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Lurs (also Lors, Lurish: لوریا and لُرو; Persian: لُرها) are an Iranian people living mainly in western and south-western Iran. Their population is estimated at around five million. They occupy Lorestan, Kohkiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad, Khuzestan and Fars (especially Lamerd, Mamasani and Rostam), Bushehr, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari, Hamadan, Ilam, and Isfahan provinces.[4] The Lur people mostly speak the Lurish language (sometimes called "Luri"), a Southwestern Iranian language related to Persian. According to the Encyclopaedia of Islam, the Lurish language is the closest living language to Archaic and Middle Persian.[5] According to the linguist Don Still, Lori-Bakhtiari like Persian is derived directly from Old Persian.[6] Michael M. Gunter states that Lur people are closely related to the Kurds but that they "apparently began to be distinguished from the Kurds 1,000 years ago."[7] There is also a significant population of Iraqi Lurs in the eastern and central parts of Iraq,[8] mainly known as Feylis.[9][10][11]

Lurish Language Map.png
Total population
Regions with significant populations
  • 4–5 million[1][2]
    Approximately 6% of Iran's population
 Kuwait150,000[citation needed]
Lurish languages` dialects including: Bakhtiari, Laki, and Feyli
Predominantly Shi'a Islam
Related ethnic groups
Persians, Kurds, Laks, and Other Iranian peoples

Lurs are the demographic majority of the provinces of Kohkiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad, Ilam, Lorestan, and Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari. Half of Khuzestan's population is Lur and 30% of Bushehr's population is Lur.[12]



Lurish is a Western Iranian language continuum spoken by the Lurs in Western Asia. Lurish language forms five language groups known as Feyli Lurish,[13][14][15][16] Central Lurish, Bakhtiari,[8][17] Laki[18][19] and the Southern Lurish.[8][17]

Luri language map

This language is spoken mainly by the Feyli Lurs (including Khorram Abadi, Maleki, and Laks), Bakhtiari, and Southern Lurs (Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad, Mamasani, Sepidan, Bandar Ganaveh, Deylam).[20]Richard N. Frye wrote that "the Lurs and their dialects are closely related to the Persians of Fars province, and naturally belong to the southwestern branch of the Iranian peoples..."[21] The Lurish language is divided into two main groups:

  • The dialect spoken in Luri-i buzurg (Greater Lur) which is closely related to Persian. This dialect is spoken by the inhabitants of Bakhtiari, Kuh-Gilu-Boir Ahmed, in the north and east of Khuzistan, in the Mamasani district of Fars, and in some areas of Bushehr province.
  • The dialect spoken in Lur-i-Kuchek (Lesser Lor) which is closely related to southern Kurdish, with has some similarities to Persian. This dialect is spoken in Luristan, several districts of Hamadan (Malayer, Nahavand, Towisarkan) and by the inhabitants of south and southwest Ilam and northern part of Khuzestan province.
  • There is a third group of Luri people who speak northern Lurish; they are ethnically part of Lur-e-kuchak, but dialectically part of Lur-e-bozorg.


West side of the elamite rock relief said “Kul-e Farah”
Relief of an Elamite noblewoman
Memorials of Great Lurs in Idaj (Izeh)
Karim Khan, the Lurish ruler of the Zand Dynasty

Lurs are a mixture of aboriginal Iranian tribes, originating from Central Asia and the pre-Iranic tribes of western Iran, such as the Kassites (whose homeland appears to have been in what is now Lorestan) and Gutians. In accordance to geographical and archaeological matching, some historians argue that the Elamites to be the Proto-Lurs, whose language became Iranian only in the Middle Ages.[22][23] Michael M. Gunter states that they are closely related to the Kurds but that they "apparently began to be distinguished from the Kurds 1,000 years ago." He adds that the Sharafnama of Sharaf Khan Bidlisi "mentioned two Lur dynasties among the five Kurdish dynasties that had in the past enjoyed royalty or the highest form of sovereignty or independence."[7] In the Mu'jam Al-Buldan of Yaqut al-Hamawi mention is made of the Lurs as a Kurdish tribe living in the mountains between Khuzestan and Isfahan. The term Kurd according to Richard Frye was used for all Iranian nomads (including the population of Luristan as well as tribes in Kuhistan and Baluchis in Kirman) for all nomads, whether they were linguistically connected to the Kurds or not.[24]

Queen Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari the second wife of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi


Considering their NRY variation, the Lurs are distinguished from other Iranian groups by their relatively elevated frequency of Y-DNA Haplogroup R1b (specifically, of subclade R1b1a2a-L23).[25] Together with its other clades, the R1 group comprises the single most common haplogroup among the Lurs.[25][26] Haplogroup J2a (subclades J2a3a-M47, J2a3b-M67, J2a3h-M530, more specifically) is the second most commonly occurring patrilineage in the Lurs and is associated with the diffusion of agriculturalists from the Neolithic Near East c. 8000-4000 BCE.[26][27][28][29] Another haplogroup reaching a frequency above 10% is that of G2a, with subclade G2a3b accounting for most of this.[30] Also significant is haplogroup E1b1b1a1b, for which the Lurs display the highest frequency in Iran.[30] Lineages Q1b1 and Q1a3 present at 6%, and T at 4%.[30]


Dasmâl-bâzi dance, Mamasani, Iran

The authority of tribal elders remains a strong influence among the nomadic population. It is not as dominant among the settled urban population. As is true in Kurdish societies, Lur women have much greater freedom than women in other groups within the region. The women have had much freedom to participate in different social activities, to wear female diverse clothing and to sing and dance in different ceremonies.[31] Bibi Maryam Bakhtiari, and Qadam Kheyr are two notable Lurish women from Iran.[32][33] Lurish music, Lurish clothing and Lurish folk dances are from the most distinctive ethno-cultural characteristics of this ethnic group.


While the overwhelming majority of Lurs are Shia Muslims, a small minority practice a medieval Iranian religion known as Yaresan, which has roots in pre-Islamic Zoroastrianism, Mithraism, and Manichaeism.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ "Iran". The World Factbook. Archived from the original on 3 February 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
  2. ^ "Iran" (PDF). New America Foundation. June 12, 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 July 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
  3. ^ "Luri". Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  4. ^ "The Lurs of Iran". Cultural Survival. Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  5. ^ C.S. Coon, "Iran:Demography and Ethnography" in Encyclopaedia of Islam, Volume IV, E. J. Brill, pp 10,8.
  6. ^ Don Stillo, "Isfahan-Provincial Dialects" in Encyclopedia Iranica. Excerpt: "While the modern SWI languages, for instance, Persian, Lori-Bak_tia-ri and others, are derived directly from Old Persian through Middle Persian/Pahlavi."
  7. ^ a b Gunter, Michael M. (2011). Historical Dictionary of the Kurds (2nd ed.). Scarecrow Press. p. 203. ISBN 978-0810867512.
  8. ^ a b c Erik John Anonby (2003). "Update on Luri: How many languages?" Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (Third Series), 13, pp 171-197. doi:10.1017/S1356186303003067.
  9. ^ H. Field, Contributions to the Anthropology of Iran, Chicago, 1939.
  10. ^ G. R. Fazel, "Lur", in Muslim Peoples: A World Ethnographic Survey, ed. R. V. Weekes (Westport, 1984), pp. 446–447; S. Amanollahi, Qom-e Lor (Tehran, 1991), p. 8
  11. ^ E.B. Soane, To Mesopotamia and Kurdistan in disguise, with historical Notices of the Kurdish Tribes and the Chaldeans of Kurdistan. London: John Murray, 1926. Vol II, p. 120-124
  12. ^ "History and cultural relations - Lur". Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  13. ^ Najm S. Mehdi, al-Fayli, Stockholm 2001.
  14. ^ M. Jafar, Fayli Kurds and Their Role in the Iraqi Kurdish National Movement
  15. ^ Black-Michaud, J. (1974). "An Ethnographic and Ecological Survey of Luristan, Western Persia: Modernization in a Nomadic Pastoral Society". Middle Eastern Studies. 10 (2): 210–228. JSTOR 4282526.
  16. ^ Shoup, J.A (2011) Ethnic Groups of Africa and the Middle East: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO, Incorporated. p.177
  17. ^ a b G. R. Fazel, "Lur", in Muslim Peoples: A World Ethnographic Survey, ed. R. V. Weekes (Westport, 1984), pp. 446–447
  18. ^ B. Grimes (ed.), "Luri", in Ethnologue (13th edition) (Dallas, 1996), p. 677; M. Ruhlen, A Guide to the World's Languages(Stanford, 1991), p. 327.
  19. ^ Sengupta et al. "Polarity and Temporality of High-Resolution Y-Chromosome Distributions in India Identify Both Indigenous and Exogenous Expansions and Reveal Minor Genetic Influence of Central Asian Pastoralists." AJHG 78; 2. 2006
  20. ^ John Limbert، "The Origin and Appearance of The Kurds In Pre-Islamic Iran." Iranian Studies.
  21. ^ Frye, Richard N. (1983). Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft, Part 3. 7. Beck. p. 29. ISBN 978-3406093975.
  22. ^ Edwards, I.E.S.; Gadd, C.J.; Hammond, G.L. (1971). The Cambridge Ancient History (2nd ed.). Camberidge University Press. p. 644. ISBN 9780521077910.
  23. ^ Potts, D.S (1999). The Archaeology of Elam: Formation and Transformation of an Ancient Iranian State (Cambridge World Archaeology) (2nd ed.). Camberidge University Press. p. 45. ISBN 9780521564960.
  24. ^ Richard Frye,"The Golden age of Persia", Phoenix Press, 1975. Second Impression December 2003. pp 111: "Tribes always have been a feature of Persian history, but the sources are extremely scant in reference to them since they did not 'make' history. The general designation 'Kurd' is found in many Arabic sources, as well as in Pahlavi book on the deeds of Ardashir the first Sassanian ruler, for all nomads no matter whether they were linguistically connected to the Kurds of today or not. The population of Luristan, for example, was considered to be Kurdish, as were tribes in Kuhistan and Baluchis in Kirman"
  25. ^ a b Grugni, V; Battaglia, V; Hooshiar Kashani, B; Parolo, S; Al-Zahery, N; et al. (2012). "Ancient Migratory Events in the Middle East: New Clues from the Y-Chromosome Variation of Modern Iranians". PLoS ONE. 7 (7): e41252. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041252. PMC 3399854. PMID 22815981.
  26. ^ a b Wells, R. Spencer; et al. (2001). "The Eurasian Heartland: A continental perspective on Y-chromosome diversity". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 98 (18): 10244–9. doi:10.1073/pnas.171305098. PMC 56946. PMID 11526236.
  27. ^ Semino O, Passarino G, Oefner P J, Lin A A, Arbuzova S, Beckman L E, de Benedictis G, Francalacci P, Kouvatsi A, Limborska S, et al. (2000) Science 290:1155–1159
  28. ^ Underhill P A, Passarino G, Lin A A, Shen P, Foley R A, Mirazon-Lahr M, Oefner P J, Cavalli-Sforza L L (2001) Ann Hum Genet 65:43–62
  29. ^ Semino, Ornella; Magri, Chiara; Benuzzi, Giorgia; Lin, Alice A.; Al-Zahery, Nadia; Battaglia, Vincenza; MacCioni, Liliana; Triantaphyllidis, Costas; et al. (2004). "Origin, Diffusion, and Differentiation of Y-Chromosome Haplogroups E and J: Inferences on the Neolithization of Europe and Later Migratory Events in the Mediterranean Area". The American Journal of Human Genetics. 74 (5): 1023–34. doi:10.1086/386295. PMC 1181965. PMID 15069642.
  30. ^ a b c Grugni, V; Battaglia, V; Hooshiar Kashani, B; Parolo, S; Al-Zahery, N; et al. (2012). "Ancient Migratory Events in the Middle East: New Clues from the Y-Chromosome Variation of Modern Iranians". PLoS ONE. 7 (7): e41252. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041252. PMC 3399854. PMID 22815981.
  31. ^ Edmonds, Cecil (2010). East and West of Zagros: Travel, War and Politics in Persia and Iraq 1913-1921. p. 188. ISBN 9789004173446.
  32. ^ F.Stark, 1934,The Valleys of the Assassins: and Other Persian Travels, Modern library
  33. ^ Garthwaite, Gene Ralph (1996). Bakhtiari in the mirror of history. Ānzān. p. 187. ISBN 9789649046518.

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