Project Group F: Associated Projects, Project F4

Nukhba-yi Sayfiya: an Ethnographic Representation of the Yumut Turkmen in the Early 20th Century


This study is the continuation of the Project B3 "Nomadism and the State: The Qajar Dynasty in 19th Century Iran" from SFB 586 "Difference and Integration" at the Universities of Halle and Leipzig. It is financed by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft/ German Community for Research).

This project examines two hand written texts by Muhammad 'Ali Qurkhanaci about the Yumut Turkmen in Iran in the early 20th century. The most significant text, Nukhba-yi Sayfiya, mainly gives a detailed account of the history and the geography of the city of Astarabad, but it also includes an excellent ethnographic report about the Yumut Turkmen.

The text however, reflects the view of the sedentary and dominant population about the nomadic life style of the Yumut and Guklan Turkmen as represented by the author, an educated and talented man of a military position, during the Qajar dynasty. The Qajars who were originally nomads and allies with the Turkmen pursued a policy of forced settlement towards the nomadic tribes after they established a central government and became sedentary. They regarded the Turkmen with their diffused tribal organisational structures as a threat to the stability of their rule. As a result, the "own" perspective and behaviour became differentiated with that of the "others" which lead to the development of dichotomies. Qurkhanaci's text is an excellent example of this in representing the clichés formed by the more dominant sedentary and "civilized" population in contrast with the "primitive" and barbaric Turkmen tribes.

The goal of this research is to translate Qurkhanaci's text in English, to describe the author's personality, to point out the clichés of the dominant culture through the usage of language and terminology, to examine the literature of the time about the Yumut Turkmen, and to try to reconstruct a native ideology.


Prof. Dr. Irene Schneider

Allies or Enemies? The Military Relations between the Yamût-Turkmen and the Nascent Qâjâr State in Late 18th and Early 19th Century Iran. In: Mitteilungen des SFB "Differenz und Integration" 5 (2003), 171–199.

Religious and State Jurisdiction in Nâsir al-Dîn Shâh's Time. In: Proceedings of the Conference of Religion and Society in Qajar Iran. In press.

State, Society and Power Relations – a Study in the late 19th Century Petitioning System of Iran. Berlin (Iranica). In preparation.

Kinderverkauf und Schuldknechtschaft: Untersuchungen zur frühen Phase des islamischen Rechts. Stuttgart 1999.

Das Bild des Richters in der adab al-qâdî-Literatur. Frankfurt am Main 1990.

Esther Ohanecian, M.A.

The Relation Between the State and Iranian Nomads in Documents of the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries: List of Documents." = Materialien des SFB "Differenz und Integration" V/2005.

The associated project is the continuation of B3.