The Bakhtiyari are one of the most important nomadic societies in the Middle East but although this tribe has many powerful romantic associations it has also been the subject of much misunderstanding, even today. This penetrating examination of the Bakhtiyari in Iran explores their powerful political and economic role in Iranian society in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and provides a key to understanding how political power is created, maintained and lost in a tribal society. Based on an extraordinary archive of documents now lost as a result of the upheavals of the Iranian Revolution, Khans and Shahs offers a complete picture of the tribe, placing it in the context of its full history from the 14th century to the present day. While focussing primarily on a single elite family, the Duraki khans, over the course of the 19th century, Gene Garthwaite also teases out wider lessons about the interaction between this traditional tribe and the State and society in Iran. Among much else Khans and Shahs examines the role of the Bakhtiyari in the exploration and development of Iranian oil, which was first discovered on their tribal lands by the British entrepreneur William Knox D'Arcy. This ground-breaking study explores the Bakhtiyari's interaction with the State and the effects of the wider world on their social and political structure and offers unique insights into a complex but important aspect of Iran's history.
Khans and Shahs
A History of the Bakhtiyari Tribe in Iran