Founder of Iranian nomad schools Mohammad Bahmanbeigi dies at 90

TEHRAN, May 2 (MNA) -- Founder of Iranian nomad schools Mohammad Bahmanbeigi died of pneumonia on Saturday. He was 90 years old.

Mohammad Bahmanbeigi was a writer and researcher who dedicated his life to educating nomads, especially the nomads of southern Iran and Fars region, the Persian service of ISNA reported.

Bahmanbeigi was born in 1920 into the Bahmanbeigi Tribe of the Qashqai nomads living in the Fars region in southern Iran.

His father, Mahmud Khan, who was the leader of the tribe, was exiled along with his family to Tehran following the tribes’ riot in southern Iran in the 1920s. Mohammad continued his education that he had begun in the tribe with his family’s procurator.

He studied law in the University of Tehran and also learned the English, German, and French languages.

Upon completing his studies, he strove diligently to initiate a program for educating nomads since it was painful for him to see his fellow tribesmen remain illiterate. He came to Shiraz and designed a mobile educational system that enabled nomad children, especially the girls, to continue to learn during their migrations.

Due to his efforts, the first nomad school began educating the Qashqai tribesmen in the Fars region in 1951 and the system was expanded to other Iranian nomadic regions.

Later, Bahmanbeigi put his educational experiences in books and some in the form of stories and published them. “The Mores of Fars Nomads”, “If Qarahqaj Did Not Exist”, and “My Bukhara, My Tribe” are some of his published books

He was remembered as a writer for his books but he had once declared, “Story? Which story?” I don’t write stories and I don’t have any talent. I conduct research and write memoirs. My only credit is that I established the nomad schools in Iran.

“I come from a Qashqai tribe. I was born in a tent during migration from the Lar region to Firuzabad. I was 23 years old when I wrote my first book ‘The Mores of Fars Nomads’. This book was enthusiastically received by Sokhan magazine in those years and many good reviews were written on the book, if I remember among them were Sadeq Hedayat and Parviz Natelkhanalari. The book has recently been republished in an edition containing the reviews,” he once said.

He regarded the nomad schools very influential and said, “Many female doctors and engineers were educated in these nomad schools.”

Bahmanbeigi was honored by the Iranian Society of Cultural Works and Luminaries during a ceremony in Tehran in November 2005. His last book was “Swear by Your Household”.

Iranian director Mohammad-Ali Talebi was planning to make a biopic of Bahmanbeigi several years ago. “About 40 years ago, a great number of nomad children were educated by this man by means of an advanced method. As a result of his efforts, many of his students advanced to prominent positions,” Talebi told the Persian service of MNA.

Entitled “The Lights of the Plain”, the biopic was to be produced in two versions -- a feature-length film and a 13-episode TV series.

Kamran Heidari had previously featured Bahmanbeigi’s life in the short film “The White Tents” (2003).


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