Talysh people

Last updated

tolışon • Толишон • تالشان
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Talysh women in Azerbaijan
Total population
c. 2,000,000+
Regions with significant populations
Flag of Azerbaijan.svg  Azerbaijan 112,000 (2009 census) [1] [2] [3] 800,000-1,000,000 (unofficial) [4]
Flag of Iran.svg  Iran 148.000 [5]

430.000 [6]

630,000 [7] [ better source needed ]
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 2,529 (2010 census) [8]
Flag of Ukraine.svg  Ukraine 133 [9]
Islam (Predominantly Shi'a) with minority following Sunni [10] [11] [12]
Related ethnic groups
Other Iranian peoples

Talysh (also Talishi, Taleshi or Talyshi) (Talysh : Tolışon, Azerbaijani : Talışlar, Persian : تالشان) are an Iranian [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] ethnic group indigenous to a region shared between Azerbaijan and Iran which spans the South Caucasus and the southwestern shore of the Caspian Sea. They speak the Talysh language, one of the Northwestern Iranian languages. It is spoken in the northern regions of the Iranian provinces of Gilan and Ardabil and the southern parts of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Northern Talysh (the part in the Republic of Azerbaijan) was historically known as Talish-i Gushtasbi. In Iran there is a Talesh County in Gilan Province. [19]



The Talishis generally identify themselves with the ancient Cadusians, who inhabited the area to the southwest of Caspian Sea, bounded on the north by Kura River, including modern provinces of Ardabil and Gilan. The name Talishi may be etymologically related to Cadusi, which has influenced the name of the Caspian and Caucasus.[ citation needed ]


Talysh has two major mutually intelligible dialects – Northern (in Azerbaijan and Iran), and Southern (in Iran). Azerbaijani is used as the literary language in Azerbaijan and Persian in Iran.


With regards to their NRY-Y-DNA haplogroups, the Talysh show salient Near-Eastern affinities, with haplogroup J2, associated with the advent and diffusion of agriculture in the neolithic Near East, found in over 25% of the sample. [20] Another patriline, haplogroup R1, is also seen to range from 1/4 to up to 1/2, while R1a1, a marker associated with Eastern Indo-European, which includes Indo-Iranian peoples of Central/South Eurasia, only reaches to under 5%, along with haplogroup G. [20]


Percent of Talysh people in provinces of Iran, 2011 Map of Talysh-inhabited provinces of Iran, according to a poll in 2011.png
Percent of Talysh people in provinces of Iran, 2011

There are no statistical data on the numbers of Talysh-speakers in Iran, but estimates show their number to be around 1 million.[ citation needed ] According to unofficial statistics, between 200,000 and 300,000 Talysh citizens live in Azerbaijan. [21] [10] The number of Talysh speakers in 2003 was estimated to be at least 400,000 in the Republic of Azerbaijan. [22] According to the official 1999 census of the Republic of Azerbaijan, whose figures are in dispute by Talysh nationalists, the number of Talysh people in the Republic of Azerbaijan was 76,000. [23] According to some sources, the Azerbaijani government has also implemented a policy of forceful integration of all minorities, including Talysh, Tat, and Lezgins. [24] However, in a view of Hema Kotecha "the attitude towards any separatist tendencies seems predominantly negative" among the Talysh. [25] According to Swedish scholar on Eurasia Svante E. Cornell:

Whereas officially the number of Lezgins registered as such is around 180,000, the Lezgins claim that the number of Lezgins registered as Azerbaijani is many times higher than this figure, some accounts showing over 700,000 Lezgins in Azerbaijan. These figures are denied by the Azerbaijani government but in private many Azeris acknowledge the fact that Lezgins – for that matter Talysh or the Tat population of Azerbaijan is far higher than the official figure. The unofficial census of the Netherlands is 1. [26]


Talysh language dialects Talysh language dialects.svg
Talysh language dialects

According to the Russian Imperial Census of 1897 there were 34,994 Talysh in Baku Governorate. [27]

According to a 1926 census, there were 77,039 Talysh in Azerbaijan SSR. From 1959 to 1989, the Talysh were not included as a separate ethnic group in any census, but rather they were included as part of the Turkic-speaking Azerbaijanis, although the Talysh speak an Iranian language. In 1999, the Azerbaijani government claimed there were only 76,800 Talysh in Azerbaijan, but this is believed to be an under-representation given the problems with registering as a Talysh. Some claim that the population of the Talysh inhabiting the southern regions of Azerbaijan is 600,000. [25] Talysh nationalists have always asserted that the number of Talysh in Azerbaijan is substantially higher than the official statistics. [21] [10]

Obtaining accurate statistics is difficult, due to the unavailability of reliable sources, intermarriage, and the decline of the Talysh language. [28] [29] and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty have voiced their concerns about the arrest of Novruzali Mamedov, Chairman of the Talysh Cultural Centre and editor-in-chief of the Tolyshi Sado newspaper. [30]

According to a U.S. government interview with Khilal Mamedov, a Talysh rights activist, Mr. Mamedov: “Accused the Azerbaijani leadership of Turkic nationalism and of seeking to suppress non-Turkic minorities…. He said the Azerbaijani leadership seeks to minimize contacts between the Talysh communities in Azerbaijan and Iran and to run Azerbaijan into a monoethnic state.” [31]

Culture and religion

The Talysh are mainly a rural people who tend to live in regions and villages heavily or completely inhabited by other Talysh. The Talysh are mainly agriculturists than cultivate citrus fruits, tea, rice, and certain sub-tropical plants. Carpet-weaving is another occupation that the Talysh are known for. [32] The Talysh largely follow Shia (Twelver) Islam. They are regarded as a conservative and religious people. [33]

During modern history

USSR era

In the early Soviet period, there were Talysh high schools, a newspaper called "Red Talysh", and several Talysh language books published, but by end of the 1930s these schools were closed and the Talysh identity was not acknowledged in official statistics, with the Talysh being classified as "Azerbaijani". [25]

According to Russian historian and ethnologist Victor Schnirelmann,

Simultaneously ethnic minorities suffered persecutions in Azerbaijan. After Soviet power was established, the Iranian-speaking Talyshes, who lived in southeast Azerbaijan, wanted to restore the Talysh Mugan republic that was declared in the summer of 1919 and subsequently defeated by the Ottoman Troops. In 1936–38, Talysh nationalists were exiled to Siberia, and Talysh schools were closed. Broadcasting in Talysh was abolished, and the Talyshes were deprived of their mass media in general. Since then, the Talyshes have been pressurized to identify themselves closer with Azerbaijanis. [34]

From 1991 to present

Historical repression of identity and the inability to practice their culture and language has led the Talysh to an internalized self-repression. [25] This makes it difficult to gauge support for any type of Talysh movement. [25] According to Hema Kotecha, many Talysh fear being associated with the separatist Talysh-Mughan Autonomous Republic, with Russia, or with Armenia if they acknowledge or attempt to talk about their beliefs in the public sphere. The fear of the police is another factor to this silence, although support for secular democracy and shared Azerbaijani-Talysh feelings towards Nagorno-Karabakh contribute as well. [25] The Talesh population is declining; the language is on its way to extinction within 25–35 years, as it is very often not passed on to children.[ citation needed ] Young Talesh people more frequently use Persian or Azerbaijani in their communities.

As of 2008, Ismail Shabanov was the president of the Talysh diaspora of Russia.

The National Talysh Movement (NTM)

The National Talysh Movement (NTM) was formally created in 2007 by Talysh leaders exiled in the Netherlands. The members of the organization include those who were in support of the Talysh-Mughan Autonomous Republic such as Alikram Hummatov, the self-proclaimed president of Talysh-Mughan. The movement favors an autonomous region within Azerbaijan. It also demands the promotion of democratic, cultural, and linguistic rights of all minorities within Azerbaijan. [35]

See also

Related Research Articles

Articles related to the Azerbaijan Republic include:

Astara, Iran City in Gilan, Iran

Astara is a city and capital of Astara County, Gilan Province, Iran. It lies on the border with Azerbaijan Republic and on the Caspian Sea. It is an important border trade center between Iran and the Caucasus.

Talish-i Gushtasbi

Talish-i Gushtasbi is the historical name of the northern Talish area, presently a part of the Republic of Azerbaijan. During the Abbasid Caliphate, there was a region called Gushtasfi. People of northern Talysh are of Iranian stock and speak a northwestern Iranian language called Talysh. The chief cities of the area are Talesh, Lankaran, Lerik, Masally and Astara.

Tat language (Caucasus)

The Tat language, also known as Tat/Tati Persian, is a Southwestern Iranian language closely related to, but not fully mutually intelligible with Persian and spoken by the Tats in Azerbaijan and Russia. There is also an Iranian language called Judeo-Tat spoken by Jews of Caucasus.

Peoples of the Caucasus Diverse group comprising more than 50 ethnic groups

The peoples of the Caucasus, or Caucasians, are a diverse group comprising more than 50 ethnic groups throughout the Caucasus region.

Talysh-Mughan Autonomous Republic

Talysh-Mughan officially known as the Talysh-Mughan Autonomous Republic was a short-lived separatist autonomous republic in Azerbaijan, that lasted from June to August 1993.

Talysh language Iranic language spoken in Northwestern Iran and Southeastern Azerbaijan

The Talysh language, also referred to as Talyshi, is a Northwestern Iranian language spoken in the northern regions of the Iranian provinces of Gilan and Ardabil and the southern regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan by around 200,000 people. Talysh language is closely related to the Tati language. It includes many dialects usually divided into three main clusters: Northern, Central (Iran) and Southern (Iran). Talysh is partially, but not fully, intelligible with Persian. Talysh is classified as "vulnerable" by UNESCO's Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.

Talysh Khanate

Talysh Khanate or Talish Khanate was a khanate of Iranian origin that was established in Persia and existed from the middle of the 18th century till the beginning of the 19th century, located in the south-west coast of the Caspian Sea.

Talysh may refer to:

The Azerbaijani people are of mixed ethnic origins. These include the indigenous peoples of eastern Transcaucasia, the Medians, an ancient Iranian people, and the Oghuz Turkic tribes that began migrating to Azerbaijan in the 11th century AD. Modern Azerbaijanis are the second most numerous ethnic group among the Turkic peoples after Anatolian Turks and speak North Azerbaijani and/or South Azerbaijani. Both languages also have dialects, with 21 North Azerbaijani dialects and 11 South Azerbaijani dialects.

Talesh County County in Gilan Province, Iran

Talesh County, also called Tavalesh is a county in Gilan Province in Iran. The capital of the county is Hashtpar.

Ethnic minorities in Azerbaijan

This article focuses on ethnic minorities in the Republic of Azerbaijan.

The majority of the population of Iran consists of Iranic peoples. The largest groups in this category include Persians and Kurds, with smaller communities including Gilakis, Mazandaranis, Lurs, Tats, Talysh, and Baloch.

Asalem City in Gilan, Iran

Asalem is a city and capital of Asalem District, in Talesh County, Gilan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 3,347, in 827 families. Asalemi dialect is a variety of Talysh

Lisar Rural District is a rural district (dehestan) in Kargan Rud District, Talesh County, Gilan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 8,710, in 2,101 families. The rural district has 27 villages.

Ispahbads of Gilan

Ispahbads of Gīlān or Esfahbad of Gīlān was a small principality in Iran. In the 14th century, Āstārā became the seat of the principality.

Tālīsh is a region that stretches north from the Sefīd-Rūd river, which cuts through the Alborz mountains in Iran's Gilan Province, to the Aras river in the south of Azerbaijan. The region is inhabited by the Talish people who speak the Talish language. The territory and the language set apart Talish from its neighbors.

History of Talysh

Talysh is a historical and geographical region near the southwestern coast of the Caspian Sea, an area of compact residence of the Talysh. It got its name from the ethnonym of the Talysh people inhabiting it. Talish is divided between two states: Azerbaijan (Mugan) and Iran.

Talysh assimilation is a socio-cultural process in the Republic of Azerbaijan in which the Talysh cease to identify themselves as part of the Talysh ethnic and cultural community. Assimilation proceeds through identification with culture, religion, national or political ideals of the assimilating environment or through mixed marriages.

Talyshstan (region)

Talyshstan(also Talish, Talishstan, Tolışıston) is a historically and nowadays term denoting "the country of Talysh". It is also sometimes used to avoid homonymy with the name of the ethnos itself, Talysh, according to the common model of forming the names of territories and countries with the suffix -stan. Divided into two parts: Northern Talyshstan in Azerbaijan and Southern Talyshstan in Iran.In the north, it adjoins the Mugan plain in Azerbaijan and stretches in a narrow strip along the southern coast of the Caspian Sea to the settlement of Kopulchal, located near the port of Anzali in Iran. Talyshstan is also sometimes referred to as the Talysh-Mugan Autonomous Republic, which was declared in 1993. The term Talyshstan was historically met by a number of medieval authors in relation to the region in Gilan. The medieval cartographer Mohammad Saleh Esfahani used the term "Talyshstan" already in 1609 in relation to Gilan. The toponym "Talyshstan" in the Lahijan County (Gilan,Biye-pis), inhabited by the Talysh, is used by Abd-Al-Fattah Fumeni in his work "The History of Gilan".


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Further reading