As Ive mentioned before, Iran as a country is an incredibly diverse land…ethnically, linguistically, culturally and religiously. You have a touch of everything from north to south. This post will focus on a little known group (outside of the region) the Caspian peoples of Northern Iran.
So actually, this post is difficult because I’m focusing on two related peoples…the Gilaki and the Mazandarani who reside around the far northern fringes of Iran, by the Caspian sea in the provinces of Golestan, Gilan and Mazandaran, what was once considered the Kingdom of Tapuria (Tabaristan) pre-Islam. Unfortunately it’s a bit difficult working out specifics about them as they are considered related peoples, both are called Caspian peoples, are of Persian ethnicity and speak a Indo-European Persian language which is related to the current widely used Modern Persian (Farsi), but yet is actually quite distinct in that it retains many similarities to Old Persian, Old Indo-European and Kurdish. Both groups are historically farmers and fishermen. I’ll leave the ethnological specifics for another day…
The area of Iran which they reside in is famously lush and green with a Mediterranean climate, protected to the south by the Alborz mountain range. They are famous for several things…namely their rice and their unique manner of making rice, tea, caviary, olives and as a joke around Iran…their excessive use of garlic which few other Iranians make such heavy use of!
Their traditional attire is actually quite unique within Iran and looks more like historical Eastern European attire or something found out of the Caucasus mountains..which makes sense as they are just a stones throw from the Caucasus mountains. Their traditional attire is quite wel suited to their predominantly agriculturalist lifestyle where both men and women tended to work in the fields everyday. The Caspian women also, interesting enough do not wear the chador on a daily basis, they are reserved for religious occasions or trips into the city (now adays) and from what I could find, the overall lifestyle of the Caspian region is much free-er with less segregation between genders. For example, unlike much of the rest of Iran, homes in Caspian villages do not have walls surrounding them.
The traditional attire of Gilaki women consists of a long tunic over a long skirt with a short jacket or vest, in winter they wear thicker jackets and layered skirts. Mazandarani women wear a short skirt or dress which at times can be quite volumnous with baggy shalvar (trousers). Both wear a large triangular shaped scarf wraped aorund the head. Some women wear a long dress with the vest or jacket while now adays in cities many of the women wear the pan-Iranian style of manteau with pants and a depending on preference, a chador.
The Gilaki and Mazandarani men wear baggy trousers (shalvar) with a loose blouse-cut shirt and a vest or jacket with a rounded cap.
The shawl that Gilaki women wrap around their waists is called Chadarshab and for daily use is tied around the waist to provide extra warmth, protection and support to the back and stomach and for mothers it can be used as a sling for carrying a baby on the back while working in the fields or rice paddies.
One picture I could find of Mazandarani attire.
The lush Caspian region…