Basseri - Economy

Extensive pastures are an essential part of the pastoral economy of the Basseri, but these pastures cannot support flocks continuously over the course of a year. Along the migratory routes of the Basseri, pastures are utilized by different Basseri groups in succession. While snow covers the pastures in the mountains in the north, extensive though rather poor pastures are available in the south. In spring, good pastures are plentiful in the low and middle altitudes, but, beginning in early March in the far south, they progressively dry up. Usable pastures are available in the summer in areas above 6,000 feet, but the grasses dry up in the latter part of the summer. In the fall, when pastures are generally poor, the remains of harvested fields become available for pasturage.

All of the major tribes of Fārs have traditional routes that they travel in their seasonal migrations. They also have a traditional schedule of pasture occupations at different locations. The combined route and schedule, which describes the locations of a group at different times in the yearly cycle, constitutes their il-rah. An il-rah is regarded by tribesmen as the property of their tribe. Implicit within the concept of il-rah are rights to pass on roads and over uncultivated lands, to draw water everywhere except from private wells, and to pasture flocks outside cultivated fields. These rights are recognized by the local populations and authorities.

Although the Basseri keep a variety of domesticated animals, sheep and goats have the greatest economic importance. Other domesticated animals include donkeys for transport and riding (mainly by women and children), horses for riding only (predominantly by men), camels for heavy transport and wool, and dogs for keeping watch in camp. Poultry are sometimes kept as a source of meat, but not for eggs. Cattle are not herded because of the long migrations and the rocky terrain.

Sheep and goats provide milk, meat, wool, and hides. Camels provide only wool. These products are consumed immediately, stored for later consumption, or traded.


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