This well-informed panoramic study on the Talish and Talishis stresses first the role of the mountainous terrain and of the language (a north-western Iranian dialect distinct from Gilaki) in the separation of the region from its neighbours Gilan and Mughan, on the south-western shore of the Caspian Sea.  The article continues with a historical survey, from the appearance of the name Talish in a sixteenth-century Armenian version of the Alexander romance to the incomplete Shiite proselytism supported by the Safavids, to periods of independence in the second half of the eighteenth century before the Russian annexation of the northern part of the region in the early nineteenth century (with periods of autonomy of a Russian, then Azerbaijani Talish-Mughan Republic in 1918-20 and 1991-93), whence the southern part was becoming the Talish shahrestan, an administrative division of the Iranian province of Gilan.  On the basis of a speculative etymology, the author supports, as a research hypothesis, the search for real or mythical ancestors by local Talishi pundits pointing at the Kadusians, one of the autochthonous tribes of the region, evoked in Ptolemy’s Geography.  Paragraphs on the writings of mainly European travellers and geographers (with special reference to the works by the contemporary French geographer Marcel Bazin) since the early nineteenth century, including developments in Russia and more recently in Iran, are followed by a detailed evocation of the state of research on Talishi language (differences with Tat and Persian, Turkish and Gilaki influences, contacts with Armenian, local dialects, written sources—notably mentioning the publication of folk literature in Iran since the 1970s).  The conclusion insists on the incomplete character of studies on ethnic history, folklore, and spiritual culture.  It is followed by a substantial multilingual bibliography.

The Redaction
CER: I-2.3-124