The article below is by Professor Pierre Oberling. This originally appeared in the CAIS (Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies) venue. The CAIS site is hosted by Shapour Suren-Pahlav. 


An Iranian stock of Kurdish tribe of northeastern Mesopotamia which has been described as “the most celebrated fighting Kudish tribe” (Edmonds, pp. 39-40). The Ḥamâvand reportedly moved from the Kermânšâh in mainland Iran, to the Bâz-yân district, between Kerkuk and Solaymâniya, early in the 18th century (Edmonds, p. 40). According to George Curzon (q.v.), some Ḥamâvand remained in the vicinity of Kermânšâh (Curzon, I, p. 557), but Hyacinth Rabino does not mention them at all in her detailed list of the tribes of that province.

The Ḥamâvand supported the Bâbân chiefs, who established a semi-independent principality in Solaymâniya from 1663 to 1847 in their campaign against the Ottoman invaders. Following the downfall of the Bâbân, the Ḥamâvand embarked upon a new series of raids on both sides of the Turkish border, ranging all the way from Mosul. Even the energetic Medhat Pasha, who was governor of Baghdad from 1869 to 1872, was unable to curb their predatory activities (Dhaki, p. 405). But, as Ottoman pressure on them mounted in the 1870s, they moved back into mainland Iran, occupying the district of Qaṣr-e Širin in the Dhohâb region (Edmonds, p. 40). In 1886, Sultan Mas’ud Mirzâ Zell-al-Soltân (q.v.), the viceroy of southern Iran from 1881 to 1888, appointed Jwâmer (Javânmard) Âqâ, the chief of theḤamâvand, as governor of Dhohâb and “guardian of the frontier,” with a salary of 3,000 tomans, “to coerce him into good behavior” (Curzon, II, p. 276; also Edmonds, p. 40). But after the fall of Zell-al-Soltân, the Ḥamâvand once more resumed their raids. This finally convinced the Iranian government to take drastic action, with the result that a few months later Jwâmer Âqâ was invited to attend a meeting with an emissary from Tehran, at which he was reprimanded (Curzon, II, p. 276; also Rosen, p. 251).

Shortly thereafter, most of the Ḥamâvands returned to the Bâzyân district, where they were subdued by Ottoman forces. In 1889, the Turkish government exiled half of the tribe to Cyrenaica in North Africa and the other half to the vilayet of Adana. Those who had been transplanted to Cyrenaica fought their way back home in 1896, and a few months later, those who had been sent to Adana also returned to the Bâzyân district (Edmonds, p. 40).

In May 1918, when British forces occupied Kerkuk and Solaymâniya, plotted an independent Kurdish state under British protection, with the Ḥamâvand supported. British were failed in their plan and withdrew from the area later that year, the Ḥamâvand felt betrayed and decided to collaborate with the returning Ottoman officials. After the war, theḤamâvand (along with Shaikh Mahmud) continued to oppose the British, for they resented their repeated interference in Kurdish affairs. Later they opposed Iraq, the new created country by British.

There are few population estimates of the Ḥamâvand. Reports indicate that in 1908 they numbered 1,200 families (Sykes, p. 456), and in 1931 some 1,000 families (Dhaki, p. 405). Ely Soane and Fredrik Barth both offer anthropological data on the Ḥamâvand.


Hassan Arfa, The Kurds: An Historical and Political Guide, London, 1966. 

Fredrik Barth, Principles of Social Organization in Southern Kurdistan, Oslo, 1953.

George N. Curzon, Persia and the Persian Question, 2 Vols., London, 1892. 

M. Dhaki, Kholâat Târikò al-Kord wa’l-Kordestân, Baghdad, 1936. 

Cecil J. Edmonds, Kurds, Turks and Arabs, London, 1957. 

Hyacinth Louis Rabino, “Kermanchah,” RMM 38, 1920, pp. 1-40. 

Friedrich Rosen, Oriental Memoirs of a German Diplomatist, New York, 1930. 

Ely Bannister Soane, To Mesopotamia and Kurdistan in Disguise, London, 1912. 

Mark Sykes, “The Kurdish Tribes of the Ottoman Empire,” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 38, 1908, pp. 451-86.