Wandering in the West MountainsErfan Dadkhah
A group of Iranian nomads lives amidst the Zagros Mountains1 who have played a pivotal role in Iran's history for centuries, yet now, have deliberately been obliterated. The first time I saw them, I was attracted to the naturalness flowing in their lives. Are there more than 1 million nomads? No one is sure! However, a hundred years ago, they made up half of the Iranian population. The Bakhtiari, one of the biggest Iranian nomadic tribes, proudly claims to be the originator of one of the first civilizations in the world and also sedentarism. The domesticized animals and plants for the first time in this region. Ancient traditions, patriarchy, and warfare can still be seen among them. They bear the legacy of "seasonal migration" that dates back to thousands of years ago. Despite the changed lifestyle, some of them still live in tents amidst mountains and migrate over and over; a difficult lifestyle that is fading away these days. The first night I was in Siah Chador2, the darkness passed through a guard, which did not exist, and plunged me deep inside. A type of immediate conversation with the universe using the language of nature, without the sounds one can hear inside cities; I was scared and the world got slower and slower and I started wandering, exactly like the people who have been wandering in this region for years. Amidst the wonders of Shush and Chogha Zanbil3, amidst the struggles of power and wealth over petroleum4, the war between Darius5 and Alexander6, amidst the roaring Karun River7 and high-flying Zardkooh8.