1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Luristan

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LURISTAN, in the wider sense (as its name implies) the “Land of the Lurs,” namely that part of western Persia which is bounded by Turkish territory on the west and extends for about 400 m. N.W.-S.E. from Kermanshah to Pars with a breadth of 100 to 140 m. It is chiefly mountainous, being intersected by numerous ranges running N.W.-S.E. The central range has many summits which are almost within the line of perpetual snow, rising to 13,000 ft. and more, and in it are the sources of Persia's most important rivers, as the Zayendeh-rud, Jarahi, Karun, Diz, Abi, Kerkheh. Between the higher ranges are many fertile plains and low hilly districts, well watered but comparatively little cultivated in consequence of intertribal feuds. The Lurs are thought to be aboriginal Persians with a mixture of Semitic blood. Their language is a dialect of Persian and does not differ materially from Kurdish. Outwardly they are Mussulmans of the Shiah branch, but most of them show little veneration for either Prophet or Koran, and the religion of some of them seems to be a mixture of Ali-Illahism involving a belief in successive incarnations combined with mysterious, ancient, heathen rites. The northern part of Luristan, which was formerly known as Lurikuchik (little Luristan), is inhabited by the Feili Lurs and these are divided into the Pishkuh (cis-montane) Lurs in the east and Pushtkuh (ultra-montane) Lurs in the west adjoining Turkish territory. They number about 350,000. Little Luristan was governed by a race of independent princes of the Khurshidi dynasty, and called atabegs, from 1155 to the beginning of the 17th century when the last atabeg, Shah Verdi Khan, was removed by Shah Abbas I. and the government of the province given to Husain Khan, the chief of a rival tribe, with the title of vali in exchange for that of atabeg. The descendants of Husain Khan have retained the title but now govern only the Pushtkuh Lurs, to whom only the denomination of Feili is at present applied. The southern part of Luristan was formerly known as Lur i Buzurg (great Luristan) and is composed of the Bakhtiari division of the Arabistan province and the districts of the Mamasennis and Kuhgilus which belong to Fars. The Bakhtiaris number about 200,000, the others 40,000. Great Luristan was an independent state under the Fazlevieh atabegs from 1160 until 1424, and its capital was Idaj, now represented by mounds and ruins at Malamir 60 m. S.E. of Shushter.