Iran’s Ethnics (Part one)

Iran is located at the heart of middle-east with 81 million inhabitants. Iran is the world’s 18th most populated country and 17th largest country in the world. To give you an idea, Iran is about 3 times larger than France, 5 times larger than Germany and 54 times larger than Belgium!

Iran like many countries in middle-east is consisting of several ethnics. The main race of Iranian people is “Aryans”, but during centuries, due to enormous number of other nations immigrations and invasions, the original race and ethnics have been mixed and changed. For instance, we can mention the invasion of the great alexander and romans to Persia and living in Iran for a period of time. Or invasion of Arabs to Persia and immigrating Arab ethnics to ancient Persia which they are now part of minority ethnics in south of Iran. Also, the immigration of “Turkish Ghaznavid” and ”Seljukian”, the largest immigrants to Iran or the invasion of “Mongols” which caused the new phenomenon of mixed races in this country. So, what we see nowadays as ethnics of Iran, like Persian, Kurds, Azari, Lor, Baloch, Arab and Turkman, is the result of the mixture of races and ethnics during the history. ethnics have their own identity, accent, dialect or even language. They have their own style of cloths which make them identical among other people and ethnics. Their cloths are design based on the climate and the culture of the region that they live in.

The music of Iran from historical point of view is divided into two main groups, Ancient and Islamic. The ancient music is related to the music before the invasion of Arabs to Iran. Unfortunately we don’t have so much information from the ancient music. One of the branch of ancient music is legendary music which can be referred to one of the most important legendary book of all the time,” Shahname”. Shahname was written by “Ferdowsi” which is the world’s longest epic poem created by a single poet. He is the most influential figure in Persian literature in the history of Iran. The love and interest of Iranian to music and instruments, specially “Sorna”, has been mentioned a lot in Shahname. After the invasion of Arabs, the two cultures and music have influenced on each other. Misfortunately, after the invasion thousands of books and resources of Iranian and Persian culture and history were burnt by the order of Arabs commanders. Therefore, many of the resources of Iranian music were destroyed at that time. “Magham” was used for categorizing the music during the history for countries like Iran, Turkey and Azarbaijan. According to the most accepted theory, there are twelve maghams in the structure of Iranian music. After some decades of researching and studying the categories of magham has changed to new a category, called “Dastgah” or “Radif . The main purpose of this change was mainly due to organizing the old categories and facilitating for teaching the music. “Radif/Dastgah is consisting of seven individual Dastgah, similar name than the category, and eight “Aavaz”. Besides the main category of Iranian music, Radif, the local or regional music also exist. Each ethnic of Iran has their own local music which root into their culture, believes, history and tradition.

Sorna instrument

Now we will discuss on all the ethnics of Iran.

1- Persian (51%)

More than 51% of the population of Iran are Persians. As it mentioned, the origin of Persians are from Aria or Ilam. The majority of the population of Iran is speaking in Persian or Farsi.

During the last decades, millions of people have moved from their own village or small town to the big cities like Tehran and Farsi have become the first language of their children and the following generations. This helps to increase the number of Persian speakers in Iran.

Distribution map of persian ethnic

2- Azari (24%)

Azarbaijan is the main geographical region of Azari people. Azarbaijan is consisting of three main provinces of “Azarbaijan-sharghi (east-Azarbaijan)”, “Azarbaijan-Gharbi (West-Azarbaijan)”and “Ardebil”. Turks Azari, Turkish people from Azarbaijan, are the largest minority or the second largest ethnic of Iran. According to the Iran’s official statistics, Azaris are making 16–24% of the whole population of Iran. Though the main population of Turkish is concentrated in the mentioned provinces, the rest of Turkish people population is spread across the country.

“Aashigh” is the name of people who sing the traditional songs with a beautiful Turkish music, to praise the heros and legends of the region. The main instruments of azari people are: Tar, Balaban, Naghara and Garman.

Azari cloths are always design with beautiful and colorful colors which presents the culture, art and history of these people.

Distribution map of Azari ethnic
Taar Azari
Wedding ceremony
Azari’s women cloths

3- Gilak and Mazandarani (8%)


Gilak is a group of Iranian who live along the Caspian sea in the province of “Gilan”. The nature in this part of Iran is extremely beautiful and green with high mountains and forest. They are famous of being hospitable and living happily and joyful. They design their cloths with very joyful colors which is inspired by the nature. Historical and cultural studies show that, the people who live in desert cities of Iran because their cities were always expose to the invasion of other nations and thieves, they make the wall of their houses so high. And also because they often had problem of draught, they try to save money and reserve food for the future. On the other hand, in the north of Iran, because people were feeling more safe they made their houses in open farms with short walls and fences. Since they live in rich nature they rarely reserve food for catastrophic time.

Gilaks are neighbor with “Mazandaran” from east and “Talesh” and “Azaris” from west. Gilaki and Mazandari’s languages has been proven that have root in “Ghafghazi” language.


People of Mazandaran are the neighbor of Gilaki people and living along the Caspian sea as well. They also live in a beautiful nature which is really unique in Iran. Women of this region of Iran are so famous of being hard worker. They work in the farms, mainly rice, and also taking care of their family. As it mentioned, people of north are really interested in music and dancing.

4- Kurd (7%)

Kurds, Kurdish people are the habitants of the west Asia and the west Iranian plateau. The region of Kurds spreads among four countries of Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. Iranian Kurds are living along the Zagros maintain, from Baku in Azarbaijan until the north of Lorestan. Kurds speak in Kurdish which is one of the western language of Iran. According to the available references, the Kurdish language was spoken by “Mads” nation three thousand years ago. The official language that most of kurds speak, from populational point of view, are divided into two dialects/ accents:

1- “Karmanji Shomali” (Northen Karmanji) or Karmanji

2- “Karmanji Jonobi” (Southern Karmanji) or Sourani.

Kermanji is the spoken Kurdish dialect/accent in northern of Khorsan (largest eastern province f Iran), border region of Iran and Turkey, eastern Anatolia and northern Iraq. Other dialects/ accents are: Orami, Ilami, Kermanshahi, Kalhori, Keliai, Pirvandi, Laki, Fili which are spoken in Iranian Kurdestan. Zaza is another branch of Kurdish dialect/ accent which is spoken in a small region of Turkey.

The Kurdish music is one of the oldest music of the world and is a branch of eastern music of Iran which is called “Radeh”. This music is not categorize in traditional music of Iran. The music is consisting of beautiful local songs with a reflection of rich culture and tradition of this region. The main instruments of Kurds are: Nei, Tanbur, Kamanche, Divan and Daf.

Distribution map of Kurds ethnic
Kurdish Women cloths
Kurdish men cloths and traditional dancing
Maestro Keihan Kalhor playing Kamanche


1- آشنایی-کوتاه-با-اقوام-ایرانی/

2- جمعیت‌شناسی_ایران

3- اقوام+و+نژادها

4- ترکمن‌ها



7- لباس-آذری-ها-نماد-اصالت-و-هویت-از-برک-تا-کؤینک

8- تار-آذری/



11- مقام_)موسیقی


13- ارمنی‌های_ایران

14- آشوریان_ایران

15- یهودیان_ایرانی