Bard Shir in Susa, Iran


Lion tombstones, called bard-i shir  in the Bakhtiari dialect, are mostly found in the west, south-west and parts of southern Iran.  Bard in Bakhtiari dialect means ‘stone’, and shir means ‘lion’, as in Persian.

These stone lions are three-dimensional sculptures of enormous size and are carved out of a single rock. In general, they feature a lion standing up or perhaps about to jump forward. The lions are placed on the tombs of men who were  extraordinarily  courageous, heroes of their clans or their tribes. Lion tombstones are sculpted and placed on their tombs in order to immortalize their names and celebrate their bravery for generations to come. In the absence of a written history, they are one way in which the Baḵtiāris are able to celebrate their past apart from songs and traditional elegies.

These lion tombstones are generally situated in the mountains on the migration routes .

The sides of the Bard Shirs are adorned with sword, horse, gun, and rosary designs. The personal information of the deceased is carved on the back of the stone lions.

The Bakhtiari are a southwestern Iranian tribe and a subgroup of the Lurs. A small percentage of Bakhtiari are still nomadic pastoralists, Bakhtiari nomads migrate twice a year with their herds for pasture.  The livestock the Bakhtiari mainly raise are goats, sheep, horses, and cattle. Nomadic Bakhtiari also rely on trading and bartering with nearby villages.

Much of Bakhtiari culture is based on their seasonal migration and the fact that their primary source of income is their livestock.


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