|Iran: 15–17 million|
Approximately 16%, 17%, 20%, 21.6%, of Iran's population
Iranian Azerbaijani diaspora:
Canada: 50,000 – 60,000
United States: 40,400
United Kingdom: Unknown
|Regions with significant populations|
|Azerbaijani and Persian|
|predominantly Shi'a Islam|
|Part of a series on|
|Traditional areas of settlement|
Iranian Azerbaijanis (Azerbaijani: ایران آذربایجانلیلاری, [iˈrɑn ɑzærbɑjˈd͡ʒɑnləlɑrə]), also known as Iranian Azeris, Iranian Turks, Persian Turks or Persian Azerbaijanis, are Iranians of Azeri ethnicity who may speak the Azerbaijani language as their first language.
Iranian Azeris are mainly found in and are native to the Iranian Azerbaijan region including provinces of (East Azerbaijan, Ardabil, Zanjan, West Azerbaijan) and in smaller numbers, in other provinces such as Kurdistan, Qazvin, Hamadan, Gilan, Markazi and Kermanshah. Iranian Azeris also constitute a significant minority in Tehran, Karaj and other regions.
Azeris comprise the largest minority ethnic group in Iran. Apart from Iranian Azerbaijan (provinces of West Azerbaijan, East Azerbaijan, Ardabil and Zanjan), indigenous Azeri populations are found in large numbers in four other provinces: Hamadan (58% Azeri, as well as closely related groups such as Afshar, Gharehgozloo, Shahsevan, and Baharloo), Qazvin (52.2% Azeri), Markazi (20.8% Azeri), and Kurdistan. Azeri-populated parts of Markazi include Komijan, Khondab, Saveh, Zarandieh, Shazand, and Farahan. In Kurdistan, Azeris are mainly found in villages around Qorveh.
Azeris have also immigrated and resettled in large numbers in Central Iran, mainly Tehran, where they constitute 25% – one-third of the population, Qum (25.8% to 26.6% Azeri) and Karaj (34.2% to 36.1% Azeri) Immigrant Azeri communities have been represented by people prominent not only among urban and industrial working classes but also in commercial, administrative, political, religious, and intellectual circles.
Sub-ethnic groups of the Azeris within the modern-day borders of Iran following the ceding of the Caucasus to Russia in the 19th century, include the Shahsevan, the Qarapapaqs, the Ayrums, the Bayat, the Qajars, the Qaradaghis, and the Gharagozloo, the latter whom are the indigenous population of Central Iran.[failed verification]
A comparative study (2013) on the complete mitochondrial DNA diversity in Iranians has indicated that Iranian Azeris are more related to the people of Georgia, than they are to other Iranians, as well as to Armenians. However the same multidimensional scaling plot shows that Azeris from the Caucasus, despite their supposed common origin with Iranian Azeris, cluster closer with other Iranians (e.g. Persians, etc.) than they do with Iranian Azeris. Other studies support that present day Iranian main genetic stock comes from the ancient autochthonous people and a genetic input from eastern people would be a minor one. Thus, Iranian Azeris have the closest genetic distance to Iranian Kurds and there is no significant difference between these two populations and other major ethnic groups of Iran.
According to the scholar of historical geography, Xavier de Planhol: "Azeri material culture, a result of this multi-secular symbiosis, is thus a subtle combination of indigenous elements and nomadic contributions…. It is a Turkish language learned and spoken by Iranian peasants". According to Richard Frye: "The Turkic speakers of Azerbaijan (q.v.) are descended from the earlier Iranian speakers, several pockets of whom still exist in the region.". According to Olivier Roy: "The mass of the Oghuz Turkic tribes who crossed the Amu Darya towards the west left the Iranian plateau, which remained Persian, and established themselves more to the west, in Anatolia. Here they divided into Ottomans, who were Sunni and settled, and Turkmens, who were nomads and in part Shiite (or, rather, Alevi). The latter were to keep the name "Turkmen"for a long time: from the thirteenth century onwards they "Turkised" the Iranian populations of Azerbaijan (who spoke west Iranian languages such as Caucasian Tat, which is still found in residual forms), thus creating a new identity based on Shiism and the use of Oghuz Turkic. These are the people today known as Azeris.". According to Rybakov: "Speaking of the Azerbaijan culture originating at that time, in the XIV-XV cc., one must bear in mind, first of all, literature and other parts of culture organically connected with the language. As for the material culture, it remained traditional even after the Turkicization of the local population. However, the presence of a massive layer of Iranians that took part in the formation of the Azeri ethnos, have imposed its imprint, primarily on the lexicon of the Azeri language which contains a great number of Iranian and Arabic words. The latter entered both the Azeri and Turkish language mainly through the Iranian intermediary. Having become independent, the Azeri culture retained close connections with the Iranian and Arab cultures. They were reinforced by common religion and common cultural-historical traditions.".
The Iranian origins of the Azeris likely derive from ancient Iranian tribes, such as the Medes in Iranian Azerbaijan, and Scythian invaders who arrived during the 8th century BCE. It is believed that the Medes mixed with an indigenous population, the Mannai, a group related to the Urartians. Ancient written accounts, such as one written by Arab historian Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn al-Husayn al-Masudi (896–956), attest to an Iranian presence in the region:
The Persians are a people whose borders are the Mahat Mountains and Azerbaijan up to Armenia and Aran, and Bayleqan and Darband, and Ray and Tabaristan and Masqat and Shabaran and Jorjan and Abarshahr, and that is Nishabur, and Herat and Marv and other places in land of Khorasan, and Sejistan and Kerman and Fars and Ahvaz...All these lands were once one kingdom with one sovereign and one language...although the language differed slightly. The language, however, is one, in that its letters are written the same way and used the same way in composition. There are, then, different languages such as Pahlavi, Dari, Azeri, as well as other Persian languages.
Scholars see cultural similarities between modern Persians and Azeris as evidence of an ancient Iranian influence. Archaeological evidence indicates that the Iranian religion of Zoroastrianism was prominent throughout the Caucasus before Christianity and Islam and that the influence of various Persian Empires added to the Iranian character of the area. It has also been hypothesized that the population of Iranian Azerbaijan was predominantly Persian-speaking before the Oghuz arrived. This claim is supported by the many figures of Persian literature, such as Qatran Tabrizi, Shams Tabrizi, Nezami, and Khaghani, who wrote in Persian prior to and during the Oghuz migration, as well as by Strabo, Al-Istakhri, and Al-Masudi, who all describe the language of the region as Persian. The claim is mentioned by other medieval historians, such as Al-Muqaddasi. Other common Perso-Azeribaijani features include Iranian place names such as Tabriz and the name Azerbaijan itself.
Various sources such as Encyclopaedia Iranica explain how, "The Turkish speakers of Azerbaijan (q.v.) are mainly descended from the earlier Iranian speakers, several pockets of whom still exist in the region." The modern presence of the Iranian Talysh and Tats in Azerbaijan is further evidence of the former Iranian character of the region. As a precursor to these modern groups, the ancient Azaris are also hypothesized as ancestors of the modern Azeris.
Following the Russo-Persian Wars of 1804–13 and 1826–28, the territories of the Iranian Qajar dynasty in the Caucasus were forcefully ceded to the Russian Empire and the Treaty of Gulistan in 1813 and the Treaty of Turkmenchay in 1828 finalized the borders between the Russian Empire and Qajar Iran. The areas to the north of the river Aras, including the territory of the contemporary Republic of Azerbaijan, were Iranian territory until they were occupied by Russia over the course of the 19th century. The Russo-Persian Wars of the 19th century settled the modern-day boundary of Iran, stripping it of all its Caucasian territories and incorporating them into the Russian Empire. The eventual formation of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic in 1918 established the territory of modern Azerbaijan.
As a direct result of Qajar Iran's forced ceding to Russia, the Azerbaijanis are nowadays parted between two nations: Iran and Azerbaijan. Despite living on two sides of an international border, the Azeris form a single ethnic group.
The burden of the Russo-Persian War (1826–28) was on the tribes of Qaradağ region, who being in front line, provided human resources and provision of Iranian army. In the wake of the war a significant fraction of the inhabitants of this area lived as nomadic tribes (ایلات). The major tribes included; Cilibyanlu 1,500 tents and houses, Karacurlu 2500, Haji Alilu 800, Begdillu 200, and various minor groups 500. At the time Ahar, with 3,500 inhabitants, was the only city of Qaradağ. The Haji-Alilu tribe played major rule in the later political developments.
During the Persian Constitutional Revolution Tabriz was the epicenter of battles which followed the ascent to throne of Mohammad Ali Shah Qajar on 8 January 1907. The revolutionary forces were headed by Sattar Khan who was originally from Qaradağ. Haydar Khan Amo-oghli had significant contribution in the inception and progression of the revolution, and introducing leftist ideas into Iranian mainstream politics. During the following tumultuous years, Amir Arshad, the headman of Haji-Alilu tribe, had major impact on the subsequent political developments in Iran in relation to the status of Iranian Kurds. He is credited with fending off the communism from Iran.
The ill-fated Constitutional Revolution did not bring democracy to Iran. Instead, Rezā Shāh, then Brigadier-General of the Persian Cossack Brigade, deposed Ahmad Shah Qajar, the last Shah of the Qajar dynasty, and founded the Pahlavi dynasty in 1925 and established a despotic monarchy. His insistence on ethnic nationalism and cultural unitarism along with forced detribalization and sedentarization resulted in suppression of several ethnic and social groups, including Azerbaijanis. Ironically, the main architect of this totalitarian policy, which was justified by reference to racial ultra-nationalism, was Mirza Fatali Akhundov, an intellectual from Azerbaijan. In accordance with the Orientalist views of the supremacy of the Aryan peoples, he idealized pre-Islamic Achaemenid and Sassanid empires, whilst negating the 'Islamization' of Persia by Muslim forces." This idealization of a distant past was put into practice by both the Pahlavi kings, particularly Mohammad Reza Pahlavi who honored himself with the title Āryāmehr, Light of the Aryans. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in an interview concisely expressed his views by declaring, "we Iranians are Aryans, and the fact that we are not adjacent to other Aryan nations in Europe is just a geographical anomaly.".
Mirza Fatali Akhundov is not the only Azeri intellectual in framing Iranian ultra-nationalism. Hassan Taqizadeh, the organizer of "Iran Society" in Berlin, has contributed to the development of Iranian nationalism. Since 1916 he published "Kaveh" periodical in Farsi language, which included articles emphasizing the racial unity of Germans and Iranians. Ahmad Kasravi, Taqi Arani, Hossein Kazemzadeh (Iranshahr) and Mahmoud Afshar advocated the suppression of the Azeri language as they supposed that the multilingualism contradicted the racial purity of Iranians. Therefore, It is noteworthy that, contrary to what one might expect, many of the leading agents of the construction of an Iranian bounded territorial entity came from non-Persian-speaking ethnic minorities, and the foremost were the Azeris, rather than the nation's titular ethnic group, the Persians.
The most important political development affecting the Middle East at the beginning of the twentieth century was the collapse of the Ottoman and the Russian empires. The idea of a greater homeland for all Turks was propagated by pan-Turkism, which was adopted almost at once as a main ideological pillar by the Committee of Union and Progress and somewhat later by other political caucuses in what remained of the Ottoman Empire. On the eve of World War I, pan-Turkist propaganda focused chiefly on the Turkic-speaking peoples of the southern Caucasus, in Iranian Azerbaijan and Turkistan in Central Asia, with the ultimate purpose of persuading them all to secede from the larger political entities to which they belonged and to join the new pan-Turkic homeland.
It was this latter appeal to Iranian Azeris which, contrary to pan-Turkist intentions, caused a small group of Azeri intellectuals to become the most vociferous advocates of Iran's territorial integrity and sovereignty. If in Europe "romantic nationalism responded to the damage likely to be caused by modernism by providing a new and larger sense of belonging, an all-encompassing totality, which brought about new social ties, identity and meaning, and a new sense of history from one's origin on to an illustrious future,"(42) in Iran after the Constitutional movement romantic nationalism was adopted by the Azerbaijani Democrats as a reaction to the irredentist policies threatening the country's territorial integrity. In their view, assuring territorial integrity was a necessary first step on the road to establishing the rule of law in society and a competent modern state which would safeguard collective as well as individual rights. It was within this context that their political loyalty outweighed their other ethnic or regional affinities.
The failure of the Democrats in the arena of Iranian politics after the Constitutional movement and the start of modern state-building paved the way for the emergence of the titular ethnic group's cultural nationalism. Whereas the adoption of integrationist policies preserved Iran's geographic integrity and provided the majority of Iranians with a secure and firm national identity, the blatant ignoring of other demands of the Constitutional movement, such as the call for formation of society based on law and order, left the country still searching for a political identity. The ultimate purpose was to persuade these populations to secede from the larger political entities to which they belonged and join the new pan-Turkic homeland. It was the latter appeal to Iranian Azeris, which, contrary to Pan-Turkist intentions, caused a small group of Azeri intellectuals to become the strongest advocates of the territorial integrity of Iran.
After the constitutional revolution in Iran, a romantic nationalism was adopted by Azerbaijani Democrats as a reaction to the pan-Turkist irredentist policies threatening Iran's territorial integrity. It was during this period that Iranism and linguistic homogenization policies were proposed as a defensive nature against all others. Contrary to what one might expect, foremost among innovating this defensive nationalism were Iranian Azeris. They viewed that assuring the territorial integrity of the country was the first step in building a society based on law and a modern state. Through this framework, their political loyalty outweighed their ethnic and regional affiliations. The adoption of these integrationist policies paved the way for the emergence of the titular ethnic group's cultural nationalism.
In late 1941 Soviet forces invaded Iran in coordination with British Army under an operation known as Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran. Their forces broke through the border and moved from the Azerbaijan SSR into Iranian Azerbaijan. Reza Shah was forced by the invading British to abdicate in favor of his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi who replaced his father as Shah on the throne on 16 September 1941. At the aftermath of a four-year-long tumultuous period the Azerbaijan People's Government, a Soviet puppet state, was established in Tabriz, perhaps through direct involvement of the Soviet leadership. This government autonomously ruled the province from November 1945 to November 1946. However, the Soviet soon realized their idea was premature, the mass of population did not support separatism; under largely Western pressure, the Soviet troops withdrew in 1946, which resulted in the quick collapse of the Azerbaijan People's Government.
Beginning in the 1850s, many Iranian Azeris opted to become work migrants and seek job opportunities in the Russian Empire, primarily in the economically booming Azeri-populated part of the Caucasus. Due to them being Persian subjects, Russian offices often recorded them as "Persians". The migrants referred to one another as hamshahri ("compatriot") as an in-group identity. The word was adopted by the Azeri-speaking locals as həmşəri and has since been applied by them to Iranian Azeri migrants in general. Already in the nineteenth century, the word also spread to urban varieties of Russian of Baku and Tiflis in the form of gamshara (гамшара) or amshara (амшара), where it was, however, used with a negative connotation to mean "a raggamuffin". In the Soviet times, the word was borrowed into the Russian slang of Ashkhabad and was used to refer to forestallers.
Iranian Azeris often worked menial jobs, including on dyer's madder plantations in Guba where 9,000 out of 14,000 Iranian Azeri contract workers were employed as of 1867. In the 1886 economic report on the life of the peasantry of the Guba district, Yagodynsky reported frequent cases of intermarriage between the Iranian work migrants and local women which prompted the former to settle in villages near Guba and quickly assimilate. Children from such families would be completely integrated in the community and not be regarded as foreigners or outsiders by its residents.
Starting from the late nineteenth century, Baku was another popular destination for Iranian Azeris, thanks to its highly developing oil industry. By the beginning of the twentieth century, they already constituted 50% of all the oil workers of Baku, and numbered 9,426 people in 1897, 11,132 people in 1903 and 25,096 people in 1913. Amo-oghli and Sattar Khan notably worked in the Baku oil fields before returning to Iran and engaging in politics.
In 1925, there were 45,028 Iranian-born Azeris in the Azerbaijan SSR. Of those, 15,000 (mostly oil workers, port and navy workers and railway workers) had retained Iranian citizenship by 1938 and were concentrated in Baku and Ganja. In accordance with the 1938 decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, residents of Azerbaijan with Iranian citizenship were given 10 days to apply for Soviet citizenship and were then relocated to Kazakhstan. Those who refused (numbering 2,878 people) became subject to deportation back to Iran immediately. Some naturalized Iranian Azeris were later accused of various anti-Soviet activities and arrested or even executed in the so-called "Iranian operation" of 1938.
After the fall of the Azerbaijan People's Government in 1946, as many as 10,000 Iranian Azeri political émigrés relocated to Soviet Azerbaijan, fleeing the inevitable repressions of the Shah's government. Notable Azeris of Iranian descent living in Azerbaijan included writers Mirza Ibrahimov and Mir Jalal Pashayev, singers Rubaba Muradova and Fatma Mukhtarova, actress Munavvar Kalantarli, poets Madina Gulgun and Balash Azeroghlu and others.
However, with the advent of the Iranian Revolution in 1979, emphasis shifted away from nationalism as the new government highlighted religion as the main unifying factor. Within the Islamic Revolutionary government there emerged an Azeri nationalist faction led by Ayatollah Kazem Shariatmadari, who advocated greater regional autonomy and wanted the constitution to be revised to include secularists and opposition parties; this was denied. Other Azeris played an important rule in the revolution including Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Bazargan, Sadeq Khalkhali, and Ali Khamenei.
Azeris make up 25% of Tehran's population and 30.3% – 33% of the population of the Tehran Province. Azeris in Tehran live in all of the cities within Tehran Province. They are by far the largest ethnic group after Persians in Tehran and the wider Tehran Province.
Generally, Azeris in Iran were regarded as "a well integrated linguistic minority" by academics prior to Iran's Islamic Revolution. Despite friction, Azeris in Iran came to be well represented at all levels of, "political, military, and intellectual hierarchies, as well as the religious hierarchy.".:188 In addition, the current Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, is half Azeri. In contrast to the claims of de facto discrimination of some Azeris in Iran, the government claims that its policy in the past 30 years has been one of pan-Islamism, which is based on a common Islamic religion of which diverse ethnic groups may be part, and which does not favor or repress any particular ethnicity, including the Persian majority. Persian language is thus merely used as the lingua franca of the country, which helps maintain Iran's traditional centralized model of government. More recently, the Azerbaijani language and culture is being taught and studied at university level in Iran, and there appears to exist publications of books, newspapers and apparently, regional radio broadcasts too in the language. Furthermore, Article 15 of Iran's constitution reads:
The use of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media, as well as for teaching of their literature in schools, is allowed in addition to Persian.
According to Professor. Nikki R. Keddie of UCLA: "One can purchase newspapers, books, music tapes, and videos in Azeri and Kurdish, and there are radio and television stations in ethnic areas that broadcast news and entertainment programs in even more languages".
Azerbaijani nationalism has oscillated since the Islamic revolution and recently escalated into riots over the publication in May 2006 of a cartoon that many Azeris found offensive. The cartoon was drawn by Mana Neyestani, an ethnic Azerbaijani, who was fired along with his editor as a result of the controversy.
Another series of protests took place in November 2015, in the cities of Iranian Azerbaijan including Tabriz, Urmia, Ardabil and Zanjan, in response to an episode of a popular children's program called Fitileh which had depicted what was seen as a racist image of Azeris. Mohammad Sarafraz director-general of the IRIB and Davud Nemati-Anarki, the head of the public relations department, officially apologised for the "unintentional offense" caused by the program. Protests were also held in July 2016 in Tehran, Tabriz, Urmia, Maragheh, Zanjan, Ahar, Khoy, and Ardabil in response to "denigration of Azeris by the state media". Plastic bullets were shot at protesters and several people were arrested.
The life styles of urban Azeri do not differ from those of Persians, and there is considerable intermarriage among the upper classes in cities of mixed populations. Similarly, customs among Azeri villagers do not appear to differ markedly from those of Persian villagers.
Azeris in Iran are in high positions of authority with the Azeris Ayatollah Ali Khamenei currently sitting as the Supreme Leader. Azeris in Iran remain quite conservative in comparison to most Azeris in the Republic of Azerbaijan. Nonetheless, since the Republic of Azerbaijan's independence in 1991, there has been renewed interest and contact between Azeris on both sides of the border. Andrew Burke writes:
Azeri are famously active in commerce and in bazaars all over Iran their voluble voices can be heard. Older Azeri men where the traditional wool hat and their music and dances have become part of the mainstream culture. Azeris are well integrated and many Azeri Iranians are prominent in Persian literature, politics and clerical world.
According to Bulent Gokay:
The Northern part of Iran, that used to be called Azerbaijan, is inhabited by 17 million Azeris. This population has been traditionally well integrated with the multi-ethnic Iranian state.
Richard Thomas, Roger East, and Alan John Day state:
The 15–20 million Azeri Turks living in northern Iran, ethnically identical to Azeris, have embraced Shia Islam and are well integrated into Iranian society
According to Michael P. Croissant:
Although Iran's fifteen-million Azeri population is well integrated into Iranian society and has shown little desire to secede, Tehran has nonetheless shown extreme concern with prospects of the rise of sentiments calling for union between the two Azerbaijans.
Iranian Azerbaijan has seen some anti-government protests by Iranian Azerbaijanis in recent years, most notably in 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2015
While Iranian Azeris may seek greater linguistic rights, few of them display separatist tendencies. Extensive reporting by Afshin Molavi, an Iranian Azeri scholar, in the three major Azeri provinces of Iran, as well as among Iranian Azeris in Tehran, found that separatist sentiment was not widely held among Iranian Azeris . Few people framed their genuine political, social and economic frustration – feelings that are shared by the majority of Iranians – within an ethnic context.
According to another Iranian Azeri scholar Dr. Hassan Javadi – a Tabriz-born, Cambridge-educated scholar of Azerbaijani literature and professor of Persian, Azeri and English literature at George Washington University – Iranian Azeris have more important matters on their mind than cultural rights. "Iran's Azeri community, like the rest of the country, is engaged in the movement for reform and democracy," Javadi told the Central Asia Caucasus Institute crowd, adding that separatist groups represent "fringe thinking." He also told EurasiaNet: "I get no sense that these cultural issues outweigh national ones, nor do I have any sense that there is widespread talk of secession."
Iranian Azeris, a Turkic speaking people, are culturally apart of the Iranian peoples and have influenced Iranian culture. At the same time, they have influenced and been influenced by their non-Iranian neighbors, especially Caucasians and Russians. Azeri music is distinct music that is tightly connected to the music of other Iranian peoples such as Persian music and Kurdish music, and also the music of the Caucasian peoples. Although the Azerbaijani language is not an official language of Iran it is widely used, mostly orally, among the Iranian Azeris.
Jahan Shah (r. 1438–67), the Qara Qoyunlu ("black sheep") ruler of Azerbaijan was a master poet. He compiled a diwan under the pen-name Haqiqi. Shah Isma'il (1487–1524), who used the pen-name Khata'i, was a prominent ruler-poet and has, apart from his diwan compiled a mathnawi called Deh-name, consisting of some eulogies of Ali, the fourth Caliph of early Islam. After the Safavid era, Azeri could not sustain its early development. The main theme of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was the development of verse-folk stories, mainly intended for performance by Ashughs in weddings. The most famous among these literary works are Koroghlu, Ashiq Qərib, and Kərəm ile Əslı.
Following the establishing of Qajar dynasty in Iran Azerbaijani literature flourished and reached its peak by the end of the nineteenth century. By then, journalism had been launched in Azerbaijani language and social activism had become the main theme of literary works. The most influential writers of this era are Fathali Akhondzadeh and Mojez Shabestari.
Pahlavi era was the darkest period for Azerbaijani literature. The education and publication in Azerbaijani language was banned and writers of Azerbaijan, such as Gholam-Hossein Saedi, Samad Behrangi and Reza Barahani, published their works in Farsi language. The only exception was Mohammad-Hossein Shahriar, who is famous for his verse book, Heydar Babaya Salam; simply he was too mighty to be censored. Shahriar's work was an innovative way of summarizing the Cultural identity in concise poetic form and was adapted by a generation of lesser known poets, particularly from Qareh Dagh region, to record their oral traditions. One remarkable example is Abbas Eslami, known with his pen-name Barez, (1932–2011) who described the melancholic demise of his homeland in a book titled mourning Sabalan. Another example is Mohamad Golmohamadi's long poem, titled I am madly in love with Qareh Dagh (قاراداغ اؤلکهسینین گؤر نئجه دیوانهسی ام), is a concise description of the region's cultural landscape.
The long lasting suppression finally led to a generation of revolutionary poets, composing verses by allegoric allusion to imposing landscape of Azerbaijan:
Yadollah Maftun Amini (born in 1926)
After the Islamic revolution of 1979 the ban on Azeri publications in Iran has eased. However, great literary works have not yet appeared and glory days of fifteenth century ruler-poets is not on the horizon. The contemporary literature is restricted to oral traditions, such as bayaties.
The traditional Azeri music can be classified into two categories: the music of "ashugh" and the "mugham". Mugham, despite its similarity to Persian classic music and utmost importance in Azerbaijan, has not been popular among Iranian Azeris. The ashugh music had survived in mountainous region of Qaradağ and presently is identified as the representative of the cultural identity of Azeris. Recent innovative developments, aiming to enhance the urban-appealing aspects of this ashugh performances, has drastically enhanced the status of ashugh music. The opening of academic style music classes in Tabriz by master ashughs, such as Ashig Imran Heidari and Ashig Changiz Mehdipour, has greatly contributed to the ongoing image building.
Living in cross-road of many civilizations, Azeris artisans have developed a rich tradition of decorative arts including rugs, lace, printed textiles, jewelry, vessels made of copper, engraved metals, wooden articles and ceramics. Among these, carpet weaving stands out as the acme of Azeri art.
Tabriz is one of the main centers of carpet weaving in Iran. At present 40% of Iranian carpet exports are originated from Tabriz. These carpets are generally known as Tabriz rugs. Another carpet weaving center is Ardebil, which, despite being overshadowed by Tabriz in recent years, has produced the finest carpets in past. Two most famous Iranian rugs in the world had been woven in Ardebil in 1540. One is hung in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the other is in the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts. These carpets have silk warps and contain over thirty million knots.
The acme of carpet weaving art is manifested in Verni, which was originated in Nagorno-Karabakh. Verni is a carpet-like kilim with a delicate and fine warp and woof, which is woven without a previous sketch, thanks to the creative talents of nomadic women and girls. Verni weavers employ the image of birds and animals (deer, rooster, cat, snake, birds, gazelle, sheep, camel, wolf and eagle) in simple geometrical shapes, imitating the earthenware patterns that were popular in prehistoric times. A key décor feature, which is intrinsic to many Vernis, is the S-element. Its shape varies, it may resemble both figure 5 and letter S. This element means "dragon" among the nomads. At present, Verni is woven by the girls of Arasbaran Tribes, often in the same room where the nomadic tribes reside, and is a significant income source for about 20000 families in Qaradagh region. Verni weavers employ the image of birds and animals in simple geometrical shapes, imitating the earthenware patterns that were popular in prehistoric times.
The majority of Azeris are followers of Shia Islam. Azeris commemorate Shia holy days (ten first days of the holy month of Muharram) at least with the same intensity as other Iranians. In metropolitan cities with mixed ethnic composition, such as Tehran, Azeris are thought to be more intense in their expression of religious ritual than their Persian counterparts. However, Azeris are less inclined to Islamism. This is evident by the fact that just before revolution Azeris followed either Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari or Kho'i, both traditionalist jurists. In contrast, Persians followed more radical Ruhollah Khomeini.
There is also a small minority of Azeris who practice the Bahá'í Faith. Also in recent years, some Azeris in Iran have begun converting to Christianity, which is strictly prohibited and can result in imprisonment.
Followers of Yarisan religion (Goran in the Azeri language) constitute a significant fraction of the population. In some regions Yarisan followers are sometimes known as Shamlus, a clear reference to the name of Shamlu tribe, which was one of the main constituents of Qizilbash confederation.
KAJAR. The Kajars are considered a subgroup of the Azerbaijanis*. Historically, they have been a Turkic* Tribe who lived in Armenia. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when the Safavids tried to conquer the region, the Kajars settled in the Karabakh Khanate of western Azerbaijan. Agha Mohammed, a Kajar leader, overturned the Zend dynasty in Iran and established Kajar control in the area. This arrangement lasted u^il Reza Shah came to power in Iran in 1925. The Kajar population today exceeds 35,000 people, the vast majority of whom live in Iran.
Neighbor‐joining tree based on Nei's genetic distances and correspondence analysis according to DRB1, DQA1 and DQB1 allele frequencies showed a strong genetic tie between Kurds and Azeris of Iran. The results of AMOVA revealed no significant difference between these populations and other major ethnic groups of Iran
As far as Iran is concerned, it is widely argued that Iranian nationalism was born as a state ideology in the Reza Shah era, based on philological nationalism and as a result of his innovative success in creating a modern nation-state in Iran. However, what is often neglected is that Iranian nationalism has its roots in the political upheavals of the 19th century and the disintegration immediately following the Constitutional revolution of 1905– 9. It was during this period that Iranism gradually took shape as a defensive discourse for constructing a bounded territorial entity – the "pure Iran" standing against all others. Consequently, over time there emerged among the country's intelligentsia a political xenophobia which contributed to the formation of Iranian defensive nationalism. It is noteworthy that, contrary to what one might expect, many of the leading agents of the construction of an Iranian bounded territorial entity came from non-Persian-speaking ethnic minorities, and the foremost were the Azeris, rather than the nation's titular ethnic group, the Persians.
In the middle of April 1918, the Ottoman army invaded Azerbaijan for the second time.
Contrary to their expectations, however, the Ottomans did not achieve impressive success in Azerbaijan. Although the province remained under quasi-occupation by Ottoman troops for months, attempting to win endorsement for pan-Turkism ended in failure.
The most important political development affecting the Middle East at the beginning of the twentieth century was the collapse of the Ottoman and the Russian empires. The idea of a greater homeland for all Turks was propagated by pan-Turkism, which was adopted almost at once as a main ideological pillar by the Committee of Union and Progress and somewhat later by other political caucuses in what remained of the Ottoman Empire. On the eve of World War I, pan-Turkist propaganda focused chiefly on the Turkic-speaking peoples of the southern Caucasus, in Iranian Azerbaijan and Turkistan in Central Asia, with the ultimate purpose of persuading them all to secede from the larger political entities to which they belonged and to join the new pan-Turkic homeland. It was this latter appeal to Iranian Azeris which, contrary to pan-Turkist intentions, caused a small group of Azeri intellectuals to become the most vociferous advocates of Iran's territorial integrity and sovereignty. If in Europe ‘romantic nationalism responded to the damage likely to be caused by modernism by providing a new and larger sense of belonging, an all-encompassing totality, which brought about new social ties, identity and meaning, and a new sense of history from one's origin on to an illustrious future’,(42) in Iran after the Constitutional movement romantic nationalism was adopted by the Azerbaijani Democrats as a reaction to the irredentist policies threatening the country's territorial integrity. In their view, assuring territorial integrity was a necessary first step on the road to establishing the rule of law in society and a competent modern state which would safeguard collective as well as individual rights. It was within this context that their political loyalty outweighed their other ethnic or regional affinities. The failure of the Democrats in the arena of Iranian politics after the Constitutional movement and the start of modern state-building paved the way for the emergence of the titular ethnic group's cultural nationalism. Whereas the adoption of integrationist policies preserved Iran's geographic integrity and provided the majority of Iranians with a secure and firm national identity, the blatant ignoring of other demands of the Constitutional movement, such as the call for formation of society based on law and order, left the country still searching for a political identity.