Devoted to the only Georgian-speaking group in present-day Iran ― with their Iranian cradle in the district of Buyin-Miyandasht, in the historical region of Fereydun (western part of present-day Isfahan Region) ―, this short article questions the representations conveyed on them by a majority of seventeenth-century to present-day Persian primary sources. For this, the author has mobilised the combined resources of historiography, of oral history (through informal interviews with elders), of the study of family and clan names, and of geographical place names. The main results of the author’s research drive him to assert that the ancestors of Fereydani Georgians are likely to have been from northern parts of Georgia (instead of the south-eastern part of the country as assessed by a number of primary written sources), and that they were Shiite Muslims prior to their settlement in Fereydan (contrary to common assertions on their later conversion from Christianity to Islam). Among written primary sources confirming these viewpoints notably comes the Ta’rikh-i ‘alam-ara-yi ‘abbasi by Iskandar Big Munshi, a leading chronicle of the Safavid period. At the same time, observations on the massive drift from the land bring the author to considerations on the beginning of the dissolution of Fereydani Georgian identity, partly compensated by the present development of electronic communication technologies. Despite the prospects of a rapprochement with Christian Georgians of Georgia itself and with Sunni Georgians of Turkey, the author postulates the preservation of a specifically Shiite Fereydani Georgian identity, facilitated by the future development of echo-tourism. Such a pious hope, perfectly conform to the prerequisites of the Islamic Republic in terms of ethnic policy, will perhaps have to be qualified in a near future, given the economic and political hardships durably faced by Iran.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: II-3.3.B-215