The main sociopolitical frameworks in Kurdistan in the premodern era were the tribes and the tribal, quasi-feudal principalities or emirates headed by emirs. Although the Kurdish emirates experienced varying degrees of autonomy, they continued to be vassals of successive Muslim overlords – the Abbasid, Seljuk, Turkmen, Ottoman, and Iranian states and dynasties. From the early sixteenth century, Kurdistan was divided between the two rival regional powers: the Ottoman Empire and the Iranian Safavid Shi'i state. The Ottoman traveler and official Evliya Chelebi and European travelers who visited Bitlis were impressed by the emirate's military strength and economic vitality, and by the extent of its independence, and described it as a burgeoning cultural and religious center. The decline of the emirate of Bitlis allowed the ascent of the emirates of Bahdinan, Baban, Soran and Botan. However, despite their demise, the emirates were undoubtedly significant, alongside tribal and religious identities, in perpetuating a sense of Kurdish distinctiveness.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2019 selection and editorial matter, Michael M. Gunter; individual chapters, the contributors.
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