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"Dehgan" redirects here. For the village in Iran, see Dehgan, Iran.

Fārsīwān (Pashto: فارسیوان‎; or its regional forms: Pārsīwān or Pārsībān;[1] "Persian-speaker") is a designation for Persian-speakers in Afghanistan, with diaspora in Iran, Pakistan and abroad. More specifically, it is used to refer to a distinct group of farmers in Afghanistan [2][3][4][5] and urban dwellers who are a subgroups of the Tajiks of Afghanistan and Tajikistan.[1][6] The term excludes the Hazāra and Aymāq tribes who also speak dialects of Persian, but are generally believed to be distinct from the Tajiks.[7] In Afghanistan, the Farsiwan are found predominantly in Herat and Farah provinces. Locally, they are also known as Fārsī (or Pārsī; literally meaning "Persian")[8] and are roughly the same as the Persians of Eastern Iran.[9] Although the term was originally coined with Persian language's lexical root (Pārsībān), the suffix has been transformed into a Pashto form (-wān), and is usually utilized by the Pashtuns in Pakistan and Afghanistan to designate the Persian-speakers.

Distinction from other Tajiks[edit]

Like the Persians of Iran, the Farsiwan are often distinguished from other Tajiks by their adherence to Shia Islam as opposed to the Sunni sect favored by the majority of Tajiks. However, there are also minor linguistic differences especially among the rural Farsiwan. The Farsiwan sometimes speak a dialect more akin to the Darī dialects of the Persian language, for example the dialect of Kabul,[10][11] as opposed to the standard Tehrānī dialect of Iran. However, most of the Fārsīwān speak the Khorasani dialect, native to the Afghanistan-Iran border region, namely Herāt and Farāh, as well as the Iranian provinces of Khorasan. Unlike the Hazara who are also Persian-speaking and Shia, the Farsiwan do not show any, or very limited traces of Turkic and Mongol ancestry as they are, like the Pashtuns, of Mediterranean substock.[12] Although the Kizilbash of Iran and Afghanistan are also Persian-speaking Shias, they are usually regarded as a separate group from the Farsiwan.[13]

Some confusion arises because an alternative name used locally for the Fārsīwān (as well as for the Tājiks in general) is Dehgān, meaning "village settlers", in the sense of "urban". The term is used in contrast to "nomadic".[14]

Geographic distribution[edit]

There are approximately 1.5 million Farsiwans in Afghanistan, mainly in the provinces of Herat, Farah[15] Ghor, and Mazar-i-Sharif. They are also the main inhabitants of the city of Herāt.[16] Smaller populations can be found in Kabul, Kandahar and Ghazni.[14][17] Due to the large number of refugees from Afghanistan, significant Farsiwan communities nowadays also exist in Iran (mostly in Mashhad and Tehran).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b The Encyc. Iranica makes clear in the article on Afghanistan — Ethnography that "The term Farsiwan also has the regional forms Parsiwan and Parsiban. In religion they are Imamite Shiite. In the literature they are often mistakenly referred to as Tajik." Dupree, , Louis (1982) "Afghanistan: (iv.) Ethnography", in Encyclopædia Iranica Online Edition 2006.
  2. ^ Maloney, Clarence (1978) Language and Civilization Change in South Asia E.J. Brill, Leiden, ISBN 90-04-05741-2, on page 131
  3. ^ Hanifi, Mohammed Jamil (1976) Historical and Cultural Dictionary of Afghanistan Scarecrow Press, Metuchen, N.J., ISBN 0-8108-0892-7, on page 36
  4. ^ "Afghanistan: Historical political overview" FMO Research Guide
  5. ^ Robson, Barbara and Lipson, Juliene (2002) "Chapter 5(B)- The People: The Tajiks and Other Dari-Speaking Groups" The Afghans - their history and culture Cultural Orientation Resource Center, Center for Applied Linguistics, Washington, D.C., OCLC 56081073
  6. ^ Emadi, Hafizullah (2005) Culture And Customs Of Afghanistan Greenwood Press, Westport, Conn., ISBN 0-313-33089-1, on page 11 says: "Farsiwan are a small group of people who reside in southern and western towns and villages in Herat. They are sometimes erroneously referred to as Tajiks."
  7. ^ M. Longworth Dames, G. Morgenstierne, and R. Ghirshman (1999). "AFGHĀNISTĀN". Encyclopaedia of Islam (CD-ROM Edition v. 1.0 ed.). Leiden, The Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill NV. 
  8. ^ Robert E. Ebel, Rajan Menon: Energy and Conflict in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. (November 28, 2000). ISBN 0-7425-0063-2; p. 206: "... The Tajiks and other Persian-speakers who are concentrated in Herat and are also called Farsiwan or Persians and the Qizilbash constitute 35 percent of the population ..."
  9. ^ H. F. Schurmann, The Mongols of Afghanistan: an Ethnography of the Moghols and Related Peoples of Afghanistan. The Hague: Mouton, 1962: [1]; p. 75: "... the Tajiks of Western Afghanistan [are] roughly the same as the Khûrâsânî Persians on the other side of the line ..."
  10. ^ Ch. M. Kieffer, "Afghanistan v. - Languages of Afghanistan", in Encyclopaedia Iranica, printed version, p. 507: "[...] 'Dari' is a term long recommended by Afghan authorities to designate Afghan Persian in contrast to Iranian Persian; a written language common to all educated Afghanis, Dari must not be confused with Kaboli, the dialect of Kabul [...] that is more or less understood by more than 80% of the non-Persian speaking population [...]"
  11. ^ E. H. Glassman, “Conversational Dari: An Introductory Course in Dari (= Farsi = Persian) as Spoken in Afghanistan” (revised edition of “Conversational Kabuli Dari,” with the assistance of M. Taher Porjosh), Kabul (The Language and Orientation Committee, International Afghan Mission, P.O. Box 625), 1970-72.
  12. ^ Library of Congress Country Studies - Afghanistan - Farsiwan (LINK)
  13. ^ Savory, Roger M. (1965) "The consolidation of Safawid power in Persia" In Savory, Roger M. (1987) Studies on the History of Ṣafawid Iran Variorum Reprints, London, ISBN 0-86078-204-2, originally published in Der Islam no. 41 (October 1965) pp. 71-94
  14. ^ a b M. Longworth Dames, G. Morgenstierne, R. Ghirshman, "Afghānistān", in Encyclopaedia of Islam, Online Edition
  15. ^ Adamec, Ludwig W. (1997) Historical Dictionary of Afghanistan Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, ISBN 0-585-21026-8, on page 106
  16. ^ P. English, "Cities In The Middle East", e.d. L. Brown, Princeton University, USA 1973
  17. ^ L. Dupree, "Afghanistan: (iv.) Ethnography", in Encyclopædia Iranica Online Edition 2006

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farsiwan — Please support Wikipedia.
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21 news items

The Diplomat

The Diplomat
Mon, 01 Jun 2015 00:59:09 -0700

The new National Unity Government (NUG) in Afghanistan led by President Ashraf Ghani has been taking a new approach towards Pakistan, making significant concessions, albeit with uncertain results. Recent outcomes of these efforts include the historic ...

The Diplomat

The Diplomat
Fri, 27 Feb 2015 11:32:10 -0800

An otherwise excellent Washington Post article last week featured a map of where the Pashtun ethnic group lived Afghanistan and Pakistan that triggered a pet-peeve of mine: the fact that many non-political maps of South Asia are inaccurate. By ...


Tue, 10 Feb 2015 19:45:00 -0800

Iran is thus pursuing a dual containment policy in Afghanistan, in which the Revolutionary Guards Corps is passively supporting Taliban insurgents in their war against NATO while also maintaining close ties with the “Farsiwan,” dari-speaking people ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Fri, 26 Sep 2014 08:15:26 -0700

Ashraf Ghani won the presidential election decisively with 55 percent of the vote. Photograph: Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images. Emma Graham-Harrison. Friday 26 September 2014 11.15 EDT Last modified on Friday 26 September 2014 19.05 EDT.

Lawfare (blog)

Lawfare (blog)
Sun, 31 Aug 2014 07:02:42 -0700

Iran has long supported its traditional Afghan allies—the Farsiwan Heratis, the Shi'ite Hazara, and the Tajiks. Iran has also preserved relationships with the various militias it helped train during the Soviet invasion, many of which are led by ...

The New York Review of Books (blog)

The New York Review of Books (blog)
Thu, 07 Oct 2010 09:28:31 -0700

Here is a map of Afghanistan. Versions of it adorn conference rooms in military bases, ministry buildings and NGO headquarters. The first question it raises is: “Why does Afghanistan exist?” The country contains about a dozen ethnic groups, whose ...

The News International

The News International
Tue, 07 Jan 2014 15:17:26 -0800

Will someone help me find the origin of the term 'Urdu-speaking' – not in academic terms for people living across South Asia or elsewhere but its use in Pakistan's social and political parlance to define an ethnicity or a nationality? When was it first ...

The Express Tribune

The Express Tribune
Tue, 01 Jan 2013 21:23:01 -0800

@pashtun: As a Pashtun myself, I can tell you that Afghanis are amongst the most thankless nation in the earth and I'm not just talking about the Farsiwan! Considering all the support that Pakistan has given these people in their fight against the ...

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