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Talysh in Iran


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Talysh in Iran map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
165,000 Talysh Islam 0.00 % 0.00 %   

Talysh in Iran

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Introduction / History
The Talysh peoples (Harzani, Kajali, Karingani, Takistani, Talysh) inhabit the northwestern regions of Iran. One group can also be found in southeastern Azerbaijan. They occupy a land of sharp contrasts, ranging from the high, forested Talysh Mountains, to the subtropical coastal land along the Caspian Sea. They refer to themselves as the Talushon, and speak an Indo-Iranian language that is also called Talysh. Although all of the Talysh groups speak their native language, most are also fluent in Azerbaijani, and some speak Russian or Farsi.

The Talysh have lived in the southwest Caspian Sea region for thousands of years. They came under Turkish influence during the Middle Ages, but established their own independent khanate, or kingdom, in the 1600s. In the early 1800s, the Talysh of present day Azerbaijan fell under Russian control, which continued until 1991 when Azerbaijan seceded from the Soviet Union. Today, the Talysh face the same dilemma as many other Central Asian peoples as they attempt to decide whether to follow the Islamic traditions of the past, or the Western culture and technology of the present.

What are their lives like?
The lifestyles of the five Talysh groups vary greatly due to the differences in their environments. However, regardless of the region in which they live, the majority of Talysh are farmers. In some areas, rice is the primary crop; in others, wheat and barley are grown. Tea and citrus fruits are raised in the lowlands near the Caspian Sea. Many of the Talysh living in the lowlands cultivate fresh produce, including garlic, onions, pumpkins, melons, peas, and grapes.

Not all of the Talysh are farmers. Some have become skilled craftsmen. Their primary handicrafts include silk, rugs, and felt. Some work with tin, make shoes, or design jewelry.

The Talysh live in various styles of houses, depending on the region in which they are located. Those in the mountainous areas typically live in flat-roofed homes built of uncut stone. Those in the coastal zone live in clay houses that have roofs made of reeds or sedge (grass-like plants with solid stems). The homes usually have high doors reaching to the ceiling, since there is no opening in the roof to allow smoke from the cooking fires to escape. The traditional Talysh homes have no furniture. However, today, a growing number of homes have adopted Western-style furnishings.

Talysh women once wore traditional Muslim clothing, which consisted of veils over their faces and long robes that completely covered their bodies. Today, many Talysh women, especially those in Azerbaijan, have abandoned the customary outfit and wear Western-style clothing.

Although Islamic law permits men to have as many as four wives, most Talysh men take only one wife. Boys usually marry while they are between the ages of 15 and 20; whereas, girls usually wed while they are between the ages of 12 and 16. The groom's family is required to pay a bride-price, or kebin, which consists of money and items such as carpets or utensils. To avoid paying the kebin, a young man will sometimes "kidnap" the prospective bride, taking her as his wife.

What are their beliefs?
The Talysh are virtually all Muslim, primarily of the Shi'ite branch. They consider Jesus to be a prophet, a teacher, and a good man, but not God's Son. Since Islam is a religion of works, they believe that after death they will be judged by their good deeds and by their knowledge of the Koran. Like other Muslims, they observe the five "pillars" of Islam, which include affirming that Allah is the only god and Mohammed is his prophet, praying five times a day, giving alms generously, fasting, and making a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Although the Talysh are professing Muslims, some remnants of their pre-Islamic religion remain. For example, they have a great reverence for trees and groves, and trees form some of their most sacred sites. They also believe in the presence of both good and evil spirits, with the most dangerous spirit being Alazhan, the "Red Woman." Alazhan is believed to attack women during childbirth, as well as newborn babies.

What are their needs?
Azerbaijan faces the most severe economic problems of the three former Soviet Transcaucasus republics. It is burdened with high unemployment and a long tradition of corruption, both of which pose a threat to economic growth.

Iran has strictly enforced the "Islamic code of conduct" since the 1979 revolution. This code states that men are the leaders and women care for the children and home. The government's persecution of Christians has increased dramatically since the revolution.

The Talysh have been followers of Islam for many years. Most of them have not had an opportunity to hear a clear presentation of the Gospel. These precious people are in desperate need of Christian resources in their own language. Willing laborers and evangelistic tools are needed to effectively reach these groups with the Light of the Gospel. Most importantly, they need people who will begin to faithfully intercede for them, tearing down the strongholds that are keeping them in spiritual bondage. Only then will their hearts be prepared to receive the Gospel as it is presented to them.

Prayer Points
Pray for greater freedom to proclaim the Gospel in Iran and Azerbaijan.
Ask God to give the small number of Talysh believers opportunities to share the Gospel with their friends and families.
Pray that God will send medical teams and humanitarian aid workers to minister to the needs of the Talysh.
Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will faithfully stand in the gap for the Talysh.
Pray that local churches will be planted among the Harzani, Kajali, Karingani, Takistani, Talysh.

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Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2013-10-15
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Country: Iran
Continent: Asia
Region: Asia, Central
Persecution Rank:8 (Only top 50 ranked, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
10/40 Window: Yes
Location in Country:Northwest Gilan Province, Caspian coastal plain and mountain areas from Masuleh, Masal, and Kapur-Chal (Kepri-Chal) to Azerbaijan border; Ardebil Province, Ardabil and Namin counties; Northern Talyshi dialect: Azerbaijan, Astara and the Caspian littoral areas. Central Talyshi dialect: Gilan Province, Asalem-Hashtpar area along Caspian littoral. Southern Talyshi dialect: Gilan Province, Shandermen, Masal, Masuleh, and surrounding mountainous areas.
(Source: Ethnologue 2016)
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Country Map:Political map
Ethnolinguistic Map:University of Texas or other map
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Talysh
People Name General: Talysh
Alternate People Names:
ROP3 Code: 109766
Joshua Project People ID: 15220
Indigenous: No
Population in Country: 165,000
Population all Countries: 759,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Engagement Status:Unengaged (per Finishing the Task)
Affinity Bloc: Persian-Median
People Cluster: Talysh
People Name General: Talysh
Ethnic Code: CNT24z
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Talysh (165,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): tly    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religions:
Buddhism0.00 % 
Christianity0.00 %(Evangelical: 0.00 %)
Ethnic Religions0.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam100.00 % 
Non-Religious0.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent0.00 %
Protestant0.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian0.00 %
Roman Catholic0.00 %
(Evangelicals distributed across Christianity segments)
Progress Indicators [5]
Progress Scale[6]   Few evangelicals and few who claim to be Christians. Little, if any, history of Christianity.
Least-Reached: Yes
Engagement Status:Unengaged (per Finishing the Task)
GSEC Status:Level 1   Less than 2% Evangelical. Some evangelical resources available, but no active church planting within past 2 years
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: Yes
New Testament:
Complete Bible: None Reported
Possible Bible Sources: Forum of Bible Agencies
 World Bible Finder
 World Christian Resource Directory
 Gospel Go
Ministry Resources [7]
Audio RecordingsMegaVoice Audio Bible and Stories
Audio RecordingsOnline New Testament
Audio RecordingsOnline New Testament
Film / Video / Animation
Film / VideoJesus Film: view in Talysh
Film / VideoLUMO film of Gospels
Film / VideoMagdalena video
Film / VideoMy Last Day video, anime
Film / VideoWorld Christian Videos
GeneralGospel resources links
Text / Printed MatterJesus Messiah comic book
Ministry Activity
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Data Notes
Data Sources

Talysh in Iran

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Talysh     Asia, Central    
      Talysh Iran    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Talysh in Iran          
      Religion Language  
      Islam     Talysh  
    All Religions                              

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