Mazanderani people

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Mazanderani people
Total population
3 million [1] to 4 million [2] (2006)
Regions with significant populations
Province of Mazandaran and parts of the provinces of Alborz, Golestan, Tehran and Semnan in Iran
Mostly Shi'a Muslim
Related ethnic groups
Iranian peoples, Caucasian peoples

The Mazanderani people (Mazanderani : مازرون; Persian : مردم مازندرانی) or Tabari people (Mazanderani : تپورون; Persian : مردم تبری) are an Iranian people [3] [4] [5] who are indigenous to northern Iran. They are a Caspian people who inhabit the sea's south coast and are part of the historical region known as Tabaristan. The Alborz mountains mark the southern boundary of Mazanderani settlement. [6] [7]

Mazanderani language Northwestern Iranian language spoken mainly in Irans Mazandaran, Gilan and Golestan provinces

Mazandarani (مازندرانی), also Tabari (طبری), is an Iranian language of the Northwestern branch, spoken mainly in Iran's Mazandaran, Tehran, Alborz, Semnan and Golestan provinces. As a member of the Northwestern branch, etymologically speaking it is rather closely related to Gilaki, and more distantly related to Persian, which belongs to the Southwestern branch. Mazandarani is closely related to Gilaki and the two languages have similar vocabularies. The Gilaki and Mazandarani languages share certain typological features with Caucasian languages, reflecting the history, ethnic identity, and close relatedness to the Caucasus region and Caucasian peoples of the Mazandarani people and Gilaki people. For the most part Mazandarani is mutually unintelligible with Persian.

Persian language Western Iranian language

Persian, also known by its endonym Farsi, is a Western Iranian language belonging to the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian subdivision of the Indo-European languages. It is a pluricentric language predominantly spoken and used officially within Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan in three mutually intelligible standard varieties, namely Iranian Persian, Dari Persian and Tajiki Persian. It is also spoken natively in the Tajik variety by a significant population within Uzbekistan, as well as within other regions with a Persianate history in the cultural sphere of Greater Iran. It is written officially within Iran and Afghanistan in the Persian alphabet, a derivation of the Arabic script, and within Tajikistan in the Tajik alphabet, a derivation of Cyrillic.

Iranian peoples diverse Indo-European ethno-linguistic group

The Iranian peoples, or the Iranic peoples, are a diverse Indo-European ethno-linguistic group.


Traditional clothing of Mazandaran people on Iranian stamps (1978) Stamp-Mazandaran.JPG
Traditional clothing of Mazandaran people on Iranian stamps (1978)


Mazandaris in Iran (dark purple) Ethnicities and religions in Iran.png
Mazandaris in Iran (dark purple)

The Mazanderani number between three [1] and four million (2006 estimate). [2] Their dominant religion is Shiite Islam. [8]

Islam is an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion teaching that there is only one God (Allah), and that Muhammad is a messenger of God. It is the world's second-largest religion with over 1.9 billion followers or 24.4% of the world's population, commonly known as Muslims. Muslims make up a majority of the population in 50 countries. Islam teaches that God is merciful, all-powerful, and unique, and has guided mankind through prophets, revealed scriptures and natural signs. The primary scriptures of Islam are the Quran, claimed to be the verbatim word of God, and the teachings and normative examples of Muhammad.

Most Mazanderanis live on the southeastern coast of the Caspian Sea. Their traditional professions are farming and fishing. [1] The Mazanderanis are closely related to the neighbouring Gilaki people as well as Caucasian peoples (e.g., the Georgians, Armenians, and Azerbaijanis). [1] [9] [10]

Caspian Sea Body of water between Europe and Asia

The Caspian Sea is the world's largest inland body of water, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. It is an endorheic basin located between Europe and Asia, to the east of the Caucasus Mountains and to the west of the broad steppe of Central Asia. The sea has a surface area of 371,000 km2 and a volume of 78,200 km3. It has a salinity of approximately 1.2%, about a third of the salinity of most seawater. It is bounded by Kazakhstan to the northeast, Russia to the northwest, Azerbaijan to the west, Iran to the south, and Turkmenistan to the southeast. The Caspian Sea is home to a wide range of species and may be best known for its caviar and oil industries. Pollution from the oil industry and dams on rivers draining into the Caspian Sea have had negative effects on the organisms living in the sea.

The Gilaki people or Gilaks are an Iranian ethnic group native to the northern Iranian province of Gilan. They form one of the main ethnic groups residing in the northern parts of Iran. Gilaks, along with the closely related Mazandarani people, comprise part of the Caspian people, who inhabit the southern and southwestern coastal regions of the Caspian Sea.

Peoples of the Caucasus

The peoples of the Caucasus are diverse comprising more than 50 ethnic groups throughout the Caucasus region.


The Mazanderani language is a Northwestern Iranian language spoken by the Mazanderani people; however, most Mazanderanis are also fluent in Persian. [6] [8] The Gilaki and Mazanderani languages (but not other Iranian languages) share certain typological features with Caucasian languages. [4] [11]

Languages of the Caucasus languages of a geographic region

The Caucasian languages are a large and extremely varied array of languages spoken by more than ten million people in and around the Caucasus Mountains, which lie between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.

With the growth of education and the media, the distinction between Mazanderani and other Iranian languages is likely to disappear. [6] [8] Mazanderani is closely related to Gilaki and the two languages have similar vocabularies. [6] They preserve more of the noun declension system characteristic of older Iranian languages than Persian does. [6]

Gilaki language Caspian language, and a member of the northwestern Iranian language branch, spoken in Irans Gīlān Province

The Gilaki language is a Caspian language, and a member of the northwestern Iranian language branch, spoken in Iran's Gīlān Province. Gilaki is closely related to Mazandarani and the two languages have similar vocabularies. Though the Persian language has influenced Gilaki to a great extent, Gilaki remains an independent language with a northwestern Iranian origin. The Gilaki and Mazandarani languages share certain typological features with Caucasian languages, reflecting the history, ethnic identity, and close relatedness to the Caucasus region and Caucasian peoples of the Gilaki people and Mazandarani people.

Assistant professor Maryam Borjian of Rutgers University states that Mazanderani has different sub-dialects and there is high mutual intelligibility among Mazanderani sub-dialects. [8]

The Rutgers University Department of African, Middle Eastern, South Asian Languages and Literatures(AMESALL) is dedicated to the study of Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. It is the primary academic home of sixteen core faculty and seven part-time lecturers. AMESALL provides instruction in over a dozen languages from these three regions. It offers courses taught in English and regional languages such as Arabic and Hindi, and regularly hosts events such as lectures, workshops, and conferences for the student body, the faculty, and the general public.


The Mazanderani and the closely related Gilaks occupy the south Caspian region of Iran and speak languages belonging to the North-Western branch of Iranian languages. It has been suggested that their ancestors came from the Caucasus region, perhaps displacing an earlier group in the South Caspian. [12] Linguistic evidence supports this scenario, in that the Gilaki and Mazanderani languages (but not other Iranian languages) share certain typological features with Caucasian languages. [12] There have been patterns analyzed of mtDNA and Y chromosome variation in the Gilaki and Mazanderani.

Based on mtDNA HV1 sequences, the Gilaki and Mazanderani most closely resemble their geographic and linguistic neighbors, namely other Iranian groups. However, their Y chromosome types most closely resemble those found in groups from the South Caucasus. [12]

A scenario that explains these differences is a south Caucasian origin for the ancestors of the Gilaki and Mazanderani, followed by introgression of women from local Iranian groups, possibly because of patrilocality. [12] Since mtDNA and language are maternally transmitted, the incorporation of local Iranian women would have resulted in the concomitant replacement of the ancestral Caucasian language and mtDNA types of the Gilaki and Mazanderani with their current Iranian language and mtDNA types. Concomitant replacement of language and mtDNA may be a more general phenomenon than previously recognized.

The Mazanderani and Gilaki groups fall inside a major cluster consisting of populations from the Caucasus and West Asia and are particularly close to the South Caucasus groups Georgians, Armenians, and Azerbaijani's. Iranians from Tehran and Isfahan are more distant from these groups. [12]


Analysis of their NRY patrilines has revealed haplogroup J2, associated with the neolithic diffusion of agriculturalists from the Near East, to be the predominant Y-DNA lineage among the Mazanderani (subclades J2a3h-M530, J2a3b-M67 and J2a-M410, more specifically.). [13] The next most frequently occurring lineage, R1a1a, believed to have been associated with early Iranian expansion into Central/Southern Eurasia and currently ubiquitous in that area, is found in almost 25%,. This haplogroup, with the aforementioned J2, accounts for over 50% of the entire sample. [13] [14] Haplogroup G2a3b, attaining significant frequency together with G2a and G1, is the most commonly carried marker in the G group among Mazanderani men. The lineages E1b1b1a1a-M34 and C5-M356 comprise the remainder, of less than 10% sampled. [13]

Notable figures



Assimilated populations in Mazandaran

In the Safavid, Afsharid, and Qajar eras Mazandaran was settled by large amounts of Georgians, Circassians, Armenians and other peoples of the Caucasus, whose descendants still live across Mazandaran. [15] [16] [17] Many towns, villages and neighbourhoods in Mazandaran bear the name "Gorji" (i.e., Georgian) in them, although most of the Georgians are assimilated into the mainstream Mazanderanis: they keep a Georgian conscience. The history of Georgian settlement is described by Iskandar Beg Munshi, the author of the 17th century History of Alam Aray Abbasi . In addition foreigners, e.g., Chardin and Della Valle, have written about their encounters with the Georgian, Circassian and Armenian Mazanderanis. [17]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Mazandaran Province Province in Region 1, Iran

Mazandaran Province, is an Iranian province located along the southern coast of the Caspian Sea and in the adjacent Central Alborz mountain range, in central-northern Iran.

Gilan Province Province in Region 3, Iran

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Azerbaijanis or Azeris are a Turkic people living mainly in the Iranian region of Azerbaijan and the sovereign Republic of Azerbaijan. They are the second-most numerous ethnic group among the Turkic peoples after Anatolian Turks. They are predominantly Shia Muslims. They comprise the largest ethnic group in the Republic of Azerbaijan and the second-largest ethnic group in neighboring Iran and Georgia. The world's largest number of ethnic Azerbaijanis live in Iran, followed by the Republic of Azerbaijan. They speak the Azerbaijani language, belonging to the Oghuz branch of the Turkic languages.

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