: “Data from map in Sykes, 1902, facing p. 188; other travel descriptions; and field observation.” (Paul Ward English, City and Village in Iran, p. 40, fig. 11 © 1966 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. Reprinted by permission of The University of Wisconsin Press).

The decisive growth of Bardsir began in 433/​1041 with the establishment in the town of the dynasty of the Saljuqids of Kerman, who remained there until 583/​1187 in a state of quasi-independence from the Great Saljuqids of Isfahan. This autonomy once again served to emphasize the perpetually marginal character of the province with respect to any central authority established in Iran. The influence of the Saljuqids of Kerman extended broadly through the surrounding area. In the first half of the 12th century, under the reign of Moḥyi-al-Din Arslānšāh b. Qāvord (r. 495-536/​1100-1141), their domain seems even to have included Yazd and Ṭabas (Afżal-al-Din Kermāni, p. 76). Their power was clearly a decisive element in developing their capital city. Yāqut (d. 626/​1229), at the beginning of the 13th century, states (Boldān I, p. 555; tr., p. 90) that it is “the largest town in Kerman.” In the 1270s, when Marco Polo passed through it, coming from Yazd, he remarked on the fine weaponry and needlecraft produced there (Yule, I, p. 90). The city’s regional supremacy would never again be challenged. It remained the principal gateway to power and Iranian culture in the southeast of the country, an area widely traversed by poorly controlled nomadic tribes.

It was in this period that the name of the province was gradually applied to its main town. The name Bardsir does not appear to have remained in use for the town after the 16th century, but it was still applied to a district that did not include the town of Kerman itself, and the main town of the district, Mašiz, came to be called Bardsir (Lambton, p. 150). The name Govāšir, which the inhabitants of the city preferred (Yāqut, Boldān I, p. 555; tr., p. 495; Schwarz, III, p. 220), was still used in the 19th century for the district including the town and its surroundings by Aḥmad-ʿAli Khan Waziri Kermāni (1966-67, pp. 175 ff.). This was, however, a scholarly archaism; the town was no longer known, especially in the usage of all Western travelers, by any name but Kerman.


The primary function of Kerman city throughout its history has always been to serve as the administrative and military center of the province, which could never be challenged by the stronghold of Bam. The consequences were often negative, with destructive sieges, the most harrowing of which was the siege of 1794, by Āḡā Moḥammad Khan Qājār, who seized the town, which had been the last refuge of Loṭf-ʿAli Khan Zand. Twenty thousand people were thrown into slavery, and an equal number were blinded (Waziri Kermāni, 1961, pp. 366-67; 2nd ed., II, pp. 746-47 and n. 53; Mirḵᵛānd [Tehran], IX, pp. 254-58; Sykes, 1921, II, p. 288).

On the other hand, this political function had a very favorable impact on the economic development of the town. Early on, it was a major stop on the road to India, and its importance grew under the Safavids, when the establishment of a major port at Bandar ʿAbbās in 1625 opened a new south-north commercial route toward Khorasan and Central Asia. Kerman, located at the intersection of this road and the east-west road to India, became a crossroad center actively involved in doing business in all directions. It also created the condition for the rise of Kerman as a major crafts center, mainly the textile industry, based on the fine wool of the local sheep and goats. Beginning in the 17th century, the town exported its wool product (“Carmania Wool”) to India and to the other parts of Iran (Fryer, I, p. 219 and n. 5). The British and Dutch East India Companies set up agencies for the import of raw wool and of the output of local crafts workers.

The textile industry of Kerman went through a sequence of well-defined phases. First came the vast production of shawls made of fine wool, which saw great success in Europe and especially England. These shawls could be as much as twelve feet long (Browne, 1950, pp. 482-83). The industry suffered greatly from the depredations of the 18th century, but it regained its importance at the beginning of the 19th century (Pottinger, pp. 226-27); Nicolai Khanikoff (1866, p. 196), at the end of the 1850s, counted 200 workshops. Nonetheless, it began to decline toward the end of the 19th century in the face of competition from Kashmir, where, under British influence, workshops that worked the fine goat wool of the region multiplied, and Kerman devoted itself to exporting its own raw materials to India (English, p. 28, citing Sykes, 1902, p. 202). In 1871, Charles Euan-Smith did not count more than 120 workshops.

A shift to the carpet industry (see below, xiv) developed on the initiative of merchants from Tabriz, who were engaged in the export trade to Europe and would make good profits from the trade of products made of wool of such excellent quality. Commercial carpet weaving, which early Muslim geographers do not mention in connection with Kerman, and which seems to have been unknown in the region, appears with certainty in the Safavid period, particularly in the reign of Shah ʿAbbās I (English, p. 26 and n. 51). But it was still quite modest in 1877, when only six weavers’ establishments and fewer than thirty workplaces are mentioned (Smith, pp. 187-88; English, p. 28). Eleven years later, however, several hundred establishments are reported in Kerman and its surroundings, the largest one employing thirty weavers (Stack, I, pp. 209-11). At the end of the century, Percy Sykes (1902, pp. 199-200) found more than one thousand workplaces in the town alone, not including the surroundings, each one employing four or five people. In 1911, according to the British Foreign Office Kerman Consulate Diaries (cited in Stöber, p. 225), 12,000 people were employed in this line of work. Early on, European firms established purchasing agencies in the town, and the peak of activity was achieved in the 1920s, with some 5,000 workplaces in the city alone. The city also centralized the carpet business of all the villages of the region, for which this was the only major activity (English, p. 29). In 1929, there were 1,500 workplaces in the town, employing 20 percent of the population (Stöber, p. 227). Then the decline set in, as it faced competition from other Iranian centers that were better located for commerce, and especially as a result of the worldwide rise of machine-made carpets. The quality seems to have fallen off markedly (English, pp. 109-10). In the middle of the 20th century, according to the 1956 census, there were no more than 1,600 carpet workers in the town, and 1,200 in the surrounding countryside working under the direction of the city. Another source reports that 4,000 people were employed in the town by 46 businesses in 1959, and, in 1970, 5,345 people were working in all the textile industries (Stöber, p. 227, citing Bémont, p. 241).

Economic development was certainly followed by a healthy increase in population in the Safavid period, which seems by far to have been when the town flourished most. The earliest phases of the town cannot be analyzed with precision. According to Jean Baptiste Tavernier’s description at the end of the 17th century (I, pp. 106-9, 401), Kerman was a bustling town with a population of several tens of thousands that included a Zoroastrian community of about 10,000 souls. Kerman recovered only very slowly from the catastrophic attack of Āḡā Moḥammad Khan in 1794 and his brutal treatment of its citizens (see above), and the city was evidently in disfavor with the central government in the first half of the 19th century. The community of Zoroastrians almost disappeared; their number in the town shrank from about 12,000 souls in 1794 (according to Khanikoff, 1861, p. 499) to only 825 (178 men, 239 women, 189 boys, 219 girls) in the mid-19th century, according to the survey of the Zoroastrians of Iran made by the Parsi representative Manekji Limji Hataria (his head counts are listed in Gobineau, II, p. 103); the year of the survey is not specified. The count 932 for the year 1854 (the year of Hataria’s arrival in Iran) also may derive from Hataria but was published in India only in 1895 (Boyce, 1967, p. 148, citing Murzban, I, p. 108, n. 102).

Growth of the town set in vigorously in the middle of the century, with the rise of manufacture and business. In 1865, the total population was estimated as between 30,000 and 40,000 souls (Goldsmid, 1874, pp. 581-83). Despite the losses certainly resulting from the great famine of 1870-72, the city was invigorated enough to hold a population of 45,000 to 50,000 at the beginning of the 20th century (Gleadowe-Newcomen, pp. 49-50; Fevret, p. 198). The Zoroastrian minority too increased. In 1879, Albert Houtum-Schindler (1846-1916; 1882, p. 55) counted 1,498 Zoroastrians in the town.

The dimensions of the Zoroastrian quarter at this period (see below) leave the impression that in the reign of Reza Shah Pahlavi (r. 1925-41) it must have supported several thousand residents (approx. 2,000 souls, according to Kayhān, II, p. 248). The first half of the 20th century, however, was once again a period of relative stagnation. Kerman, situated in a marginal location in Iran and not yet served by the railroad, in this period tended to become a source of emigration to the capital of the new dynasty of the Pahlavis. (For the economic drawing power of Tehran on Kerman, see already Houtum-Schindler, 1882, p. 54.) In the 1956 census, the city had slightly over 60,000 inhabitants (see below, iii); 19,756 men over 10 years old were counted.

Traditional urban morphology. Analysis of the past overall layout of the town and its detailed plan is possible for as early as the period toward the end of the 19th century with the map prepared in 1898 by Sykes (1902, p. 188; repr., with additional data in English, p. 40, fig. 11, and Wirth, I, p. 472, inset in fig. 215). The two main anchors of the urban fabric ca. 1900 comprised the Friday Mosque, built in 750/​1349 by the Mozaffarid amir Mobārez-al-Din Moḥammad (Waziri Kermāni, 1961, pp. 192-93; 2nd ed., I, pp. 496-97) in the east of the city near the surrounding wall, and in the west the Qajar citadel (see ARG), which is built directly upon the outer ramparts. Between the two ran the main axis of Bāzār-e Wakil with a length of 600 m, making it the longest straight-line bazaar in Iran. It is so called after the names of Moḥammad-Esmāʿil Khan Nuri Wakil-al-Molk (governor of Kerman, 1860-67) and his son Mortażāqoli Khan Wakil-al-Molk (governor, 1869-78), both of whom did a great deal to rebuild it, installing various improvements and new structures. In a central area that had been laid out in part by Ganj-ʿAli Khan (governor, 1596-1625), they created a central, sheltered circle (Čahār Su) at the intersection of the principal axis and a north-northwest-south-southeast cross-street, close to which a rectangular area was cleared, which is surrounded by shops. Several caravansaries, a textile hall, a mosque, and a bathhouse completed the ensemble, and a broad square was opened to the west at the foot of the citadel (Figure 2).

This major west-east axis, whose location does not seem to have changed since the 14th century despite the events of 1794, is the basic feature of the unique character of the urban plan of Kerman. The successive interventions of the governors developed several distinct focal centers, which give the distribution of businesses a layout quite different from the norm—that is, with a single central focus—of the traditional Muslim town. Upscale businesses and workshops (for instance, for textiles and jewelry) tended to gravitate toward the modernized areas. At the end of the 19th century, the two main squares contained different groups of them. By the middle of the 20th century, a great qualitative difference was visible between the western sector, alongside the citadel, which gathered the businesses and workshops providing high-quality goods, and the eastern sector, toward the Friday Mosque, which was occupied by lower-grade businesses and workshops. Gold jewelry and copperware were concentrated in the cross-street north of the Čahār Su.

Around the central axis, within the walls, were arranged two Muslim residential areas (one comprised of Qoṭbābād and Šahr to the north, the other, Maydān-e Qalʿa and Šāh ʿĀdel to the south), and the 19th-century Jewish quarter located to the northwest, not far from the citadel. Thus was reconciled in a single plan the peripheral type and sub-palatial (intermediate) type of placement of Jewish quarters (Planhol, pp. 292-96) with the expectation of protection from the authorities in case of popular unrest. The new Zoroastrian quarter was located to the northeast outside the wall, where it had been established after the invading Afghans ravaged their old quarter in 1747. Their previous quarter had been built in the northwest during the reign of Shah Solaymān Ṣafawi (r. 1666-94), when the leading Muslim clergy demanded that the local Zoroastrians be moved outside of the city walls (Waziri Kermāni, 1966-67, p. 28), an incident that attests to the social marginalization of this community. Every house in the new Zoroastrian quarter was equipped with a well of its own, thus assuring a supply of water in case of troubles; the same arrangement was also found, to a lesser degree, in the Jewish quarter (English, p. 44).

These 19th-century quarters of Kerman show the general organization with blind alleys that is characteristic of the traditional Muslim town. Analysis of the urban plan beyond that seems to indicate many traces of rectangular grid planning—over an underlying layout that has not been completely obliterated—that imposes an overall north-northwest to south-southeast or east-northeast to west-southwest grid, especially in the quarters south of the central axis (notably in Šāh ʿĀdel; see Figure 2). This pattern is clearly the expression of deliberate organization of space during the rebuilding process after the devastation of the 18th century. In other words, the urban fabric of the old town of Kerman, on the whole, bears the mark of relatively recent reoccupation.

There was little modification in the first half of the 20th century. The urban redevelopment by Reżā Shah’s administration in the 1930s, which was quite significant in many Iranian towns, was rather inconsequential here, perhaps because the town was so far removed from the centers of power. It consisted basically (Figure 3) of a great west-east cut north of the Bazār-e Wakil, thus duplicating its great axis but in a parallel orientation, from south of the Jewish quarter to the Friday Mosque. A major road also was laid down along the eastern walls of the citadel in its north section, but it was not extended to the gate in the southern wall. There were also other plans, especially for new circles, on the outer side of the walls. The cutting of the great new central artery north of the bazaar rapidly attracted along this axis a large part of the high-end business and shifted its main center to the east toward the mosque; crafts activities and modern services also expanded greatly into the new quarters that grew up outside the old wall.

Figure 3. Modern Kerman: “Data from Sahab Geographical and Drafting Institute’s 1960 Street Map of Kirman (c. 1:10,000); 1956 aerial photographs (1:6,000 and 1:12,500); and field observation.” (Paul Ward English, City and Village in Iran, p. 47, fig. 12. © 1966 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. Reprinted by permission of The University of Wisconsin Press).Figure 3. Modern Kerman: “Data from Sahab Geographical and Drafting Institute’s 1960 Street Map of Kirman (c. 1:10,000); 1956 aerial photographs (1:6,000 and 1:12,500); and field observation.” (Paul Ward English, City and Village in Iran, p. 47, fig. 12. © 1966 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. Reprinted by permission of The University of Wisconsin Press).

These developments were particularly important on the east and southeast sides, toward the two hills, and to the west and southwest beyond the Qajar citadel, and much less so toward the south in the direction of the sand dunes, but of no consequence to the northwest, where the ruins of the old Zoroastrian quarter constituted an obstacle. The wealthiest segment of the population had already left the old town to live in the new, modern quarters. In parallel, the old quarters of the minorities, abandoned more and more by their populations, who had already begun to migrate massively to Tehran, were progressively infiltrated by the Muslim population. (A good map of the respective locations of Muslims and Zoroastrians in the Zoroastrian quarter in 1961-62 is provided by English, p. 48, fig. 13.)


The population of the city of Kerman increased rapidly (4.2 percent per year) from 1956 (62,000 inhabitants) to 2006 (515,000; see below, iii); this growth rate was comparable to that of most of the large cities of Iran. Between 1976 and 1986 the rate of growth was very high (6.2 percent per year) because of the new policy of industrialization of the marginal cities, the start of exploitation of the large copper mine of Sarcašma (see below), and the migration of population coming from Afghanistan and from the regions affected by the Iran-Iraq War (see IRAQ vii). Supported in the last decades by major local and national policymakers such as the former President ʿAli-Akbar Hāšemi Rafsanjāni (1934-2017), the national policy of industrial and urban development played a key role in the transformation of the city of Kerman. as well as of other, smaller towns, such as Bam, Sirjān, Rafsanjan, and Jiroft, where free zones have been set up.

The construction of a good paved road linking Bandar ʿAbbās to Kerman allows the latter to maintain easy access to, and an active relation with, the Persian Gulf. However, the railroad that was completed in 1996 directly links Bandar ʿAbbās to Bāfq via Sirjān, effectively bypassing Kerman as a station for transport to Tehran, even though the 3-km road link between the port of Bandar ʿAbbās and the railroad is congested and appears inadequate. The future trunk line from the Persian Gulf north to the Central Asian states will be via Bāfq, Ṭabas, and Mashhad (UNESCAP, p. 17). Kerman city has remained the main station on the rail line from Bāfq, pending completion of the 545-km extension to Bam-Fahraj-Zāhedan (Ministry of Roads and Transportation, pp. 9, 13) and thus to Zāhedān’s tenuous link with Pakistan Railways (UNESCAP, p. 17).

Until 1980, the economic life of Kerman was based on traditional activities, and the city had only six factories that employed more then 50 persons (producing bricks, textiles, cement, beverages). However, new transport facilities, including Kerman International Airport and a gas pipeline from the oil refinery of Bandar ʿAbbās after 1990, gave to the city the resources necessary for it to become the regional metropolis of southeast Iran, while Zāhedān and Bandar ʿAbbās remained focused on activities related to the border and transit. The mining resources of the province (see below) have made Kerman the Iranian capital city of mining industry and related academic studies. The city of Kerman also benefits from the automotive production at Bam in partnership with large foreign companies (Volkswagen, Daewoo, Tata). The Kerman Tire and Rubber Company (Barez Industrial Group), a cement factory, and several agro-factories (for processing of oil, fruit, and dried fruits, and packaging) gave the city a new, modern industrial image in its rural traditional environs. In 1999, 90 percent of the 399 large factories of Kerman sub-province (šahrestān) were located in the city itself, where 12 percent of the population was working in manufacturing industries. Nevertheless, traditional activities remained dominant, with 16 percent of the population working in trade and 21 percent in public administrations (Sazmān-e jogrāfiāʾi, 2003, pp. 33-50). To prevent excessive demand on the province’s scarce fossil water reserves, a global policy of recycling irrigation water is being implemented.

The national cultural dimension of Kerman was strengthened in the last decades by the opening of Šahid Bāhonar University of Kerman in 1985, founded by a private gift donated in 1972 by ʿAli-Reżā Afżalipur (1909-1993), an engineer and philanthropist born in Kerman. The architecture of the large campus, which is located in the southern limits of the city, was designed in a modern Iranian style by Bonyan and later by Pirraz Consultants (Diba). Kerman Āzād University was later built in the same area, giving the city a new, rapidly recognized scientific identity, even if a number of the teachers come from Tehran. If the local cultural life is limited (6 cinemas in​ 1992), cultural events, publications, and foundations related to the local heritage (e.g., publications of the Bonyād-e Kermān-šenāsi) are very active in strengthening the identity of the city and the province.

The spatial development of the city was done without any global master plan until 1975. The built-up area was always located around the old city center, in a circle of about 2 km (Plan and Budget Organization, Center for National Spatial Planning, 1977). Westward expansion of the built-up area began, with the construction of a new road to the airport, and later the railway station at 8 km from the old city, on the Yazd road; this development brought factories and heterogeneous housing. The principal development occurred between 1975 and 2000 with the construction of a ring boulevard, limiting de facto the city and increasing construction within, especially in the southern part (with the University of Kerman) and along the Māhān road leading out of the city southward. In 1992, the city covered 7,430 ha, including a large traditional sector: 23 percent of the houses were built in adobe (ḵešt), and 11 percent predated 1956 (Markaz-e āmār-e Irān, 1993). This extensive, old urban fabric was later transformed by new, large avenues and the restoration of the historic center near the bazaar of Ganj-ʿAli Khan. Some khans, madrasas, and very famous buildings at the eastern gate were restored for tourism, but at the same time, a large number of old Qajar private houses were destroyed, sometimes without permit. The rapid urban renewal has provided better access by automobile to the bazaar and the core of the old city, where many shops were bought by people coming from Afghanistan (see Supplement, afghanistan xiv). The native people from Kerman developed at the same time a new modern center on the western side of the old city around the citadel.

In spite of the settlement of an active Afghan population, the ethnic and religious complexion of the city was more uniform at the end of the 20th century than in the past: the census of 2006 reported, for the whole province, 1,171 Zoroastrians, 2,603 Christians, and 75 Jews (Princeton University). In 1966, the Zoroastrian population had amounted to 1,728 souls (Mauroy, p. 186), but the Zoroastrian quarter in the northeast of the city began to be abandoned from 1980 on. Since then, however, some families who had migrated to Tehran have sponsored the renovation of their old houses in order to save the traditional culture of the city. Migration toward the city of Kerman is limited (73,000 between 1986 and 1996), coming largely from the surrounding sub-provinces (šahrestān) but very few from neighboring Sistān va Balučestān province. This point confirms that Kerman has not yet become the regional metropolis of southeast Iran.


The natural setting. As far as the edges of the Dašt-e Lut desert, it is the presence of high mountain chains, the southeastern terminus of the Zagros, that explains the presence of life—a result of the precipitation the mountains gather, which can reach or surpass 300 to 400 mm per year on the highest peaks. The moisture nourishes the high pastures that are frequented by nomadic or semi-nomadic shepherds in summer and supplies the piedmont groundwater that provides the aqueous base for agricultural land and urban agglomerations. After a mountain barrier that is oriented generally north-northwest by south-southeast, separating the Kerman basin from the desert of the Dašt-e Lut, these chains are arranged in several parallel rows generally oriented in northwest-southeast direction. The first row that directly borders the Kerman basin on the south approaches 4,000 m height at Kuh-e Jupār. The row that takes over from it at the southwest is much more massive and extends nearly continuously for close to 500 km, reaching the height of 4,350 m at Kuh-e Lālazār and 4,465 m at Kuh-e Hezār, before again approaching 3,000 m at Jebāl-e Bārez in the far southeast. To the south, beyond the Sirjān-Bāft depression, the regularity of the rows gives way to a more fragmented and confused relief, from which emerges mountain masses (3,845 m at Kuh-e Ḵabir) that dominate high, undulating plains (elevation approx. 2,000 to 2,300 m) before descending toward the southeast river valleys that eventually supply the vast enclosed interior depression of Jāz Muriān. To the southwest there reappears a whole series of anticlinal chains that again approach 3,000 m but lose height little by little toward the confines of the coastal plains of Bandar ʿAbbās and Mināb.

Between these chains are basins whose floors are most often at an elevation between 1,200 and 1,800 m. These provide, in particular on the piedmonts that are well-watered by kāriz systems, sites favorable for farming and for the building of good-sized villages, which focus their immediate environment and constitute staging points for the influence of the regional capital. However, the dearth of precipitation, as well as its extreme variability, precludes any purely rain-based agriculture. Moreover, the gradual lowering of the mountains toward the southeast entails, in this direction, a reduction in the precipitation received, and thus the thinning of the groundwater in the basins and the possibility of a living linked to them. Permanent running water is practically nonexistent.

Population and ways of life: nomadic and semi-nomadic life. This climatic degradation toward the southeast and south corresponds to a regular weakening of sedentary life and a gradual deficiency of the towns in the control of space. The recurrent invasion of it, permanent or temporary, by nomadic groups has been a constant feature in the human tableau of the region. The nomads have had a continuous presence here, but they have typically been scattered in badly organized groups.

Early Muslim geographers already knew, to the west of Kerman, the formidable Qofs or Qofṣ (Schwarz, III. pp. 213, 261-66), whose main locus seems to have been in the mountains in the neighborhood of Jiroft and who gave trouble to the Buyids of Fārs. Farther east were Baluchis (also Ar. Boluṣ: see ʿAŠĀYER; BALUCHISTAN i), who were originally from northeastern Iran; pressure from the Turks seems to have pushed them south in the aftermath of the Muslim conquest, and they were the only ones feared by the Qofṣ (Eṣṭaḵri, pp. 164, 167; Ebn Ḵordāḏbeh, p. 49; Ebn Ḥawqal, pp. 309-10; tr., p. 303; Moqaddasi, p. 471; Schwarz, III, pp. 260-61). Other, minor groups existed, such as the Aḵwāš (Le Strange, 1966, p. 317; Lambton, p. 155). In the high country, the Jebāl-e Bārez (Schwarz, III, pp. 214, 266 ff.) seems to have supported for a considerable time a semi-nomadic population with a limited range of activity, who did not over-winter beyond the very near low valleys; they were very marginal with respect to urban society and remained Zoroastrian until ʿAbbasid times. This first nomadic or semi-nomadic stock of the period immediately after the Arab conquest seems to have largely disappeared over the course of time; they had already been dispersed by the Buyid authorities at the end of the 10th century (Lambton, p. 154), or they had been assimilated into the other groups that arrived later. A notable exception was the Baluchis, who always remained numerous in the coastal plain and nearby regions. In the 19th century, however, according to Waziri Kermāni, there were still among the Mehni, a tribe that arrived in the region during the Safavid period, elements that boasted of Qofṣ origin. Groups of Bārezi, descendants of the first occupants of the mountain of the same name, are still attested during the same period (Waziri Kermāni, 1966-67, p. 199; Lambton, p. 155).

The Turkic invasions of the 10th-11th centuries, and then the Turco-Mongolian invasions at the beginning of the 13th century, profoundly altered this initial ethnic tableau. These Turkic and Mongol tribes, whose growth remains very poorly known (Lambton, p. 155), were more or less organized, beginning in the 15th-16th centuries, into the confederation of the Afšār (Stöber, pp. 16-25), who are known in several other regions of Iran (notably, Azerbaijan, Khuzestan, and Kohgiluya), but who seem to have massively penetrated into Kerman beginning in the 16th century. They benefited at this period from the favor of the Safavids. From 930/​1524 to 1000/​1591, Kerman was administered by governors belonging to their tribe (Waziri Kermāni, 1961, pp. 266 ff.; 2nd ed., pp. 600 ff.; Lambton, p. 164; see also Röhrborn). Major groups of them, coming from Khorasan, were settled in the 18th century in the region of Bāft by Nāder Shah Afšār (r. 1736-47), who had broadly concentrated there a large part of the confederation to guard the frontier (Stöber, p. 21).

This Afšar confederation, however, was never equal in power and stability to the tribes that had developed in the western Zagros (Qāšqāʾi, Baḵtiāri, Lor). Its dominant role, a significant feature at the beginning of the Safavid era, was later only episodic and threatened. At the end of the Safavid era, under Shah Solṭān-Ḥosayn (r. 1694-1722), the province was subjected to repeated incursions of Baluchis, to the point where the inhabitants of Kerman had to appeal for their safety to the Afghan leader Maḥmud Ḡilzay in 1721 (Lambton, p. 164). By the 19th century, the number and political role of the Afšār had considerably diminished. Carl Ritter (p. 401), whose numerical evaluations tend to be exaggerated, counted no more than 6,000 of them in Kerman, and few other 19th- and 20th-century sources find them in the region (see table, Stöber, p. 26).

The nomads of Kerman were never able to organize themselves into a strong, stable unit. The low productivity of the natural environment and the poor quality of the pastures (a manifestation of its aridity) clearly explains the weakness of tribes that never possessed the immense flocks known in the western Zagros; their overall numbers, linked to that limitation, appeared always insufficient to construct a political establishment capable of effectively organizing their domain. Fragmentation into countless tribes or groups, often deeply impoverished and reduced to a few families, was a constant feature of the nomadic population of Kerman. A list of the “peoples” of the province, assembled from the 19th- and 20th-century sources up to 1963 (Stöber, pp. 277-86) counts no fewer than 210 ethnic designations. This fragmentation only increased over time as pressure from the sedentary authority was felt more strongly. In the early 20th century Percy Sykes, in a very similar list, counted no more than 144 (MRP, 1922, Appendix A; Stöber, p. 177). They include many elements of recent external origin, whose infiltration into the region was encouraged by the absence of political structures and local stability, such as the Qašqāʾi groups and others that came from Fārs in the 19th century (Stöber, pp. 169-71).

The supposedly dominant tribe of the Afšār numbered no more than 2,000 families, or about 15,000 people in the 1960s, out of an approximate total of some 70,000 nomads or semi-nomads (Stöber, pp. 28, 177-78, 279, 282). This last figure already represented no more than half the estimate of Sykes (in MRP, 1922, Appendix A). It has been estimated that, at the end of the 19th century, the nomads constituted some 44 percent of the population of the province, about the same at this period as the totally sedentary peasants, with 12 percent city-dwellers (Stöber, p. 178). In 1970 the proportion of the latter had increased to 24 percent, and that of sedentary peasants to 68 percent, while that of nomads or semi-nomads had decreased to only 8 percent (12 percent if recently sedentary nomads who retained awareness of a tribal affiliation are included with them; Stöber, p. 250).

This change reflects a gradual policy of sedentarization that was actively pursued throughout the 20th century, but which culminated in the forced settlement of these tribes by Reżā Shah in the 1930s, resulting in the creation of supposedly permanent new dwellings such as Deh-bakri (45 km west-southwest of Bam), which after 1931 became the principal kernel of the Afšār population (Stöber, pp. 134-60). This policy of the central power was particularly successful in Kerman because of the weakness of the tribal structure in the region, which made any resistance impossible. This reality was notably manifested in the absence of systematic return to pure nomadic life, which did occur in the western Zagros after the abdication of Reżā Shah in 1941. Here too most of the nomadic groups resumed their migrations in the 1940s as the central authority weakened. But nearly everywhere today it is seasonal semi-nomadism that prevails, based in permanent habitations in new villages. The very detailed, successive maps of Stöber (pp. 69, 70, 79, 123, 136, 161, 162) show that pure nomads living year round in tents are now much less numerous.

Among the semi-nomads, all of the transitional forms of shelter that range between tents and solid houses may be found. Their seasonal migrations take on a very complex aspect. Movements from the point of settlement can exceed 200 km; for example, the village of Širinak (Razmārā, Farhang VIII, 1953, p. 270), which experienced development (of the type described below) between 1960 and 1970, is located 85 km south of Kerman, at the heart of the elevation of summer pasture; winter quarters are 125 km east-northeast of Bandar ʿAbbās (Stöber, pp. 160-65). At Deh-bakri, also located at the elevation of summer pastures (some 2,000-2,200 m), the moves reached a distance of about 80 km for the major part of the group that wintered in the plain of Jiroft, much less for others who went to the region of Bam.

These sectors of permanent habitation established in the cold zones (sarḥadd) for summer quarters are in fact less in the form of concentrated villages than of highly dispersed regions of habitation, but they are still linked by a single name and the awareness of a common origin. Small holdings dominate very widely in these villages of the highlands. Sedentary habitations developed in the winter pasture zone, which were the temperate lands of the warm zones (garmsir). They included major fortified, rectangular villages (qalʿa), which were made necessary by the lack of security that is associated with large landholdings (Stöber, pp. 72-74).

The transitional zone between the levels of sarḥadd and garmsir displays maximum variability both in the nature of the environment and in the organization of seasonal movements (Stöber, pp. 78-81). This nomadism, of which the number of practitioners seems to be stable today, still presents some very impressive aspects. Around 1975, they numbered some 2,500 tents wintering in the plain of Jiroft (Stöber, p. 177), where they constituted an essential element of the countryside in this season, and the picture does not seem to have changed markedly. These nomads, although a minority section of the population, constitute a significant factor in the economy of the province, where they still possess about one-third of the sheep and goats and provide half of the meat and one-third of the dairy products consumed in the towns, as well as nearly all the raw materials used in the carpet industry.

More than 90 percent of the farm economy remains based on the irrigation culture of cereal grains and fodder; little else is grown except, for export of a marketable surplus, pistachios (in the high country) and dates (in the warm zone; Stöber, pp. 190-214). The production of natural indigo, formerly a regional specialty that was a major export item, is today only a curiosity. This countryside, which remains very poor, has been only lightly penetrated by the industrial economy of the main area. Although the shawl industry, producing a luxury product very difficult to manufacture, remained tightly concentrated in Kerman (Stöber, p. 223), the manufacture of carpets, from the beginning of the 20th century, spilled into the immediate environs of the town, notably in a secondary center that emerged at Rāvar (80 km north of Kerman) on the edge of Dašt-e Lut, which had 1,000 workplaces around 1900 (Stöber, p. 225). But this movement did not spread far. No major center currently exists beyond the villages relatively close to the capital, basically in the basin of Kerman. At the end of the 1950s, there were 466 workplaces at Jupār, 309 at Māhān, and 300 at Rāvar. Then came Zarand and Gowk (80 km southeast of Kerman), which marked approximately the limit of the spread of big-city industry (Stöber, p. 227).

In the more distant centers, manufacturing remained negligible, and the situation does not seem to have changed since the 1950s. Carpet weaving was maintained among the nomads or semi-nomads for family needs to the extent that an Afšār carpet type, distinguished from the Kerman carpets by its figural motifs, produced by the latter or by peasants, is today marketed in very small quantities. It might be said that production integrated into the external world remains anchored to the town of Kerman itself and its immediate sphere of influence.

Since 1995 the Kerman Ḵodrow car factory located in Bam (in the Arg-e Jadid Special Economic Zone) has produced a limited number of assembled automobiles. Mining activities complete the picture of modern industry (see also KERMAN i; MINING IN IRAN i). Products include: coal at Kujidak, an area between Kerman and Rāvar (lat 31°16′ N, long 56°48′ E); chromium ore at Esfandaqa (lat 31°16′ N, long 56°56′ E, west of Jiroft; Razmārā, Farhang VIII, p. 14; see, e.g., Yaghubpur and Hassannejad); and especially copper. Mining of the copper deposits of Sarčašma(60 km south of Rafsanjān), which are among the most important in the world, started in 1972, but related activities of the National Iranian Copper Industries Company [NICICo] began only after 1981; 200,000 tons of copper were exported in 2007 (see http://www.nicico.com [in Persian] for recent statistics).


In this complex geographic framework, which has long been extensively invaded by nomads and where authority is continually disputed, the town of Kerman remained for a long time the only real base for the organized state. But many modifications of the area effectively controlled by the central town have come, over the course of time, to express the instability of this focal function. This is already clear in the statements of the Muslim geographers (Schwarz, III, pp. 211-12). In fact, the geographic area that the earliest of them apply to Kerman varies to an extent that might appear unreasonable: Ebn al-Faqih (p. 162), for example, placed its eastern border at Kabul.

The eastern boundaries remained very ill-defined for a long time, thus manifesting the growing inability of the central power to exert its authority in that direction. In the description of Eṣṭaḵri, Kerman is bounded quite correctly to the west by Fārs, to the north by the steppes between Khorasan and Sistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf, and to the east much less precisely by “Makrān and the desert between it and the sea from behind the Baluchis” (Esṭaḵri, pp. 158-59; cf. Ebn Ḥawqal, pp. 305-6 with map; tr., II, p. 301 and plate. 13). Demašqi (text, p. 176) mentions Hormuz on the coast as the last place within Kerman. But already in the time of Yāqut (d. 1229), who includes Sirjān in Fārs (Boldān, III, p. 835; tr., p. 410), Kerman seems to have totally disappeared, with the eastern border of Fārs extended toward the south at Makrān and Sind. Edrisi (fl. 6th/12th cent.) locates Makrān “across the southern border of Fārs” (p. 404; tr., p. 391). Such errors, examples of which could easily be multiplied, express an important historical-geographic fact. To the southeast of the Iranian plateau and to the east of Fārs, Kerman then constituted, for the political powers established in them, a marginal region, peopled by barely subjugated groups, incompletely and imperfectly integrated into the frameworks of the nation in Iran—in short, a sort of frontier-in-motion of the country of Iran.

Over the centuries, despite the vicissitudes of history, the leading role of Kerman, in this ill-defined area in the southeast, was never seriously challenged. A new, potentially major structural element meanwhile appeared in the 17th century with the establishment, by Shah ʿAbbās I, of a major port constituting the outlet of all of eastern Iran to the Persian Gulf, at Bandar ʿAbbās (see above). The operation of this port, however, was long limited to relations with Kerman and beyond, without any directive role of its own.

Despite the century and a half of disorder that extended from the end of Safavid times to the middle of the 19th century, and which was interrupted by the near total destruction of the town by Āḡā Moḥammad Khan Qājār in 1794, Kerman was able to regain, quite quickly and without contest, its function of leadership, which extended across the entire territorial surroundings under the authority of the central Iranian government. Bam, the only possible rival for this role of the vanguard of Qajar power in the east, never had any role except as a fortified military base and a commercial station, but without an effective influence of its own. The primary position of Kerman was confirmed by the plans for the urban fabric that were carried out under the administrations of the two Wakil-al-Molks between 1860 and 1878 (see above), and this vigorous base for Persian culture that Kerman thereafter constituted made it thenceforth a dynamic intellectual center, enjoying active relationships in this area with Tehran (Waziri Kermāni, 1961, pp. 405-7; 2nd ed., II, pp. 807-13; Lambton, pp. 155, 165). This broad influence of the town over its region in that period contrasts clearly with the situation then prevailing in the eastern Zagros, where the influence of the towns of Isfahan, Kermanshah, and Shiraz virtually came to an end, in a domain totally dominated politically by the great nomadic confederations at the gates of the towns.

The situation changed greatly during the Pahlavi period (1925-79), leading to shrinkage both of the area of the province and of the influence of the town. Effective control of the regions of the far southeast by the central government under Reza Shah led to the gradual emergence of a central urban power at Zāhedān; since the administrative redistricting of the 1950s-1960s (see above, i), it has served as the center of the new province of Sistān va Balučestān, beyond the executive domain of Kerman, to which it had previously belonged (Razmārā, Farhang VIII, pp. 50, 218-19). To the south, Bandar ʿAbbās also became an independent administrative center as a result of the considerable development of its role as a commercial and military gateway; it became the capital of a new province (Hormozgān) by a territorial revision that detached from Kerman the coast, the islands, and some of the hinterland.

Thus the city of Kerman has lost its original function as the pioneering vanguard of the state and of Persian culture in the southeast, as a major center of external relations of Iran toward India and by the maritime route of the Persian Gulf, and as a stop on the route connecting the Persian Gulf coast to Khorasan and Central Asia. Today it functions chiefly as regional center of a province—with sub-provincial units whose number has increased over time (see above, i); and its influence is largely confined within that sphere.


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KERMAN iii. Population of the province, sub-province, and city

This article is divided into three sections: (1) Population of Kerman province; (2) Population of Kerman sub-province; and (3) Population of the city of Kerman.


Boundaries. The boundaries of Kerman province have changed since the first national census of population in 1956. The sub-province of Bandar ʿAbbās (now the capital of Hormozgān province), was included in this province in the 1956 census but was separated from it by 1966. The province was further modified during 1976-1986, when Herāt, Marvast, and a part of Dehaj districts were separated from Šahr-e Bābak, a sub-province (šahrestān) of Kerman province, and annexed to Mehriz sub-province in Yazd province. In the same period, the East Bašāgerd districts in Jiroft sub-province and six other villages (in Kahnuj sub-province) were separated from Kerman province and added to Mināb sub-province in Hormozgān. Due to these changes, the total land area of Kerman province, which was 193,978 km2 in the 1966 and 1976 censuses, was reduced to 185,657 km2 in 1986 (Zanjāni, 1992, pp. 30-35; Zanjāni and Raḥmāni, pp. 2-85), and then to 180,726 km2 in 2006 by the detachment of a section of the Jāz Muriān marsh. Sub-province and district boundaries also have varied over time (Table 1).



Census Year
























Rural District
























Source: For years 1966, 1976 and 1986, Zanjāni et al., 1992, p. 7 ; for years 1996 and 2006, results of the corresponding National Census; for 2008, SCI, 2008a, p. 29.

Population and its distribution. Based on the first nationwide population and housing census taken in 1956, the total population of the province was around 789,000 persons (of whom 127,624 then belonged to Bandar ʿAbbās), while in the 2011 population and housing census, it had increased to nearly 2,939,000 (Table 2).






































*Including Bandar ʿAbbās sub-province. **Contradictions between the total population and summation of the urban and the rural population, for the years 1986 and thereafter, is due to the fact that unsettled populations are also included in the totals. Source: For the year 2011, SCI, 2014; for the rest of the years, SCI, 2008b, p. 92, Table 3-2.

In 2011, the population distribution of Kerman province indicates Kerman (capital of the province) as the most, and Kuhbanān as the least, populous sub-province. This can be seen in Table 3, in which absolute and relative population distribution of the province by sub-province are shown. It is worth noting that population concentration in Bāft, Bardsir, Rafsanjān, Sirjān, Kerman, and Kahnuj has been decreasing since 1966, and meanwhile Rāvar, Rudbār-e Janub, ʿAnbarābād, Qalʿa-ganj, Kuhbanān, and Manujān have evolved into sub-province status during the same period.





















































































































































Rudbār-e Janub







Šahr-e Bābak





















Source: SCI, Census of Population and Housing 2011 (unpublished raw data)..

Age and sex composition. Sex ratio (number of men per 100 women) in the population of the province has been somewhat lower than that of the natural value of this ratio (105), which can be interpreted as the results of a low flow of out-migration in the province. Values of this measure were below natural level in the urban areas of the province during 1955-1975 but have risen closer to natural level since 1986. In the rural areas, in which a flow of out-migration is not unusual, the sex ratios are as expected (Table 4).






































Source: For years 1956-2006, calculated based on Table 3-2 of the Kerman statistical yearbook (Sāl-nāma); for the year 2011, calculated based on Table 4 of SCI, “2011 Census Selected Results—UNFPA Iran,” electronically published, 2014;
available at http://iran.unfpa.org/view_news.asp?id=248.

Based on the results of the 2006 and 2011 population censuses, age composition of the province is somewhat younger than that of the entire country (Table 5).


Major age group

Whole Country

Kerman Province







All ages







Under 15














65 and older







Source: SCI, 2009b.

It can be observed that the ratio of population in the ages of economic activity in the rural areas is lower than that of the urban areas, which reflects the flow of out-migration in the rural areas. This is more significant in Kerman province than in the entire country. Population of this province is in the beginning stages of aging (Table 6).









Mean age





Median age





Source: Text taken from SCI, 2009b.

Marital status. Review of the results of 2006 population census shows that the marriage prevalence (percentage of married persons in the population up to 50 years of age) for younger ages in Kerman province is considerably lower than in the entire country. This is true for both urban and rural areas (Table 7). Despite these considerable differences, average age at first marriage is more or less the same in Kerman as in the entire country (Table 8).






Entire country




Kerman province




Source: Calculated by the authors on the basis of results of the corresponding National Census for 2006.












Entire country







Kerman province







Source: SCI, 2009b.

Age at first marriage, although similar between urban and rural areas, is significantly different in the male and female populations, a difference of 2.5 years on average (urban: 2.8 years, rural: 2.1 years). It can also be noted that there is not much difference between marriage prevalence in Kerman province compared with the entire country: based on the data from 2006 population census, 99 percent of men and 98.6 percent of women in Kerman province were married before the age of 50, analogous, respectively, to 98.7 percent and 98.2 percent in the entire country.

In Kerman province, most first marriages remain permanent throughout the entire life of spouses. The results of the 2006 population census show that, among those married persons who had stated their sequence of marriage(s), around 97 percent (96 percent for men and 98 percent for women) remained married to their first partner (Table 9).


Sequence of marriages



First marriages



Second marriages



Third marriages



Fourth marriages



None stated



Source: calculated by the authors, based on the National Census for 2006 as presented in the fourth session of the population association of Iran (Anjoman-e jamʿiyat-šenāsi-e Irān, http://population.ut.ac.ir/pai-objectives.html) by Ms. Ozra Naini (ʿOḏrā Nāʾini).

Migration. Based on the results of the 2006 population and housing census, around 365,000 migrants had entered Kerman province or changed their place of residency inside the province between 1996 and 2006. Of these, 43.6 percent had moved intra-sub-province; 29.3 percent, inter-sub-province; 23.9 percent were inter-provincial migrants; 2.9 percent had been born abroad; and 0.3 percent did not state their migration status.

Among all these migrants, 72.7 percent were settled in the urban areas, and 27.3 percent in the rural areas of the province. Considering the urban and rural ratio of the population in the province (58.5 percent and 41.5 percent), it can be seen that the urban areas have attracted migrants more than their weight in the total population.

The migration balance in Kerman province during this period has been negative by 25,126 persons. This is true for both urban (12,658 persons) and rural areas (2,469 persons). Most migration transaction (either in-migration or out-migration) of the province during these ten years have occurred between Kerman and its neighboring provinces of Sistān va Balučestān, Hormozgān, Yazd, and Ḵorāsān-e Rażawi, plus Tehran province. Migration balance of the province, by urban and rural areas, as well as migration status of Kerman province, by sex, origin, and destination of migrations are shown, respectively, in Table 10 and Table 11.


Place of residence



Whole province









Urban areas









Rural areas









Source: Calculated by the authors, based on the data in SCI, 2009b, pp. 71-75.


Previous Place of Residence

Present Place of Residence


Urban Areas

Rural Areas







All in-migrants







Same sub-province







Urban areas







Rural Areas







Other sub-provinces of Kerman Province







Urban areas







Rural Areas







Sub-provinces of other provinces







Urban areas







Rural Areas







Other countries







Not stated







Source: SCI, 2009b, p. 41

In the distribution of migrants by cause of migration (Table 12), the main reason given for migration in Kerman province during the 10 years before 2006 census was to accompany a family household. Almost 40 percent of migrants had no other reason. Job requirements (including job transfer, looking for work or for better jobs) have been the second main cause of migration (20 percent of migrants).


Cause of Migration








Looking for work or better work and job transfer




Education and end of education




Military services and its completion




Accompanying household




Other and none stated




Source: SCI, 2009b, p. 41.

Urbanization. In Kerman province, the urbanization ratio (that is, the proportion of the population living in areas classed as urban) was 52.89 percent and 58.53 percent in 1996 and 2006, respectively (entire country: 61.3 percent and 68.5 percent). The urbanization ratio varies greatly among the sub-provinces of Kerman. In this period it has been as low as 10.1 percent in Rudbār-e Janub and as high as 84.1 percent in Kerman. This measure has been 17.2 percent in Qalʿa Ganj, 18.4 percent in ʿAnbarābād, 28.4 percent in Manujān, 38.6 percent in Bam, 41.0 percent in Rāvar, 41.7 percent in Bāft, 43.3 percent in Kahnuj, 52.3 percent in Šahr-e Bābak, 54.6 percent in Bardsir, 55.6 percent in Jiroft, 57.3 percent in Zarand—all less than the province level, while the ratio in Kuhbanān (68.3 percent) and Sirjān (76.3 percent) was higher than the province level (based on the results of the 2006 population census, Kerman province, pp. 51- 69, tables 2-1, 2-2, and 2-3).

Between 1996 and 2006, there were considerable changes in the administrative subdivisions of the province; the number of sub-provinces rose from 10 to 16, and the number of cities from 27 to 57. Thus direct comparison of the results of the two censuses does not clearly indicate the urban-rural shift of the province. In Table 13, the results of the 1996 population census are reformulated in terms of the 2006 definitions of administrative subdivisions. Based on these statistics, the average annual rate of population increase is calculated to be 2.80 percent (instead of 3.08) in the urban areas, and 1.67 percent (instead of 3.07) in the rural areas. The ratio of the urban population was calculated by the authors to be 59.38 percent instead of 52.89 percent. If urban and rural subdivisions had remained unchanged during 1996-2006, then the ratio of the urban population would have remained more or less the same as the 1996 value (Zanjāni et al., 2009, pp. 13-14).



As Enumerated in the Census

Reformulated Based on 2006 Administrative Subdivisions

Urban areas



Rural areas



Source: Based on the SCI, 2009b, reformulated by the authors according to the administrative subdivisions of the province in 2006.

Classification of cities by population size in 2006 shows that, out of 57 cities of the province, 38 cities had a population less than 10,000 persons; 9 cities, between 10,000 and 25,000; 7 cities, between 25,000 and 100,000; 2 cities, between 100,000 and 250,000; there was only one city with population of more than 500,000. Most of the cities in the province appear to be not more than a small town, with average population size about 27,000 persons in 2006. The average for the entire country is greater by 20,000 (Table 14).










































































Darb-e Behešt
















Šahr-e Bābak




Mes-e Sarčašma




























Source: SCI, 2009b.

The proportion of the rural population to the total in Kerman province is higher than that for the entire country. This proportion varies considerably between sub-provinces; the highest (89.9 percent) is recorded in Rudbār-e Janub sub-province; and the lowest (15.9 percent), in Kerman sub-province. The absolute number of the rural population also varies greatly among Kerman sub-provinces. Based on the results of the 2006 census, the highest and the lowest umber of the rural population numbers belong to Bam (173,207) and to Kuhbanān (7,885), respectively; the recorded counts for the other sub-provinces are: Rafsanjān, 119,803; Bāft, 84,545: Jiroft, 83,284; Kerman, 80,674; Rāvar, 15,111; Bardsir, 40,488; and Manujān, 45,733. Villages in Kerman province are rather under-populated. On the basis of the results of the 2006 census, the average population per village in Kerman province is 184 persons (entire country: 374).

Tribal population. Censuses of nomadic tribal population were conducted in 1987, 1998, and 2008, with variations in classifications used. It can be concluded, however, that the great majority of the nomadic population of Kerman province have both their summer and their winter settlements within the province (Table 15). Only a small number spend their winters outside the province, mainly in Hormozgān province.


Nomadic Population

Census Year




Male and female
















Those who spend both their summer and winter inside Kerman Province:

Male and female
















Those who spend the wintertime outside of Kerman Province:

Male and female
















Source: Derived by authors from Table 2 of the 1987, 1998, and 2008 publications of nomadic tribal population censuses by SCI (Natāyej-e sar-šomāri-e ejtemāʿi-eqteṣādi-e ʿašāyer-e kučanda-ye kešvar).

Because of the above-mentioned changes made in the administrative system of Kerman province, the counts of the nomadic population in the several censuses cannot be compared at the sub-province level. But it can be seen that in 2008 most of the nomadic tribal population belonged to the following sub-provinces: Bāft, 24,981 persons in 4,977 households; Bam, 19,006 persons in 3,860 households; Jiroft, 14,152 persons in 2,972 households; ʿAnbarābād, 9,790 persons in 2,029 households; Sirjān, 9,172 persons in 2,049 households. Concerning tribal affiliation, Jebālbārezi, Baluch, and Afšār have had the largest number of members.

Housing status. At the time of the 2006 census of the country’s total population and housing status, 615,929 households were living in Kerman province, of which 615,150 were ordinary settled and collective households living in the urban (366,790 households) and the rural (246,206 households) areas of the province. (The remainder are unsettled.) These households were settled in 517,652 dwelling units (urban: 316,292 units, rural: 201,360 units). Thus, on the average, there were 119 households per 100 dwelling units (urban: 116, rural: 122). Out of the above-mentioned 615,150 households, 563,512 households were living in conventional dwelling units (urban: 349,964 households, rural: 213,548), distributions of which are shown in Table 16 by the number of rooms. Almost 71 percent of the dwelling units in the province (urban: 69.9 percent, rural: 73.2 percent) were constructed during a twenty-year period between 1986 and 2006 (Table 17). The construction materials used for dwelling units are a subject of concern, especially in the rural areas of the province. Based on the results of the 2006 population and housing census, more than half (50.9 percent) of dwelling units in the rural areas of Kerman province are made of semi-durable or non-durable materials (Table 18, Table 19).


Number of Rooms Occupied

Total Areas

Urban Areas

Rural Areas





1 room




2 rooms




3 rooms




4 rooms




5 rooms




6 rooms and more




Not stated




Source: Calculated on the basis of SCI, 2008b, pp. 220-22, Table 3-30.


Year of Construction Completion




























Before 1974








Source: Calculated by the authors, based on the general results in SCI, 2008b, pp. 227-32, Table 3-32.


Type of Frame and Construction Materials




Total (all kinds of construction materials)




Durable materials (metal frame, reinforced concrete, brick and steel, stone and steel)




Semi-durable materials (brick and wood, stone and wood, cement blocks, all brick or stone and brick)




Non-durable materials (all wood, adobe and wood, adobe and clay, and the like)




Source: Based on the general results in SCI, 2008b, pp. 227-32, Table 3-32.


Floor Areas in Square Meters








Less than 50 m2




51–75 m2




76–100 m2




101–150 m2




151–300 m2




More than 300 m2




Source: Based on the general results in SCI, 2008b, pp. 227-32, tables 3-32.

Altogether, these data suggest that relative frequency of small dwelling units, in terms of both floor area and room numbers, in the rural areas is higher than in the urban areas, indicating that people are harder pressed for housing in the rural areas. Although the percentage of durable dwelling units in the urban areas (81.6 percent) is higher than that of the rural areas (49.1 percent), a historical review shows that the trend of renovation of dwelling units in the rural areas is much faster than in the urban areas.

Economic activity status. Based on the results of the 2006 population and housing census, out of 2,183,790 persons aged 10 and over in the province, 40.1 percent are reported to be economically active (urban: 40.0 percent, rural: 41.3 percent). In the same year, the occupation ratio in Kerman province was 79.0 percent (urban: 82.9 percent, rural: 73.3 percent). Thus, the unemployment ratio has been estimated to be 21.0 percent (urban: 17.1 percent, rural: 26.7). This ratio varies greatly among different sub-provinces; it has been as low as 7.3 percent and 8.2 percent in Rudbār-e Janub and Rāvar, respectively, while other sub-provinces have been experiencing considerably high rates, among them Qalʿa-ganj (45.5 percent), ʿAnbarābād (44.8 percent), Jiroft (40.5 percent), Šahr-e Bābak (40.4 percent; SCI, 2009b, p. 84, table 3-11). Sex differentials in the ratios of activity, employment, and unemployment are considerable.

Moreover, in the entire Kerman province, the activity ratio, and consequently the employment ratio, have been declining in recent years (2006-8) among both men and women (Table 20).



Activity Ratio

Unemployment Ratio















Source: SCI, 2011b, p. 129, no. 7; pp. 131-38.

In 2006, most of the employed population (42.8 percent) was working in the service sector (urban: 57.5 percent, rural: 19.1 percent); the agriculture sector provided jobs for 28.2 percent of the employed population (urban: 9.6 percent, rural: 58.0 percent), and only 25.5 percent of the employed people were working in the industrial sector (urban: 30.7 percent, rural: 19.9 percent).

In Kerman province, almost three-quarters (72.2 percent) of employed individuals were working in the private sector, and only 25.6 percent were involved in the public sector (the other 2.2 percent: not stated). These overall ratios are estimated to be, respectively, urban: 64.8, 33.1, and 2.1 percent, rural: 84.0, 13.7, and 2.3 percent.

Household conditions. In Kerman province, the household average size was 4.3 persons in 2006 (Table 21). There was little difference between the urban (4.2) and the rural areas (4.4). During the years 1956-76, the value of this measure varied between 4.36 and 4.65 persons with no significant difference between the urban and rural areas (less than 0.1). However, in 1991 this figure reached the maximum of 5.37 persons (urban: 5.18, rural: 5.54), and it has been declining ever since.


Size of Households


Urban Areas

Rural Areas

One person




Two persons




Three and four persons




Five and six persons




Seven persons and over




Source: Based on the general results of the 2006 National, Census, Kerman Province.

Out of 606,348 ordinary settled households of Kerman province, 91.9 percent of the population have been living in conventional dwelling units, 0.5 percent in tents, 4.6 percent in huts, 0.4 percent in hovels and caves, and 2.6 percent in other kinds of structure; 72.7 percent of the households were owner-occupants (urban: 66.6, rural: 83.3), 18.0 percent were renters (urban: 24.9 percent, rural: 6.7 percent), and the rest were living in free units belonging to the organization they served, or other kind of units (SCI, 2009b, table 3-2). There is close similarity between the size of households in the urban and rural areas.

Household income and expenditure. Since transition from traditional life to modern society has considerable impact on lifestyle, household income and expenditure may be counted as an important development index. The most recent information on household income and expenditure of Kerman province dates from 2008. These data are usually prepared on the province level and do not provide information on any of its administrative subdivisions.

Over a three-year period (2006-8), average annual expenditure of households shows an increase of 49.9 percent in the urban and 16.7 percent in the rural areas (Table 22). The rate of increase of urban household expenditure experienced a real transformation between 2007 and 2008, reaching 38.6 percent, from 8.2 percent in the previous year; in part, this may be due to the fuel rationing in 2007 and end of some price supports, leading to higher prices.



Urban Areas

Rural Areas




















Source: SCI, Results of household income and expenditure survey in Kerman Province (Natāyej-e āmār-giri az hazina wa darāmad-e ḵānavārhā-ye šahri wa rustāʾi-e kešvar, ostān-e Kermān).

Another notable point is the high and increasing differences between urban and rural household expenditure in the province. As is noted in Table 22, in 2008 the annual household expenditure in the urban areas was more than twice that in the rural areas. The breakdown of household expenditure in terms of major categories (Table 23) shows that the cost of non-food commodities in the urban areas increased rapidly at this time, from 32.7 million rials in 2006 to 62.2 million rials in 2008—an increase of 90 percent in two years, while in the rural areas non-food costs went up by only 24 percent, from 13.27 to 16.46 million rials. In general, medical care and health expenses in the urban areas, and recreation, entertainment, and cultural service expenses in the rural areas (despite their low relative importance), had the greatest increase during 2006-2008. Meanwhile, costs of furniture, equipment, and services in the rural areas also had a considerable increase. In the same period, urban and rural household income increased by 33.8 percent and 21.0 percent, respectively. It is noteworthy that in 2006 and 2008 household expenditure exceeded income (SCI, 2011b, pp. 663-72, tables 20-2, 20-3, and 20-4, for expenditures, and pp. 679-82, tables 20-6, 20-7, for incomes).


Categories of Expenditure

Urban Areas: 2008 Relative Distribution

Increase: Ratio to 2006

Rural Areas: 2008 Relative Distribution

Increase: Ratio to 2006






Food, beverages, and tobacco





Non-food commodities:






Clothing, footwear, and repairs










Furniture, furnishings





Equipment and services

Medical care and health services





Transport and communications





Recreation, entertainment, and cultural services





Miscellaneous Household goods and services





Source: SCI, 2007a and 2009c.

Population projection of the province. In the last nationwide population projection done in 2009, projection was made for Kerman’s population in the period from 2011 to 2026 (Table 24).



Including Migration

Based on Natural Increase, Excluding Unsettled










































Source: Zanjāni et al., 2009, pp. 68-80.


General characteristics. Kerman sub-province comprises 6 districts (baḵš), 19 sub-districts (dehestān), 13 cities, and 1,169 villages, of which 551 villages are settled. It has been recorded as the most populated sub-province in Kerman in all population censuses.

In 1996, 28.82 percent of the province’s population was living in Kerman sub-province, while in 2006 this proportion was reduced to 25.55 percent, mainly because Rāvar district had been turned into a new, separate sub-province. The new Kuhbanān sub-province has been reported to have a population of 39,463 persons (urban: 24,351, rural: 15,111). Correspondingly, the proportion of urban population of Kerman sub-province decreased during the same period, from 43.45 percent (460,602 out of 1,060,075) in 1996 to 38.45 percent in 2006 (596,976 out of 1,552,519), while the absolute number increased by 136,374. The rural population of Kerman sub-province was reduced from 117,077 people in 1996 to 80,674 in 2006 (that is, from 12.4 percent to 7.33 percent of the total rural population of the province). This can be regarded as partly the result of the separation of Rāvar sub-province from Kerman and partly due to the rate of out-migration; also, some villages have been made cities (based on SCI, 2009b, p. 49, table 2-1). During the same ten-year period, the urbanization rate in Kerman sub-province increased from 79.73 percent to 88.10 percent, which is 30 points higher than that of the entire province.

Type of households. Based on the results of the 2006 census, out of 166,952 enumerated households in the sub-province, 147,734 households were settled in the urban areas, 19,218 households in the rural areas, and 9 others were unsettled (Table 25). Members of the collective and institutional households are mostly men (5,339 men against 1,283 women in the collective households and 15,920 men against 7,669 women in the institutional households).


Household Type


Urban Population

Rural Population

Private, settled












Private unsettled


Source: Calculated on the basis of table 3-4, in SCI, 2009b, p. 67.

Average household size (Table 26) is calculated to be 4.06 persons per household (4.04 in the urban and 4.20 in the rural areas), which decreased between the years 1996 and 2006 by 0.83 persons per household. The proportion of four-person households is higher than any other size of households in both urban and rural areas. The household-size differential between urban and rural areas of the sub-province has lessened in recent years. In 2006, most of the households in Kerman sub-province (89.1 percent) had a male head of household (urban: 89.0 percent, rural: 90.1 percent).


Household Size


Urban Areas

Rural Areas





One person




Two persons




Three persons




Four persons




Five persons




Six persons




Seven persons




Eight persons and more




Source: SCI, 2009b, pp. 103-6, Tables 3-18, 3-19.

Literacy and education (Table 27). Out of the total population of Kerman sub-province, in 2006, 610,510 persons were at the age of 6 years and over, including 543,531 city residents and 66,979 persons living in rural areas. The literacy rate was 89.0 percent in the entire sub-province (urban, all: 90.6 percent, men: 92.4, women: 88.8; rural, all: 87.6 percent, men: 79.3, women: 73.8).


Level of Education


Urban Areas

Rural Areas





Literacy movement




Elementary school




Junior high school




High school
















Source: SCI, 2009b, Table 3-10.

Migration status. (1) Lifetime migration. This term is applied to persons who leave their place of birth at least once and reside in a new location. One is counted as such at the time of a census or survey by comparison of the recorded place of birth and place of residence. All those who live in a place different from their place of birth are considered as lifetime migrants. In 2006, slightly over 67.5 percent of the sub-province population were living in the same area in which they had been born (urban: 67.2 percent, rural: 70.2 percent). Thus the rest (approx. 32.5 percent) would be defined as lifetime migrants. Of the urban population, 21.1 percent were migrants with urban origin, 9.5 percent migrants with rural origin; 1.8 percent were born abroad, and 0.4 percent did not state their migration status (rural: 18.3, 7., 3.6, and 0.5 percent, respectively; SCI, 2009b, pp. 71-72, table 3-5).

(2) Period migration. Those migrants who change their place of residence between two specific times (usually two successive censuses) are called migrants in that period of time. Between the years 1996 and 2006, in total, 128,643 people changed their place of residence inside the sub-province; of these, 111,939 persons moved to the urban areas and 16,704 moved to the rural regions (Table 28).


Migration Origin

Migration Destination

Kerman Sub-Province

Urban Areas

Rural Areas





Kerman sub-province

Urban areas




Rural areas




Other sub-provinces of Kerman Province

Urban areas




Rural areas




Other provinces

Urban areas




Rural areas








Not stated




Source: SCI, 2009b.

(3) Causes of period migration. Almost 41 percent of the period migrants during the 10-year period between 1996 and 2006 are subordinate or dependent migrants. These are individuals who migrate just to follow the head of their household. The proportion of subordinate migrants in the urban and rural areas of Kerman sub-province is 40 percent and 46 percent, respectively. Other migration causes are shown in Table 29.


Main Cause of Migration


Urban Areas

Rural Areas

Work, better work, and job transfer




Studying and completion of studying




Military service and completing it




Source: SCI, 2009b, pp. 72-78, Tables 3-6, 3-8.

Economic activity and occupation status. Based on the results of the 2006 census of population and housing, more than 40 percent of the population of Kerman sub-province, 10 years of age and over, were economically active. The number was higher in the rural areas (44.0 percent) than in the urban areas (39.7 percent). Out of the active population in the entire sub-province, 87.3 percent (urban: 87.2 percent, rural: 88.0 percent) was reported to be employed; in other words, 12.7 percent (urban: 12.8 percent, rural: 12.0 percent) of the population was unemployed, looking for work.

The economically inactive population consists of different groups, the proportions of which vary from one society to another. In Kerman sub-province, students have comprised the larger share, forming 24.0 percent of the inactive population of the sub-province (urban: 24.9 percent, rural: 16.5 percent). Housewives are reported to have the second larger share in the inactive population (23.4 percent in the entire sub-province, urban: 22.9 percent, rural: 27.3 percent). Pensioners, or generally speaking all those who have an income without working, form only 6.3 percent (urban: 6.6 percent, rural: 4.6 percent) of the sub-province’s inactive population; the rest did not indicate their activity status (Table 30).


Activity Sector


Urban Areas

Rural Areas





















Source: SCI, 2009b, pp. 84-93, Tables 3-11, 3-12.

Occupation. In all the Iranian population censuses and surveys, ISCO (International Standard Classification of Occupations) is used for the classification of occupations. In this system, occupations are categorized most generally into nine major groups. Although they do not provide enough details to present a precise description of each occupation, they are informative enough to show the field of occupation of each employed person (Table 31).


Major Groups of Occupation

Whole Sub-Province

Urban Areas

Rural Areas





Legislators, senior officials, and managers








Technicians and associate professionals




Clerks, service workers, and salespeople




Skilled agricultural and fishery workers




Crafts and related trades workers




Plant and machine operators, assemblers, and drivers




Unskilled workers




Others and not stated




Source: Calculated by the authors; based on Table 3-13 of the results of the 2006 National Census.

Population projection. There is little reliable population projection for Kerman sub-province. The SCI (2010a, p. 32) has estimated the annual growth rate of the population of the sub-province to be 2.67 percent per year, which is an obvious overestimation, in view of the sharp decline in the annual population growth rate of the country (1.3 percent per year). A study on the population of the province (Zanjāni et al., 2009) suggests that the population of the sub-province will be 881,945 persons by the year 2025, increasing 1.41 percent per year. Another study involving nationwide population projection for each province (actually for 52 sub-national zones) has been done by a European consultant (Nejātiān, unpublished). Based on it, the population of Kerman sub-province for 2025 can be projected to reach 803,000, which is close to the figure suggested in the above-mentioned 2009 study.



Male and Female



Sex Ratio

Whole city





Zone number 1





Zone number 2





Zone number 3





Zone number 4





Zone number 5





Source: Population indices of the cities of Iran, general results of the 2006 National Census.


Size, age and sex distribution of the population. The city of Kerman is the capital of Kerman province and of Kerman sub-province. In the 2006 population census, Kerman city was divided into 5 zones. At that time, its population was reported to be 515,114 (Table 32), of whom 24.4 percent were under 15 years of age, 71.8 percent were 15 to 64 years old, and 3.8 percent were 65 and over. Age structures vary significantly between different zones; the proportion of young population (ages 0-15) varies from minimum of 23.0 percent in zones 2 and 3 to the maximum of 25.5 percent in zone 5; the proportion of aged population (65 and over), recorded as 2.6 and 2.8 percent in zones 2 and 3, respectively, was 5.5 percent in zone number 1. The proportion of population in the age group of 15-64 years varied from 69.0 percent in zone 1 to 74.1 percent in zone 2 (SCI, 2010b, p. 62).

The population and its changes. During a 50-year period (1956-2006), the population of Kerman city grew from almost 62,000 to more than 515,000, an average increase of 4.32 percent per year (Table 33). In 2006, among 1,012 cities in Iran, Kerman city ranked thirteenth in size of population, 466th in size of household.


Census Year

Population Size

Average Annual Growth Rate


















Source: Calculated based on the results of the National Census, from 1956 to 2006.

Mean and median age. The mean age of the population of the city of Kerman in 2006 was estimated to be 27.2 years, varying from the minimum of 26.3 years in zone 3 to a maximum of 28 years in zone 2. The median age was 24 years, varying from 23 years in zones 4 and 5 to 25 years in zone 2 (based on the socio-economic indices of Kerman province, SCI, 2007a, table 3).

Literacy and education. Based on the results of 2006 population census, more than 90 percent of the population of Kerman city was of school age (6 years of age and over), and 92 percent of these persons were literate. This gives Kerman the thirteenth highest literacy ratio among all cities of the country and matches the city’s rank in population size (see above). The literacy ratio is not constant across the city; the minimum of 91.1 percent was in zone 5, and the maximum of 95.9 percent in zone 2. The literacy ratio for men is 91.1, and for women, 86.7 percent (SCI, 2010b, p. 151, table 3).

Migration. Of the population of Kerman city in 2006, 64.7 percent had been born there, and 35.3 percent were life-time migrants from other parts of the country. In Kerman city, 23.0 percent of the population comprise in-migrants with urban origin, 10.0 percent in-migrants with rural origin, and 1.8 percent immigrants; 0.4 percent did not state their migration status.

Economic activity status. In the 2006 census data, almost 84.2 percent (433,615 persons) of Kerman city population was of the activity age (that is, 10 years and over), of whom 39.4 percent were economically active and 59.8 percent inactive; the status of the rest (0.8 percent) was unknown. The activity ratio in Kerman city is somewhat higher than the average rate for cities, placing it twelfth among all cities in the country.

The employment and unemployment ratios in Kerman city are reportedly 87.1 percent and 12.9 percent of the active population (i.e., of 39.4 percent of active population who are in the job market). Comparison of these ratios with those of urban areas countrywide indicates a lower employment ratio and a higher unemployment ratio in Kerman city. Again, Zone 2 is in a better situation with the lowest unemployment ratio (10.5 percent) among all 5 zones; the highest (13.4 percent) belongs to zone 5 (SCI, 2010b, table 5).

Marital status. In 2006, out of 222,002 males 10 years of age and over in Kerman city, 52.0 percent were married, 0.9 percent were widowers, 0.5 percent were divorced, and 46.2 percent were never married; 0.4 percent did not state their marital status. The corresponding proportions for the female population 10 years of age and over were 52.6, 8.2, 1.5, 37.3, and 0.4 percent, respectively. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, legal age for marriage is higher for boys than it is for girls (18 years of age against 15). This can be counted as an explanation for the lower proportion of never-married women. An important point in Kerman city is the extremely high proportion of divorced and widowed women in comparison to men. The proportion of widowhood among women is actually nine times that among men. Similarly the proportion of divorced women is three times that of divorced men.

Marriage prevalence in Kerman city in 2006 was 96.2 percent for men and 98.3 percent for women. Thus there has not been noticed in Kerman city any demographic inbalance between men and women that would result in exclusion of some from the opportunity to marry (what is usually called “marriage squeeze”). Almost everybody gets married sooner or later. Despite high marriage prevalence in the city, the rate of early marriage (marriage at the age group of 15-19) was not high, especially for men (1.77 percent), though not negligible for women (11.4 percent). Even with the relatively high proportion of early marriage among women in the 2006 census, it is lower than in previous census years. These measures altogether indicate clearly a delay of marriages and an increase in the mean age at marriage. As a result, in 2006 mean age at marriage is calculated to be 26.5 years for men and 24.0 years for women (SCI, 2010b, pp. 284, 344, 374, tables 6-8).

Type of households and housing status (Table 34). Out of 127,936 households of Kerman city in 2006, almost 98.4 percent were private, settled households, 1.5 percent collective households, and only 0.1 percent institutional households (SCI, 2010b, p. 434, table 10). Almost all (99.9 percent) abodes of the city were ordinary units, with an average of 4 residents each.


Floor Area (square meters)

Relative Frequency

Less than 50














301 and more


Source: SCI, 2009b, p. 464, Table 11.

Population projection. Population projection for cities is not a systematic process in Iran and usually depends upon development plans or case studies needed in larger plans. Based on a survey conducted as part of Kerman water supply project (Nejātiān), the population of Kerman city in 2026 was projected to be 785,283.


Āmar-e ʿomumi (Department of Public Statistics), National Census for Kerman, Tehran, 1956, 1966, 1976, 1986, 1996, 2006, and 2011.

SCI (Statistical Center of Iran [Markaz-e āmār-e Irān] http://www.amar.org.ir/) publications, in chronological order:

Gozida-ye šāḵeṣhā va namāgarhā-ye ejtemāʿi-eqteṣādi-e kešvar, ostān-e Kermān, Tehran, 2007a.

Natāyej-e āmār-giri az hazina va darāmad-e ḵānavārhā-ye šahri va rustāʾi-e kešvar, ostān-e Kermān, Tehran, 2007b and 2009d.

Natāyej-e tafṣili-e sar-šomāri-e ʿomumi-e nofus va maskan, 2006, Tehran, 2008a.

Sar-šomāri-e ʿomumi-e nofus va maskan sāl-e 1385: natāyej-e kolli, koll-e kešvar I, Tehran, 2008b.

Našriya-ye jamʿiyat-e šahrhā-ye kešvar bar ḥasab-e senn va jens: koll-e kešvar, 3, 2009a.

Sar-šomāri-e ʿomumi-e nofus va maskan 2006: natāyej-e kolli-e ostān-e Kermān, Tehran, 2009b.

Gozida-ye namāgarhā-ye jamʿiyati-e šahrhā-ye kešvar bar asās-e natāyej-e sar-šomāri-e ʿomumi-e nofus va maskan, 1385, Pažuheškada-ye āmār, 2009c.

Jamʿiyat-e šahrestānhā-ye kešvar, Tehran, 2010a.

Gozida-ye namāgarhā-ye jamʿiyati-e šahrhā-ye kešvar bar asās-e natāyej-e sar-šomāri-e ʿomumi-e nofus va makan, sāl-e 1385, Daftar-e āmārhā-ye jamʿiyat, niru-ye kār va sar-šomāri, code 89-3-8, Tehran, 2010b.

Gozida-ye natāyej-e sar-šomāri-e ʿomumi-e nofus va maskan, 1390, Tehran, 2011a.

Sāl-nāma-ye āmāri-e 1387: Ostān-e Kermān, 2011b.

“2011 Census Selected Results—UNFPA Iran,” electronically published, 2014; available at http://iran.unfpa.org/view_news.asp?id=248.

Other sources.

Moḥammad-Ḥosayn Nejātiān, “Piš-bini-e jamʿiyat-e šahr-e Kermān,” in phase one, vol. I of a monograph with limited distribution: Šerkat-e sahāmi-e āb-e manṭaqaʾi-e Kermān, “Moṭālaʿāt-e enteqāl-e āb-e šorb va ṣanʿat-e šahrhā-ye šemāli-e ostān-e Kermān,” Kerman, 2007, table 11-2, p. 20/2.

Ḥabib-Allāh Zanjāni, Jamʿiyat va šahr-nešini dar Irān I, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1992.

Ḥabib-Allāh Zanjāni and Faridun Raḥmāni, Rāhnamā-ye jamʿiyat-e šahrhā-ye Irān, 1335-1370, Tehran, 2003.

Ḥabib-Allāh Zanjāni et al., Moṭālaʿāt-e taʾmin-e āb-e šorb va ṣanʿat-e šahrhā-ye šomāli-e ostān-e Kermān, Tehran, 2007.

Idem, “Sawābeq-e jamʿiyati-e šahrhā va ābādihā-ye ostān-e Kermān,” Moṭālaʿāt-e taḥawwol-e jamʿiyat-e Irān dar ṭarḥ-e kālbodi-e melli, 9, no. 1.

Idem, Pišbini-e jamʿiyat-e Irān tā sāl-e 1405betafkik-e šahri va rustāʾi, Tehran, 2009.

KERMAN iv. History in the pre-Islamic period

See ii. above. See also CARMANIA.

KERMAN v. From the Islamic Conquest to the Coming of the Mongols

The Armenian geography written in the second half of the 8th century and traditionally attributed to Moses of Khoren (see MOVSĒS XORENAC‘I) places Kerman in the southern quarter of the Sasanian empire (Markwart, pp. 30-31). Its chief town in the author’s time was Sirjān, as it had been in Sasanian times, and which continued to be its capital till 4th/10th century (see below). Early Muslim geographers considered the greater part of Kerman province, that is the regions adjoining the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea, and the inland parts towards the Sistan and Dašt-e Lut desert, to be in the garmsir or hot climatic zone; but they regarded the mountainous interior, home of predatory peoples like the Kufečs (Kofejān) “mountain folk” or Pārečān/Bārezān “inhabitants of the Jabal Bārez” (see below) as coming within the sardsir or cold zone (Ḥodud al-ʿālam, pp. 126-28; tr. pp. 123-25; comm., pp. 373-76; Eṣtaḵri, pp. 158-60; Ebn al-Ḥawqal, pp. 305-7; tr., II, pp. 301-2; Waziri, pp. 113-14; see Afżal-al-Din Kermāni, 1932, pp. 51 ff., on the excellences and specialties [fażāʾel] of Kerman). In Afżal-al-Din Kermāni’s time (d. ca. 1218), the desert zone seems to have been a smaller part of the province as a whole than in more recent times, with areas that had been forested; Ḥamd-Allāh Mostawfi (p. 140; tr., p. 139) mentions that predatory beasts roamed the forests at the site of what became the essentially Arab creation of Jiroft in the first decades of Islam. Regarding administrative divisions, the later 4th/10th century, Moqaddasi, a near-contemporary of the unknown author of the Ḥodud al-ʿālam, divides the province into five districts (kura), each named after its chief town: Bardasir, Sirjān, Bam, Narmāsir (Narmāšir), and Jiroft (pp. 460-66); however, Ebn Rosta (p. 106) has given this list with the additional district of Hormuz (cf. Le Strange, pp. 299-300; tr., pp. 321-22; Barthold, 1984, pp. 136-42, on the cities of Kerman in this early period). Makrān, to the east of Kerman (the southern part of modern Baluchistan), was generally considered as a separate province.

At the time of the first Arab raids into Kerman during ʿOmar’s caliphate, Kerman was governed by a marzbān whose name is not recorded (Balāḏori, pp. 315, 391; cf. Markwart, p. 31). There may have been some penetration of nomadic Arabs into Kerman in pre-Islamic times, if the report that Sasanian Šāpur II Ḏu’l-Aktāf settled Arab tribemen in Ahvaz, Tawwaj, and Kerman is accurate (Tabari, I, p. 845; tr., V, p. 65). During the caliphate of ʿOmar (r. 13-23/634-44), Abu Musā Ašʿari, the governor of Basra, sent Rabiʿ b. Ziād against Kerman. He conquered Sirjān and made a peace treaty with the people of Bam, while, at the same time, the governor of Bahrayn, ʿOṯmān b. Abi’l-ʿĀṣ Ṯaqafi, mounted another attack and killed the marzbān of Kerman on the island Abarkāvān (present-day Qešm) in the Persian Gulf. Shortly afterwards, in 29/649-50, the last Sasanian, Yazdegerd III, fled through Kerman, pursued by an Arab army that perished in the snows of the mountains, allowing the king to reach Khorasan, where, however, he was eventually killed (Balāḏori, pp. 315-16, 391; Ṭabari, I, p. 2,863; tr., XV, p. 69).

The details of these first Arab probes into Kerman are unclear; Yaʿqubi (p. 296, tr. Wiet, p. 99; tr. Āati, p. 62) records one by ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān b. Samora during ʿOtmān’s caliphate, which led to the local ruler offering an annual tribute of two million dirhams plus 2,000 slaves. The difficult terrain clearly made the conquest an arduous one, and the process of conversion to Islam of the province’s population a protracted one. A Zoroastrian community persisted in Bardasir (Kerman city), although in decreasing numbers, until the 19th century (Lambton, p. 157). Many of those clinging to their ancestral Zoroastrian faith fled for refuge in the early Islamic centuries to the mountain areas like the Jabal Bārez (cf. Eṣṭaḵri, p. 164; Ebn Ḥawqal, p. 310; tr., p. 305).

The province likewise provided asylum for the rebel against the Umayyads, ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān b. Ašʿaṯ, after he fled towards Sistan and Zabolestān after his defeat in Iraq in 82/701 (Ṭabari, II, pp. 1101-102; tr., XXIII, p. 49), but above all it became a center for the extremist Kharijite group of the Azāreqa. Their leader, Qaṭari b. Fojāʾa (q.v.), was pursued eastwards from Iraq and Ahvaz by Mohallab b. Abi Sofra, but he held out for a long time in Kerman, with his center at Jiroft (where in 75/694 he minted dirhams, styling himself amir-al-moʾmenin; see Gaube, pp. 72-73, 106; Dinavari, pp. 275, 277, 304; tr., pp. 321-25, 348-49; Ṭabari, II, pp. 1003, 1017-18; tr., XXII, pp. 150, 161-62).

The Umayyads regained control of the province and held it until the ʿAbbasid Revolution. Dirhams of Arab-Sasanian pattern were minted at Kerman from the year 62/681-82 (these acknowledging the anti-caliph ʿAbd-Allāh b. Zobayr) onwards. Post-reform dirhams were minted by the Umayyad governors from 90/709 and continued to be issued substantially till 103/721-22 and sporadically later (Walker, I, pp. cxxxviii, 30ff., II, pp. lxxxvii, 171-73). In 128-29/745-46, the ʿAlid pretender ʿAbd-Allāh b. Moʿawia (q.v.) temporarily achieved power in Fars and Kerman, but the Umayyad governor Ebn Hobayra’s commander ʿĀer b. Żobāra regained control, and in 131/748-49 an Umayyad army set out from Kerman against the ʿAbbasid general Qaḥṭaba b. Ḥomayd, who was advancing from Khorasan on Ray, but it was defeated near Isfahan (Ṭabari, II, pp. 1947-48; III, pp. 4-5; tr., XXVII, pp. 59, 126-27).

In early ʿAbbasid times, governors were specially appointed for Kerman, but under the Taherids (r. 205-59/821-73) Kerman was regarded as an administrative dependency of Khorasan (cf. Ṭabari, III, p. 1698; tr., XXXV, p. 156). In practice, communications across the mountains and deserts separating Kerman from Sistan and Khorasan were difficult, and this meant that Kerman was linked more closely economically and commercially with the province of Fars to its west. Ebn al-Balḵi (pp. 170-71) gives the figure 2,600,000 dinars for the total tax revenues of Fars, Kerman, and Oman in the year 200/815-16; new registers had to be compiled at this time, because the former ones had been destroyed in the civil war between al-Amin and al-Maʾmun. However, the greater part of this sum must have appertained to the very rich province of Fars. Like Khorasan and Sistan, Kerman was much affected by the prolonged revolt of the Kharijite Ḥamza b. Āḏarak in the east during the caliphates of Hārun al-Rašid (r. 170-93/786-809) and al-Maʾmun (r. 198-201/813-17), and it seems that he was able to secure support from older Kharijite groups which had persisted in Kerman since Umayyad times (see Sadighi, pp. 54-56; Tāriḵ-e Sistān, pp. 162-69; tr., pp. 128-35). There were, in fact, Kharijites in Kerman for at least a century and a half after Ḥamza’s time; Moqddasi (p. 469) mentions that the Kharijites of Bam had a separate congregational mosque of their own, where they kept the community’s treasury. In the mid-3rd/9th century, Kerman and Fars were incorporated into the vast military empire assembled by the Saffarid Yaʿqub b. Layṯ, who in 255/869 expanded westwards from the Sistan heartland into Kerman and Fars. These became his base for further expansion into Ahvaz and Iraq, and were retained by the Saffarids or their commanders until the time of the fifth Saffarid amir, Moḥammad b. ʿAli b. Layṯ (298/910-11; Tāriḵ-e Sistān, pp. 213-14, tr. pp. 169-70; see Bosworth, 1994, pp. 135, 142 ff.). The local historian of Kerman, Afżal-al-Din Kermāni (1932, pp. 65-66), records that Yaʿqub quelled a revolt of the people of Jiroft, who had been aided by the Kufečs of the Jabal Bārez. It may have been as a result of Saffarid operations against these Kufečs that this mountain region, long a stronghold of Zoroastrianism, first became Islamized (Bosworth, 1976, p. 12).

Kerman was restored only briefly to caliphate control, for in 320/932 it fell substantially under the authority of a local commander of the Samanids, Moḥammad b. Elyās (see Ā-e ELYĀ). At the outset there was a confused period of fighting between him, the Buyid amir Moʿezz-aI-Dawla, who was sent from Fars by his brother, the later ʿEmād-al-Dowla (q.v.), and the Samanid general Moḥammad b. Simjur, who was attempting to re-assert Samanid suzerainty; he eventually triumphed and reigned for some thirty years. From his capital Bardasir/Govāšir (the modern Kerman city, henceforth the capital of the province), Moḥammad b. Elyās ruled in effect as an independent ruler, securing confirmation of his authority directly from the ʿAbbasid caliph, whilst giving a nominal allegiance to the Samanids. He did much charitable building work within the province, but seems to have derived much of his finances from depredations on caravans crossing Kerman, in a tacit alliance with the predatory mountain peoples of the province, the Kufečis or Qofṣ and Baluch (see below). Afżal-al-Din Kermāni (1932, pp. 66-67) flatly describes Moḥammad b. Elyās as a plundering ʿayyār. Only under his weaker, squabbling sons did this petty amirate collapse (see in general, Bosworth, 1971). The forceful Buyid amir, ʿAżod-al-Dawla, invaded Kerman in 357/968 and established there a dominion that endured for eighty years, normally as part of the southern Buyid amirate based on Fars and extending as far as Oman, until the advent of the Saljuqs. ʿAżod-al-Dawla followed the example of Yaʿqub b. Layṯ a century before him, launching two attacks on the Kufečs and Baluch in 360-61/970-72. He slaughtered many of them, deported the Baluch from the mountains and settled peasants and cultivators in their place; he also penetrated to the Persian Gulf coast at Tiz and Makrān and established Islam there (Ebn al-Aṯir, VIII, pp. 609, 613-14; Bosworth, 1976, pp. 15-16).

Kerman's prosperity in both the Buyid and succeeding Saljuq periods stemmed from its position across trade routes bringing, among other things, the produce of the Indian Ocean shore-lands into the Persian lands and beyond. According to Ebn al-Balḵi (p. 172), in ʿAżod-al-Dawla’s time the tax revenue of Fars, Kerman, and Oman amounted to 3,346,000 dinars, to which Kerman province, the port of Tiz on the Persian Makrān coast and the coastal districts of Fars contributed 750,000 dinars. Tiz was in fact especially important as a port of entry, and Afżal-al-Din Kermāni (1932, pp. 70-71) describes how the rulers of Kerman derived much revenue from port dues and the taxes on merchants, who came from as far afield as East Africa and India.

Under ʿAżod-al-Dowla’s disunited and contending successors in Fars, Buyid control over Kerman became relaxed. Ebn al-Aṯir (IX, pp. 82-84) records that in 382-84/992-94 the last Saffarid amir in Sistan, Ḵalaf b. Aḥmad, attempted without success to invade Kerman, but this report may be a confusion with later events (see Bosworth, 1994, pp. 319-21). The Ghaznavids succeeded to the Saffarid heritage in Sistan, and, in 407/1016-17, Sultan Maḥmud was tempted by the continued weakness of Buyid power in Kerman, involving a dispute between the Amir Solṭān-al-Dawla in Fars and his brother Qawām-al-Dawla, governor of Kerman, to intervene there, but failed to achieve anything (ʿOtbi, tr., pp. 360-62; Nāẓim, pp. 192-93; Bosworth, 1975, p. 176). Maḥmud’s son, Sultan Masʿud, was equally unsuccessful with his ambitions in Kerman. In 424/1033 a Ghaznavid force conquered it from Solṭān-al-Dawla’s son ʿEmād-al-Din Abu Kālijār, but the Ghaznavids’ financial exactions made the populace long for return of the Buyids, and in the next year an army under Abu Kālijār’s vizier, Bahrām b. Māfenna, ignominiously expelled to Khorasan the Ghaznavid garrison left in Kerman (Bosworth, 1975, p. 189).

The triumph of the Saljuqs and their Turkmens over the Ghaznavids at Dandānqān in 431/1040 gave the Saljuqs control of Khorasan, and bands of Turkmens speedily extended into Sistan and across the Great Desert into Kerman. The capital Bardasir was in 434/1042-43 attacked by either the Saljuq chief Ebrāhim Ināl or by Qara Arslān Qāvord b. Čaḡrï Beg Dāwud, but was successfully defended by Abu Kalijār’s vizier Mohaḏḏeb-al-Dawla. However, shortly before the Buyid amir’s death in 440/1048-49, Kerman passed definitively into Qāvord’s hands. There thus began some 140 years of Saljuq rule in Kerman, which became a virtually independent principality within the Great Saljuq empire and which only came to an end with the decline of the Great Saljuqs and the general rise to power in the eastern Persian lands of independent bands of Oghuz tribesmen. The history of these years is recorded in a local history of the province, the Tāriḵ-e Saljuqiān-e Kermān written in the opening years of the 11th/17th century by Moḥammad b. Ebrāhim. Although separated from the events in question by five or six centuries, he used important earlier sources, including Afżal-al-Din Kermāni’s Eqd al-ʿolā, written for the Oghuz amir Malek Dinār (for him, see below) at the end of the period of Saljuq rule in Kerman, and others like this same author’s Badāyeʿ al-azmān fi waqāyeʿ Kermān, once considered lost but now partially reconstructed (see Houtsma, pp. 365-66; Storey, I, pp. 357-58; Storey-Bregel, II, pp. 1055-60); fragments quoted by later authors were collected and published in a volume by Mahdi Bayāni.

Qāvord’s just rule in Kerman is praised by Moḥammad b. Ebrāhim. He allotted pasture grounds within the steppes to the Turkmens as their eqtāʿ, but kept them off the agricultural lands. He established a high standard of minting for his coins, erected lofty markers along 140 farsaḵs of the road in the Bam-Fahraj desert region to guide travelers, and constructed caravansaries and cisterns along roads. He led punitive expeditions against the troublesome Kufečs within Kerman and against the Šabānkāraʾi Kurds in Fars, and also launched an attack across the Arabian Sea to Oman and conquered it from the local Kharijites, so that it remained an outpost of Saljuq power for nearly a century (Moḥammad b. Ebrāhim, pp. 4-12; Waziri, 1985, I, pp. 346-47; Bosworth, 1968, pp. 58-59). As a senior member of the Saljuq family, Qāvord had, however, ambitions for the Great Saljuq throne and was unable to accept the succession of his nephew Malekšāh in 465/1073. He rebelled, having considerable support among the Turkish commanders, who strongly adhered to the old Turkish idea of succession by seniority, but he was defeated in battle and killed in captivity (Mohammad b. Ebrahim, pp. 12-13; Rāvandi, pp. 126-27; Ebn al-Aṯir, X, pp. 78-79; Bosworth, 1968, pp. 88-89). The new sultan eventually restored Kerman to Qāvord’s four sons, the last of whom, Turānšāh (r. 477-90/1085-97), built a government house, dār al-emāra, in the suburb of Bardasir and secured the gratitude of the populace by removing the turbulent Turkish troops from the city to quarters outside of it, before dying in 490/1097. His good reputation was such that his tomb later became a place of pilgrimage (Moḥammad b. Ebrāhim, pp. 20-21; Afżal-al-Din Kermāni, 1932, p. 73; Bosworth, 1964, pp. 89-90).

Among notable events during the rule of the Saljuq amirs of Kerman was an alleged attempt by the Ismaʿilis to secure a foothold in the province during the reign of Irānšāh b. Turānšāh (r. 490 to 494 or 495/1097-1101), which does not however seem to have had any lasting result. Several of the amirs were patrons of learning and literature. Moḥammad b. Arslānšāh (r. 537-51/1142-56), who himself had a special interest in astronomy, provided bursaries for theologians and religious lawyers who could memorize the great collections of legal texts, and constructed a library for the Turānšāh congregational mosque in the capital Bardasir, which had 5,000 books on all the sciences (Moḥammad b. Ebrāhim, pp. 29, 32-33; Waziri, 1985, I, pp. 360-62, 367-69). Kerman flourished greatly under the Saljuqs from its commercial role across the transit trade routes, and Moḥammad b. Ebrāhim mentions (p. 49) colonies of Rumi (Greek) and Indian merchants installed in a trading suburb, Qamādin, just outside Jiroft, with many warehouses there.

Eventually Saljuq rule in Kerman was seriously weakened by internecine strife within the ruling family when four sons of Ṭoḡrïlšāh b. Moḥammad (r. 551-65/1156-70) started vying for power following the death of their father. Two of them, Bahrāmšāh and Arslānšāh, with their centers of power in Jiroft and Bardasir, respectively, at one point in effect partitioned the sultanate. The various contenders for power invited in outsiders like the Salghurid Atabegs of Fars (see ATĀBAKĀN-E FĀRS), the Great Saljuq Sultan Arslān b. Ṭoḡrïl, and the Oghuz ruler in Khorasan, Malek Moʾayyed, and the ensuing warfare reduced the Kerman population to misery and famine. The coup de grâce was given to Saljuq power in Kerman by a band of 5,000 Oghuz warriors and their dependants who, having been driven out of the Saraḵs region by the Khwarazmian Solṭānšāh b. Arslān, early in the reign of Turānšāh II (572-ca. 579/1177-ca. 1183) invaded Kerman from Khorasan. Their depredations, and the ravages of their herds, caused chaos and economic dislocation in Kerman; the trading suburb of Bardasir, once an international resort for merchants and caravans, was destroyed, food supplies were interrupted, and famine followed. Kerman now became a base for Oghuz raids as far as Fars, Isfahan, and Sistan. The last Saljuq of Kerman, Moḥammadšāh, eventually gave up the unequal struggle against the Oghuz and retired to western Persia and then to the service of the Ghurids in Khorasan around 584/1188, abandoning Kerman to the Oghuz leader Malek Dinār (Moḥammad b. Ebrāhim, pp. 106-36; Waziri, 1985, I, pp. 396-401; Bosworth, 1968, pp. 173-74).

The irruption of these Oghuz initially caused much economic and social distress in Kerman, but Malek Dinār (r. 582-91/1186-95) gradually restored order there, earning much praise from the local historian for his wisdom and statesmanship and his restoration of prosperity to the province. Once firmly in power, he extended his authority southwards to the Arabian Sea coast and Makrān, making the amirs of Hormuz and of the island of Kiš/Qays his tributaries (Moḥammad b. Ebrāhim, pp. 138-64). After his death, however, further confusion ensued in Kerman. In 597/1200 amirs of the Šabānkāra of Fars briefly seized power in Bardasir, followed by interventions by the Atabeg of Fars Saʿd b. Zangi in 600/1203 and by amirs of the Ḵᵛārazmšāhs (Moḥammad b. Ebrāhim, pp. 173-89; Waziri, 1985, I, pp. 417 ff.). Of these last, Moʾayyed-al-Molk seized power in 610/1213 at Jiroft, Bam, and Bardasir in the name of ʿAlāʾ-al-Din Moḥammad Ḵᵛāramšāh b. Tekiš (see Bosworth, 1968, pp. 174-75). Finally, in 619/1222, Amir Barāq Ḥājeb, who had originally been in the service of the Qara Khitay and had later, after conversion to Islam, become Atabeg to the shah’s son Ḡāṯ-al-Din Piršāh, established himself in Kerman. He received confirmation of his position from Sultan Jalāl-al-Din Ḵᵛārazmšāh Mengübirni, and founded the line of Qutlughkhanids (q.v.) which endured, under Mongol suzerainty, for almost a century till the opening years of the 8th/14th,century (Spuler, pp. 31-35, 152-54; Ḵorandezi Nasavi, tr., pp. 40, 126-27).



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Aḥmad-ʿAli Khan Waziri, Joḡrāfiā-ye mamlakat-e Kermān, ed. Moḥammad-Ebrāhim Bāstāni Pārizi, in FIZ 14, 1966–67, pp. 5-286.

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KERMAN vi. History from Mongol conquest to Safavids

See Supplement. See also MOZAFFARIDS.

KERMAN vii. In the Safavid Period

For the history of the town and region of Kerman during the Safavid period we have an unusual array of source material. Since Kerman was situated away from the route that connected Bandar ʿAbbās with Isfahan via Shiraz, few European travelers visited the town. We therefore lack the vivid eyewitness descriptions that exist for many other regions and urban centers. On the other hand, Kerman is one of the few places in Iran that had long generated local Persian-language chronicles, and the 17th century is no exception (Bāstāni Pārizi, 1990, introd., pp. 39-40). Two that have come to light, the Tāriḵ-e Ṣafawiya-ye Kermān and the Ṣaḥifat al-eršād, are exceedingly rich in political information about the last half century of Safavid rule. Waziri Kermāni’s two works, the Tāriḵ-e Kermān and the Joḡrāfiā-ye Kermān, though written much later, complement these sources with detailed, reliable information about the city and its administrators in the Safavid period. From the 1660s onward, Kerman was also the residence of agents of the Dutch and English East India Companies (VOC and EIC, respectively), who arranged the sale and distribution of the region’s famous goat’s wool. Their lengthy reports offer detailed and often day-to-day information about events in town and are especially informative about the growing pressure put on the region by Baluchi and Afghan tribesmen.

Kerman was located on a branch of the overland route to India, though not the main one, which ran from Isfahan to Qandahar via Ṭabas. In the mid-17th century, passing caravans were taxed at a rate of 2 percent (Mašizi, p. 222). The region was connected to the Persian Gulf coast via Bardsir (Mašiz) and Sirjān, but it is not clear how heavily traveled this route was. Kerman in Safavid times was a commercial and manufacturing center, mostly known for the manufacture of fine goat’s hair fleece (), the best of which was produced in the surrounding area, as well as for the small quantities of regionally produced silk. Goat’s wool went into the manufacture of belts and shawls, as well as the fine felts that occasionally were commissioned by the court in Isfahan (OIOC, G/36/87, 16 March 1674, fol. 133; E/3/36/4136, 22 Nov. 1675; NA, VOC 1798, 1 Aug. 1710, fol. 6). Kerman was also known for its (limited) carpet production and its faience and chinaware, which scholars currently are subjecting to petrographic analysis (Crowe; Mason). Du Mans insisted that it was difficult to distinguish Kerman pottery from Chinese specimens (Richard, II, pp. 153, 345). Yet since the quality was deemed inferior to Chinese wares, ceramics from Kerman proved uncompetitive in the long run. The Dutch began to export small quantities of these ceramics to Batavia in the East Indies in 1652 but gave up on them in the early 1680s (Volker, pp. 113-16).


Kerman passed from Aq Qoyunlu to Safavid control in 908/​1502. In the early part of Shah Esmāʿil’s reign (r. 1501-24), the region was administered by the Ostājlu tribe, beginning with Moḥammad Khan Ostājlu. Moḥammad Khan was killed in the battle of Čālderān in 1514 and was succeeded by Aḥmad-Solṭān Ṣufi Oḡlān Ostājlu (Waziri Kermāni, 1985, II, pp. 598-99). Under Shah Ṭahmāsb (r. 1524-76), Ostājlu lost control over the region, and Kerman fell to a succession of officials affiliated with the Afšār tribe, who essentially turned all of Kerman into their toyul (see EQṬAʿ). A large contingent of Afšār tribesmen led by Bayrām (Bahrām) Beg had settled in the area as early as 916/​1510. This original migration took place in connection with Uzbeg raids into the region (ʿAbdi Beg Širāzi, pp. 49, 87; Afuštaʾi Naṭanzi, pp. 325-26; Waziri Kermāni, 1985, II, pp. 597-98; Moḥammad-Moʾmen Kermāni, introd., pp. 26-27). The first Afšār governor of Kerman, Šāhqoli-Solṭān, was appointed either in 933/​1526-27, or in 943/​1536-37 (ʿAbdi Beg Širāzi, p. 87; Waziri Kermāni, 1985, II, p. 600). Šāhqoli-Solṭān participated in the expedition against ʿObayd-Allāh Khan Uzbek. Yaʿqub Beg Afšār, who ruled Kerman in the later reign of Shah Ṭahmāsb, is associated with a punitive expedition against the warm zones (garmsirāt) of Jarun in 977/​1569 designed to end the oppression that the local population were suffering from the rulers of Hormuz (Rumlu, pp. 571-72; Waliqoli Šāmlu, p. 89; Matthee, 2013). Shah Ṭahmāsb died in 984/​1576 and his successor, Shah Esmāʿil II (r. 1576-78), appointed Maḥmud-Solṭān Afšār governor of Kerman, which he ruled until 986/​1578-79, when he was succeeded by Wali Khan Afšār (Waziri Kermāni, 1985, II, pp. 602-3).

Kerman is said to have prospered under Wali Khan’s rule and that of his son, Bektāš (Beygtāš) Khan, who took over in 997/​1589, the second year of the reign of Shah ʿAbbās I (r. 996-1038/​1588-1629), when his father was appointed the head of tribal guards (qurči-bāši; Eskandar Beg, I, p. 402, tr., II, p. 579; Waziri Kermāni, 1985, II, pp. 605-9). The father had taken advantage of the weakness of the central government under Shah Moḥammad Ḵodābanda (r. 985-96/1578-88) to establish his independence in Kerman, and the son continued this quest, bringing Yazd under his rule as well. Bektāš Khan amassed fabulous wealth in the process and grew arrogant to the point of not showing up at the court to offer submission and fealty to the shah (Afuštaʾi Naṭanzi, pp. 326-27; Matthee, 2013, pp. 191 ff.). His hubris, further expressed in his desire to extend his rule to Fārs, led to his downfall. In the fall of 998/​1589, Shah ʿAbbās encouraged Yaʿqub Khan, the Ḏu’l-Qadr ruler of Shiraz, to organize an expedition against Bektāš Khan. The latter was defeated and killed in the ensuing confrontation. His nephew Yusof Khan, who had collaborated with Yaʿqub Khan, succeeded him as governor of Kerman (Jonābādi, p. 712; Jalāl-al-Din Monajjem, pp. 81-84; Afuštaʾi Naṭanzi, pp. 327-31). Having used Yaʿqub Khan to bring down Bektāš Khan, Shah ʿAbbās next decided to rid himself of Yaʿqub Khan as well (Matthee, 2013, pp. 194-96). Fārs and Kerman were brought under Safavid control; Kerman was divided, half of it went to Wali Khan, the other half to Esmāʿil Khan (Jalāl-al-Din Monajjem, p. 105). The Afšār took a beating in the process. They were dislodged from Kerman and Yazd and one of their branches, the Aršāh, was uprooted from Isfahan (Jonābādi, pp. 712-13). Kerman, meanwhile, was offered to Ganj-ʿAli Khan, a Kurd, and one of Shah ʿAbbas’s favorites.


Ganj-ʿAli Khan ruled Kerman from 1005/​1596 until 1034/​1624. Loyal to the shah, he and his Kurdish troops participated in numerous royal campaigns, including an expedition against the Uzbeks in 1007/​1598 and the march against the Ottomans that led to the capture of Erevan and Naḵjavān in 1013/​1604-5 (Eskandar Beg, I, p. 564 ff., II, pp. 843 ff., tr., pp. 748 ff., II, pp. 843 ff.; Jonābādi, p. 303). He also conquered the fortress of Ben Fahl in Makran (Wāleh Eṣfahāni, p. 162; Eskandar Beg, II, p. 852, tr., II, p. 1062). At the height of his power, Ganj-ʿAli Khan’s territory stretched from Fars to the borders of Qandahar and included Baluchistan, Qāyen, and Sistan (Bāstāni Pārizi, 1989, p. 40). Kerman is said to have flourished and clearly reached its heyday under Ganj-ʿAli Khan, who is best known for his building activities. He thus oversaw the construction of the central maydān, a square of 50 x 100 m modeled after the royal square of Isfahan. He also had mosques, caravanserais and gardens built, as well as a bathhouse that is named after him. A number of pious foundations (awqāf) are also listed under his name (Bāstāni Pārizi, 1989, pp. 56-82; Waziri Kermāni, 1985, II, pp. 618-22). An incident involving the Zoroastrian community of Kerman reveals something about their conditions at the time. The local clergy agitated against them, and Ganj-ʿAli Khan himself was accused of expropriating and demolishing their homes to make room for his building projects. Complaints about this prompted Shah ʿAbbās to conduct an investigation and ultimately to travel to Kerman incognito himself in 1015/​1606, where he learned that Ganj-ʿAli Khan was not the culprit. Upon returning to Isfahan, the shah issued an edict ordering protection for the Zoroastrians, an occasion that the local community came to name “Ḵayrāt-e Šāh ʿAbbās” (Falsafi, II, pp. 378-80; Bāstāni Pārizi, 1989, pp. 293-301).

In 1031/​1622, Shah ʿAbbās ordered Ganj-ʿAli Khan to move against Qandahar. Upon the city’s conquest, he was appointed its governor. Kerman at that point was offered to Ṭahmāsbqoli Khan (Waziri Kermāni, 1985, II, pp. 626-28). Ganj-ʿAli Khan died in 1033/​1623 while in Qandahar, and was succeeded by his son ʿAli-Mardān Khan (Eskandar Beg, II, p. 1041, tr., II, pp. 1261-62). Upon Ṭahmāsbqoli Khan’s death in 1035/​1626, Kerman was given to Amir Khan, the son of Rostam-Solṭān Suklen Ḏu’l-Qadr, who kept the post until Shah ʿAbbās’s death in 1629 (Eskandar Beg, II, p. 1058, tr., II, pp. 1281-82; Waziri Kermāni, 1985, II, 633). Subsequent governors include Jāni Beg Khan Bigdeli Šāmlu, who became governor at the same time that he was appointed qurči-bāši in 1637, a combination that remained customary until the end of Safavid rule. His rule, which lasted until his death by execution in 1645, is said to have been good for Kerman. Given his important function at the court, he was mostly an absentee governor, though, letting himself be represented by his brother Oloḡ Khan (Waziri Kermāni, 1985, II, pp. 635-37, 642). With Jāni Beg’s execution, all his landed possessions in Kerman province fell to the crown. The governorship went to the new qurči-bāši, Mortażāqoli Khan Begdeli Šāmlu (Mašizi, p. 211; NA, VOC 1152, Daghregister Bastincq, fol. 248; Waziri Kermāni, 1985, II, p. 638).

In this period Kerman began to show signs of political mismanagement leading to social unrest and, eventually, economic decline. Bāstāni Pārizi, who traces these problems all the way to the period following the rule of Bektāš Khan and the shah’s confiscation of his property and that of his relatives, claims that, from the early reign of Shah ʿAbbās II (r. 1052-77/1642-66), Isfahan no longer sent competent khans to Kerman. He further mentions the financial stress of the state and its need for revenue to finance the war over Qandahar, leading to growing exactions on Kerman in the form of increased taxes on items such as oil and cereals, with the revenue going to the war. He specifically points out that all of the revenue of the copper and silver deposits in Kerman province were siphoned off by Isfahan. He also notes that after the region was converted to crown domain, Kerman’s governors possessed fewer financial and judicial powers than their predecessors. What is more, he attributes the problems to an influx of alien elements in the form of Kurdish officials lacking knowledge about local affairs and bringing their Sunni convictions to a largely Shiʿite environment. He points to an increase in clerical influence, leading to increased meddling in local affairs by religious officials such as the šayḵ-al-Eslām, and growing intolerance vis-à-vis minorities, especially the Zoroastrians. He finally refers to the growing pressure coming from the east in the form of Baluchi and Afghan tribesmen staging raids into Kerman province with growing frequency (Mašizi, introd., pp. 20 ff.).

These trends are unmistakable in the long term, although the notion that all governors after Ganj-ʿAli Khan were of second caliber and out for personal gain is belied by a governor like ʿAbbāsqoli Khan Qājār, who sought to enhance the city’s well-being rather than to line his pockets. Appointed in 1063/​1653, this magistrate built and managed underground irrigation canals (qanāt, kāriz) and constructed caravanserais. During his tenure, many people flocked to the town of Kerman and numerous houses were built, so that long after his death he was remembered for his benevolent rule (Mašizi, pp. 224-25, 234, 276-77, 332-33). Another exception is Ṣafiqoli Beg, the vizier who in 1076/​1666 took the side of the people and refused to obey Isfahan’s demand for provisioning food supplies (soyursāt; Mašizi, pp. 91-92).

Unmitigated decline is gainsaid by other developments as well. One is that several caravanserais were constructed in Kerman in the mid-17th century (Mašizi, p. 248). Another is that Kerman pottery saw an increase in mass production as of about 1660, fulfilling growing local demand (Golombek, pp. 253-54). A third is that Kerman became a focus of outside commercial attention in the same period. The VOC and EIC, looking to expand their business in Iran, in the mid-17th century entered the trade in Kerman goat’s hair fleece (kork), which was produced in the region of Rāyen and locally used for the manufacture of precious shawls. In 1066/​1656, a Dutch private merchant sought to invest the profit he had made selling cloth to buy “wool from Kerman” (NA, VOC 1217, 27 Aug. 1656, fol. 416). A year or two later, the VOC decided to enter the kork trade and sent an assistant merchant to Kerman. The English joined the Dutch in their involvement in the trade in about 1660. Locally, the VOC and EIC were usually represented by Armenian brokers. Purchasing and handling kork presented the Europeans with many problems involving price and quality; yet, with intervals, they stayed on doing business in Kerman long after the end of Safavid rule (for details, see Matthee, 1993).

Kerman’s worsening conditions, meanwhile, are primarily linked to the region’s conversion to ḵāṣṣa land in 1068-69/1659 (Röhrborn, pp. 37, 122). This change appears related to the need to marshal resources for a pending conflict over Qandahar, for the governor appointed in this year, Masʿud Ṣafiqoli Beg, was sent to Kerman with the task of arranging provision of food supplies (soyursāt), and there are also mentions of Zoroastrians complaining about taxes imposed on them (Mašizi, pp. 230-31, 251-52, 279-80). Having confiscated the goods and properties of governors including Ganj-ʿAli Khan, ʿAli-Mardān Khan, and Jāni Beg, the central state took control in Kerman while it lacked expert knowledge about local conditions, and especially about the fragile underground irrigation-canal system. The absence of responsible landowners made the agricultural yield go down. Ultimately, all this disturbed the fragile equilibrium of an environment that was inherently precarious, and in which frequent periods of drought, such as those of 1652, 1666, and 1677-78, could only be overcome with the careful management of resources (Mašizi, introd., p. 68).

All this became even more pronounced with the appointment of the Kurdish Shaikh ʿAli Khan as grand vizier in 1079/​1669. His centralizing policies and his vigorous efforts to fill the empty royal treasury had serious repercussions for Kerman. As of 1082/​1671, the position of governor (ḥākem) was downgraded to that of vizier, presumably to diminish the autonomous tendencies of the region. Shaikh ʿAli Khan began to interfere in not just the choice of the city’s vizier, but in the appointment of other local functionaries as well, from the kalāntar (community leader) to the dāruḡa (governor, police chief) and the mostawfi (financial administrator). Under his vizierate Kerman also became flooded with Kurdish officials, men who were obviously unfamiliar with the city and its ways. In 1086/​1675 Khan Aḥmad Beg, the son of Kalb-ʿAli Khan, beglerbeg of Kordestān-e Ardalān, was appointed dāruḡa of Kerman. The following year the post went to Manṣur Beg, the son of Manučehr (Mašizi, pp. 433, 442). He founded Šaftābād and settled most of the borough with his own kin. Other settlements created by him are Fatḥābād, Mehrabāni, and Solaymāna. Shaikh ʿAli Khan also put increased fiscal pressure on the city, confiscating land and goods and imposing taxes. In 1100/​1689, for instance, the crippling sum of approximately 50,000 tomans was imposed on the inhabitants (Mašizi, pp. 98, 545).

The Kurds who came to dominate Kerman were not only unfamiliar with the area’s conditions, including its fragile agricultural system, but also introduced their own ethnic identity and, what is more, brought their Sunni faith to a region that was overwhelmingly Shiʿite. All this caused conflict between the various constituent groups, between Kurds and ethnic Kermanis, between Shiʿites and Sunnis, and between Muslims and Christians (Mašizi, introd., pp. 51-52). Rising tensions were exacerbated by a deteriorating economy. In 1677, for instance, when a drought brought misery to the region, a conflict pitted Dutch wool buyers against local weavers and city officials, over the steep rise in prices for scarce wool (Matthee, 1993, p. 360). Under the governorship of Mirzā Ḥātem Beg, urban unrest broke out, worsening to the point where in 1684 people organized their own security guards in the face of the thieves and robbers who roamed freely around the city (Mašizi, pp. 515, 570).

The local Zoroastrian community suffered as well in this period. Their number was estimated at 10,000 by Tavernier, one of the few European travelers who visited Kerman, spending three months in the city in 1654 (Tavernier, I, p. 431). Mašizi recounts how, in 1084/​1673, Shaikh ʿAli Khan had excessive financial pressure put on them, appointing a convert as collector of arrears in poll-tax (jezya), as part of an overall attempt to collect back taxes. When their certificate showing that they had already paid was rejected as fake and when Ḥātem Beg, the city official, sided with the tax official, many Zoroastrians fled the city and some ended up living in caves (Mašizi, pp. 78, 577-78). At an unspecified point during Shah Solaymān’s reign (r. 1077-1105/​1666-94), the ulema of Kerman made the authorities order the local Zoroastrians to leave the center of the city so as not to get mixed up with Muslim inhabitants. The Zoroastrians moved to a suburb north of the city center near the Darvāza-ye Gabri, building new homes as well as a fire temple; they were still residing there in the early 20th century (Waziri Kermāni, 1974, p. 28; Sykes, p. 193).

This period also saw the eruption of conflicts involving corruption and greed between local authorities, including religious officials such as the šayḵ-al-Eslām, the second most important official after the vizier, and a local magistrate with landholdings in Bam. Mirzā Moẓaffar-al-Din Ḥosayn, who had inherited his post as šayḵ-al-Eslām from his father, ʿAbd-al-ʿAli Dāwud, was a venal type who enriched himself at the expense of the common people. The habitual conflict between the šayḵ-al-Eslām and city officials such as the vizier and the kalāntar only made matters worse. Thus in 1086/​1676, the šayḵ-al-Eslām became embroiled in a conflict with the vizier, Ḥātem Beg, leading to a slander campaign against the latter. Moẓaffar-al-Din also schemed against the Ṣadr-al-Mamālek, who was married to an aunt of Shah Solaymān, associating him with a portrait in which the shah was depicted as a donkey. He was found out and exiled to Shiraz, but he managed to stage a comeback with the assistance of Shaikh ʿAli Khan, as a result of which Kerman’s vizier was put under arrest and his goods confiscated, while the šayḵ-al-Eslām was rehabilitated (Mašizi, pp. 40-41, 355-57).

The single most important factor contributing to growing turmoil and the creeping impoverishment of the region was Kerman’s position as the last major urban center on Iran’s eastern border, on the road to the contested city of Qandahar. Kerman served as a springboard for repeated Safavid campaigns against the Mughals or against the Baluchis of the outlying regions of Kich-Makrān. Each time that military preparations were made for war against the Mughals or the tribesmen, the region was summoned to provision troops and supply resources in the form of cereals, lead, and gun powder (Mašizi, pp. 230-31; Manucci, I, p. 38; Speelman, p. 249).

In the final years of Shah Solaymān’s reign, the long-term repercussions of these developments became even more apparent. Roads became unsafe. Not just moving caravans but also villages and oases became the object of plunder by highway robbers and roaming bands of Baluchi tribesmen (Mašizi, pp. 86-87, 568, 583). In 1689 the region experienced its first major Baluchi attack, targeting the town of Ḵabiṣ, east of Kerman (Mašizi, pp. 98, 546). A year later the Afghans staged their first raids into the area, robbing a caravan coming from Isfahan (Mašizi, p. 583). In October 1691, the Baluchis first attacked Kuhbanān and then Zarand. More than 200 people were killed in various skirmishes. In 1692 Pordel Khan, a Baluchi chief, assaulted Rudbār in the southern part of the province and threatened to move and lay siege to Kerman city itself. Only negotiations initiated by the kalāntar of Rāyen prevented this from happening (Mašizi, pp. 102-3, 617). This nomadic pressure may have been caused, or at least was exacerbated, by a prolonged period of drought driving the tribesmen into settled territory. The weakening of regional alliances did not help either. Thus the oppressive behavior of Kerman’s dāruḡa, Manṣur Beg, alienated the rulers of Bam, which was vital for the defense of the eastern hinterland, and made it harder to maintain stability in Baluchistan (Mašizi, pp. 94-95, 460-61).

The government in Isfahan is said to have given little serious attention to these growing threats. After Shaikh ʿAli Khan’s death in Moḥarram 1101/October 1686, it took one and a half years before Mirzā Ṭāher Qazvini was appointed as the new grand vizier. His accession was soon followed by an order to investigate the accounting of Kerman. Yet the appointment of a new provincial governor, too, was delayed by the power vacuum that followed the death of Shaikh ʿAli Khan. Šāhverdi Khan’s name was one of five suggested at the court as candidates for the position, but the administrative paralysis prevailing in Isfahan combined with a desire to save money prevented a quick appointment. The resulting lack of authority caused a loss of administrative order and growing unrest in the city (Mašizi, p. 563). Matters turned so dire that the officials of the vizier no longer dared to go to the bazaar and the city’s side alleys (Mašizi, p. 636). The shah, apprised about the conditions, thereupon consulted with Mirzā Ṭāher, so that finally, after four years of pleading and bribery, the appointment of Šāhverdi Khan as khan of Kerman was approved in Ramāżān 1104/May 1693 (Mašizi, pp. 537-38).

Like several of his predecessors, Šāhverdi Khan was charged with the task of ending Baluchi marauding. To that effect, he organized various armed expeditions to Ḵabiṣ, Rāvar and Kuhbanān, areas where the Baluchis were concentrated (Naṣiri, pp. 68-69, 72-74; Matthee, 1993, p. 358). Yet the central government, prevented from acting effectively for lack of money as well as hampered by prevailing court factionalism, made no concerted effort to counter the tribesmen. Meanwhile, Ḥātem Beg, the vizier of Kerman, hushed up his lame response to the attack of 1689, blamed the vizier of Sistan for the events (Mašizi, 99, 557-58). They wrote a letter falsely claiming that Pordel Khan and his son had written a letter stating that if the Safavid government were to confirm their positions, they would take on the security of the area (Mašizi, pp. 101, 607). The vizier was replaced with Moḥammad-ʿAli Khan.

Some five years into the reign of Shah Solṭān-Ḥosayn (r. 1694-1722), faced with continuing Baluchi and Afghan raiding, Isfahan mounted a more forceful military response. In 1111/​1699 the shah appointed Gorgin Khan, the former viceroy (wāli) of the Georgian region of Kartli, as commander-in-chief (sepahsālār). He was renamed Šāhnavāz Khan and given control over Kerman as well as a huge area stretching east all the way to Kabul, and charged with the task of putting an end to the Baluchi incursions that now ravaged the country as far as Yazd (Naṣiri, p. 277; Brosset, II/2, p. 16; Krusinski, I, pp. 151-52). Gorgin Khan first dispatched his brother Levan (Leon, Kayvān Mirzā), renamed Šāhqoli Khan, with a contingent of troops to the region in November 1699, before himself moving to Kerman in 1702. Meanwhile, the city’s defensive facilities had been upgraded; in 1112/​1700-1701 a new square was constructed to accommodate fresh troops numbering 30,000 soldiers (Moḥammad-Moʾmen, pp. 337, 346-47). With his Georgian troops, Gorgin Khan routed the numerically stronger Baluchis in several confrontations (Brosset, II/2, pp. 16-20; Lockhart, p. 46). In Qandahar, his rule was harsh to the point of antagonizing the Afghan population and turning Mir Ways, their leader, into a mortal enemy, but in Kerman his administration is said to have ushered in a brief period of prosperity (Moḥammad-Moʾmen, pp. 351-54). This proved to be the lull before the storm, though.

Gorgin Khan was killed fighting Mir Ways in 1709. A short while later the shah sent Gorgin’s nephew, Kayḵosrow, former dāruḡa of Isfahan and just installed as divānbegi, against the Afghans, appointing him sepahsālār and governor of Kerman. He, too, suffered defeat, having received a risible 7,000 tomans for an army totaling 3,000 soldiers (NA, VOC 1798, 4 Sept. 1709, fols. 218-19; Hedāyat, pp. 494-95). Tadeusz Krusinski attributes the failure of this expedition in part to the obstructionism of the anti-Georgian faction at court. Their scheming caused the campaign to be poorly coordinated. They also made sure that some of the funds earmarked for the war effort were misappropriated or that payment was delayed (Krusinski, I, pp. 100-101, 190-92, 194). The next five years saw the succession of governors, all charged with the task of fighting the Baluchis who continued to plunder towns and villages in the area between Kerman and Yazd. Yet the resources allocated proved insufficient. Yaʿqub Khan, for instance, who succeeded Ṣafiqoli Khan, in early 1714 left Kerman accompanied by no more than 300 men (NA, VOC 1856, 27 Feb. 1714, fol. 672). In late 1714, Kalb-ʿAli Khan Qājār, too, is said to have defeated the Baluchis, killing many of them (NA, VOC 1870, 6 Feb. 1715, fol. 579).


In early 1716 Kerman was tranquil, judging by a contemporary account that speaks of stability, an abundance of victuals, and their reasonable prices (Moḥammad-Moʾmen, pp. 86-87). Yet the same year saw the beginning of problems that would lead to the demise of Safavid rule. A severe drought killed many goats, and excessive food prices soon created a famine. Popular unrest soon broke out. The governor proved unable to pay his troops, prompting many soldiers to sell their weapons (Moḥammad-Moʾmen, p. 88). The same period saw the return of the Afšār, who had never left the region, having been relegated to an area around Zarand and Rāvar for defensive purposes. The Safavids, woefully short on manpower, came to rely heavily on Afšār troops in their confrontation with the Baluchis and the Afghans, and their military leaders, Esmāʿil Khan, his son Šāhroḵ Khan, and his brother-in-law ʿAbd-al-Rašid Khan, who figure prominently in the Ṣaḥifat al-eršād of Moḥammad-Moʾmen. One Afšār chieftain, Mortażāqoli Khan, was even appointed as the city’s governor in 1128/​1716, most probably to help withstand the Turkmen and Afghans who in that year engaged in massive raiding into Khorasan. Being a drunkard and neglecting his duties, he lasted about four and-a-half months and was replaced by Ebrāhim Khan Qaraguzlu (Moḥammad-Moʾmen, pp. 445, 447, 449).

The Baluchis, driven to despair by the same drought, at this point invaded the area and encircled the city. Ebrāhim Khan led his troops, numbering 2,000, outside the city, but suffered defeat. Wounded, he fled the battlefield with his men and took refuge in the city, leaving the spoils to the Baluchis. After destroying surrounding villages, the Baluchis next laid siege to Kerman and, taking the suburbs, proceeded to plunder the area. Ebrāhim Khan capitulated and only managed to spare the city greater damage and save his own life by paying 1,700 tomans, part of which he extracted from the agents of the maritime companies (NA, VOC 1886, 27 Feb. 1716, fols. 451-52; VOC 1897, 4 Oct. 1716, fol. 293; ibid., 30 Nov. 1716, fols. 26-28; ibid., 2 Jan. 1717, fols. 359-65). The Baluchis carried most of the cattle with them and killed the rest. Kerman was left in a state of famine and anarchy. Soldiers engaged in plunder, breaking into people’s homes, and murder became common (NA, VOC 1897, 2 Jan. 1717, fols. 361-63).

Following a popular rebellion in town, Ebrāhim Khan was recalled to Isfahan in early 1717, to be succeeded by Rostam Mirzā, qollar-aqāsi (NA, VOC 1897, 22 Jan. 1717, fol. 271; Lang 1952, p. 536; Bushev, p. 182). Retaining the latter post, Rostam Mirzā let himself be represented by his brother Moḥammadqoli Mirzā, a boy no older than thirteen or fourteen. Because of his young age, Moḥammadqoli Mirzā in turn was represented by a ḡolām named Moḥammad-Jaʿfar Beg, who proved to be an effective governor. He immediately set out to mete out justice regardless of rank or reputation. The new administration made itself popular as well by announcing a year-long tax exemption for the city (NA, VOC 1913, 8 April. 1717, fol. 183; ibid., 11 May 1717, fol. 186; ibid., 14 Aug. 1717, fol. 197). Isfahan, meanwhile, extended a hand to the Baluchis by sending another Georgian named Gorgin Beg carrying six ḵelʿats for as many Baluchi chieftains and the promise that their former tribute would be restored if they were willing to resubmit to the shah’s authority (Moḥammad-Moʾmen, pp. 90-91; NA VOC 1913, 25 March 1717, fols. 164-76 and 207-8; ibid., 8 April 1717, fols. 180-83).

Two years of relative calm came to an end when in the summer of 1719 the news broke that the Afghan commander Maḥmud Ḡilzay, the son of Mir Ways, had left Qandahar and was approaching with some 2,000 warriors. This caused panic in the city and prompted Moḥammadqoli Mirzā and his second in command, Ḥosayn Khan, to strengthen its defensive works by fortifying the walls and building new ones, mobilizing corvée labor from the inhabitants. These efforts had little effect, however (NA, VOC 1947, 3 Nov. 1719, fols. 130-31; ibid., 19 and 24 Oct. 1719, fols. 130-35; VOC 1937, 25 Nov. 1719, fols. 2153v-54). Isfahan ordered the authorities in Bandar ʿAbbās to collect a military force and also mobilized troops from Isfahan and Shiraz. Thousands of soldiers ended up moving to Kerman, yet the campaign, possibly undermined by court eunuchs unwilling to allow army officers to claim credit for success, failed and the assembled soldiers never met the enemy in battle (Krusinski, I, pp. 223-25). Faced with the imminent arrival of the Afghans, Moḥammadqoli Mirzā and his Georgian soldiers fled the city in October, and with him went most of the merchants and many inhabitants. Of the originally 28,000 to 30,000 people in Kerman, only 3,000, most of them old and disabled, are said to have stayed behind. The 200 Safavid troops in the city took to plundering (NA, VOC, 3 Dec. 1719, fols. 301-6; VOC 1947, 3rd fasc., 5 Jan. 1720, fols. 293, 308; ibid., 29 Feb. 1720, fol. 223).

The Afghans next stormed and captured Kerman, aided by the Zoroastrian population who “looked upon the invaders as liberators rather than invaders.” (Krusinski, I, p. 220; Lockhart, p. 73). Dutch reports confirm this, referring to the collaboration of part of Kerman’s Zoroastrian community with the occupying forces. A number of Zoroastrians converted to Islam, and those who enlisted with Afghans appear to have engaged in revenge killings of local Muslims. The Afghan general Daruršāh entered the city on November 4 with some 7,000 to 8,000 soldiers, to be followed a day later by Maḥmud Ḡilzay and Asad-Allāh Khan, accompanied by three elephants and artillery (NA, VOC 1947, 3 Dec. 1719, fol. 304). At first, the invaders treated ordinary inhabitants quite well, even as they extorted large sums from wealthy people; they, however, incarcerated and in some cases killed those who resisted and sought to convert people to Sunni Islam. The local Indian Hindus (Banyans) who had stayed behind seem to have been the particular target of maltreatment. The Afghans chased them out of the city and forced the wealthy ones to disclose the whereabouts of their fortune, and killed a number under torture (NA, VOC 1964, various missives, early 1720, fols. 305-12; NA 1947, 5 Jan. 1720, fols. 307-8).

The Afghan troops stayed in Kerman for less than six months, during which time they carried a large amount of property to Qandahar. They also used the city as a base to conduct punitive expeditions to the surrounding countryside and as far as Yazd, to which they sent a 4,000 strong contingent. Many of its inhabitants were driven out of the city, settled in the Bāḡ-e Naẓar, and forced to defray the expenses of the occupying force. Before the Afghans left in the spring of 1720, they destroyed large parts of the city, including caravanserais and bazaars, as well as the Zoroastrian quarter. Most houses had been burned, the bazaar was strewn with corpses, and no merchants were to be found in the city (NA, VOC 1964, 8 April 1720, fols. 306-10; Floor, pp. 43 ff.).

Yet, in a remarkable demonstration of resilience, life quickly returned to the city after the Afghan retreat, and soon food prices stabilized. The VOC and EIC wool buyers returned to Kerman in June 1720, to be followed by most merchants and inhabitants. Isfahan next sent a new governor, Sobḥānverdi Khan, who quickly made himself popular by strengthening of the city’s defenses with the assistance of a royal architect (meʿmār-bāši). The inhabitants of Yazd had a 4,000-toman contribution to this project imposed on them (NA, VOC 1964, 18 July 1720, fol. 299). The optimism did not last long, however, for in late 1720 armed conflict erupted between the governor and the kalāntar of Kerman, leading to great turmoil in the city and a change in government. Rostam-Moḥammad Khan became the new governor (NA, VOC 1964, 17 Oct. 1720, fols. 269-71, 316-18; Marʿaši, pp. 55-56; Floor, pp. 51-53). The following spring a new Afghan threat loomed. Moving in from Bam, Maḥmud advanced with 9,000 men and, again aided by local Zoroastrians, captured the suburbs in September (NA, VOC 1983, 2 Feb. 1722, fols. 530-32; Krusinski, II, p. 14). Most of the city’s inhabitants sought shelter in the citadel. A three-month long siege of the citadel ended in gruesome scenes of starvation, decimating the population. The Dutch representative was forced to pay a ransom of 1,700 tomans to escape extradition to the Afghans. When the Afghans left in August 1721, presumably to quell a revolt that had broken out in Qandahar, the city lay in ruins, the surrounding countryside had been devastated, and the roads were infested with bandits (for this episode, see Lispensier’s report in NA, VOC 1999, fols. 352-56; the devastation is also emphasized in Marʿaši, p. 45; Tehrāni, pp. 160-61).

The Afghans soon returned to Kerman. Maḥmud and his troops reached the outskirts of the city in October 1721, occupying the Zoroastrian quarter, and attacking the city on October 29. In Kerman there was much confusion about the authorities in charge. Rostam-Moḥammad Khan was dismissed and a new government was appointed, but popular protest forced Isfahan to reinstate him. The Afghans next laid siege to the citadel. They took a mosque, killing many of the refugees inside and destroying the building. The citadel, where thousands of people were holed up, endured daily fire at the cost of large numbers of casualties, yet proved more resistant. Unable to breach its fortifications, the Afghans ultimately offered to leave in exchange for a large sum of money. Having collected what they could from the impoverished populace, they left in February 1722 (NA, VOC 1983, 9 Nov. 1721, fols. 247-49; ibid., 21 and 28 Feb. 1722, fols. 288-89, 532-42; Marʿaši, pp. 55-56; Floor, pp. 55-62). The Afghans continued to threaten Kerman yet failed to take it, and in the next four years, as various armies roamed the region, the city would remain under nominal Safavid control in the form of Ṭahmāsb II, the son of Shah Solṭān-Ḥosayn, until in January 1726 it fell to Sayyed Aḥmad Khan, the only claimant to the throne of sound Safavid descent (Marʿaši, pp. 68-69; Lockhart, p. 300, genealogy in Appendix I; Floor, pp. 263 ff.). Although he died in 1140/​1728 at the hands of Ašraf Ḡilzay, the latter’s defeat by Nāderqolī Bēg Afšār (the future Nāder Shah) and death in 1142/​1730 ensured re-establishment of Persian control of the province.



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Mollā Moḥammad-Moʾmen Kermāni, Ṣahifat al-eršād: tāriḵ-e Afšār-e Kermān, pāyān-e kār-e Ṣafawiya, ed. Moḥammad-Ebrāhim Bāstāni Pārizi, Tehran, 2005.

NA, National Dutch Archives. Moḥammad-Ebrāhim b. Zayn-al-ʿĀbedin Naṣiri, Dastur-e šahriārān: sālhā-ye 1105 tā 1110 h.q. pādšāhi-e Šāh Solṭān-Ḥosayn Ṣafawi, ed. Moḥammad-Nāder Naṣiri Moqaddam, Tehran, 1994.

OIOC, Oriental and India Office Collection, British Museum, London.

Francis Richard, Raphaël du Mans missionaire en Perse au XVIIe s., 2 vols., Paris, 1995.

Ḥasan Beg Rumlu, Aḥsan al-tawāriḵ, ed. ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Navāʾi, Tehran, 1978.

Waliqoli b. Dāwudqoli Šāmlu, Qeṣaṣ al-ḵāqāni, ed. Ḥasan Sādāt Nāṣeri, Tehran, 1992.

Cornelis Jans-zoon Speelman, Journaal der reis van den gezant der O. I. Compagnie Joan Cunaeus naar Perzië in 1651-1652, ed. Albertus P. Hotz, Amsterdam, 1908.

Percy M. Sykes, Ten Thousand Miles in Persia or Eight Years in Irán, London, 1902.

Jean Baptiste Tavernier, Les six voyages de Jean Baptiste Tavernier en Turquie, en Perse, et aux Indes, 2 vols., Paris, 1676-77.

Moḥammad-Šafiʿ Tehrāni (Wāred), Merʾāt-e wāredāt: tāriḵ-e soqūṭ-e Ṣafawiān, pāyāmadhā-ye ān va farmānravāʾi-eMalek Maḥmud Sistāni, ed. Manṣur Ṣefatgol, Tehran, 2004.

Moḥammad-Yusof Wāleh Qazvini Eṣfahāni, Ḵold-e barin: Irān dar zamān-e Šāh Ṣafi va Šāh ʿAbbās-e dovvom, 1030-1071 h.q., ed. Moḥammad-Reżā Nāṣeri, Tehran, 2001.

Aḥmad-ʿAli Khan Waziri Kermāni, Joḡrāfiā-ye Kermān, ed. Moḥammad-Ebrāhim Bāstāni Pārizi, Tehran, 1974.

Idem, Tāriḵ-e Kermān, ed. Moḥammad-Ebrāhim Bāstāni Pārizi, 3rd ed., 2 vols., Tehran, 1985.


Moḥammad-Ebrāhim Bāstāni Pārizi, Ganj-ʿAli Ḵān, 3rd ed., Tehran, 1989.

Idem, “Kayfiyat-e estefāda az manābeʿ-e tāriḵ-e Kermān,” in Moḥammad Golābzāda, ed., Kermān-šenāsi: majmuʿa-ye maqālāt, Tehran, 1990.

Yolande Crowe, Persia and China: Safavid Blue and White Ceramics in the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1501-1738, Geneva, 2002.

Naṣr-Allāh Falsafi, Zendagāni-e Šāh ʿAbbās-e awwal, 4 vols., Tehran, 1955-67.

Lisa Golombek, “The Safavid Ceramic Industry at Kirman,” Iran 41, 2003, pp. 253-70.

Lisa Golombek et al., Persian Pottery in the First Global Age: The Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, Leiden, 2013.

Laurence Lockhart, The Fall of the Safavi Dynasty and the Afghan Occupation of Persia, Cambridge, 1958.

Robert B. Mason, “Petrography of Pottery from Kirman,” Iran 41, 2003, pp. 271-78.

Rudi P. Matthee, “The East India Company Trade in Kerman Wool, 1658-1730,” in Jean Calmard, ed., Etudes Safavides, Paris and Tehran, 1993, pp. 343-83.

Idem, Persia in Crisis: Safavid Decline and the Fall of Isfahan, London and New York, 2012.

Idem, “Loyalty, Betrayal and Retribution: Biktash Khan, Yaʿqub Khan and Shah ʿAbbas I’s Strategy in Establishing Control over Kirman, Yazd and Fars,” in R. Hillenbrand, A. C. S. Peacock, and F. I. Abdullaeva, eds., Ferdowsi, the Mongols and the History of Iran: Art, Literature and Culture from Early Islam to Qajar Persia, London, 2013, pp. 184-200.

Klaus Michael Röhrborn, Provinzen und Zentralgewalt Persiens im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert, Berlin, 1966.

Lajos Tardy, “Georgische Teilnahme an den persisch-afghanischen Kriegen 1711-1725 im Spiegel eines Missionsberichtes,” Bedi Kartlisa: Revue de Kartvélogie 40, 1982, pp. 316-29.

T. Volker, Porcelain and the Dutch East India Company, As Recorded in the Dagh-Registers of Batavia Castle . . . 1602-1682, Leiden, 1971.

KERMAN viii. Afsharid and Zand Period

Between the fall of the Safavids and the rise of the Qajar dynasty (ca. 1722-94), Kerman maintained a measure of stability and security under local rulers despite the rise and fall of dynastic states across the Iranian plateau. The principal sources for 18th-century Kerman come from the dynastic chronicles of imperial projects outside of Kerman, like those of the Afsharids and Zands, which refer to Kerman as a province on the margins of their kingdoms (e.g., Nāmi, pp. 90-91). By contrast, the comments of Europeans (notably East India Company officials) and 19th-century local authors (e.g., Waziri Kermāni, pp. 21-26) paint Kerman as a contested space, often under the control of local elites who aligned with the Afsharids or Zands as it suited their interests. Indeed, the willingness of prominent local families to work with rival claimants to the throne set up Kerman for its greatest modern calamity with the destruction of large portions of the city and the massacre or blinding of as many as 30,000 inhabitants in 1794, after the Qajar ruler Āḡā Moḥammad Khan tracked his last major rival, Loṭf-ʿAli Khan Zand, to the city where he had received local support.

After the fall of Isfahan to the Ḡilzi Afghans under Maḥmud in 1722, Kerman remained in nominal Safavid control under the beleaguered Safavid Shah Ṭahmāsb II in 1722-26 and then Sayyed Aḥmad Khan until 1728 (Waziri Kermāni, II, p. 651, n. 99). By 1733, Ṭahmāsb-qoli Khan Jalāyer, a deputy of Ṭahmāsbqoli (the later Nāder Shah Afšār), controlled both Kerman and Shiraz and appointed a series of governors from among the local notables to rule in his place. In Kerman, he appointed Esmāʿil Khan Afšār, whose family had governed Kerman throughout much of the Safavid period. Esmāʿil Khan’s ancestor, Wali Khan, had governed the city during the reign of Shah ʿAbbās I (Waziri Kermāni, II, pp. 603-16). Afsharid rule in Kerman was marked by gradually increasing demands for revenue, which were pursued with great severity (Avery, p. 58). In one instance shortly before his death, Nāder Shah is said to have passed through Kerman during Nowruz 1747 on his way to Khorasan and engaged in beatings, mutilations, and executions in Kerman in an attempt to squeeze any remaining revenue out of the city to fund his military campaigns (Waziri Kermāni, II, pp. 670-72; Axworthy, p. 277; Lockhart, p. 259).

In October 1747, just four months after the death of Nāder Shah, Kerman was overrun by 15,000 Afghans and Tatars, who inflicted great damage on the Zoroastrian quarter outside the city walls and looted the East India Company office (Perry, pp. 124-25). This tragedy was followed by a severe famine in 1748. According to Ann Lambton (p. 164), the post-Nāder Shah interregnum in Kerman was “anarchic” and marked by repeated tribal incursions by Afghan and Baluchi tribesmen. However, in the midst of this crisis, a local notable named Šāhroḵ Khan, the son of Esmāʿil Khan Afšār, seized power and brought stability to Kerman, holding the governorship there for more than twelve years (1747-60). Šāhroḵ Khan quickly sent a letter pledging obedience to Nāder Shah’s nephew, ʿAliqoli Khan Afšār, who had ascended the throne as ʿĀdel Shah (r. 1747-48; Waziri Kermāni, II, pp. 675-76) and was reconfirmed the following year by his successor, Šāhroḵ Shah (Perry, p. 124). Šāhroḵ Shah officially reconfirmed him in 1752 as governor of Kerman, by sending him a robe of honor (ḵelʿat) and a royal mandate (manšur). In response, he declared his obedience but refused to send taxes, saying that unjustified exactions by Nāder Shah had “caused such devastation in Kerman that the people would not be able to pay taxes for thirty years” (Waziri Kermāni, II, p. 676). Kerman was thus held within the sphere of the Afsharid kingdom under Nāder Shah’s successors until Šāhroḵ Khan was killed during a siege in Bāfq in September 1758 (Nāmi, p. 91; Waziri Kermāni, II, pp. 681-82).

Šāhroḵ Khan was succeeded by Ḵodā-Morād Khan Zand, who ruled for some time before he was killed and replaced by a colorful local figure described as a simple “charcoal seller” named Taqi Khan Dorrāni, who held out for five years against the new rising power on the Iranian plateau, Karim Khan Zand (see Perry, p. 128). According to Waziri Kermāni, Taqi Khan came to power by raising a small band of riflemen from his home district of Kuhpāya and killing a newly appointed, and as of yet unconfirmed, governor, Ḵodā-Morād Khan; he assumed the governorship with the support of the city’s leading families (Waziri Kermāni, II, pp. 682-85; Nāmi, pp. 117-18). Taqi Khan then held out against five Zand assaults on the city between 1761 and 1766 before he was captured and executed by Karim Khan in spring 1766 (Perry, pp. 128-33; Waziri Kermāni, II, pp. 683-92; Nāmi, pp. 150-53).

After appointing a Zand governor to Kerman, Karim Khan quickly relented under pressure from local notables to return to the pattern of appointing or confirming Kermanis for the post. Taqi Khan Dorrāni’s former kalāntar, Mirzā Ḥosayn Rāyeni, was installed alongside another local merchant and landowner named Āqā ʿAli Sirjāni. These two ruled Kerman as a Zand province in tandem through a complicated division of territories. This arrangement quickly disintegrated, and power then fell to the Nezāri Ismaʿili sayyeds (the ancestors of Āqā Khan Maḥallāti [see ĀQĀ KHAN i]), who held Kerman as Zand appointees until just prior to the Qajar conquest of the city (Perry, p. 134; Waziri Kermāni, II, pp. 694-99; Nāmi, pp. 152-53).

This relative political stability in Kerman under locally rooted governors was also periodically broken with attacks by pastoral-nomadic populations, most notably the aforementioned sack of the city by Afghans in 1747. The Dutch East India Company’s once prominent trade in down wool (kork) declined with the end of Safavid rule, but it revived in stops and starts along with the restoration of order (Matthee, pp. 377-79). The English East India Company also had offices at Bušehr (Bushire, etc.) and Bandar ʿAbbās along the Persian Gulf throughout the 18th century, as well as a company house in the Zoroastrian quarter of Kerman, maintaining a steady trade with India in Kermani wool, textiles, and minerals (Perry, pp. 125, 310-11).

As the Qajar dynasty consolidated its control over the north and west of Iran in the 1790s, Loṭf-ʿAli Khan Zand made his last stand at Kerman with the support of several local families, for which the city was largely destroyed and the population blinded and massacred by Āḡā Moḥammad Khan after a prolonged siege in 1794 (Waziri Kermāni, II, pp. 746-50; see KERMAN ix. QAJAR PERIOD).


Peter Avery, “Nādir Shāh and the Afsharid Legacy,” in Camb. Hist. Iran VII, pp. 3-62.

Michael Axworthy, The Sword of Persia: Nader Shah from Tribal Warrior to Conquering Tyrant, New York, 2009.

A. K. S. Lambton, “Kirmān,” in EI2 V, 1986, pp. 147-66.

Laurence Lockhart, Nadir Shah: A Critical Study Based Mainly upon Contemporary Sources, London, 1938.

Rudi Matthee, “The East India Company Trade in Kerman Wool, 1658-1730,” in Jean Calmard, ed., Études Safavides, Paris and Tehran, 1993.

Mirzā Moḥammad-Ṣādeq Musawi Nāmi Eṣfahāni, Tāriḵ-e Gitigošā dar tāriḵ-e Zandiya, Tehran, 1984.

John Perry, Karim Khan Zand: A History of Iran, 1747-1779, Chicago, 1979.

Aḥmad-ʿAli Khan Waziri Kermāni, Tāriḵ-e Kermān, ed. Moḥammad-Ebrāhim Bāstāni Pārizi, 2 vols., Tehran, 1972.

KERMAN ix. Qajar Period

Kerman, despite its geographical position on the periphery of the Qajar empire (1795-1925), was at the center of numerous significant developments in this important transitional period in Iran's history. Politically, Kerman was never well integrated into the Qajar empire. Locally-rooted, elite households dominated the provincial administration, tax collection, landholdings, trade, and religious institutions, while monopolizing access to Qajar appointees there. Economically, however, Kerman was on the front lines of changes connected to Iran’s absorption into global economic structures. Kermani elites greatly intensified their community’s connections to foreign trade, particularly through investments in commercial agriculture and carpet manufacturing. These economic changes, along with the expansion of landholdings and administrative control over rural areas by urban elites, helped consolidate an integrated regional economy around Kerman City.

By the 1890s and 1900s, Kerman had become a hotbed of radical nationalist and constitutionalist agitation, with Kermani intellectuals and activists playing critical roles in bringing together a revolutionary coalition against Qajar despotism in the buildup to the Constitutional Revolution (1906-11). This movement against the patriarchal rule of the Qajars grew in part through strong connections to prominent local households, and the constitutional movement itself faltered in Kerman, once revolutionary institutions began to challenge the patriarchal authority of these families in the local administration. By World War I, Kerman was firmly in the British sphere of influence in the growing Anglo-Russian Great Game in Central Asia and Iran, and was subsequently occupied during the war by the South Persia Rifles.

Political affairs. Kerman experienced the beginning of the Qajar period violently and traumatically. In March 1794, as Āḡā Moḥammad Khan Qājār, the founder of the Qajar dynasty, was consolidating his power over the Iranian plateau, the Zand prince Loṭf-ʿAli Khan entered Kerman in an attempt to advance his own claims to the throne. He found support here among Sistāni and Afḡāni forces and nomadic tribesmen recruited from Lurestan, Bushehr, and Jupār (Moḥammad-Reżā Širāzi, pp. 381-83; Waziri, 1985, II, pp. 734-35). A local merchant and landowner named Āqā ʿAli Šamāʿi Karrāni, according to his great-grandson Aḥmad-ʿAli Khan Waziri Kermāni, emerged at the head of a group of Qajar loyalists among the city’s elite who resisted the Zand prince. Āqā ʿAli appealed to Āḡā Moḥammad Khan directly after his property was confiscated, encouraging him to conquer the city (Waziri, 1985, II, pp. 736-37; Moḥammad-Reżā Širāzi, pp. 386-87). A prolonged siege of Kerman City (then called Gavāšir) ensued, in which famine claimed perhaps one-third of the population of the city. On 29 Rabiʿ I 1209/24 October 1794, a group of Jupāri riflemen responsible for guarding a section of the wall opened a gate to allow the Qajar forces to enter. In the aftermath of the Qajar conquest, much of the city was destroyed, thousands of men were massacred or blinded, and countless women and children were carried off as slaves (Waziri, 1985, II, pp. 744-48 and n. 53; Moḥammad-Reżā Širāzi, pp. 386-89; Mirḵᵛānd, IX, pp. 256-58; Fasāʾi, I, p. 658; Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, III, pp. 1424-25). In 1810, John Malcolm (p. 198) reported meeting these blind Kermani beggars in his travels all throughout Iran.

The only survivors from within the city were said to be some ten to twelve thousand individuals who took refuge in the home of the new Qajar favorite, Āqā ʿAli Šamāʿi, whose son was subsequently appointed to watch over the rubble as the first Qajar governor of the city (Waziri, 1985, II, p. 748). Loṭf-ʿAli Khan briefly fled to the city Bam before he was betrayed by his host, arrested, blinded, and eventually executed by Āḡā Moḥammad Khan, who also celebrated his victory by decapitating several hundred prisoners and erecting a pyramid of their skulls in Bam (Fasāʾi, I, p. 659; Waziri, 1985, II, pp. 752-55; Moḥammad-Reżā Širāzi, pp. 389-92; Mirḵᵛānd, IX, pp. 254-61; Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, III, p. 1425; Sykes, 1958, II, p. 288).

Curiously, this act of brutality initiated a long period of political stability in Iran for the first time since the fall of the Safavid dynasty. In 1804, Fatḥ-ʿAli Shah appointed his uncle, Ebrāhim Khan Ẓahir-al-Dawla, as prince-governor of Kerman, who quickly took to reconstructing the city, regularizing the provincial administration, subjugating powerful tribal chiefs on the Baluchistan frontier, and reviving commerce by securing transportation and trade routes (Waziri, 1985, II, pp. 758-62; Aḥmadi, 1975, p. 12). The centerpiece of his reconstruction project in Kerman City was the Ebrāhimiya Complex, centered on a madrasa, bathhouse, and bazaar (Waziri, 1974, p. 30). Ẓahir-al-Dawla is known to have had twenty sons and twenty-one daughters (Bāmdād, I, p. 21), many of whom remained as part of the elite community in Kerman, with wealth and prestige built around the Ebrāhimiya complex, its endowments, and extensive landholdings in Rafsanjān. Ẓahir-al-Dawla’s eldest son, Hājj Moḥammad-Karim Khan, studied in the ʿatabāt as a disciple of Sayyed Kāẓem Rašti, the chief disciple of Shaikh Aḥmad AḥsāʾI, and returned to found a Kermani branch of the Šayḵi theosophical movement that remained closely tied to the Ebrāhimi family and its fortunes (Hermann and Rezai, pp. 87-88).

Kerman’s overall political integration into the Qajar state was limited. The Qajars administered provincial territories through a system built on interpersonal relationships and a careful negotiation of power between a centrally appointed governor and local elites (Martin, p. 1). Ẓahir-al-Dawla was the first in a series of Qajar prince-governors to rule Kerman over the course of the 19th century in this way. These governors acted nearly autonomously from the Qajar state, in concert with members of prominent local households like the Ebrāhimis (descendents of Ebrāhim Khan Ẓahir-al-Dawla), the Waziris (descendents of Āqā ʿAli Šamāʿi through his son, Mirzā Ḥosayn Wazir), and the Kalāntaris (the hereditary kalāntars “leaders” of Kerman City). At periodic low tides of central power, Kerman also experienced outright revolts against central authority. Most notably, the Ismaʿili Nezāri imam Āqā Khan Maḥallāti, appointed governor in 1836, was dismissed from his post in 1838 after building up an independent military following among the ʿAṭāʾ-Allāhi tribes, and popular support through ties to the Neʿmat-Allāhi Sufi order based in Mahān, which elicited suspicion from Moḥammad Shah Qājār. After a period of house arrest in Maḥallāt, Āqā Khan forged appointment papers and assumed the governorship of Kerman briefly in 1840 and procured support from the urban elite for his rule. Upon the arrival of a sizeable military force from Tehran, Āqā Khan fled via Bam to India, where the Ismaʿili imamate has remained since (Waziri, 1985, II, pp. 782-88; Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, III, pp. 1649-51; Mirḵᵛānd, X, pp. 250-53; Algar, p. 71; Daftary, pp. 71-72).

Between 1859 and 1878, Moḥammad-Esmāʿil Khan Nuri Wakil-al-Molk (governor or de facto governor, 1859-68), and his son Mortażāqoli Khan Wakil-al-Molk (governor, 1869-78) dominated provincial politics. Moḥammad-Esmāʿil Khan was not a member of the Qajar royal family, but a skilled administrator who served first as the manager (piškār) under Kayumarṯ Mirzā ʿAmid-al-Dawla, but in recognition of his abilities was made governor in his own right shortly after and given the royal title Wakil-al-Molk (Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, III, p. 1826; Waziri, 1985, II, pp. 807-8). His tenure in Kerman, along with that of his son, was a period of political stability and economic growth. In 1862, he subordinated tribal groups in Baluchistan in a campaign along the frontiers and reinforced his relationship with leading tribal chiefs through intermarriage (Waziri, 1974, p. 43; idem, 1985, II, p. 808). Both he and his son Mortażāqoli Khan Wakil-al-Molk also engaged in a massive building campaign throughout the province that was praised by contemporary Kermani and European observers alike.

In Kerman City, these two governors are credited with the construction of the Wakili Mosque, two new caravanserai, a pair of public bath houses, and repairs to the citadel complex along with the addition of a new administrative office (divān-ḵāna; Waziri, 1974, pp. 27, 29, 31, 32, 37; Schindler, p. 830). A system of caravanserai was constructed along Kerman’s two major trade routes connected to the Persian Gulf port of Bandar ʿAbbās, one connecting to Rafsanjān and Yazd and the other further east, connecting to Khorasan via Bam (Waziri, 1974, pp. 111, 135, 182, 185, 187). In the villages surrounding Kerman City, they also built numerous bathhouses, mosques, water reservoirs, bazaars, and gardens (Waziri, 1974, pp. 86, 94-95, 111, 117, 123-24, 188). Oliver B. St. John, a member of the Perso-Kalāt Boundary Commission, credited the two Wakil-al-Molks with having “raised Karman from the desolation it had been plunged in, since the siege, to its present position of the most orderly and one of the most prosperous divisions of the kingdom” (St. John, p. 100). Even during the devastating famine of 1870-71, and the outbreak of cholera that followed, Kerman was almost entirely spared the consequences when Mortażāqoli Khan Wakil-al-Molk enacted measures to control grain prices, prevent hoarding, and stop unauthorized exports (Okazaki, p. 191).

From the 1880s to World War I, Kerman’s governorship passed through the hands of several Qajar princes from the Farmānfarmā family. After a factional riot associated with a grain shortage in 1878, Mortażāqoli Khan Wakil-al-Molk was replaced by Firuz Mirzā Farmānfarmā (who had briefly governed the province thirty years earlier in 1837-39), followed by his sons ʿAbd-al-Ḥamid Mirzā Nāṣer-al-Dawla Farmānfarmā (governor of Kerman, 1881-91), and ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Mirzā Noṣrat-al-Dawla Farmānfarmā (governor of Kerman, 1891-93, 1894-95, and 1905). ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Mirzā developed a close personal relationship with the first British consul in Kerman, Percy Sykes, who arrived in the city in 1894 (Waziri, 1985, II, pp. 815-25; Wynn, pp. 20-22). Kerman was already considered part of a British sphere of influence in the context of the Great Game. This claim was advanced with the establishment of a consulate (matched temporarily by a Russian mission) and formalized during the Constitutional Revolution in the 1907 Anglo-Russian Convention. The spheres of influence arrangement became spheres of military occupation during World War I, with Sykes’ South Persia Rifles central in organizing a British military presence there during the war (Sykes, 1958, II, pp. 456-59).

Economic affairs. As with other Iranian provincial communities, the activities of merchants and locally rooted elites intensified Kerman’s connections to global economic structures, introducing important structural changes to the regional economy and social framework. Kerman’s regional economy was more tightly integrated around the central hub of Kerman City by the end of the Qajar period with a considerable expansion of landholdings in the hands of urban elites, the commercialization of agriculture, and the remarkable growth of the export markets for Kerman’s famous down (kork) wool and woolen products such as carpets and shawls (de Groot, p. 357; Gustafson, 2010, pp. 191-227). While Kerman’s overall volume of trade dramatically increased over the Qajar period, the composition of that trade (largely raw materials) conforms to a widespread pattern of marginalization or dependent development in Asian economic history. These transformations were led by Kermani elites themselves, acting on economic opportunities presented in the rapidly changing global economy, and not simply driven by global forces or European intervention.

Agriculture, which depended on underground irrigation canals (kāriz) due to the aridity of the climate, formed the basis of Kerman’s economy throughout the Qajar period. The districts of Sirjān and Rafsanjān were the major agricultural zones, producing large quantities of wheat, barley, and millet along with a wide variety of fruits (notably melons, pomegranates, and dates) and nuts (including widely hailed pistachios, as well as almonds and walnuts; Waziri, 1974, pp. 151-60, 168-74). Both of these districts possessed a central hub that acted as the seat of prominent families who owned substantial land in the district and collected taxes as agents (ʿommāl). Saʿidābād in the Sirjān district (currently known simply as the city of Sirjān) was constructed in the 1790s by the head of the Kalāntari family and grew by the late 19th century into a thriving mercantile center. Bahrāmābād in Rafsanjān, which was dominated by the Ebrāhimi (descendents of Ebrāhim Khan Ẓahir-al-Dawla) and Aḥmadi families through much of the 19th century, similarly developed into a prosperous town attracting artisans and tradesmen from throughout Iran (Firuz Mirzā, p. 84). The agricultural surplus flowed from rural districts through these regional hubs and either into Kerman City or overland to other communities in the Qajar kingdom, mainly Yazd and Khorasan, but including the Persian Gulf port of Bandar ʿAbbās for export.

Kerman’s trade in down wool, notable since at least the Safavid era, remained significant through the Qajar period as well. Pastoral tribes, nomadic as well as semi-nomadic, produced down and other fine wool principally in Jiroft, Jebāl Bārez, and Zarand (Waziri, 1974, pp. 85, 120, 178). This fed a thriving handicraft shawl and carpet sector among Kermani tribes and by master weavers in Ravār and Kerman City (Dillon, pp. 288-89). The Afšār tribe, in particular, was so well known for its quality, designs, and workmanship that by the 20th century many tribal carpets became simply known as “Afshars,” regardless of the tribe producing them (Stöber, pp. 252-59). Although these items were largely produced for local consumption until late in the 19th century, raw down and coarse shawls were nonetheless Kerman’s primary non-food export items until the commercialization of these industries. In the early 1850s, Keith Abbott concluded that “the little importance this town possesses is derived from it shawl and other woollen fabrics.” He estimated that some 2,200 to 2,400 looms produced £40,000 to 45,000 worth of shawls and other woolen fabrics annually and employed 4,500 men and boys (Abbott, pp. 83, 151).

Abbott described the Kerman of the early 1850s as “not a place of much commercial consequence,” but this situation began to change by the end of the decade (Abbott, p. 151). Waziri notes that already in the 1840s, demand for cotton and madder in India, and grains throughout Iran, had already begun to drive up the price of land, and that by the 1870s “the landlords of Kerman’s villages and towns have become powerful and wealthy” (Waziri, 1974, p. 158). The subjugation of Kerman’s pastoral nomadic tribes and the building campaign led by Moḥammad-Esmāʿil Khan Wakil-al-Molk and Mortażāqoli Khan Wakil-al-Molk after 1859 enabled Kermani landowners to find markets for their agricultural surplus more easily. These local infrastructural improvements coincided with the opening of steamer service on the Persian Gulf in the 1860s and the first telegraph line reaching the province in 1879 (Aḥmadi, 2007, pp. 321-25). This encouraged a rapid commercialization of Kerman’s agriculture, with steady growth in the cash cropping of cotton, henna, and opium in particular. E. Baring estimated in his 1881 report on Iran’s opium trade that Kerman produced about 4,500 maunds of opium in 1879-80 (Baring, p. 48). This figure nearly tripled to 12,000 maunds in 1896 (Sykes, 1896, pp. 12, 14). This same year, three-quarters of the opium crop made its way to Yazd for local consumption or re-export via Bandar ʿAbbās. A much larger yield of henna (280,000 maunds) also made its way to facilities in Yazd, while cotton (200,000 maunds) was largely exported directly to India through Bandar ʿAbbās (Sykes, 1896, p. 14).

Iranian merchants were critical in transforming Kerman’s longstanding connections to the wider Indian Ocean region in a search for new markets for agricultural surplus. There was a decisive shift towards maritime trade for international transactions, with the longstanding overland route east through Baluchistan and Sistan slowing considerably during the later decades of Qajar rule and failing to revive even when British administrators tried to re-open the Quetta route in the 1890s (“Sykes to Salisbury,” FO 60/621). Waziri noted at least forty Kermani merchants in the mid-1870s with international connections, particularly to Bombay (Waziri, 1974, pp. 78-79, 100, 172). A group of Šekarpuri merchants (diaspora Indian merchants) present in Kerman City established their dominance over international trade by the first decade of the 20th century, acting also as moneylenders and bankers (Neucomen, p. 49). The activities of Šekarpuri merchants, as well as those of the local Zoroastrian community, were encouraged and protected by the presence of a British consulate established in Kerman City by Sir Percy Sykes in 1894 (Sykes, 1902, pp. 176-86).

The commercialization of agriculture had wider social, political, and economic effects. The price of land increased in major agricultural districts such that farmers in Sirjān became “wealthier than former owners of towns,” and in Rafsanjān “the farmers mostly [became] ḥājis” (Waziri, 1974, pp. 158, 169). Prominent urban households invested heavily in land throughout the province, consolidating control over the regional economy through their household networks. This process accelerated after Nāṣer-al-Din Shah’s decree in 1889-90 ordering the sale of crown lands (ḵāleṣa) in the provinces to private individuals to increase productivity and build up the central treasury (Šahidi, p. 65; Lambton, 1960, pp. 151-53). The Kalāntaris dominated Sirjān, and the Aḥmadi and Ebrāhimi families expanded their landholdings in Rafsanjān. Likewise, the newly formed Behzādi military household in Bam leveraged its position, patrolling the frontier in Baluchistan to control lucrative henna-producing lands in Narmāšir (ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Mirzā Farmānfarmā, pp. 62-101). This was matched by the disappearance of many longstanding rural households like the “Āqāyān-e Anār” and “Āqāyān-e Rafsanjān,” who had, until the late 19th century, operated as socially powerful elements in outlying rural districts. The expansion of urban families’ landholdings, combined as they were with administrative control and tax collection, served to integrate rural areas around Kerman City through the networks of elite households and consolidate Kerman’s regional economy (Gustafson, 2014).

Kerman’s carpet boom in the 1890s was a further step towards the integration of the regional economy. Tabrizi merchants, responding to foreign demand for Persian carpets after their introduction to European upper and middle class consumers in a series of exhibitions after 1873, bought up most of the rugs and carpets available on the open market in Kerman (Helfgott, pp. 15-16). After 1894, many of Kerman’s elites began investing money made in cash cropping and other ventures into commercial weaving operations (Ittig). Whereas John Preece notes only about 100 carpet manufactories in Kerman City in 1894, Percy Sykes, detailing the meteoric rise of this industry just two years later, estimates a tenfold increase in their numbers, exporting some £120,000 worth of fine carpets in 1895-96, as compared to just £3,000 in 1894-95 (Preece; Sykes, 1896). Local historians Shaikh Yaḥyā Aḥmadi and Aḥmad-ʿAli Khan Waziri, writing in 1904 and 1907, respectively, both noted that this expansion of the carpet trade in Kerman was primarily a local initiative; “every capable person here with 10 tomans, from the elite classes (aʿyān, khans, and bozorgān) to the common people and the lower classes, etc, opened a weaving shop or acted to benefit from it” (Aḥmadi, 1975, pp. 156-68, Waziri, 1974, pp. 33-34). These urban workshops employed large numbers of dislocated workers from the rural hinterland as well as large numbers of children working in contemptible conditions (Browne, p. 483; Euan-Smith, p. 186). Carpets remained Kerman’s primary export item into the late 20th century, with periodic booms and busts, including a severe downturn in 1904-1905. Despite the local initiative in responding to foreign demand in transforming Kerman’s carpet industry, it appears that much of the profit went to middlemen like the Tabrizi merchants who dominated the transit trade, while the flood of textile imports accompanying Kerman’s greater integration into the global economy decimated much of the local handicraft sector, particularly shawls (Neucomen, p. 51). Thus, as with other aspects of Kerman’s economic reorientation, local initiatives were the most important factor in transforming productive relations, to the benefit of some and the detriment of others.

Social factors. The Qajar period in Kerman was a period of significant social change, with the transformation of productive relations, the advance of regional economic integration, and the growing engagement of Kermani elites with global intellectual trends and political movements. Yet some of the most remarkable aspects of the complex of changes that mark the history of Kerman during the Qajar period (1779-1924) are the considerable underlying continuities. The patrilineal elite household as the organizing principal of elite society not only survived, but also thrived in the context of the growing engagement with the wider world, a process dominated by them as the primary intermediaries. Normative aspects of elite society remained tied to land ownership, assumption of stipendiary administrative posts, and connections to local religious institutions, with monetary wealth and commercial activities themselves carrying little social prestige. In fact, some of the most significant figures in Kerman, emerging through connections to the global economy, quickly established themselves among the local elite. Ḥāji Āqā ʿAli Tājer Kermāni, for example, made a fortune in the cotton trade in the 1840s. His family, the Aḥmadis (known after his eldest son, Āqā Aḥmad) became central figures among the landholding elite in Rafsanjān and went on to produce Kerman’s leading clerics (mojtahed) for the next three generations (Aḥmadi, 1975, pp. 125-27, 134-35).

Rural and/or tribal populations remained subject to exactions by these elite families, even as the circumstances and means of those exactions evolved with the economic reorientation of the province towards cash cropping and carpet exports. There is unfortunately little information on social conditions for Kermani peasants in the Qajar period, but it is notable that they were routinely compared favorably with the lower classes in India by British administrators arriving from the India Office (e.g., Sykes, 1896, pp. 2-3; Neucomen, p. 6). The process of tribal integration into provincial politics was advanced during the Qajar period through the sanctioning of tribal authorities by the state. This aided tribal heads in consolidating their political position within the tribe and control over taxation and other forms of extraction.

Travelers to Kerman routinely comment on the relatively “liberal” atmosphere in Kerman, and its high degree of diversity, even among Iranian communities. Nicolas de Khanikoff noted that even in the graffiti he found etched into postal stations throughout the province, there were lengthy discourses on wine and beautiful women, rather than the characteristic Qurʾanic verses, philosophical statements, or complaints against local rulers (Khanikoff, p. 197). Kerman did indeed remain a diverse place through the 19th and early 20th centuries. The elite community in Kerman City was divided between two large factions of Šayḵis and motašarreʿ (orthodox) Shiʿites. The Neʿmat-Allāhi Sufi brotherhood centered in Māhān also had a significant following among urban and rural communities alike.

Kerman City also possessed a sizeable Zoroastrian population in a quarter located outside the city walls, which was well connected to the sizeable Zoroastrian community in Yazd. Waziri notes a wide variety of Turkic-speaking tribes of Central Asian origin in the province, the most numerous being 9,300 Afšār tribesmen organized in at least thirteen sub-tribal groups (Waziri, 1974, p. 145). Branches of various Persianate Baluchi tribes, primarily Sunni, were also present in large numbers on the province’s eastern frontiers. The mountainous zones also possessed small pockets of isolated Arabic-speaking communities, Esmāʿili ʿAtā-Allāhi tribes, and what the urban elite viewed as heterodox groups, like the ʿAli-Allāhi, or Ahl-e Ḥaqq, who were rumored to worship Imam ʿAli b. Abi Ṭāleb.

The late 19th century in particular was marked by periodic outbreaks of severe factional conflict between Kerman’s elite households and their networks of supporters. Given the diversity of Kerman’s population, this factional conflict often manifested as “sectarian” violence, although even the elites themselves likened it to a new version of the Ḥaydari-Neʿmati factionalism of past centuries (Aḥmadi, 1975, p. 123). Recurring violence between the Šayḵi and motašarreʿ Shiʿite communities, mobilized by powerful elements of Kerman’s highly factionalized elite, marked the later decades of the 19th century. The close association of Shaykhism with the Ebrāhimi family (descendents of the governor Ebrāhim Khan Ẓahir-al-Dawla, who became the founders and dynasty of spiritual leaders of the Kermani branch of the order, was at the heart of this factionalism. Recurring famine between 1877 and 1878, caused in part by grain hoarding on the part of Kermani elites, turned into a widespread violence, which was only eased by the sending of the heads of the Ebrāhimi, Kalantāri, and Aḥmadi families to Tehran (Aḥmadi, 1975, pp. 123-26).

Kerman also became a center of radical intellectuals and political activists in the last quarter of the 19th century and into the constitutional period. The towering figure among them was Mirzā ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Āqā Khan Kermāni (1854-96) of Mašiz (Bardasir). He was tutored by a diverse array of people in Kerman as a young man, and he developed particularly close ties with members of the Aḥmadi family. He was forced to flee the province after a conflict in 1883 with the provincial governor Nāṣer-al-Dawla Farmānfarmā and never returned to the province. His most productive years were spent in Istanbul, where he established a close relationship with the famous ideologist and political activist Jamāl-al-Din Afḡāni (Asadābādi). He was extradited to Iran and executed in Tabriz in July 1896 after being implicated in planning the assassination of Nāṣer-al-Din Shah, which was carried out by fellow radical, Mirzā Reżā Kermāni (Nāẓem-al-Eslām, I, p. 15). Kerman produced a generation of prominent constitutionalists, again around the Aḥmadi family, in the years after Mirzā Āqā Khan’s departure. These included Mirzā Moḥammad Nāẓem-al-Eslām Kermāni (1863-1918), author of the Tāriḵ-e bidāri-e Irāniān chronicling Iran’s constitutional movement, and his close childhood friend Shaikh Yaḥyā Aḥmadi, who became a member of the first majles and produced two detailed studies of Kerman’s local history.

Nāẓem-al-Islām credits an incident in Kerman in 1905 with consolidating the modernist-ulema alliance that was critical in the success of the Constitutional Revolution of 1906-11 (Nāẓem-al-Eslām, I, pp. 320-22). After Kerman’s new governor, Rokn-al-Dawla, sold the office of vizier to a member of the Šayḵi Ebrāhimi household, he began removing longstanding motašarreʿ administrative families like the Wakil-al-Molki from their posts in favor of his own relatives. This quickly developed into a conflict between the Šayḵi and motašarreʿ communities after Shaikh Moḥammad-Ṣādeq, the cousin of Kerman’s leading motašarreʿ jurisprudent, Mirzā Moḥammad-Reżā Mojtahed, led a crowd into central Kerman City to seize and occupy the Šayḵis’ Bāzār-e Šāh Mosque (Scarcia, p. 228; Nāẓem-al-Eslām, I, p. 312). Throngs of urban poor, affected by the 1904-1905 downturn in the carpet industry, were swept up in the conflict, which spread rapidly into a major disturbance (Mirzā Reżā Mohandes, p. 139; Nāẓem-al-Eslām, I, pp. 315-16). In order to quell the violence, the provincial government eventually arrested Mirzā Moḥammad-Reżā and inflicted the bastinado on him—a rare act of violence inflicted on a prominent member of the ulama. Nāẓem-al-Eslām cites the outrage surrounding this event as a major factor in securing the support of prominent clerics like Āqā Sayyed ʿAbd-Allāh Behbāhāni for the constitutional movement (Nāẓem-al-Eslām, I, p. 324).

Despite the centrality of Aḥmadi support for the development of the constitutional movement, it was also the Aḥmadi family that actually led the way in curtailing the reach of its reforms when the new provincial council (anjoman) was established in Kerman, again cutting into the administrative prerogative of local patrimonial families. Once again, the intermediary position of the local patrimonial elite was a critical factor in shaping, and curtailing, social change.


Keith Edward Abbott, Cities and Trade: Consul Abbott on the Economy and Society of Iran, 1847-1866, ed. Abbas Amanat, London, 1983.

Shaikh Yaḥyā Aḥmadi Kermāni, Farmāndehān-e Kermān, ed. Moḥammad-Ebrāhim Bāstāni Pārizi, Tehran, 1975.

Idem, Tāriḵ-e Yaḥyā: sālšomār-e tāriḵ-e Irān wa Jahān az ḵelqat-e ʿālam tā sāl-e 1336 hejri qamari, ed. Šams-al-Din Najmi, Kerman, 2007.

Hamid Algar, “The Revolt of Āghā Khān Maḥallātī and the Transference of the Ismaʿili Imamate to India,” Studia Islamica 29, 1969, pp. 55-81.

Mehdi Bāmdād, Šarḥ-e ḥāl-e rejāl-e Irān dar qarn-e davāzdah wa sizdah wa čahārdah-e hejri, 5 vols., Tehran, 1968-71.

Walter Baring, “Report by Mr. Baring on Trade and Cultivation of Opium in Persia (23 September 1881),” House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, Reports by Her Majesty's Secretaries of Embassy and Legation on the Manufactures, Commerce, &c., of the Countries in which they Reside. Part I, C.3103, 1882.

Edward G. Browne, A Year Amongst the Persians: Impressions As to the Life, Character, and Thought of the Persian People, London, 1950.

Farhad Daftary, Ismaili Literature: A Bibliography of Sources and Studies, London and New York, 2004.

Joanne C. De Groot, “Kirman in the Late Nineteenth Century: A Regional Study of Society and Social Change,” Unpub. Ph.D. diss., University of Oxford, 1977.

Robert Joseph Dillon, “Carpet Capitalism and Craft Involution in Kirman, Iran: A Study in Economic Anthropology,” Unpub. Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1976.

ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Mirzā Farmānfarmā, Safar-nāma-ye Kermān wa Balučestān, ed. Manṣura Etteḥadiya (Neẓām Māfi), Tehran, 1981.

Firuz Mirzā Farmānfarmā, “Safar-nāma-ye Firuz Mirzā Farmānfarmā Kermān 1297 hejri qamari,” in Mallāḥān-e ḵāk wa sayyāḥān-e aflāk, ed. Majid Nikpur Kerman, 2007.

Mirzā Ḥasan Ḥosayni Fasāʾi, Fārs-nāma-ye nāṣeri, ed. Manṣur Rastgār Fasāʾi, 2 vols., Tehran, 1988.

James M. Gustafson, “Opium, Carpets, and Constitutionalists: A Social History of the Elite Households of Kirman, 1859-1914,” Unpub. Ph.D. diss., University of Washington, 2010.

Idem, “Household Networks and Rural Integration in Qajar Kirman,” IJMES 46/1 2014, pp. 51-72.

Leonard Michael Helfgott, Ties that Bind: A Social History of the Iranian Carpet, Washington, 1994.

Denis Hermann and Omid Rezai, “Le rôle du vaqf dans la formation de la communauté Shaykhī Kermānī à l’époque Qājār (1259-1324/1843-1906),” Studia Iranica 36/1, 2007, pp. 87-131.

Annette Ittig, “The Kirmani Boom: A Study in Carpet Entrepreneurship,” Oriental Carpet and Textile Studies 1, 1985, pp. 111-23.

Nikolai Vladmirovich Khanikoff, Memoire sur La partie meridionale de l’Asie Centrale: par Nicolas de Khanikoff, Paris, 1861.

Ann K. S. Lambton, “Kirmān,” in EI2 V, 1986, pp. 147-66.

Idem, Landlord and Peasant in Persia, London and New York, 1953; tr. Manučehr Amiri, as Mālek wa zāreʿ dar Irān, Tehran, 1960.

John Malcolm, The History of Persia: From the Most Early Period to the Present Time: Containing An Account of the Religion, Government, Usages, and Character of the Inhabitants of that Kingdom, 2 vols., London, 1815; repr., Tehran, 1976.

Vanessa Martin, The Qajar Pact: Bargaining, Protest and the State in Nineteenth-Century Persia, London, 2005.

Āqā Moḥammad-Reżā Širāzi, “Ḏekr-e tatemmaye aḥwāl-e Loṭf-ʿAli Ḵān Zand,” in Moḥammad-Ṣādeq Nāmi et al., Tāriḵ-e gitigošā, Tehran, 1984, pp. 375-95.

Mirzā Moḥammad-Ṣādeq Musawi Nāmi et al., Tāriḵ-e gitigošā dar tāriḵ-e Zandiya, Tehran, 1984.

Mirzā Reżā Mohandes, “Safar-nāma-ye Mirzā Reżā Mohandes, Kermān, Yazd, Širāz, Bušehr, 1322 hejri qamari,” in Mallāḥān-e ḵāk wa sayyāḥān-e aflāk, ed. Majid Nikpur, Kerman, 2007.

Moḥammad-Ḥasan Khan Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana Tāriḵ-e monṭaẓam-e nāṣeri, ed. Moḥammad-Esmāʿil Reżwāni, 3 vols., Tehran, 1984-87.

Nāẓem-al-Eslām Kermāni, Tāriḵ-e bidāri-e Irāniān, ed. ʿAli-Akbar Saʿidi Sirjāni, 5 vols. in 2, Tehran, 1983.

A. H. Gleadowe Neucomen, Report on the Commercial Mission to South-Eastern Persia During 1904-1905, Calcutta, 1906.

Shoko Okazaki, “The Great Persian Famine of 1870-71,” BSOAS 49, 1986, pp. 183-92.

John R. Preece, “Report of a Journey Made to Yezd, Kerman, and Shiraz, and on the Trade, &c., of the Consular District of Ispahan,” (27 February 1894) House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, Reports from His Majesty’s Diplomatic and Consular Officers Abroad on Trade and Finance, C.7293, 1894.

Moẓaffar Šahidi, “Amlāk-e ḵāleṣa wa siāsat-e foruš-e ān dar dawra-ye nāṣeri,” Tāriḵ-e moʿāṣer-e Irān I/3, 1976.

Oliver B. St. John, “The Physical Geography of Persia: Narrative of a Journey Through Baluchistan and Southern Persia, 1872,” in India, Persian Boundary Commission, et al., Eastern Persia: An Account of the Journeys of the Persian Boundary Commission, 1870-71-72., 2 vols., London, 1876.

Gianroberto Scarcia, “Kerman 1905: La ‘guerra Tra Šeiḫi e Bālāsarī,’” AIOUN, N.S. 13, 1963, pp. 195-238.

Albert Houtum Schindler and Heinrich Kiepert, Reisen im Südlichen Persien 1879, Berlin, 1881.

Major Charles Euan Smith, “The Perso-Afghan Mission, 1871, 1872,” in India, Persian Boundary Commission et al., Eastern Persia: An Account of the Journeys of the Persian Boundary Commission, 1870-71-72., 2 vols., London, 1876, pp. 234-35.

G. Stöber, “The Nomads of Kermān: On the Economy of Nomadism,” in Richard Tapper and Jon Thompson, eds., The Nomadic Peoples of Iran, London, 2002, pp. 252-59.

Percy Molesworth Sykes, “Report on the Trade and Commerce of the Consular Districts of Kerman and Persian Beluchistan from March, 1894 to March, 1895,” House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, Reports from His Majesty’s Diplomatic and Consular Officers Abroad on Trade and Finance, C.7919, 1896.

Idem, “Sykes to Salisbury” (8 January 1900), FO 60/621.

Idem, Ten Thousand Miles in Persia: Or, Eight Years in Irán, London, 1902.

Idem, A History of Persia, 2 vols., London, 1958; tr. Moḥammad-Taqi Faḵrāʿi Gilāni, as Tāriḵ-e Irān, 2 vols., Tehran, 1955-56.

Aḥmad-ʿAli Khan Waziri Kermāni, Joḡrāfiā-ye Kermān, ed. Moḥammad-Ebrāhim Bāstāni Pārizi, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1974.

Idem, Tāriḵ-e Kermān, ed. Moḥammad-Ebrāhim Bāstāni Pārizi, 2 vols., Tehran, 1985.

Antony Wynn, Persia in the Great Game: Sir Percy Sykes, Explorer, Consul, Soldier, Spy, London, 2003.

KERMAN x. History in the Pahlavi period

See Supplement.

KERMAN xi. History in the Islamic Republic

See Supplement.

KERMAN xii. Monuments

See Supplement.

KERMAN xiii. Zoroastrians

See Supplement.

KERMAN xiv. Jewish Community Of Kerman City

References to the Sasanian-period town of Kerman are sparse (see KERMAN ii. HISTORICAL GEOGRAPHY). But some presence of Jewish and Nestorian Christian communities as an economic force there, as well as at Hormuz (the old port of Kerman province), seems likely, given the eastward range of these minorities. For the medieval period, Jewish inscriptions and literature as far as Afghanistan and Central Asia attest to a wide dispersal of communities (see Paul; Netzer; Lazard, 1968, p. 93, gives a comparative chronology of eastern and western source documents). By the end of the 16th century, during the Safavid period (1501-1722), the growing corpus of European travel literature describes observations of, and interactions with, local Jews. In the region of Kerman, Pedro Teixeira (d. 1641) lived in Hormuz in the 1590s, and he noted in the town “about a hundred and fifty houses of Jews” (Sinclair, tr., p. 168; on Teixeira’s stay, see Garcia, p. 206).

The presence of Jews in the Safavid province of Kerman is also alluded to in the reign of Shah ʿAbbās II (r. 1052-77/1642-66), when a forced conversion of the Jews of the kingdom was attempted (see CONVERSION iv). The events in 1657 at Isfahan are described in detail by the Armenian priest Aṙakʿel of Tabriz (d. 1670; Bournoutian, tr., pp. 347-61), and his narrative lists Yazd and Kerman among the areas where Jews, instead of dissimulating as Muslims, “did not accept the religion of the Persians, through bribes, flight, or openly rejecting it” (Bournoutian, tr., p. 360; Levi, III, p. 354, tr., p. 291). Not long after, in 1654, Jean Baptiste Tavernier (1605-89) returned to Persia from India, but he made no descriptions of minority communities in Hormuz or Kerman (chap. I.8, pp. 107-9; chap. V.23, pp. 755-62) as he traveled from one city to the other for the purchase of wool. He did note (p. 106) the concentration of Zoroastrians in the province, and journeying along the coast toward Hormuz in 1665, he described the predominantly Jewish population of Lār, who were noted as silk weavers (chap. V.22, p. 749; on the Jews of the Persian Gulf coast, see Fischel, pp. 371 ff.). In the later 17th century, the growing interest of the English and Dutch East India Companies in the fine down wool (see ) of Kerman led to establishment of Company residences in the city and the employment of Armenian and Indian traders and translators there; some local Zoroastrians were employed as wool cleaners (Matthee, pp. 353, 365-67), but it is not known if Jews participated in the wool trade in any way.

In the late 18th century, according to the account of the Jewish community of Yazd compiled by Molla Aqābābā Damāvandi a century later (see Yeroushalmi, pp. 189, 193-94), severe drought caused its members to move to Rafsanjān and Sirjān and the villages around Kerman (Levi, III, p. 522, tr., p. 383; Yeroushalmi, p. 200, n. 21). Thus the Jewish Quarter of nineteenth-century Kerman became mainly an offshoot of the community in Yazd (which itself “is said to have travelled east from Baghdád” at some time in its history; Sykes, p. 197). Not surprisingly, Gilbert Lazard (1981, p. 333) judged the Kermani Jewish dialect “almost identical with that of the Jews of Yazd” (see also Gindin, p. 236).

Following the Qajar conquest of the city in 1794 after a lengthy siege, the entire population fell victim to the wrath of Āḡā Moḥammad Khan Qājār, who punished the city for its support of the Zand dynasty (see KERMAN ii, KERMAN ix). Massacring or blinding thousands, he had pyramids of skulls erected, and had women handed over to the soldiers as slaves (Fasāʾi, I, p. 658; Waziri Kermāni, II, pp. 746-48; Sykes, II, p. 288; Levi, III, p. 495; tr., pp. 368-69). The impact on the minority communities is not known. But at his visit in 1810, during the rebuilding of the city, Henry Pottinger (1789-1856) observed that the city population still had not recovered: Zoroastrians were “a small proportion” of a maximum population of 30,000 (the latter respectable number [cf. the same number reported for 1719 by a buyer for the Dutch: Matthee, p. 375] seemed small to him, perhaps in comparison with the 18th-century heyday of Kerman’s international wool trade, on which see Matthee); and “there are neither Armenians, Hindoos, or Jews, resident in the place” (Pottinger, p. 214). He described the reviving local trade and industry, with particular attention to shawl production, but tax revenue was far below the level of the Safavid period (Pottinger, p. 215, n. †).

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the populations of the minorities in Kerman may have grown and diminished depending on the state of physical, political, and economic conditions (on which, for an overview, see KERMAN ix, and Gustafson, 2014). The cities of Yazd and Kerman could serve as mutual refuges, as Yazd was for Kermani Zoroastrians, who were punished after the Afghans, whom they had assisted to occupy the city in 1719, subsequently withdrew (Krusinski, I, p. 220, and for the siege in 1722: II, p. 13; Abbott, 1851, p. 149; Matthee, pp. 375-76), and as Kerman was for Yazdi Jews under famine conditions (see above; and again ca. 1872: see below). At mid-century, Keith Abbott, British consul in Tehran, reached the city in December 1849 and noted the improving conditions for life and commerce under the governor, Ṭahmāsp-qoli (Abbott, 1851, pp. 151-52). Although Abbott habitually strove to give precise numbers and he specified 190 Zoroastrian families in the town and environs, he counted no Jews there—finding “hardly a Jew in the place” (Abbott, 1851, p. 149), as though, after Yazd, he was expecting them.

During the 1871-72 famine, Kerman Jews, perhaps still very few in number, received some new migrants from Yazd but did not receive any attention from the European Jewish relief effort (Yeroushalmi, p. 200, n. 21). By 1875, as reported by the Anglo-Jewish Association, the Jewish population of Kerman consisted of about 20 families or 120 individuals (Yeroushalmi, p. 75). Lazard’s informant who stated in the 1960s that Jews had been in Kerman for one hundred years (Lazard, 1981, pp. 342-43) could be alluding to the 1870s famine migrants or, in a vague way, to the later and much larger ‘second influx’ (see below).

In 1878, the governor of Kerman took a census (Curzon, II, p. 244, n. 2), and in 1879, when Albert Houtum-Schindler (1881, pp. 327-28) visited the city, he recorded the results: 39,718 Muslims, 1,341 Zoroastrians (updated in 1879: 1,377 in 317 houses), 26 Indians (who lived in a caravansary), and 85 Jews (in 16 houses, in 1879). In 1884-85, Ephraim Neumark, who had visited various cities in Iran, including Kerman, reported only 30 Jews (Neumark, p. 86; Levi, III, p. 663; tr., p. 424). For the 1890s, Percy Sykes (p. 195) averaged several estimates (of unknown source and age) and listed 70 Jews and 1,700 Zoroastrians (out of a total population of 49,120).

However, in 1903-4, the Bulletin Annuel of the Alliance Israélite Universelle reported that Kerman had a Jewish community of 2,000 (Tsadik, p. 9); if accurate, this count clearly represents the “second influx” (English, p. 43) of Jews in the 1890s-1900s, drawn by the town’s industrial growth (see KERMAN xv. CARPET INDUSTRY). Still, Alliance Israélite did not set up any schools there, and little information concerning the community was reported by travelers who went to other Jewish communities in Iran (Landshut, p. 63).

Paul W. English (1966, p. 42), from his extensive research in Kerman province, describes the nineteenth-century Jewish quarter of Kerman city:

The lanes of the Jewish quarter were extremely narrow, rarely more than five feet wide. The compound walls . . . were ten to twelve feet high, with jagged glass and stone set in the top to discourage entry. The entrances to the houses were guarded by massive oaken doors strengthened by metal studs. One had to stoop to enter the low portals. These details of the structure . . . were designed to prevent mounted horsemen from effectively attacking its residents. All facilities, necessary to Jewish social and religious life, were inside the quarter: baths and schools, a butcher shop, and two synagogues located at the heart of the quarter. The synagogues bore no external symbols.

In the years 1918-25, following the inception of the Zionist Organization in Iran, the Jewish community of Kerman was able to communicate its poor financial condition and legal issues to the Jewish leadership in Tehran (Minutes of the Zionist Organization: September-December 1919). The establishment of the Kerman Zionist chapter was announced in Tehran on 15 July 1920. Later records reflect internal conflicts, and an objection to the payment of membership shekels resulted in the chapter being inactivated (Minutes of the Zionist Organization, 5 June 1922). Nevertheless, there was a celebration in Kerman after the League of Nations’ 24 July 1922 approval of the draft Mandate of Palestine (text in Hurewitz, II, pp. 305-9) to be exercised by Great Britain (Minutes of the Zionist Organization, 29 August 1922). The terms of the mandate, like the provisional four-power San Remo Resolution of April 1920, affirmed the British Balfour Declaration of 2 November 1917 regarding the future of Palestine. The records also report a farewell letter written to reform Rabbi Joseph Kornfeld (1876-1944), the American ambassador to Iran, upon his departure (Minutes of the Zionist Organization, 4 November 1922). For 1942, Ḥabib Levi lists the population of Kerman as 60 families, 470 individuals, who were mostly cloth merchants or haberdashers (Levi, III, p. 1025: source not stated).

By the mid-20th century, the segregation of minorities, including the Jews and Zoroastrians, began to decrease as the atmosphere of religious tolerance increased. Paul W. English (pp. 46, 49) noted that “Muslims are no longer opposed to living next to Zoroastrians or Jews, and the limitations imposed upon them have been lifted” (see also Yarshater, p. 438). In spite of this amelioration, Tehran has exerted even in distant Kerman a powerful draw on minorities, as well as on Muslims, with its opportunities for economic and social advancement. (Its power of attraction for Zoroastrians was already noticed in the nineteenth century: see Houtum-Schindler, cited in ii, above.) In addition, since 1948 Jews have had the option of emigration to Israel, as an alternative to migration to the capital city or as a further step after it.

Countrywide, the number of Jews fell from 67,800 in the 1966 census (Mauroy, p. 165) to 8,756 reported in the 2011 census (Markaz-e Āmār-e Irān, p. 19, Table 3). For Kerman province, the 1966 Jewish population is given as 496 (Mauroy, p. 400), a figure which helps chart a straight-line decline from the number 550, told in 1963 to Lazard (1981, p. 333) by his Kermani informants, to 450, told in 1968 to Ehsan Yarshater (p. 457). Since the Revolution of 1979, some of a younger generation of Jews have moved to Kerman from Isfahan and other cities in the province, but at the time of the 2006 national census, the count of Jews residing in the province was given as 75 individuals (Princeton University).


Keith Edward Abbott, “Mr. Abbott’s Notes on Various Cities and Countries of Southern Persia 1849-50,” U.K. National Archives, Kew, F.O. 60/165 14 February 1851, in Abbas Amanat, ed., Cities and Trade: Consul Abbott on the Economy and Society of Iran 1847-1866, London, 1983, pp. 119-209.

Idem, “Geographical Notes Taken during a Journey in Persia in 1849 and 1850,” Journal of the Royal Geographic Society 25, 1855, pp. 1-78.

George A. Bournoutian, tr., The History of Vardapet Aṛak‘el of Tabriz II, Costa Mesa, 2006.

George N. Curzon, Persia and the Persian Question, 2 vols., London, 1892.

José Manuel Garcia, “Pedro Teixeira et António de Gouveia: leur intérêts pour la Perse,” in Dejanirah Couto and Rui Loureiro, eds., Revisiting Hormuz: Portuguese Interactions in the Persian Gulf Region in the Early Modern Period, Wiesbaden, 2008, pp. 205-26.

ʿAli-Akbar Dehḵodā, Loḡat-nāma, s.v. Kermān. Paul Ward English, City and Village in Iran: Settlement and Economy in the Kirman Basin, Madison and London, 1966, pp. 42-43, 71-72.

Walter J. Fischel, “The Jews in Mediaeval Iran from the 16th to the 18th Centuries: Political, Economic, and Communal Aspects,” in Irano-Judaica IV, Jerusalem, 1982, pp. 265-91.

Thamar E. Gindin, “The Dialect of the Jews of Yazd,” in Houman Sarshar, ed., Jewish Communities of Iran: Entries on Judeo-Persian Communities Published by the Encyclopaedia Iranica, New York, 2011, pp. 236-41.

James M. Gustafson, “Household Networks and Rural Integration In Qajar Kirman,” IJMES 46, 2014, pp. 51-72.

Mirzā Ḥasan Ḥosayni Fasāʾi, Fārs-nāma-ye nāṣeri, ed. Manṣur Rastgār Fasāʾi, 2 vols., Tehran, 1988.

Albert Houtum-Schindler, “Reisen im südlichen Persien 1879,” Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Erdkunde in Berlin 16, 1881, pp. 307-66.

J. C. Hurewitz, The Middle East and North Africa in World Politics: A Documentary Record, 2nd ed., II, New Haven and London, 1979.

J. T. Krusinski, History of the Late Revolutions of Persia, London, 1728; repr., New York, 1973.

Siegfried Landshut, Jewish Communities in the Muslim Countries of the Middle East: A Survey, London, 1950.

Gilbert Lazard, “La Dialectologie du Judéo-Persan,” Studies in Bibliography and Booklore 8, No. 2/4, Spring 1968, pp. 77-98.

Idem, “Le dialecte des Juifs de Kerman,” in Monumentum Georg Morgenstierne I, Acta Iranica 21. Leiden, 1981, pp. 333-46.

Ḥabib Levi, Tāriḵ-e Yahud-e Irān/History of the Jews in Iran, 3 vols. in 2, 2nd ed., Beverly Hills, Calif., 1984; ed. and abridged Hooshang Ebrami, tr. George W. Maschke, Costa Mesa, 1999.

Markaz-e Āmār-e Irān, Gozida-ye natāyej-e sar-šomāri-e ʿomumi-e nofus va maskan 1390, Tehran, 2011.

Rudi P. Matthee, “The East India Company Trade in Kerman Wool, 1658-1730,” in Jean Calmard, ed., Etudes Safavides, Paris and Tehran, 1993, pp. 343-83.

“Minutes of the Zionist Organization of Iran,” in the archives of the House of Judeo-Persian Manuscripts, Los Angeles.

Amnon Netzer, “Kerman,” in Encyclopaedia Judaica XII, 2nd ed., Detroit, 2007, pp. 86-87.


Ephraim Neumark, Masaʿ be-erets ha-ḳedem, ed. A. Yaari, Jerusalem, 1947 (in Hebrew).

Ludwig Paul, “PERSIAN LANGUAGE i. EARLY NEW PERSIAN,” in Encyclopaedia Iranica Online, http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2330-4804_EIRO_COM_11377.

Princeton University, “Population by religion and province: 1385 census (2006),” at http://www.princeton.edu/irandataportal/socioecon/topics/population/18-POPULATION-BY-RELIGION-AND-OSTAN-1385-CENSUS-(2006).xlsx.

Henry Pottinger, Travels in Beloochistan and Sinde, London, 1816.

William F. Sinclair, tr., The Travels of Pedro Teixeira; with his “Kings of Harmuz” and Extracts from his “Kings of Persia,” London, 1902.

Percy M. Sykes, Ten Thousand Miles in Persia or Eight Years in Irán, London, 1902.

Jean Baptiste Tavernier, Les six voyages de Jean Baptiste Tavernier en Turquie, en Perse, et aux Indes, Paris, 1679.

Daniel Tsadik, Between Foreigners and Shiʿis: Nineteenth-Century Iran and Its Jewish Minority, Stanford, 2007.

Aḥmad-ʿAli Khan Waziri Kermāni, Joḡrāfiā-ye Kermān, ed. Moḥammad-Ebrāhim Bāstāni Pārizi, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1974.

Ehsan Yarshater, “The Jewish Communities of Persia,” in Ph. Gignoux and A. Tafazzoli, eds., Mémorial Jean de Menasce, Louvain, 1974, pp. 453-66.

David Yeroushalmi, The Jews of Iran in the Nineteenth Century, Leiden and Boston, 2009.

KERMAN xv. Carpet Industry

Kerman has been the home of a thriving carpet weaving industry since the late 19th century. Kerman’s hand-woven, knotted pile carpets are widely regarded by art historians and collectors as among the finest in the world for the quality of their materials and workmanship, their distinct range of attractive styles, and the use of vibrant colors supplied by Kerman’s famed master dyers. The carpet weaving craft as practiced in Kerman developed from a variety of influences, many of them external to Kerman. Yet fine weaving has long been practiced in urban, village, and tribal settings alike throughout Kerman, as the province carried on a world-renowned shawl export trade in the 18th and 19th centuries. A rapid commercialization of Kerman’s carpet industry in the 1890s was possible with the availability of a large pool of highly skilled weavers and access to appropriate material inputs. Kerman had the benefit of access to locally produced down wool (), a large pool of experienced weavers, and a community of master dyers, which together account for the distinct qualities of the Kerman carpet (PLATE I).

PLATE I. Nineteenth-century Kerman floor cover, 19 ft. 1/2 in. ⨉ 15 ft. 1 1/2 in. (580.4 ⨉ 461 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art [www.metmuseum.org], The Lesley and Emma Sheafer Collection, Bequest of Emma A. Sheafer, 1973, acc. no. Inst.1974.21.4.PLATE I. Nineteenth-century Kerman floor cover, 19 ft. 1/2 in. ⨉ 15 ft. 1 1/2 in. (580.4 ⨉ 461 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art [www.metmuseum.org], The Lesley and Emma Sheafer Collection, Bequest of Emma A. Sheafer, 1973, acc. no. Inst.1974.21.4.

Despite the widely held assumption that Kerman’s carpet industry is of great antiquity, there is little evidence of carpet weaving practiced there until the Safavid period. The obscurity of the origins of the Kerman carpet is due partly to the highly perishable nature of the materials. Early references to weaving or textile production are also vague and difficult to tie to a particular craft. The first references to knotted pile carpets only appear in sources after the Ḡozz migrations, suggesting that the craft may have been imported by Turkic migrants from inner Asia around the 10th or 11th century. Others insist on the Persianate roots of the carpet weaving craft, a debate fueled by the discovery of a 5th-century BCE pile carpet in a Scythian tomb in the Altai mountains of Central Asia (Wulff, pp. 212-13; see CARPETS vi,vii, and viii). Nonetheless, pile carpets were certainly produced on the Iranian plateau during the Saljuq period, scraps of which have miraculously been preserved. In Kerman, however, it is not known whether or not the craft was indeed practiced at that time. When Marco Polo passed through Kerman in the 13th century, recording the economic activities of its inhabitants, he mentioned only needlework and embroidery, not carpet weaving (Marco Polo, p. 219). It is only in the Safavid period that we find specific references to carpet production in Kerman after Shah ʿAbbās I (r. 1588-1629) established a royal workshop there (Chardin, IV, p. 154; Kaempfer, p. 202).It is clear, in any case, that carpet weaving in Kerman in the Safavid era was a relatively small-scale industry in the context of an overwhelmingly agrarian regional economy with limited long-distance trade connections, particularly in finished craft goods.

Art historians differentiate sharply between “urban” and “tribal” carpet production. “Kerman” carpets refer generally only to those produced in the city of Kerman or in villages near the city that were under the direction of urban master weavers (ostād) and merchants. Urban and tribal productions involved most of the same material inputs, but vary in technique and style. Kerman carpets are woven on vertical looms with the pile hand-knotted along the warp and beaten in tightly with use of an iron comb implement. Urban workshops were capable of handling curvilinear designs with intricate details, sometimes plotted out full size on paper by drafters, with the patterns then recited orally to the weavers by a ḵalifa (Edwards, pp. 24-27). Rural and tribal carpets, on the other hand, were typically produced on horizontal ground looms, consisting of two beams held in place by stakes with tension on the warp strings created by driving wedges between the beams and their stakes (Edwards, p. 22). In this type of operation, it was impractical for tribal weavers to attempt anything but rectilinear patterns, which were nonetheless used to produce stunning geometrical designs. The differences also extend to the knots used by weavers. The “Turkish” (ghiordes) knot is typically used in tribal carpet production, while the “Persian” (senneh) knot is almost exclusively used among the urban weavers. Kerman’s Afšāri tribal rugs became of such renown worldwide, and their methods and styles so influential on rural and tribal production elsewhere, that by the late 20th century many tribal rugs from the Kerman region were simply known as “Afshari” carpets, regardless of who actually produced them (Stöber, p. 256).

Throughout Iran, the methods of carpet production tend to be very similar. One of the major distinguishing characteristics of the Kerman carpet is the high quality of the locally produced material inputs. Most Kerman carpets are woven with a type of down wool (kork), which is unique to Kerman and comparable to the finest products even of Kashmir. East India Company merchants carried a steady export of kork wool from Kerman during the Safavid era to supply weavers in British India, while the shearing, sorting, cleaning, spinning, and dyeing were completed locally (Matthee). The dyestuffs commonly used in Kerman include indigo, cochineal, madder, walnut, weld, pomegranate, vine leaves, straw, and henna, which are capable of producing a wide variety of colors and intermediate shades uncommon in the weaving traditions of other regions throughout Iran (Edwards, p. 210).

After the decline of the kork trade during the post-Safavid interregnum in the 18th century, Kerman’s fine wool was instead used to support a local shawl-weaving sector within Kerman itself, which subsequently took its place as the region’s major handicraft (Dillon, pp. 259-61). Shawls remained the major non-agricultural export of Kerman into the late 19th century, and their manufacture is vividly recorded in the works of countless European travelers throughout the Qajar period. In 1850, Keith Abbott reported that “the little importance this town possesses is derived from its shawl and other woollen fabrics,” estimating there to be 2,450 looms employing 4,500 men and boys in Kerman city alone, besides 352 more looms in use in nearby villages, most of which made coarse woolen shawls for export (Abbott, pp. 83-84).

Although these looms were principally used for shawl weaving, there was a small but active community of carpet weavers in city of Kerman and the nearby village of Rāvar (often mistakenly called Lāvar) throughout the Qajar period. J. R. Preece noted that each carpet would take up to a year to produce and required large inputs of material, capital, and labor. The final products cost up to 75 pounds, and as such were luxury items, with a limited local market (Preece, p. 31). For these reasons, carpets were typically produced only on a commission basis. Provincial governors personally ordered many of the finer products to give as gifts and curiosities. The governor Moḥammad-Esmāʿil Khan Wakil-al-Molk, who also held a personal monopoly over the kork trade, commissioned two large carpets for the interiors of the shrine of the mystic Shah Neʿmat-Allāh Wali in Māhān and the Imam Reżā Shrine in Mashhad (see ĀSTĀN-E QODS-E RAŻAWI) during his tenure from 1859 to 1868 (Waziri Kermani, pp. 83, 189).

The market for Kermani shawls began to decline in the late 19th century in competition with Kashmir, just as an interest in Oriental carpets began to develop in Europe. This demand was inspired initially by the grand international exhibitions of the late 19th century (Kurzman, p. 142). After the 1873 World’s Fair in Vienna, dealers began purchasing available carpets in large numbers via Istanbul through agents in Tabriz, who quickly bought up most of the available antique carpets on the open market throughout Iran (Helfgott, pp. 15-16). Once the older rugs began to disappear from the bazaars, entrepreneurs invested heavily in the production of new carpets specifically for export to meet the demands of the European upper and middle classes. This process began first in the north of Iran, particularly with the massive Ziegler enterprise at Solṭānābād (present-day Arāk). Kerman, by comparison, was relatively late to commercialize the craft (Ittig, 1992). As late as 1894, when J. R. Preece visited the city to survey its economic prospects, there were only some 100 active carpet looms, with about half of those run by a group of just six master weavers, who continued to produce on commission (Preece, p. 31).

The commercialization of Kerman’s carpet industry played a critical role in the increasing integration of the province into global economic structures from the 1890s onward. In 1895 and 1896, wealthy notables in Kerman, many of whom had recently made their fortunes by cash cropping cotton and opium, began investing heavily in carpet production on speculation as demand for Persian carpets boomed overseas. While the commercialization of Kerman’s carpet industry was certainly stimulated by this foreign demand, the process itself was carried out through the hands of Kermani investors and merchants (Gustafson, pp. 202-5; cf. Seyf, p. 208). As Āqā Khan Waziri, a contemporary Kermani observer, put it, “all the people of this land, from the aʿyān, the khans, and the elites, to the most average people, the lower [classes], etc., every capable person with ten tumāns opened a weaving shop or acted to benefit [from this situation]. Most shawl weaving operations were converted to carpet weaving” (Waziri Kermāni, pp. 33-34). Yaḥyā Aḥmadi notes that the carpet trade became so ubiquitous that Kerman’s provincial governors invested in carpet manufacturing to supplement their income and thus attempted to regulate and improve the trade (Aḥmadi, p. 158). According to the British trade figures from the Kerman consulate, carpet exports increased from a mere 3,000 pounds in 1894-95 to an estimated 120,000 pounds by 1902 (Sykes, 1896; idem, 1903). The existing system of contract production remained in place, while the pool of financiers from among the local elite community expanded, producing what Robert Dillon called a process of “craft involution with significant continuity in local productive relations, and a process of growth without the development of ‘modern’ socio-economic formations” (Dillon, pp. 469-70, 476).

After nearly a decade of steady growth, the carpet industry suddenly collapsed in 1904, dependent as it was on the caprice of European fashions. British administrators blamed this reversal on overproduction, the use of inferior aniline dyes, and the introduction of “hideous semi-European patterns,” like that of a Frankish warrior ridiculed by British consul Percy Sykes (Sykes, 1895, p. 5; idem, 1906, pp. 5-6). Mirzā Reżā Mohandes, the Iranian guide for the [Colonel Arthur Hills Gleadowe] Newcomen Mission (1904-5), estimated that there were 20,000 unemployed carpet weavers present in Kerman when he came to the city in 1904 (Mirzā Reżā Mohandes, p. 140). This is evidence of a rapid increase in the urban population corresponding to the boom in carpet manufacturing, and the subsequent bust in 1904-5. Nāẓem-al-Eslām Kermāni (I, p. 315) mentions large crowds, estimated at 10,000 people, participating in the factional urban riots in Kerman in 1905. It is likely that the large numbers of young, out-of-work carpet weavers in the city at that time were major participants in these events, which is corroborated by the notes of British observers. For instance, in November 1905, when someone broke into a Shaikhi mosque in Kerman city and urinated on the prayer niche (meḥrāb), the British consul noted “this is about the level of the Kermani weaver” (Haworth, fol. 187). In order to quell the violence, the Qajar governor bastinadoed a local theologian (mojtahed), an event that Mangol Bayat called “the spark that first set the fire of the Constitutional Revolution” (Bayat, p. 183; Nāẓem al-Eslām, pp. 315-16).

It was only after this temporary lull that Europeans began to set up carpet manufacturing ventures directly, as they had done in Solṭānābād and elsewhere in Iran. By early 1909, Nearco Castelli and Brothers and the Eastern Rug and Trading Company, both with headquarters in New York, had appointed representatives in Kerman and began pushing local officials to improve communication and transport to enable them to increase their trade (FO 248/​968). Annette Ittig notes that, like the Kermani and Tabrizi investors before them, direct European investment did little to alter the mode of production and created a “comprador situation” even with an estimated tripling of the number of looms in the city between 1900 and World War I (Ittig, 1985, p. 121).

During the initial commercialization of the carpet trade, weaving took place in small workshops staffed primarily by children. European observers consistently detail the contemptible conditions of these young Kermani weavers, much as earlier travelers described the horrors of the shawl manufactories. The records of the Church Missionary Society, which operated a medical clinic in Kerman from 1901 to 1941, describe a plague of rickets and deformities attributed to work conditions. Sitting in damp, squalid underground workshops along improvised benches, leaning forward to tie knots along the warp strings, many weavers were said to have “sat so long in that cramped position from the time when they were quite young, that their poor little bodies have grown too distorted and crippled for them to be able to walk” (Linton, p. 114). Leonard Helfgott singled out the conditions in Kerman’s carpet manufactories as exceptionally severe, and aiding in producing what he calls a “new Iranian proletariat” (Helfgott, pp. 249-50). Arthur Cecil Edwards, who visited several of Kerman’s carpet manufactories in autumn 1948, noted a marked improvement in working conditions by that time, which he credits to the attention paid by the League of Nations, the Iranian Majles, and the activities of the Tudeh Party (Edwards, p. 206).

Although the Kerman carpet represents a distinct regional style, the motifs in currency have continually evolved since the industry’s commercialization along with patterns of production and consumption. The Kerman carpet has remained primarily a luxury, export item, and the influence of Euro-American demand is readily apparent in the evolution of styles. Although there were some early experiments with overt Europeanization of carpet designs, many early patterns were clearly influenced by the motifs common to the preceding shawl industry. May Beattie describes the dominant trend of the pre-World War I era in Kerman as the “vase technique,” as “a vase, with or without a bracket, was the motif in the lattice designs which caught the attention of early writers and gave rise to the name . . . regardless of the fact that some of the designs contain no vases” (Beattie, p. 11). Some commissioned works from this period were based on existing miniature paintings or new designs created to please a particular patron. One famous carpet from 1907, commissioned by Kerman’s governor ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Mirzā Farmānfarmā, contains a strikingly nationalist theme with Iran woven in as part of a “tree of nations,” placing the Qajar shah alongside a host of foreign heads of state to highlight Iran’s new place in the world order (Kurzman; PLATE II). From the 1920s onward, in what Edwards calls Kerman’s “classic era,” designers explored a wide variety of motifs, from animal and floral designs to all-over designs filled with intricate details, and experimented with creative renderings of the central medallion (or multiple medallions) and broken borders (Edwards, p. 208; Beattie, pp. 33-96). Even as motifs constantly evolved, these styles were popular among European collectors as examples of traditional Oriental art.

PLATE II. The carpet commissioned in 1907 in Kerman by the governor, ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Mirzā Farmānfarmā, depicting Moḥammad-ʿAli Shah alongside other world leaders as part of a “tree of nations.” Carpet Museum of Iran, Laleh Park, Tehran. Courtesy of Charles Kurzman.PLATE II. The carpet commissioned in 1907 in Kerman by the governor, ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Mirzā Farmānfarmā, depicting Moḥammad-ʿAli Shah alongside other world leaders as part of a “tree of nations.” Carpet Museum of Iran, Laleh Park, Tehran. Courtesy of Charles Kurzman.

After another downturn in the market during World War II, there was a sudden simultaneous shift in emphasis towards French inspired floral designs and towards a return to Iranian ownership of the carpet weaving enterprises. By the 1950s, various cost cutting measures began to affect Kerman’s carpet weaving industry, like the introduction of the paired (jofti) knot” (an almost undetectable knot tied across four warp strings instead of two, thus using less wool and compromising the durability of the final product) and the use of synthetic dyes, although these were slower to appear in Kerman than elsewhere in Iran. Investors have established numerous regional hand-woven carpet cooperatives, which have been critical in maintaining hand weaving in the face of fierce foreign competition. Carpets remain one of Iran’s chief non-oil and non-industrial exports, with Kerman continuing to play a leading role. In the year 2003-4, carpets comprised 8.4 percent of non-oil exports, valued at 573 million U.S. dollars ( International Monetary Fund).



Keith Edward Abbott, Cities and Trade: Consul Abbott on the Economy and Society of Iran, 1847-1866, ed. Abbas Amanat, London, 1983.

Yaḥyā Aḥmadi Kermāni, Farmāndehān-e Kermān, ed. Moḥammad-Ebrāhim Bāstāni Parizi, Tehran, 1975.

Mangol Bayat, Mysticism and Dissent: Socio-Religious Thought in Qajar Iran, Syracuse, N.Y., 1982.

May H. Beattie, Carpets of Central Persia, with Special Reference to Rugs of Kirman, Westerham, 1976.

Jean Chardin, Les Voyages du Chevalier Chardin en Perse, et autres lieux de l’Orient, ed. Louis Langles, 10 vols., Paris, 1811.

“Complaint of Delay in Posts by the European Community of Kerman” 9 February 1909, FO 248/​968.

Robert Joseph Dillon, “Carpet Capitalism and Craft Involution in Kirman, Iran: A Study in Economic Anthropology,” Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1976.

Arthur Cecil Edwards, The Persian Carpet: A Survey of the Carpet-Weaving Industry of Persia, London, 1975.

A. H. Gleadowe-Newcomen, Report on the Commercial Mission to South-Eastern Persia During 1904-1905, Calcutta, 1906.

James Gustafson, “Opium, Carpets, and Constitutionalists: A Social History of the Elite Households of Kirman,1859-1914,” Ph.D. diss., University of Washington, 2010.

Leonard Michael Helfgott, Ties that Bind: A Social History of the Iranian Carpet, Washington, D.C., 1994.

L. Haworth, “Diary for the Week Ending November 12 1905,” U. K. National Archives, Kew, F.O. 248/​846.

International Monetary Fund, Islamic Republic of Iran—Statistical Appendix, IMF Country Report No. 04/307, September, 2004.

Annette Ittig, “The Kirmani Boom: A Study in Carpet Entrepreneurship,” Oriental Carpet and Textile Studies 1, 1985, pp. 111-23.

Idem, “Ziegler’s Sultanabad Carpet Enterprise,” Iranian Studies 25/1-2, 1992, pp. 103-35.

Engelbert Kaempfer, Amoenitates exoticae (bk. 1), ed and tr. Walther Hinz as Am Hofe des Persischen Grosskönigs(1684-85), Leipzig, 1940.

ʿAḏrā Ḵazāʾeli, “Barrasi-e ṣanāyeʿ-e nassāji-e Kermān,” in Si goftār dar bāra-ye Kermān, Kerman, 1978, pp. 417-55.

Charles Kurzman, “Weaving Iran into the Tree of Nations,” IJMES 37, 2005, pp. 137-66.

James Henry Linton, Persian Sketches, London, 1923.

Rudi Matthee, “The East India Company Trade in Kerman Wool, 1658-1730,” in Jean Calmard, ed., Études Safavides: Moṭālaʿāt-e Ṣafawi, Paris and Tehran, 1993, pp. 343-83.

Mirzā Reżā Mohandes, “Safar-nāma-ye Mirzā Reżā Mohandes: Kermān, Yazd, Širāz, Bušehr 1322 hejri qamari,” in Majid Nikpur, ed., Mallāḥān-e ḵāk va Sayyāḥān-e aflāk, Kerman, 2007.

Nāẓem-al-Eslām Kermāni, Tāriḵ-e bidāri-e Irāniān, ed. ʿAli-Akbar Saʿidi Sirjāni, 5 vols. in 2, Tehran, 1983.

Sirus Parhām, Namāyešgāh-e naqša-ye qāli-e Kermān, Tehran, 1977.

Idem, “Naqšahā-ye qāli-e Kermān,” Rāhnemā-ye ketāb 21, 1978, pp. 339-45.

Marco Polo, The Travels of Marco Polo, 3rd ed., ed. Hugh Murray, Edinburgh, 1845.

J. R. Preece, “Report of a Journey Made to Yezd, Kerman, and Shiraz, and on the Trade, &c., of the Consular District of Ispahan” (27 Feb. 1894), House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, Reports from H. M. Diplomatic and Consular Officers Abroad on Trade and Finance, C.7293, 1894.

A. Seyf, “Carpet Manufactures of Iran in the Nineteenth Century,” Middle Eastern Studies 26/2, 1990, pp. 204-13.

Georg Stöber, “The Nomads of Kermān: On the Economy of Nomadism,” in Richard Tapper and Jon Thompson, eds., The Nomadic Peoples of Iran, London, 2002, pp. 252-59.

Percy Molesworth Sykes, “Report on the Trade and Commerce of the Consular Districts of Kerman and Persian Beluchistan from March, 1894 to March, 1895,” House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, Reports from H. M. Diplomatic and Consular Officers Abroad on Trade and Finance, C.7919, 1896.

Idem, “Report on the Trade of the Kerman Consular District for the Year 1902-3 by Major P. Sykes, His Majesty’s Consul,” House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, Annual Series of Trade Reports, Cd.1386, 1903.

Idem, “Report for the Year 1905-6 on the Trade of the Kerman Consular District,” House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, Annual Series of Trade Reports, Cd.2682, 1906.

Aḥmad-ʿAli Khan Waziri Kermāni, Joḡrāfiā-ye Kermān, ed. Moḥammad-Ebrāhim Bāstāni Pārizi, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1974.

Hans E. Wulff, The Traditional Crafts of Persia: Their Development, Technology, and Influence on Eastern and Western Civilization, London, 1966.

KERMAN xvi. Languages

The province of Kerman is characterized by two indigenous, “Southwest” Iranian languages, Persian in the mountainous north and Garmsiri in the lowland south (Figure 1), supplemented by the Median-type dialects spoken by the Zoroastrian and Jewish residence of the city of Kerman, and possibly by Turkish residues in western-central districts.

Figure 1. Map of the area populated by speakers of Kermani Persian (north) and Garmsiri (south), separated by the curve in between. (The base map is from Google Earth)Figure 1. Map of the area populated by speakers of Kermani Persian (north) and Garmsiri (south), separated by the curve in between. (The base map is from Google Earth)

This article is divided into four sections: (1) Historical perspective; (2) varieties of Persian; (3) Garmsiri dialects, (4) Abbreviations, sources.


Unlike the three historical super-provinces of Iran, Fārs, Media, and Khorasan, whose language histories are relatively well known, at least in outline, the language history of Kerman can only be conjectured on account of the paucity of documentation. The pre-historic civilization of Jiroft, one of the oldest on the Iranian plateau, left no written record, yet may have left a substratum in toponymy and flora, which call for detailed studies. It is known, however, that the Carmania of Classical authors was well integrated into the Iranian-speaking domain, to the extent that its people had customs and language similar to those of the Persians and Medes. The reports on Carmania point to the southern, hot climate region of Kerman adjoining the Strait of Hormuz, within the “date palm zone” (for references, see Brunner), as does a Darius inscription (DSf 34-35; Kent, pp. 143-44) in citing Karmāna as a source of yakā, a timber identified by I. Gershevitch (1957) with jag “sissoo tree,” which is native to the southern districts of Kerman, from Jiroft to Bašākerd. Classical authors further observe that “the Persians” already had settled on littoral Carmania (cf. Brunner). Within this context, one may surmise an ancient time-depth for language contiguity that exists today between the Garmsiri dialects of southern Kerman (see section 3, below) and the Lārestāni group of dialects in southern Fārs.

The Arabic geographies of the 10th century provide brief but useful information regarding the languages spoken in the province of Kerman. They describe the Kufčis (see QOFṢ) as inhabitants of the region between Jabal Bārez and the Gulf of Oman, and associate their language with that of the Baloch (Bosworth). As the Kufči habitat nearly matches Kerman’s lowland south, their language could be the precursor of the current Garmsiri dialects, which also share significant phonological features with Balochi. This conjecture, however, should be ruled out, because the warlike Kufčis could only be adversary to the intensive agricultural and commercial economy practiced in the Halilrud valley, centered at Jiroft (cf. Le Strange, pp. 314-16). The Kufčis may only have left a trace in the dialect named South Baškardi by Ilya Gershevitch (1959).

The early Islamic geographers further state that the inhabitants of Kerman spoke an intelligible Persian that was close to Khorasani (Eṣṭaḵri; Moqaddasi, apud Ḵānlari, I, p. 286). These statements are of utmost importance, for Kermani Persian remains otherwise undescribed, much less documented, down to the 20th century. Subsequently, we face a dark millennium between (1) the 10th century, when, according to the geographers, New Persian had already become indigenized in highland Kerman, as it was in Khorasan, from which a standard, literary New Persian was emerging, and (2) the 20th century, when the grammar of Kermani Persian, even in distant districts, is hardly distinguishable from that of Tehran, and many other urban centers of Iran for that matter. These two ends of the time spectrum leave us with little explanation about the period in between: neither do the current Kermani vernaculars resemble those of the Greater Khorasan and Transoxiana in the latters’ remarkable idiosyncrasies vis-à-vis standard modern Persian, nor does there exist in Persophonic parts of Kerman any residue of pre-Persian languages, as is the case with the Perside dialects in Fārs and the Median dialects in central Iran, the urban centers of which had not given up their Median until after the Mongol period (for Isfahan, see Borjian, 2014). The Persian varieties of Kerman also show little trace of the “southern” varieties of Early New Persian that Gilbert Lazard (1990) hypothesizes to have once spread from Khuzestan in the west to Sistān in the east.

Kerman is linguistically far less diverse than either Fārs or central and western Iran, not only in lacking non-Persian languages of Iranian stock within a Persian milieu, but also in assimilating the Turkic dialects that have been introduced to the province at different stages in history. Beginning with the coming of the Ḡozz in the 11th century, much of the history of the province saw Turkic-speaking ruling classes and influx of various Turkic tribes (Lambton). The Afšārs, whose migrations to the western parts of the province began in the 16th century and who were reported to have been speaking Turkish in the mid-19th century (de Rochechouart, p. 28), have now virtually lost their language to Persian (personal communication with residents of Sirjān, Bāft, and Bardsir). In Kuhbanān, at the northwestern corner of the province, Turkish speakers are unremarkable (interviews), and the Ḵālu tribe of Rābor and Bāft allegedly spoke “a mixture of Persian and Turkish.” Overall, the presence of Turkish in Kerman shows an opposite effect with respect to Fars, where the Qašqāʾi tribal confederation remained intact until recently, and to Azerbaijan, which has fully shifted to Turkish.

The last but not the least historical paradox poses itself in the languages of the Zoroastrian and Jewish communities of Kerman. The city had, until lately, sizable quarters populated by the two religious minorities, who spoke Median languages of the Central-Plateau type not otherwise indigenous to Kerman. The striking similarity between the Kermani and Yazdi Zoroastrian dialects (see BEHDINĀN DIALECT) and between the Kermani and Yazdi Jewish dialects (Lazard, 1981; Borjian, 2014, sec. 6.5 and table 7) leaves little doubt about the recentness of linguistic exchanges between the two cities. Historical records suggest a Jewish population flow from Yazd to Kerman (Yeroushalmi, p. 200; English, p. 42; cf. xiv, above), with the implication that their Median dialect followed the same path. This justification does not seem to hold for the Zoroastrians. While there was an influx of Zoroastrians into Kerman, in the early 18th century, it was not particularly from central Iran, but from Sistān, whose Zoroastrian community were either native to the city or recent immigrants from southern Khorasan. On the other hand, there existed in the late 16th century a deep-rooted Zoroastrian community in Kerman, comparable in size with that of Yazd, the other Zoroastrian stronghold in Iran (Ghereghlou). Accordingly, we are left in the dark about the original language of Kermani Zoroastrians and the way they adopted their current Median language. A comparative study with Kermani Persian will elucidate how early the Behdinān dialect could have been implanted in Kerman.


The varieties of Persian spoken in the northern parts of Kerman Province, from Šahr-e-Bābak eastward to Fahraj and from Kuhbanān southward to Bāft, are sufficiently coherent to be perceived by the natives as a single Kermani accent (lahja), yet sufficiently close to standard spoken Persian to be effortlessly intelligible to Persophones at large. The individuality of Kermani comes not from its grammar, which is nearly identical to the standard modern Persian, but from its characteristic sound system and, to a lesser degree, to its native vocabulary, which shows considerable uniformity across the Persophonic districts of the province.

The distribution of Kermani varieties may bear certain areal patterns. One that surfaced in this study is fronting of u/ow to i/ew in the northern and southern districts but their retention along the Rafsanjān–Kerman–Bam trade artery, which cuts through the province, and in the town of Sirjān, which is located on the old caravan route to Hormuz. Nevertheless, as Ḥāmed Mowlāʾi (2011) demonstrates in his microanalysis, the northernmost district of Kuhbanān itself is bisected on this sound development. Moreover, the urban variety known as maḥalla-šahri (Bāstāni-Pārizi, 1996), spoken in the inner city of Kerman, seems to be a koine, in contradistinction to lahja-ye dehāti, the appellation given to the rural or provincial vernaculars by urban dwellers.

Documentation and studies. The earliest known documentation of Kermani Persian is found in the works of Mirzā Qāsem Adib-e Kermāni, later known as Qāsemi Kermāni, written in the early 20th century. His best known works are Neyestān, a satirical manẓuma of 800 couplets, and Ḵārestān, which challenges the celebrated Golestān, both in the book title (ḵār “thorn” vs. gol “rose”) and in indigenizing Saʿdi’s melodic prose with a vocabulary specific to Kerman. The main themes of these works are criticizm of the exploitation of the textile workers (šālbāf) and sympathy with folk culture, including the vernacular of Kerman.

While serving as British Consul in Kerman during 1912-14, Colonel David L. R. Lorimer and his wife Emily collected lullabies, children’s rhymes, games, riddles, folk medicine, folksongs, and folktales of Kerman. The collected data was published in 1919 with English translation, and was further edited and translated into Persian by F. Vahman (see Bāstāni-Pārizi, 1984, pp. 149-70). Probably inspired by Lorimer, Ḥosayn Kuhi Kermāni documented hundreds of songs, mostly dobaytis (1931, 1938, and multiple editions since) and stories (1935), mainly from Kerman Province, but also from elsewhere, without specifying their provenances for the most part. His editions suffer from inaccuracy and lack of authenticity (Bāstāni-Pārizi, 1984, pp. 159-60).

Contributions by Iranian scholars include the lexicon Farhang-e kermāni (1957; repr., 1966) by Manučehr Sotuda, who compiled words collected by local pundits, perhaps from various localities in the province, as well as the items gleaned from the works of Mirzā Qāsem (ca. 400 items, with much textile and agriculture terminology) and Kuhi Kermāni. Nāṣer Baqāʾi published a series of articles on the Persian spoken in the city of Kerman (1963-70) and a volume on proverbs (2002). In the last two decades, the Markaz-e Kermān-šenāsi has published glossaries, typically appended with a list of idioms and expressions, for several dialects throughout the province. Irān Kalbāsi (2009) has a short text transcribed in several Kermani varieties (see Bibliography).

Phonology. The consonant inventory of Kermani largely agrees with standard modern Persian. A salient idiosyncrasy, shared with Yazdi Persian, is the phonemic distinction between /q/ and /ḡ/ [γ], as demonstrated in Ker., Bard., Zar. qâl “noise”Ꮑ ḡâl “cave, nest” and qam “funnel” Ꮑ ḡam “sorrow.” /k/ is conditionally palatalized before front vowels; hence that variant is not phonemic. /ž/ is rarely encountered. Zarandi nasals, unless onset, fade and make the preceding vowel nasalized, e.g. “I” vs. man-o-to “I and you.”

The vowels, /a e i â o u/, are compatible with those of standard Persian. Some varieties have a mid vowel, [ə], conditioned to certain syllabic patterns (see the following paragraph). There are morphonological rules in play, such as the loss of final vowel in the plural: Ker. kuče “lane” kučâ “lanes.”

A noticeable feature of the Kermani accent is the prevalence of the vowel e (ə, according to Baqāʾi, 1963, p. 214) corresponding to a in formal Persian. Šahin Neʿmatzāda has argued that the shift a > e is regular in open syllables in underived contexts (e.g., bedan “body, saltenat “monarchy,” tebeqe “floor”) as well as derived contexts, where a coda has been resyllabified as an onset due to suffixation: yax “ice,” yéxe “is icy,” in par per-e merḡ-e “this feather is hen’s feather.” Her argument may be generalized to include the reverse shift e > a when an open syllable becomes closed: sag bešo “become a dog!” səg-i “a dog,” səg-enadide “he hasn’t seen the dog,” səg-e zard “yellow dog” (examples from Baqāʾi, 1991, idioms 875, 78, 100). The syllabic process holds in other varieties as well, e.g., Sir. xune “house” vs. xunaš “his house”; Zar. sar, kar,kal, šol yielding sərấ “heads,” kərí “deafness,” kəlú “the bald one,” šə́le “it is soft.”

The diphthongal sequence /ow/ (often heard as [oː]) in certain varieties (see Historical phonology, below, for distribution) corresponds to /ew/ in other varieties, e.g., Raf. jow, gow, Zar., Guḡ. jew, gew for “barley” and “cow.” /ew/ may be analyzed as a long central mid-high round vowel [ɵː], considering the need for the epenthesis v in prevocalic positions: Zar. gewvâ [gɵːvɑ] “cows,” šewví “a night,” néwve/newye “it is new.”

Noun phrase. The suffix -u, found in most dialects of southern Iran, is multifunctional in Kermani Persian: (1) it is a definite marker: Ker. ketâbu “the book, Raf. sag “dog,” segu “the dog”; (2) it forms adjectives from nouns: Ker. korču “wrinkled,” jetku “sticky” (from jetk “resin”), gelu “muddy,” Bard. geleku “clay brazier,” rešku “lousy” (from rešk “nit”), gulu “baby’s dummy, pacifier”; (3) it forms nouns from nouns: Bard. ârusu “ladybug,” Sir. teterku “smallpox” (from teterk “hail”), Kuhb. zoretu “hail” (allegedly due to resemblance to ẕorrat “corn”); (4) it forms adjectives from adjectives: haftu “seven months pregnant”; (5) it forms nouns from adjectives: Guḡ. âbâdu “wedding songs”; (6) it forms verbal nouns: Ker. xâbu “one who sleeps excessively,” Zar. češguru (< gir-?) “hide-and-seek”; (7) it forms toponyms: Rāv. Čenâlu (from čenâl “plain tree”), Âduru (âdur “a thorn bush”), Šuru “the salty,” Ew-kuru “the little-water”; (8) it is a diminutive marker: Ker. doxt(ar)u “little girl,” Zar. kafteru “pigeon,” telezgu (Pers. telesk) “smaller bunch attached to a whole bunch (of grapes),” Bard. raxtu “newborn’s dress”; proper names: Glb. Malu “Moḥammad,” Mâšu “Māšāʾallāh,” Mehru “Mehri,” Margamu “Maryam,” Ker. Fâteku/Fâtelu “Fatima,” Requ “Roqiya,” Sek(ol)u “Sakina,” Peru “Parivaš, Parvāna.” The novelist Hušang Morādi Kermāni employs diminutives such as Hušu, Mâšu, Nameku, Rezvu, and Kobru in his children’s stories.

An areal preposition (extended to the garmsir and central Iran) is xod(e) “with,” xodə ham “together.” Other prepositions are little different from those of standard Persian: a (< az) “from, to, for”; var “for” (Ker. var xodet “for yourself,” Š-B var-em, Sir., Bam. var ma “for me”); var “by” (Ker. yek sâl-e ke var-pis-e mâ nowmade “it has been a year that he hasn’t come by us,” Glb. âb var âteš rex “he poured water on fire”); Š-B ve(r), Goruhi (Ker.) “to” (with the verb “say”). — The epenthetic -š- appears with enclitic pronouns: Bard. var-š-am, Bam. va-š-am, Kahnšahri (Sir.) berey-š-am “for me,” Lālazāri (Bard.) va-š-eš, Zar. be-š-eš “to him,” Glb., Sir. ve-š-et “for you,” Guḡ. bei-š-et, Zar. bə-š-et “to you,” a-š-et (Pers. az-at) “from/for you.”

Verbs. The stems tend to shorten in the final position: Zar. ra “he went” vs. rafte “he has gone”; ruf “he swept” vs. rufte “he has swept.” All affixes and endings are similar to standard Persian. However, the epenthesis -t- or -k- is inserted between the second and third singular endings and the direct object clitics: Ker. bord-i-t-am “you took me,” did-ø-at-eš “he saw him,” ferestâd-et-eš “he sent him,” Kuhb. borditam, Zar. did-i-t-eš “you saw him”; Guḡ. didə-k-om, didə-k-et, didə-k-eš “he saw me, you, him.” The third singular enclitic copula is -(y)e: Ker. dass-eš terâzu-e “his hand is a scale,” az un xomâ pi-xorde-ye “is one of those fat-coated (seepage resistant) jugs,” Š-B kutâ-ye “it is short,” Guḡ. haj raftan bonə-ye, haj dər-e xonə-ye “going to Mecca is an excuse, Ḥajj is at the gate of the house”; the negative is Ker., Guḡ. niste (cf. Tehrani nisteš, for formal nist).

The preverbs - and var- are prevalent. Examples: Bard. vâstidan “to stop, stand,” vâxezidan “to get up,” vârextan “to disperse,” vâzedan “to reject”; Glb. var-serengidan “to revoke,” var-derezkidan “to startle from sleep,” var-bâr kerdan “to prepare food,” var-šâpidan “to dry (intr.),” var-korčidan “to wrinkle.”

The tense-aspect-mood system is very much in tune with common Persian, as demonstrated here in the Kermani forms of vâstâdan “to stop, stand” for the third person singular: future vâ-m-est-e, present progressive dâre ~, present subjunctive vâ-b-est-e, aorist vâ-stâd-ø, present perfect vâstâdé, pluperfect ~ bud, evidential ~ bude, past subjunctive ~ bâše, imperfect vâ-m-estâd-ø, past progressive dâšt ~, evidential durative (dâšte)vâ-m-estâd-e. On the other hand, one finds occasional individualities: Zar. - : vâs- “must” has full conjugation in some tenses, e.g., mivâsam beram “I ought to have gone” (Bābak, pp. 149-51).

Historical phonology. Notwithstanding its geographical position in the southeastern part of the Iranian Plateau, Kermani Persian is little influenced by the outstanding southeastern isogloss w- > g(w), found in the Garmsiri dialects (see section 3, below), Balochi, and the “Sistāni” Early New Persian variety of Qorʾān-e Qods (see Lazard, 1990; Filippone). An exception can be gok “frog,” found throughout the Persophonic north of the province, and in Garmsir (gwak), which could be related to archaic Pers. ḡōk “id.,” contrasting with Lāri bok, archaic Pers. bak < wak. Noteworthy are also a few words of Northwest pedigree not commonly found in standard Persian: Ker., Sir., Zar. borz “high, uphill” and its antonym Sir. jahr, Ker., Bft., Zar. ja(:)r (< *jafra-); Glb. jerg “astute” (<? *jīra-ka-; cf. Pers. zīrak, zerang); Sir. kermejek, Glb. kermejak “worm” (cf. -ejak with Mid. Pers. az “serpent”). On the other hand, the truly Southwest forms jok, joḡ, jug, for common Persian yuḡ “yoke,” is common across the province.

Q and ḡ are pronounced distinctly and occur in words of Iranian, Arabic, and Turkic origins. Diachronic validation is generally held in native words: Guḡ. zâḡ “green vitriol,” bâḡ “orchard,” Ker. ruḡan, “ghee,” čerâḡ “light,” Rāv. beḡal “shoulder,” Kuhb. tonḡor (probably a coalescence of tondar and ḡorr(eš)) “thunder,” Ker. ḡeliz (Bard. geriz, Glb., Sir. geliz) “saliva,” quz (< kuz) “hunch,” but note Guḡ. teḡerse vs. Sir. teqarse “hail.” — In words of Arabic origin the historical agreements is fuzzy, both within and across dialectal boundaries: Ker. ḡorur “pride,” Ker., Bam., Guḡ. qele “castle, quarter,” but Ker., Raf., Zar., Bft. loḡme “bite,” Ker. ḡows “Taurus,” Kuh. aql vs. Guḡ. aḡl “intellect.” Hence, Kermani is not comparable to the entirely etymological Tajik orthography in transmitting Arabic q and ḡ. — A high degree of randomness exists in Turkic loanwords: Ker., Bard., Guḡ. quč vs. Zar., Kuhb., Bft. ḡuč “ram” (< qoč, Doerfer, no. 1550); Zar., Kuhb., Bft. âḡâ “sir” vs. Ker. âqâyu “cry baby” (cf. Doerfer, no. 21); Ker., Bft. jiq, Kuhb. jik “scream” (<? čïγ, Doerfer, no. 1028); Ker. qâtoqu vs. Bard. qeteḡ “side dish, food” (< qatïq, Doerfer, no. 1373) ; Ker. qâšeḡ vs. Zar., Bft. qâšoḡ “spoon” (< qašuq, Doerfer, no. 1393); Ker., Zar., Bft. ojâḡ “stove” (< očaq, Doerfer, no. 421); Ker. šeluḡ, šeloq vs. Zar., Bft. šoloq “crowded” (not in Doerfer); Bard. oqin vs. Guḡ. ewḡin, Jir. vuḡin, Kah. vugin (= nowbat dar âsiâb) “turn, succession” (of obscure origin). — Guḡeri reveals the synchronic pattern of the absence of ḡ at the word-initial position vis-à-vis a free distribution for q: qosse “sorrow,” qârat “looting,” qərib-gazu “bedbug, lit. stranger-stinger,” aḡd “marriage contract,” aḡl “intellect,” loḡme “bite,” maḡrâz “scissors,” jiq scream.”

Lenition of postvocalic labials into either ow or ew (merging with the outputs of the classical Persian diphthong aw) is systematic: Glb. šow, xow, kowš, Zar. šew, xew, kewš “night, sleep, shoe.” Interestingly, āb “water” has resisted the process in some varieties (Ker., Sir., Bft. âb, Guḡ. âv), but not its derivatives: Ker. owbend “water distributor,” owguštāb-gušt,” Sir. oxune, Guḡ. ewxone “mortuary,” Sir. osiow, Guḡ. âsiew “mill.” Note also sporadic intervocalic lenition of b: Glb. bivi “grandmother,” Zar dəvir (< dabir) “high school teacher.” — Lenition of -k/g is seen in Zar. say “dog,” xây “soil,” nəmay “salt,” səboy “light,” xorây “food”; Guḡ. aye “if,” məyas “fly,” ays “picture,” Kuhb. ayse (<? *akse < ʿaṭse) “sneeze.” An opposite effect, ry > rg, is noticed in Glb., Guḡ. Margam “Maryam,” Guḡ. gerge, Bard. gergi (cf. Kuhb. geri) “cry.”

Other common consonant developments (also found in Garmsir) are: r > l, as in Ker., Zar., Bard., Bft. balg “leaf,” Zar. palvâr “fattened,” səhal “dawn,” Ker., Bft. čenâl “plane tree”; devoicing of final dentals in some varieties: Ker. pelit “wicked,” Ker., Zar., Kuhb. dumât “bridegroom,” Ker., Zar., Bft., Š-B ârt, “flour,” Ker., Zar., Bard., Kuhb. dut, Bft. dit (Š-B dud) “smoke”; participle suffix - > -ešt in Ker. borešt, xârešt, mâlešt, and the like; Old initial clusters *šk-, *sp-, *st- typically receive epenthesis, as in (all varieties) eškam “belly,” ešpeš (< spiš) “louse,” Ker. estun “column,” Bard. estâle, Guḡ. essâle, Zar. e:sâle “star.” The glottal fricative tends to disappear in closed syllable, resulting in -uh > â, e.g., Ker., Sir., Zar., Bard. mâre (from muhra) “bead,” fâš (fuḥš) “insult,” zâr (zuhr) “noon.”

Vowels. Final -ag > -e in all varieties. ām and ān yield uN (Zar. xune, darmun, Ker., Bard. čune “chin,” Sir. xum “ripe”), but oN in the southern varieties (extending into Garmsiri dialects): Guḡ., nom “name,” xone “house,” Bft. šone “brush,” xom “raw,” Goruhi qeron “qerān,” šone “shoulder.” Note āŋ > on in Ker. dong (< dāng) “one-sixth,” Bard. bong “voice, call” (hence ŋ should be analyzed as a historically distinct phoneme). am > om in Zar. õbor “pliers,” põbe “cotton,” Bft. ombor, po:me (cf. Guḡ. pamme).

Fronting of ū is exemplified in the gloss “chick”: Zar., Š-B, Bard., Kahnšahri (Sir.) čiri, Lālazāri (Bard.) čirik, Kisekāni (Bft.) čerik vs. Ker., Raf., Sir., Kuhb., Glb., Bam. čuri (cf. Jir. čurek, Min., Rudn. čurak, Bal. čūrī). A similar areal distribution governs fronting of ow (< aw or labials, see above) to ew.

Colloquialisms. Even more curious than idiosyncrasies of Kermani Persian is the universality of its colloquialism nationwide. These included modern vulgarisms such as Zar. tâski “taxi,” vâsk “wax, shoe polish” ask “photograph” (-ks > sk), šolḡ “profession,” salt “bucket”—a national consistency among the uneducated that is remarkable, given that they are not disseminated via mass media or books. There are also age-old colloquialisms such as Zar. qolf “lock,” harzat “saint,” vaxm “endowment,” Ker. zaft “gathering,” moftelâ “afflicted,” widely used elsewhere throughout Iran. A diachronic investigation of such terms can be useful in understanding the history of the development of spoken Persian.

Lexis. We find a fairly uniform lexical distribution among the varieties of Kermani Persian. Following is a list of words not otherwise typical to common Persian of Iran, with allusion to partial contiguity between Persian and Garmsiri of Kerman.

Material culture. General Ker. kahn, ha:n “subterranean aqueduct, kāriz,” with the derivatives Sir. kahkin, Zar., Glb. ka:kin “master of digging and dredging underground irrigation systems,” kahni “pool at the outlet of a kāriz”; there are dozens of toponyms Kahn, Kahnu, Kahnuj, and Kahnak throughout the province (Razmārā, pp. 340-45); lard “outside; plains” (also volard,valard) (common through Kerman Province, including the Garmsir, and Lārestān; cf. Khuri, Yazdi lard “plaza”); Ker., Sir., Zar. (also Min., Lār., Khuri) sâbât “covered alley”; Bard., Rāb. xerasm, Guḡ. hərasm, “roof purlin”; Guḡ. teḡesk “rafter”; Ker., Glb., Bard., Bft., Raf., Sir. garjin “threshing machine”; Ker., Kuhb., Jir. owšin, Bard., Sir. ošin, Zar., Guḡ. ewšin (Pers. afšān) “winnowing fork”; Ker., Glb., Bard. esten(bil), Zar. e:sã “spade handle”; Ker., Zar., Sir., Bft., Guḡ., Kuhb. juḡan, Glb. jiḡan (Min. joḡan, Bal. jogin, joḡin; Pers. hāvan) “mortar”; Ker., Sir., Glb., Bard., Bft., Guḡ. nâsâr “gutter.”

Flora and fauna. Ker., Bard., Guḡ. Jir., Man., Min. âdur “a thorny bush”; Ker., Glb., Bard. espidâl “poplar tree”; Gen. Ker. mok (Min. moḡ, Bal. muk, Khuri mog “date palm”); Ker., Bard. morik, Ker., Raf., Kuhb. murik, Š-B muri, Glb. meri, Guḡ. moruče (Jir. murik, Min. mürük, Bal. morink) “ant”; Ker., Zar., Bard., Bft., Guḡ., Kuhb. kârbâfu; Glb. kârtunu “spider”; Ker., Bard. gip; Kuhb. târk “moth”; Ker., Glb. madu, Sir. modu/medu “cockroach”; Zar., Kuhb. kerpu, Glb. kerpu, kalpak, Bard., Bft., Jir., Rudn., Min. kalpak; Jir., Rudn., Min. karâs (cf. Lār. kalpok; Pers. lexicography karpāsu, Ṣādeqi, p. 156) “lizard, chameleon”; Ker., Bard., Golb., Bft., Sir. kâs(e)epoš(t) (= Min., Lār.) “turtle”; Ker., Kuhb. sixor, Bard. sixur, Glb., Guḡ., Kah. sikor “hedgehog, porcupine”; Ker., Glb., Bft., Sir. čeḡuk, Guḡ. čoḡuk, Kah. čokuk, Zar., Sir. čeḡut, Kuhb. čoḡut, Ker. čuḡut “sparrow”; Ker., Glb., Kuhb. nešk, Bard. nešg; Ker., Zar., Glb., Bft., Sir., Min. čeng “beak”; Ker., Glb., Bard., Bft., Guḡ., Kuhb., Jir., Min. pot “hair, wool.”

Human body. Ker., Sir. mojeng, Glb., Bard. mejeng “eyelash”; Ker., Kuhb., Glb., Bft., Guḡ. nâfk (Jir., Kah., Min. nâk) “navel”; Ker., Glb., Guḡ. govâf, Sir., Bard. gavâf; Kuhb. afâk “yawn” (cf. Jir. âjahk, see section 3, below); Ker., Bard., Glb. xok; Kuhb. solfe “cough, hack”; Ker., Glb., Guḡ., Sir. sabr(i) (zadan) “(to) sneeze”; Ker., Bard., Sir., Kuhb. ruti (Jir. rutič) “intestine”; Raf., Sir., Bard., Bft., Guḡ., Jir. mud (Jir., Min., Horm. id, Band. müd, Balochi mūd), but Ker. mu “hair”; Ker., Sir., Glb., Bard. oves(t), Ker., Sir. also âbest “pregnant.”

Kinship. Ker. dâdâ, Bard., Glb. dâdu , Guḡ. dâdu, dede “sister” (not in Kuhb.); Ker., Bft. kâkâ (as in Garmsir of Kerman, and Fars), Glb., Guḡ. kâku “brother” (not in Kuhb.); Ker., Bard. hamriš (as in Garmsir of Kerman and Fars) “wife’s sister’s husband”; Sir., Kuhb. hamârus, Guḡ. həmârus; Kuhb. hamgodu “husband’s brother’s wife.”

Verbs. Ker., Bft., Guḡ., Sir., Jir., Min. jekid- “jump”; Ker., Glb. rekid-, Zar. rəkid- “itch,” Sir. rekund- “scratch”; Ker., Sir., Bft., Guḡ. Jir., Min. kotid- (Bal. koṭ-, kuṭṭ-) “pound, crush”; Sir., Guḡ. palmâsidan “to touch,” Ker., Bard. polmâs kerdan “to grope”; Ker., Glb. tombid-, Guḡ. tommid- “implode” vs. tombond- “demolish”; Zar., Guḡ., Sir. feres(s)id- “send”; Ker., Raf. oftâd vs. other varieties oftid- “fall”; all varieties me:lam/milem “I will put,” hešt “he put”; Ker., Sir., Bft., Bard., Min. nešt-, Zar. nəšes- “sit.”

Miscellaneous. Ker., Glb. dinšab, Kuhb. din(e)šew, Kuhb. dišew, dinešab “last night”; Guḡ. meyrjon, Sir., Bard. mehrjun (Jir. mehrejon) “Mehragān, autumn”; Ker. gohort (=Min., Bš.), Bard. gohark (Jir., Kah., Bš. gozer) “big” (see Gershevitch, 1964); Ker., Sir., Zar., Glb., Bard., Guḡ., Kuhb. park “half, piece”; Ker., Sir., Bard., Guḡ., Kuhb. kot “(blind) hole” (= Jir., Kah., Min.); Ker., Glb., Bard. teterk(u), Zar. tatark, Bard., Guḡ. teḡerse, Sir. teqarse (Mid. Pers. tadarg) “hail”; Sir. estun, Jir. ostun; Ker., Zar., Glb., pâye “thunder,” Sir., Kuhb., Jir. ~ “shower.”


Garmsiri is a continuum of closely related dialects extending from the Halilrud river valley in the north down to the Strait of Hormuz in the south. This study focuses on the dialects spoken in the Halilrud valley, namely Jirofti, Kahnuji, and Rudbāri, while comparing them to those spoken in southern districts, i.e., Manujāni, Minābi, Bandari, and Baškardi. Abbreviations and sources are listed in section 4, below.

Geography. The Halilrud valley is separated from Kerman highlands by the imposing mountain chains Jebāl/Jabal Bārez and Sārduʾiya, the latter giving rise to the Halilrud. The river drains into the Jāz Muriān basin, forming a natural barrier between Kerman Garmsir and Baluchistan. The major districts (and towns) of the valley are Jiroft in the north and Kahnuj in the south. More recently, the new district of Rudbār (“river valley,” named after a local designation of the Halilrud valley) has been carved out of Kahnuj.

A series of small mountain chains to the south of Kahnuj gives rise to the southerly Manujān and Rudān rivers, which join to form the river Mināb, which drains into the Sea of Oman. Belonging to this basin are the districts of Rudān, Manujān, and Mināb, which share a dialect, even if divided by the administrative border between Kerman and Hormozgān provinces.

Further southwest on the Strait of Hormuz stands Bandar ʿAbbās overlooking the islands of Hormoz, Qešm, and Lārak, all of which have dialects of the Garmsiri type. A kindred but isolate dialect is spoken on the south side of the strait in Kumzar, which belongs to the Sultanate of Oman.

The Jāz Muriān basin is flanked on its southern side by Baškard (or Bašākerd) mountain chain. Baškard as a sub-district centered at Angohrān (now Gowharān) and belonged to Kahnuj (Razmārā, p. 49). The Baškardi dialect spoken in northern Baškard, as far to the east as Ramešk, is closely related to those spoken in the rest of Kerman Garmsir.

Classification and designations. The dialects investigated here as Garmsiri had long been known as (outer) Baškardi, a designation Ilya Gershevitch gave to the vernaculars outside of Baškard proper (which he divided into North and South Baškardi) to include the dialects spoken by the Jusi and Dinār Bor tribes (in Rudbār proper?), Bandari (the Evazi dialect of Bandar ʿAbbās), Minābi, and Rudāni of Berentin rural district (see Skjærvø, 1988, 1989). The first major step to draw together the kindred dialects of the region was taken by P. O. Skjærvø, who had collected additional data from Mināb and Hormoz (Skjærvø, 1975). His work appeared in Compendium Linguarum Iranicarum as “languages of Southeast Iran: Lārestānī, Kumzārī, Baškardī” (Skjærvø, 1989); it treats Bandari, Hormozi, and Minābi under the general umbrella of ‘Baškardi’ and makes due comparison with the related dialects of Greater Lārestān in southern Fārs Province. The same classification is presented under “Baškardi group of dialects” by V. V. Moshkalo (1997) in the Russian compendium Iranskie yazyki. Moreover, in his introductory chapter to The Iranian Languages, Gernot Windfuhr groups together Lārestāni and ‘Gulf’ (Bandari, Minābi, Baškardi, Kumzari) as the ‘non-Perside group’ of the Southwest Iranian language family (Windfuhr, 2009, p. 13). None of the aforementioned references incorporate the dialects spoken in the Halilrud valley.

The significant amount of new data from the last two decades (see sources in section 4, below) reveals that the dialect group designated as (outer) Baškardi or Gulf actually extends as far north as Jiroft, which is located in the interior river valley of Halilrud and sufficiently distant from the southern coastal plains to render the previous designations untenable. The term ‘Garmsiri’ adopted in this study not only accords with the longstanding appellation garmsir for the hot climate region of historical Kerman, but also perfectly matches the entire dialect area under study, from the Halilrud valley to the southern littoral plains. Subsequently, since the same term has been in use for the related dialects spoken in Lārestān of Fārs (Ṣādeqi, 1985), it would be possible to designate the entire band of the dialects stretching along an upward-facing crescent from Lārestān to Halilrud as the Garmsiri languages of Kerman and Fārs, in lieu of the verbose terminology used to this date.

Dialect groups. As this study reveals, the Garmsiri dialects of Kerman can clearly be grouped into two main groups: (1) the mutually intelligible dialects of the Halilrud valley, or Halilrudi, consisting of Jirofti, Kahnuji, and Rudbāri, and (2) the dialects spoken along the Mināb river and its tributaries, i.e., Minābi, Rudāni, and Manujāni, as well as Bandari, that is, the coastal dialects spoken in and around Bandar ʿAbbās. The degree of intelligibility among the Garmsiri groups has not been studied; my informants stated that Halilrudi and Minābi are mutually intelligible. North Baškardi shows striking resemblance to both Minābi and Halilrudi, while the status of South Baškardi remains obscure due to paucity of data.

Table 1 outlines selective phonological (nos. 1-3), grammatical (nos. 4-15), and lexical (nos. 16-22) features in the major Garmsiri dialects of Kerman and Lārestāni of southern Fars. The features that unite these two language groups vis-à-vis Persian are bud- as the past stem of “become” (no. 16; for Pers. šod-) and e(t)- as imperfective marker (no. 8; for Pers. mi-); South Baškardi employs be- for present progressive. A notable split of Lārestāni from Kerman Garmsiri occurs in the development of Middle West Iranian consonant w at initial positions (no. 1), the second person singular ending (no. 6), and the perfective verb formants (nos. 12-15). The distinctive features separating the Halilrud valley from its southern Garmsiri relatives are the past progressive construction (no. 11) and several significant lexical items (nos. 18-22). An interesting overlap between the two major Garmsiri groups occurs in Rudbār, where the present progressive is optionally expressed in two parallel structures (no. 10). These features are explained in more detail in the respective topics that follow.

Table 1. Selected Features.Table 1. Selected Features.

In the Halilrud valley, the configuration of language variation is far from clear, and the delineation between Jirofti, Kahnuji, and Rudbāri is poorly defined. The population structure is primarily tribal, rather than village-based, such as is otherwise prevalent on the Iranian Plateau, resulting in the speech of a given district or even village being noticeably different among various clans. The complexity increases due to the seasonal migrations of the nomads, who summer in the highlands of Jebāl Bārez and Sārduʾiya (Ṣafā, pp. 6-7). The presence of the Baloch has been conspicuous in the valley, but probably many of them, known as balučkāra (seasonal workers), as well as the Siāhbāb (black people) are largely assimilated (Ṣafā, pp. 149-50).

A case in the point of areal intrusion is Moḥmedi, a dialect spoken by a clan of the same name in the piedmont Kušk Mur rural district, in Jebāl Bārez to the east of Jiroft. Moḥmedis believe that they originated from a Lor tribe that migrated to their current habitat during the Zand dynastic rule (Kordestāni, 2010). Their language, however, demonstrates an anomalous dialect but still within the Garmsiri group. It agrees with Minābi and Bandari in certain features, such as the stems gin- : did- “see” (Table 1, nos. 18 and 19) and the ending for the third person singular, as in anin-t “he sits” (no. 8), but disagree with all dialects in the enclitic pronoun, third person singular -e/-r (no. 5) and plural -non/-ron, and the verb stems omes- “come” and rafs- “go,” among others.

Sociolinguistics. Garmsiri is rapidly losing its ground to Persian, the language of mass media and education. Towards the northern end of the Halilrud valley, in the district of Jiroft, the language is already moribund, while it is far better preserved in the eastern, piedmont districts Amjaz and Gāvkān of the Jebāl Bārez, and in the southern parts of the Halilrud valley. A hybrid patois has developed, especially in Jiroft proper, which blends the Garmsiri lexemes into Persian grammar, as in the following example (cf. Niknafs, p. 18):












“I scold him”

To the ever increasing Persophonic population of the valley, Garmsiri is a language of aram&ndash;nâram, contrasting to Persian mira(va)m&ndash;nemira(va)m “I go&ndash;I don’t go.”

The language loss parallels the vanishing of the indigenous culture, as echoed in nostalgic poems recently written by the locals (Niknafs, pp. 387-454). The poverty-stricken districts of southern Kerman, which largely remained underdeveloped and rural, have been a subject of disdain, not only from the provincial capital, but also in the national media. Following the début of the television series Šahr-e Daqyānus (an old epithet for Jiroft) in September 2011, a mass demonstration erupted in Jiroft, protesting misrepresentation of their language (as Kermani Persian) and deriding their culture. This was followed by formal objections expressed by academics, Jiroft’s representative in the Majles, and Jiroft’s emām-e jomʿa. The protests had a wide repercussion in electronic social media (DAE; Bozorg; ʿĀdeli; Rajā News), but were played down by national media (IRNA; Eṭṭelāʿāt, 23 Sept. 2011, p. 5) in an effort to curtain a growing array of complaints in recent years against the belittling of local cultures in the Islamic Republic media.

Historical Phonology

SW Iranian pedigree. The sound changes typified as “Southwest” Iranian normally occur in the Garmsiri dialects (examples are from Halilrudi unless specified): OIr. *dz &gt; d: don- “know,” dom(m)â “son-in-law,” duši/dušne “yesterday,” bâhug “arm,” Min., Bš. gohort “big” (&lt; *va&delta;ṛta-, but Halilrudi gozer(g) &lt; vazṛ-ka?; see Gershevitch 1965; Stilo), Bš. domestān “winter” (cf. NW zemeston in other dialects). &mdash; *tsw yields SW Min., Horm. šöš, Lāraki šiš “louse” (cf. Lar. heš; but NW ešpeš in Halilrudi). &mdash; *&theta;r &gt; s: âsow “mill,” Kah. pos “son,” âvos “pregnant.” &mdash; *št &gt; st: most “fist” (Mid. Pers. must, Bal. mušt, OIr. *mušti-), lest- “lick” (OIr. *rišta-, &radic;raiz- &lt; PIE leiǵh-), rest- “spin,” rast- “send,” gasten (giyz-) “to bite.” &mdash; Old Pers. *j, *-č- &gt; z: zan “woman,” ruz “day.” *dw- &gt; b: dar “door.” *y &gt; j: jow “barley,” jog “yoke” (NBš. jag, Bal. jug, Man. Mid. Pers. jōg), jag “sissoo tree” (cf. OPers. yakā, Gershevitch, 1957). Salient Southwest lexical items include kan- “do,” gu- “say,” gariv- “cry, weep.”

SE areal features. The Garmsiri dialects of Kerman distinguish themselves from those of Fars in two historical developments found in the southeastern Iranian Plateau: *w- &gt; g(w)- (best known in Balochi but existing also in the isolate Parāči-Ormuri and Biābānaki; see FARVI) and the retention of *xw- (for Bal. w-). (1) g(w)- has a strong presence in the area: Jir., Kah., Rdb. g(o)wask “calf” (Min., Band., Horm. gwask &lt; *wasaka) “calf,” g(o)wak “frog” (Moh., Min., Ban. gwak; archaic Pers. bak), g(o)war (Moḥ., Min. gwar; Pers. bar, var) “beside,” g(o)wačeg “child,” gozer(g) (Min., Bš. gohert) “big,” giyšte/giešte “more,” g(w)âzi “game,” gâft- “weave,” gi(e)č- “sift,” Jir., Kah. guzik, guder (Min. uz, Band. z, Bal. gwabz; Mid. Pers. wabz) “wasp, hornet,” garug (Min. gow(g)) “bride,” gowalm (Min., Rudn. gwalm, unknown etymon) “deep,” gowast “dried river” (id.). Note counterexamples barre “lamb,” bâd “wind,” bong “call,” bohne “pretext.” (2) *xw- persists in Jir., Kah., Rdb. x(o)waš (Rudn. Min. Band. xwaš; Lar. xaš) “good, pleasant,” x(o)wah (Min. xwah/xwâh, Band. xwah, Horm. xwâh) “sister,” x(o)wad- (but Min. xod-, Band xo) “self,” x(o)war- (Min. xwar-, Band. xor-) “eat,” x(o)was- “sleep,” xowaser(e)k “father-in-law,” Rdb. xowasuk (Jir. xasug, Band. xasu, Bal. wassī(g)) “mother-in-law.” (A notable exception is xond- “read, sing.”) This areal feature, which includes Baškardi, contrasts the w- output in Balochi. Subsequently, a buffer zone phenomenon may be inferred in these overlapping isoglosses of the Halilrud basin: xoway/xey/vey (Min. , Band. , Moḥ. hey) “with” and veyt-/vâst-/xâst- (Min. xâst-/wâst-, Band. vāst- “want”).

Labials. Weakening of postvocalic labials is evident in Jir., Kah. šow “night,” owr “cloud,” sowz “green,” kowg “partridge,” kowš, powzâr “shoe,” owšin (Pers. afšān) “winnowing fork”; (intervocalic) tavar “axe,” ruvâh “fox,” âvâdi “settlement.” On the other hand, OIr. suffix *-pāna- yielding -pon in gowpon “herdsman,” âsowpon “miller,” bâxpon “gardener, geripon “collar” (for the expected form *gerivon, etc.) is an oddity.

Dentals. OIr. *-t- shows some peculiar developments. It may elide or lenite, as in Jir. barâr “brother,” “game,” dom(m)â “bridegroom,” Ruebâr, Ruowbâr “Rudbār” (cf. “Reobarles” in Marco Polo), -iy (2 pl. ending), but not in verb stems: peymid- “weigh,” čok-id- “kiss.” Note the heterogeneous development of *kadag “house” in keybonuk “house lady” and kazxodâ “village headman.” Rhotacization of intervocalic t (common in North Baškardi, Minābi, Hormozi, Kumzari) is has limited reflex in the Halilrud valley: the morpheme ar- “was” (&lt; *at); Kah., Rdb. barâzâr (Min. berâzâr) “niece.” One also finds rutič “intestine” (&lt; *rautaka-) and espiyt “white,” with probable retention of the Old Iranian stop otherwise particular to Balochi (and South Baškardi by extension). Correspondingly, *-d- is found in mud “hair” (also in Min., Horm. id, Band. müd, Bal. mūd; cf. Lāri &lt; *mauda-) and mude (&lt;? *maud-aka-) “moan,” which has another (rhoticized?) form, murk.

Dorsals. *x- &gt; k, a Balochi trait, is found only in Halilrudi korus “rooster,” as is the case in Min., Horm. (korǖs). &mdash; q &gt; k is the rule in Kahnuji (as well as in Minābi and Bandari): kand “sugar-cubes,” kabul “accepted,” karz “credit,” kâli “carpet,” kale “fort,” kolf “lock,” kalami “formal Persian” (&lt; qalam “pen”), kahom (&lt; qāʾem) “sturdy,” rakam “type,” rafik “friend,” xâlek “creator,” čâku “knife.” Rudbāri changes q to either k or x (Moḥmedi to x) quite regularly. &mdash; Kahnuji/Rudbāri have g (for Jirofti ḡ), as in rugen/ruegen “ghee,” dorug/dorueg “lie,” čerâg “light,” morg “hen,” čagal “throw,” šâgul “plumb,” mazg “brain.” &mdash; Mid. Ir. -ag normally yields -e in Jirofti (e.g., xone “house”) but -eg in Kahnuji mohreg “bead,” dereg “gorge,” poleg “ashes,” rešteg “noodles,” gordeg “back,” and possibly gortik “kidney,” murik “ant,” or with omission of the vowel: pâg (Pers. pāya) “wooden leg,” sâg “shade,” mošk “mouse,” nišk “fang,” neyg “reed,” zeberk “rough” (cf. Skj&aelig;rv&oslash;, 1975, no. 17).

Clusters. *xt &gt; ht governs Kah. doht “daughter,” reht- “pour, spill,” foruht- “sell,” duht- “sew” (Rdb., Man., Min. have similar forms; cf. Jir. rext-, foroxt-, doxt-, Moh. riext-, etc.). &mdash; Likewise, *ft softens in past stems: Kah., Rdb., Man. xowt- “sleep,” rowt- “go,” kowt- “fall,” Rdb. goht- “say,” Kah., Min. padoht- “swell” (cf. raft-, kaft-, geft-, padoft- in Jirofti, as well as in the very toponym Jiroft). &mdash; *-xr and *fr- yield Kah. sohr “red,” rastâd- (Min., Horm. räst-; Band. ferest-) “send.” &mdash; šm remains in Jir. češm, but reduces in Min., Bš. čehm, Band. čehem, Lāraki čum, Kumz. čōm “eye.” &mdash; Old initial clusters receive epenthesis, as in eškam “belly,” estâl “star,” etc.

The presence of ht in verb stems is most likely a late development of an original st, considering the multiplicity of the morphological bases at the earlier stages: Rdb. geriehten (pres. geriev-) “to weep” (Pers. geristan, with nominal griy suffixed with -ist), šekahten (trans. and intr.) “to break” (Pers. šekastan, from OIr. *škasta); note also Kah. pohiden “to decay, rot” (Min., Pers. pusidan &lt; inchoative stem of the root *pauH), Jir. âmâh “injured” (cf. Pers. âmâs inflated &lt; *ā-māsa-, inchoative stem).

Other changes. Persian participle suffix - (&lt; Mid. Pers. -išn) emerges as -ešt: Jir., Kah. bârešt “precipitation,” parešt “jump,” uzmâšt “test,” čâhešt “catching a cold,” girâyešt “attraction,” gap-del-ranješti “annoying talk.” &mdash; There is an active tendency for r &gt; l in all dialects: nalges “narcissus,” hasil “straw mat,” taraktol “tractor.” &mdash; Random developments include nemis- ː nemešt- “write,” nesm (from neṣf) “half,” saxm (from saqf) “ceiling,” among many others.

Vowels. *ā is raised to o before nasals systematically (pahnom “hidden,” harom “forbidden,” done “grain”), but not in xân “khan” and korân “Koran.” &mdash; Low vowels receive prostheses in initial position: Jir., Kah., Man. yârt “flour,” yâvorde “brought,” yow “water” (as in Bš.; cf. Min. how, Lāraki hāw “water”); homru “today,” homšow “tonight,” homsâl “this year” (cf. Min. h&otilde;sāl, NBš. homsāl, SBš. homsār “this year”). &mdash; The old majhul vowels stay or diphthongize: Jir., Kah. heč “none,” dege “other,” giyšte “more,” hameyše “always,” Haliyl “Halēl (river),” Rdb. zier “under,” ruez “day.” Jirofti in particular has systematically preserved the majhuls in verb stems: ger- “seize,” došt- “milk,” âmoxte “learned.” Rudbāri further differentiates transitivity by means of diphthongization: intr. soz- ː soht-, tr. suez- ː sueht- “burn,” intr. riez- ː reht-, tr. riez- ː rieht- “pour” (Moṭallebi, 2006).


Nouns. The plural marker is -ón for all nouns, e.g., Jir. šayinon “shirts,” Kahn. mogon “palm trees,” Rdb. pârokon “calves.” The indefinite is marked with -iy/ie, as Kah. doht jón-iy-n “she is a pretty girl,” Rdb. čok xób-ie “a good boy.” Direct object noun phrases remain normally unmarked: Jir. ye bede bey bâvâ-t “give this to your father!” A-S â kuze vorgen “pick up that jar!” Rdb. nom-i Novâsti heš-šon-ar “they had named him N.”; Pers. -rā can be traced seldom: ču-ow bedey mo “give me the wood!” The eżāfa is largely absent in the Halilrudi dialects, hence its sporadic presence might be stimulated by Persian: Jir. pot-&oslash; sag “dog’s hair,” gozer doht “elder daughter,” seng telow “big stone,” harfon hasâbi “sensible talk,” bibiak češm “pupil of the eye,” but xone-y mâ “our house,” xormâ-y jon “good dates.”

Pronouns and deixis. Personal pronouns are the freestanding sg. mo(n), to, â, pl. mâ, šomâ/tomâ, âvon and the enclitic sg. -(o)m, -(e)t, -i/-š, pl. -mon, -ton, -šon. The singular clitics vary depending on the preceding sound: Jir. ketâb-om/-et-/-i “my/your/his book,” but (for xone) xonam/ xonat/ xonaš “my/your/his house”; the third singular -i may also succeed vowels, e.g., nane-i, nanaš “his mother.” The epenthetic ‑š- (a Kermani feature) appears with prepositions: bey-š-et “for you,” ey-š-i “from him,” vâ-š-om “with me.” The enclitics may act as (1) possessive: Jir. mudon-i “his hair”; (2) object: deh-iy-š “clobber him!” var-i-gen “pick it up!” Rdb. hamtie-šon dist-in “they saw us right here”; (3) reflexive with the base xwad-, e.g., xwad-i “himself”; (4) agent in the ergative construction (see Fronting, below), as in ketâb-om xari I bought a/the book.”

Demonstratives are proximate ye “this” and yovon (Rdb. yewon) “these” and remote (cf. 3rd sg.) â “that” and âvon “those”; hamiy “this very,” hamâ “that very.” Other deictics are etiy/itiy “here,” âtiy “there,” isun/ibâl “this side,” âsun/âbâl “that side,” imajâ “this time, right now.”

Prepositions. The language is entirely prepositional, with major Halilrudi prepositions (1) bey, ey “to, for”; (2) vey, xwey, xey, Min. “with, to”; (3) ey “from, for”; (4) var (Rdb., Man. gowar) “to, on”; (5) kaš, Rudb. kel “beside”; (6) tu “in.”

Examples (Jir. when unmarked): (1) del-om bey-š-et tang-e “I miss you (lit. my heart is tight for you)” Rdb. ey to adaham “I will give you,” zan gwačeg ey mo ayâre “the wife will bring me children,” Dmš. dâzan be me čuk atâret “id.” (2) (comitative) xey xowh-i raft-ar “he had gone with his sister,” vey če rafti (Pers. bā če) “what did you take?” (with “say”) A-S â xey/vey mard gofti “he told the man,” Rdb. xwey-š-i agom “I will tell him.” (3) (ablative) ey itiy tâ Kahnuo “from here to Kahnuj”; (abstraction) ey bayom tâ vaxte ivâr “from dusk to dawn,” derip ey yow-ar “it was full of water”; ey-š-i bepors “ask him!”; (comparative) ye ey hame jonter-en “this is better than all”; (possession) â bâḡon-iy ke dist-et, ey mon-en “those orchards that you saw&mdash;they are mine”; (adverbial) ey-tah (&lt; az-tah) “never, certainly not,” ey-rad to yah “he came after you did.” (4) (locative) var kojâ rafte “where did he go to?” Kah. čiš-i var rugen gow ko “his eye caught the cow ghee,” Rdb. xormâ gowar-e gošne aziz-e “dates are dear to a hungry person.” (5) in behel kaša a “put this beside that!” Rdb. kel ham aren “they were together.” (6) mo tu bâḡ arom “I was in the orchard.”

Verb stems. As in other Iranian languages, the Garmsiri verb has a pair of stems, which, as [present ː past] nen(d)- ː nešt- “sit,” afford no obvious synchronic relationship. The past stems derivable from the present stem take in the formant -id-, as jek- ː jekid- “jump.” Present stems regularly absorb the causative formant ‑an-/-on-; the past causative stem receives an additional suffix -t or -d, e.g., Jir. gariv-an-t- “make cry,” beriyz-on-d- “roast.” Nominal forms constitute the past stem suffixed by -e or -en: gaste “bitten,” gasten “to bite.” Stems may shorten at word final or when making up a tripartite consonant sequence; for example, the pair did- ː dist- yields be-did “see!” distmonen “we have seen.” The present stem forms the present indicative and subjunctive and the imperative; the past stem forms the preterit, the imperfect, and the perfect tenses, as shown in Table 3. Rudbāri, Minābi, and Bandari have a present progressive built on the infinitive.

Table 3. Basic Verb Structure in Garmsiri.Table 3. Basic Verb Structure in Garmsiri.

Affixes. The imperfective a- marks the present and the imperfect, as explained below, under respective sections. The prefix be- marks the imperative and the subjunctive, as in Rdb. bopors “ask!” boporsi “that you ask.” Prevalent preverbs are var-/vor- and vey- as in Jir. varagarde “it returns,” vorgeften “to pick up,” vorestâden “to stand up,” veystâden “to stop moving.” Note also Jir. gowarnaxowarde “he hasn’t encountered,” Kah., Rdb. xoru(e) rowten “to dip.” The preverb -, absent in Halilrud, is used only in the Minābi and Bandari verb hâ-dâden “have.”

The infixes -Vh- and -ar- mark the intransitive past perfect and pluperfect respectively (see Table 3). In a broader, comparative perspective, we may analyze them as h- and ar- (&lt; *at), the present and past stems of “be,” corresponding to Pers. h- and bud-.

Person marking. The personal endings are listed in Table 2. The second singular imperative and third singular past are zero. In the third person singular, the dialects of Halilrud (with -e/-a) differ from the rest of Garmsir (with -(e)t), e.g., Min. bo-kon-t “that he do,” Dmš. a-nos-et “he puts.” Rudbāri optionally adds a diphthong to the final consonant, e.g. 1st pl.-in(ie).

Table 2. Verbal Endings and Pronominal Suffixes in Jirofti, Kahnuji, and Rudbāri.Table 2. Verbal Endings and Pronominal Suffixes in Jirofti, Kahnuji, and Rudbāri.

The transitive past tenses employ an ergative construction with pronominal clitics (Table 2) acting as the agent. The clitics take various positions: final in simple verb forms; between the stem and the third singular of verb “be” in periphrastic forms; optionally fronted (see Fronting, below). In Bandari, the clitics are prefixed to the verb.

The third singular clitic is -i (also -ie in Kahnuji) in transitive preterit and imperfect, -šen- in perfect and pluperfect: disti “he saw,” adisti “he would see,” disšenen “he has seen,” disšenar “he had seen.” Either -i or -š (especially in Rdb.) may be used when the agent is fronted.

Conjugations. Verb forms are summarized in Tables 3, 4, and 5. See also Fronting, below.

Present. Both the present-future and the progressive present are built on the present stem in Jirofti and Kahnuji, e.g., Jir. a-did-om “I see,” a-rez-i “you pour,” a-nend-e guše-i “he is sitting in a corner,” darmaški a-rez-e “it is pouring (raining) hard.” Southern dialects, on the other hand, categorically distinguish the present progressive by employing the form with the infinitive (i.e. past stem + -en): Min., NBš. a-kerden-om, SBš. be-kert(en)-īn “I am doing.” Rudbāri makes compromises between the two Garmsiri groups, as well as with colloquial Persian, by holding three interchangeable constructions for the present progressive: dâr-om a-kah-om &asymp; a-kowten-om &asymp; dârom akowtenom “I am falling” (Moṭallebi, 2006).

Nevertheless, the form with the infinitive is occasionally encountered in Jirofti proverbs and verses, but without aspectual distinction: ešpeš kal akerdene ruz be kuh beru “he (habitually) buries lice [until] the day is over” (proverb on futility); čupon age del-i bexâ boduše, nar-i a-došten-e “if the shepherd want to milk, he will milk the male as well”; har-či garmâ-vo mehrejon aye-vo aru, na-did-om-et / Xodâbaxš-om, ke xowi del-om vaʾde-ye sâl a-kerden-om “no matter how many summers and autumns come and go, I don’t see you / I am Ḵodābaḵš, I take vows to my heart [yet another] year” (verse by Ḵodābaḵš Deliri of certain ʿAliābād in Jiroft district).

Past. Commensurate with transitivity, the past tenses employ either the endings or the enclitic pronouns, as in Jir. yaht-i “you (sg.) came” vs. bord-et “you (sg.) carried,” with the possibility of fronting for the latter. The imperfect further receives the aspectual marker: a-yaht-i, a-bord-et. Halilrudi past progressive has adopted the analytical Persian construction with the auxiliary “have,” e.g., Jir. dâšti a-yaht-i, whereas Minābi agglutinates with the past copula: second person singular of “go” and “do”: imperfect a-rowt-i, a-kerd-et; past progressive a-rowt-ar-i, a-kerd-et-a,” where -a is the third singular copula. Bandari fronts the agent to the verb-initial position, except in intransitive preterit: first person singular of “go” and “see”: preterit raft-um, um-dī, imperfect: m-a-ra, m-a-dī. Past progressive forms are not attested in Bandari.

Perfect. The transitive present perfect in the Halilrudi group formally employs the formative -eh- (first person singular -oh-) (comparable to NBš. -eh-, SBš. x-) between the past stem and the ending. The underlying construction, however, could be the past participle + the copula with h- stem, e.g., nešte-hi (for Pers. nešasta-i) “you are sitting.” The paradigm for “jump” is: jekid-ohom, -ehi, -e, -ehin, -ehiy/-ehie, -ehen. Note the third person singular is simplified, yet remains distinctive from the preterit jekid-&oslash; “he jumped.” Minābi and Bandari agree with Halilrudi in the perfect, but employs the plain copulative verb, e.g., Min. rowtam, rowtey, rowten “I have gone, etc.” (cf. rowtom, rowti, row “I went, etc.”).

As to the transitive perfect, the underlying construction may be inferred as the past stem suffixed by the enclitic pronouns (probably with no option of fronting) and the third person singular of the copula, -en in Jirofti and Kahnuji, but normally -e in Rudbāri. However, in this setting the enclitic pronouns take the singular forms -me-, ‑te‑, -še- followed by a nasal, but still distinguished from the plural forms by the vowel, e.g., disšenen “he has seen” vs. disšonen “they have seen.” See Table 4 for a full paradigm. The forms are simplified when the agent is fronted: Jir. dâh-iy kafte tu-šon “a rumor has spread (fallen) among them,” bey to-š če yavorde? “what has he brought for you?” Rdb. â-m geste “I have thrown it.” Minābi follows similar pattern, only better graded: sg. kerd-om/et/iš-en, pl. ker-mân/tân/šân-en “I have done, etc.,” with fronted forms: -om kerd-en, etc.

Table 4. Past Tenses of “Pour” In Jirofti.Table 4. Past Tenses of “Pour” In Jirofti.

A progressive perfect is noticed in Rudbāri, limited for the third person, e.g. “fall” sg. a-kowt-e, pl. a-kowte-hen; “throw” a-ges-šen-e, pl. a-ges-šon-e, but for all persons in the negative (Moṭallebi, 2006, p. 123).

Pluperfect. Intransitive verbs are formed from the past stem and endings, infixed with -ar-, the past stem of “be,” e.g., Jir. “fall”: kaft-ar-om, kaftari, kaftar, kaftarin, kaftariy, kaftaren; cf. Min. rowt-ar-i, Band. raft-ar-um “I had gone,” NBš. bast-ar-en “they have been bound.” Halilrudi transitive pluperfect follows the model of its transitive perfect, including the adjustments in the singular forms, but terminating in -ar “it was” (see Table 4). Similar morphology is found in Minābi kerd-et-a but with the agent-initial option et-kerd-a “you had done,” where -a is the third singular copula. The option in Bandari is narrowed down to agent-initial forms: et-seid-a “you had picked up.”

Fronting. In the transitive past, the agent either stays on the verb or is optionally fronted to the nominal component of the verb (Table 5), or to a preceding noun phrase in the sentence. In Rudbāri, the agent may additionally be prefixed to the imperfective marker: ketâb-om agest &asymp; ketâb m-agest “I threw the book.”

Table 5. Verb Forms in Jirofti.Table 5. Verb Forms in Jirofti.

Examples: agent on direct object: Jir. ketâbiy-m beyš-et xari “I bought a book for you”; Rdb. če-kâr-et kerdar? “what had you done?”; A-S {sar kuze}-yi ge “he took the jar by the rim”; Rdb. {sar kuza}-š ge “id.”; A-S, Rdb. {mâston mon}-et bey-če reh? “why did you spill my yogurt?” &mdash; agent on indirect object: Jir. heči {ey kâron to}-m sar dar nayâvo “I don’t make sense of what you do” &mdash; agent on adverb: Rdb. hamtie-mon gest “we threw [it] right here” &mdash; agent on the subject: Rdb. tomâ-ton gieči “you sifted,” Jir. âkadariy to-t avey, nadârom “I don’t have the amount you want” &mdash; across the clause boundary: Jir. če kâron-om, ke bey to nake “what favors I did not for you!” (see also Negation; Modals, below).

Negation. The negative marker - merges with the imperfective a- to form -nâ‑. Examples: Jir. rag-om nabasmenen “I haven’t had my breakfast,” nâram “I don’t go,” Kah. nârawtom “I didn’t used to go,” Rdb. dast nâgerini “we don’t hold.” The agent fronts in the transitive past: na-t-porsi “you didn’t ask,” Rdb. nâ-šon-puši “they wouldn’t wear.” The prohibitive is marked with -, as in Jir. manend “don’t sit!”

Be, become. The clitic copula differs from the personal endings only in the third person singular -(e)n. The stem h- is used with the negative and optionally with the locative-existential verb. Examples: Jir. ye bahâyí-n? “is this for sale?”; čok šomâ kučekter-en “your child is younger”; (locative) xonamon âtiy-n “our house is there”; tu Jiroft dohton xobiy ha “there are good girls in Jiroft”; (negative) itow ne-h-en, âtowr-en “it’s not this way, it’s that way”; Rdb. ne-h-e aslan be yâd-e muvo bâvu “he does not recall mother and father.”

The past stem of “be” is ar- (yar- after vowels), hastar-, or har-, without a clear differentiation between the copulative and locative senses. Examples: Jir. mo tu bâḡ arom “I was in the orchard,” sobhi kojâ yar-i? “where were you this morning?” hastarom mo šâd-e šâd “I was rejoicing,” Rdb. xoš-astar â zamân “those days were happy.” The stem hast- serves to express possession, from Mināb southward, e.g., Dmš. yatâ jahlâ hast-iš-a “he had a jar.”

“Become” is conjugated regularly with the stems bah- (present) and bud(ar)- (past), e.g., pres. Jir. a-bah-am, abahi, abu “I, you, he becomes,” bo-bu “that he become,” xob abu (Pers. xub mišod) “it would be great,” age budar mariz “if he became sick.” The passive is constructed analytically with past participle and “become” as the auxiliary: Rdb. gozer abahan “they become big,” Jir. diste budom “I was seen,” melinč budi “you got soaked,” bačaš gom bude “his child is lost.”

Modals. “Want” is expressed by two interchangeable sets of stems, vey- ː veyt-/vâst- and - ː xâst- in the Halilrud valley. For this verb the ergative is extended to the present, e.g., Jir. kodom t-a-vey? “which one do you want?” nâ-š-vey “he doesn’t want,” Rdb. â šeyin gozer m-a-vey “I want that big shirt.” Other modal verbs are tâh-est “can” and mâh-est- “dare,” e.g., Rdb. tâhestomberram “I was able to go.” “Must” is the invariable bâyad.


The following is a selection of Garmsiri lexical items to supplement those already mentioned in the body of this entry as well as those introduced in section 2, on Kermani Persian: Jir. ančâr “sightless” and antohte “frail (old person)” (with the negative prefix an-); Kah. (diminutive) bâdoh(t) “girl,” bâmard “man,” bâzan “woman” (with similar forms in Rdb., Min., Bš.); Jir., Kah., Rdb. čok, Min., Horm. čuk, Band. čük “child, son” (also in Balochi); Jir., Kah. nowk, Min., Horm. nȫwk, Band. nük, Bš. nauk “grandchild”; Jir., Kah., Min, Horm., Bal., Lār. mošk “mouse”; Jir., Kah., Rdb., Min., Horm., Lār. maš “fly”; Jir. xomin “wheat harvest season, summer,” Lāraki hāmin, Bal. hāmen “date harvest season” (Mid. Pers. hāmīn “summer”); Kah. (vâ)bayom “dawn,” va-pegâh “daybreak,” vâ-pasi “dusk”; Jir. âjahk “yawn” (possibly â, cf. Av. āh- “mouth” + jahak “jumper”; closest to Khuri âvofk, Shirazi hâkak, Lori až-ažaki); Jir. padom “swell” (similar forms in Rudn., Min., Lāraki, Lar.); Jir. xunčâvošân “drug applied to the skin” (&lt; xun-e Siāvošān).



A-S (Allāhābād-e Abu Saʿidi, Boluk district), see Jir. Bam. (Bam): Kalbāsi, 2009. Band. (Bandar ʿAbbās): Fatḥi, 2002; Pelevin, 2010. Bard. (Bardsir): Borumand-Saʿid, 1991; Kalbāsi, 2009 (Lālazār). Bft. (Bāft): Farhādi-Rād, 2002; Āʾina-Negini, 2003 (Rābor); Naqawi, 2006 (Guḡer); Kalbāsi, 2009 (Kisekān). Bš. (Baškardi): Skj&aelig;rv&oslash;, 1988, 1989; Moshkalo, 1997. Domš. (Domšahr), see Min. Glb. (Golbāf, formerly Gowk): Asadi, 2000. Goruhi (in Rāyan district): Kalbāsi, 2009. Guḡ. (Guḡer), see Bft. Horm. (Hormoz Island): Skj&aelig;rv&oslash;, 1975. Jir. (Jiroft): Niknafs, 1998; Rafʿati, 2000 (ʿAnbarābād); Kalbāsi, 2009 (Allāhābād-e Saʿidi). Kah. (Kahnuj): Niknafs, 1998; Kalbāsi, 2009; Reżāyati and Botlāb, 2013. Ker. (Kerman): Baqāʾi, 1963-69, 2002; Sotuda, 1957; Waʿeẓ Taqawi, 1984; Żiāʾ-Ebrāhimi, 1987; Neʿmatzāda, 1990; Purḥosayni, 1991; Ṣarrāfi, 1996. Kuhb. (Kuhbanān): Ruḥ-al-Amini, 1979, pp. 87-91; Mowlāʾi, 2011. Lār. (Greater Lārestān): Eqtedāri, 1965; Kamioka et al., 1986; Skj&aelig;rv&oslash;, 1989; Molchanova, 2004. Lārak: Anonby and Yousefian, 2011. Man. (Manujān): Niknafs, 1998; Barbera, 2005; Yazdānfarr, 2011. Min. (Mināb): Skj&aelig;rv&oslash;, 1975; Barbera, 2005; Moḥebbi, 2006; Moṭallebi and ʿAbbāsi, 2010 (Domšahr). Moḥ. (Moḥmedi, spoken in Kušk Mur): Kordestāni, 2010; Moṭallebi and Kordestāni, 2014. NBš. (North Baškardi), see Bš. Rāb. (Rābor), see Bft. Raf. (Rafsanjān): Kalbāsi, 2009. Rāv. (Rāvar): Karbāsi, 1986; Kārbaḵš, 1996. Rdb. (Rudbār): Niknafs, 1998, pp. 387-407; Moṭallebi, 2006. Rudn. (Rudān, aka Dehbārez): Moʿtamedi, 2002; Barbera, 2005. Š-B (Šahr-e-Bābak): Ḥosayni, 2009. SBš. (South Baškardi), see Bš. Sir. (Sirjān): Saryazdi, 2001; Moʾayyad-Moḥseni, 2002; Kalbāsi, 2009 (Kahnšahr); Yusofiān and ʿAbbāslu, 2010. Zar. (Zarand): Bābak, 1996; Ṣādeqi, 2000; Kalbāsi, 2009.

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Cite this page
Borjian, Habib, Planhol, Xavier de, Zanjani, Habibollah, Bosworth, C. Edmund, Matthee, Rudi, Gustafson, James M. and Pirnazar, Nahid, “KERMAN”, in: Encyclopaedia Iranica Online, © Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York. Consulted online on 20 July 2024 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2330-4804_EIRO_COM_11369>
First published online: 2020
First print edition: 20131104

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