31 May 2003, 22:12


They call themselves tolish. A nation in the north of Iran and in the south-east of Azerbaijan. Their population in Iran is 100 thousand people (1992), in Azerbaijan - 21,1 thousand people (1989). They belong to the upper Asian version of the Balkan-Caucasus race of the big European race. They speak the Talish language of the western sub-group of the Iran group of the Indo-European family; in Azerbaijan Azerbaijanian and Russian languages are also common. Among the religious people there are Moslems-shiits, some are sunnites.

Talishes are the successors of the ancient native population of the Caucasus that assimilated with Azerbaijanians since the early Middle Ages. In the beginning of the 19th century the Talish khanate (founded in the 17th century) joined the Russian empire.

Traditional occupations - agriculture (wheat, rice) as well as cattle-breeding and silkworm breeding; in Iran also the horticulture. Trades - wicker-work (baskets, mats), making silk and cotton fabrics.

Traditional settlements are not big, in the lowland-foothill zone they are scattered, in the mountains - compact. In the different natural zones the dwellings were made of different construction material: by the sea at the foothill they used wood, cane, in the mountains - stone. The two- or four-slope roof was covered with sedge. The most common type of a dwelling is a timber house with no foundation (anjinaka) with walls covered with clay inside and outside. It was heated by an open hearth with no chimney (gara bukhari) or a fireplace (bukhari); in the 20th century an iron oven became popular. In the yard they made a season dwelling elevated on brick or wooden piles (lyam) --the place of rest and night sleep of the family from May till October.

Traditional costume is similar to the one of Azerbaijan. Men wore shirts, trousers, arkhalig, papakha or felt hat; women - a shirt, long wide trousers, wide pleated skirts, arkhalig, head kerchiefs, girls wore small hats (arakhuchin) similar to scull-caps. The footwear were woolen socks and leather boots.

Traditional food - milk and vegetables, instead of bread they used thick boiled rice.

Patriarchal features were typical for traditional life-style: mutual help, vendetta, hospitality).

Folklore is mainly Azerbaijanian, there remained the labor and wedding Talish songs.

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