Mazanderani people

Mazanderani people
Total population
(3 million[1] to 4 million[2] (2006))
Regions with significant populations
Province of Mazandaran and parts of the provinces of Alborz, Golestan, Tehran and Semnan in Iran
Mostly Shi'a Muslim, Bahá'í, Atheists
Related ethnic groups
Iranian peoples, Caucasian peoples

The Mazanderani people or Tabari people are an Iranian people[3][4][5] whose homeland is the North of Iran (Tabaristan). Like the closely related Gilaks, the Mazanderanis are a Caspian people who inhabit the south coast of the Caspian Sea, part of the historical region that used to be called Tabaristan. The Alborz mountains mark the southern boundary of Mazanderani settlement.[6][7]


Mazandaris in Iran

The Mazanderani number between three million[1] and four million (2006 estimate).[2] Their dominant religion is Shiite Islam.[8]

Most Mazanderani people live on the southeastern coast of the Caspian Sea. Many of them are farmers and fishermen.[1] The Mazanderani are closely related to the neighbouring Gilaki people as well as Caucasian peoples (e.g., the Georgians, Armenians, and Azerbaijanis).[1][9][10]


Main article: Mazanderani language

The Mazanderani language is a Northwestern Iranian language spoken by the Mazanderani people. Most Mazanderani are fluent in Persian.[6][8] The Gilaki and Mazanderani languages (but not other Iranian languages) share certain typological features with Caucasian languages.[4][11]

With the growth of education and the media, the distinction between Mazanderani and other Iranian dialects is likely to disappear.[6][8] Mazanderani is closely related to Gilaki and the two dialects have similar vocabularies.[6] They preserve more of the noun declension system characteristic of older Iranian languages than Persian does.[6]

Assistant professor Maryam Borjian of Rutgers University states that Mazanderani has different sub-dialects and there is a high mutual intelligibility among Mazanderani sub-dialects.[8]


The Mazanderani and the closely related Gilaks occupy the south Caspian region of Iran and speak languages belonging to the North-Western branch of Iranian languages. It has been suggested that their ancestors came from the Caucasus region, perhaps displacing an earlier group in the South Caspian.[12] Linguistic evidence supports this scenario, in that the Gilaki and Mazanderani languages (but not other Iranian languages) share certain typological features with Caucasian languages.[12] There have been patterns analyzed of mtDNA and Y chromosome variation in the Gilaki and Mazanderani.

Based on mtDNA HV1 sequences, the Gilaki and Mazanderani most closely resemble their geographic and linguistic neighbors, namely other Iranian groups. However, their Y chromosome types most closely resemble those found in groups from the South Caucasus.[12]

A scenario that explains these differences is a south Caucasian origin for the ancestors of the Gilaki and Mazanderani, followed by introgression of women from local Iranian groups, possibly because of patrilocality.[12] Since mtDNA and language are maternally transmitted, the incorporation of local Iranian women would have resulted in the concomitant replacement of the ancestral Caucasian language and mtDNA types of the Gilaki and Mazanderani with their current Iranian language and mtDNA types. Concomitant replacement of language and mtDNA may be a more general phenomenon than previously recognized.

The Mazanderani and Gilaki groups fall inside a major cluster consisting of populations from the Caucasus and West Asia and are particularly close to the South Caucasus groups—Georgians, Armenians, and Azerbaijani's. Iranians from Tehran and Isfahan are more distant from these groups.[12]


Analysis of their NRY patrilines has revealed haplogroup J2, associated with the neolithic diffusion of agriculturalists from the Near East, to be the predominant Y-DNA lineage among the Mazanderani (subclades J2a3h-M530, J2a3b-M67 and J2a-M410, more specifically.).[13] The next most frequently occurring lineage, R1a1a, believed to have been associated with early Iranian expansion into Central/Southern Eurasia and currently ubiquitous in that area, is found in almost 25%,. This haplogroup, with the aforementioned J2, accounts for over 50% of the entire sample.[13][14] Haplogroup G2a3b, attaining significant frequency together with G2a and G1, is the most commonly carried marker in the G group among Mazanderani men. The lineages E1b1b1a1a-M34 and C5-M356 comprise the remainder, of less than 10% sampled.[13]

Notable figures

Main article: List of Mazanderanis



Assimilated populations in Mazandaran

In the Safavid, Afsharid, and Qajar eras Mazandaran was settled by large amounts of Georgians, Circassians, Armenians and other peoples of the Caucasus, whose descendants still live across Mazandaran.[15][16][17] Many towns, villages and neighbourhoods in Mazandaran bear the name "Gorji" (i.e., Georgian) in them, although most of the Georgians are assimilated into the mainstream Mazanderanis. They keep a Georgian conscience. The history of Georgian settlement is described by Iskandar Beg Munshi, the author of the 17th century History of Alam Aray Abbasi. In addition foreigners, e.g., Chardin and Della Valle, have written about their encounters with the Georgian, Circassian and Armenian Mazanderanis.[17]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 Middle East Patterns: Places, Peoples, and Politics By Colbert C. Held, John Cummings, Mildred McDonald Held,2005, page 119.
  2. 1 2 Iran Provinces
  3. Area handbook for Iran, Harvey Henry Smith, American University (Washington, D.C.), Foreign Area Studies, page 89
  4. 1 2 Academic American Encyclopedia By Grolier Incorporated, page 294
  5. The World Book Encyclopedia, World Book, Inc, 2000, page 401
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Dalb, Andrew (1998). Dictionary of Languages: The Definitive Reference to More Than 400 Languages. Columbia University Press. p. 226. ISBN 0-231-11568-7.
  7. Ethnologue report for language code:mzn
  8. 1 2 3 4 in Mazandaran: Peaceful Coexistence With Persian], Maryam Borjian, Columbia University, page 66.
  9. "Concomitant Replacement of Language and mtDNA in South Caspian Populations of Iran". Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  10. Iran, Encarta Encyclopedia Iran. Archived 2009-10-31 at WebCite 2009-10-31.
  11. The Tati language group in the sociolinguistic context of Northwestern Iran and Transcaucasia, D. Stilo, pages 137-185
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 "Concomitant Replacement of Language and mtDNA in South Caspian Populations of Iran". Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  13. 1 2 3 Grugni, V; Battaglia, V; Hooshiar Kashani, B; Parolo, S; Al-Zahery, N; et al. (2012). "Ancient Migratory Events in the Middle East: New Clues from the Y-Chromosome Variation of Modern Iranians". PLoS ONE. 7 (7): e41252. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041252. PMC 3399854Freely accessible. PMID 22815981.
  14. R. Spencer Wells et al., "The Eurasian Heartland: A continental perspective on Y-chromosome diversity," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (August 28, 2001)
  15. "Georgian communities in Persia". Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  16. ^ Muliani, S. (2001) Jaygah-e Gorjiha dar Tarikh va Farhang va Tammadon-e Iran. (The Georgians’ position in the Iranian history and civilization.) Esfahan: Yekta
  17. 1 2 "PIETRO DELLA VALLE'S LATIN GEOGRAPHY OFSAFAVID IRAN (1624-1628)". Retrieved 17 April 2014.


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