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The Persian Gulf

QESHM ISLAND

(Abarkâwân)

Abridged Version


 

By: DANIEL T. POTTS

 

 
Qeshm Island.JPG (155059 bytes)

  (Click to enlarge)

(per. Jazira-ye Qešm); the largest Iranian island (ca. 122 km long, 18 km wide on average, 1,445 sq km) in the Persian Gulf, about 22 km south of Bandar-e 'Abbâs (q.v.). Separated from the mainland by the straits of Khurân (Clarence Strait), Qeshm runs virtually parallel to the Persian coast between Bandar-e 'Abbâs in the east and Bandar-(e) Lenga in the west (Sailing directions for the Persian Gulf, p. 123; Handbuch des Persischen Golfs, p. 155).

 

The toponomy of the island has varied greatly over time. Nearchus referred to an island near the mouth of the Persian Gulf as Oaracta (e.g., Geog. 16.3.7; Pliny, Natural History 6.98), where, in Arrian's account, Nearchus was shown the tomb of Erythras (Goukowsky, p. 120), after whom the Erythraean Sea was thought to have been named (Arrian, Indica 27; cf. Oracta, Ooracta, Doracta). Portuguese sources refer to the island as Queiximi/ Queixome /Queixume (Tomaschek, p. 48; cf. Quesomo in Jean de Thevenot, and the Kichmichs of Sir John Chardin [Curzon, II, p. 410]), in which we easily recognize Qeshm. They also mention Broco/Boroch/Beroho/Brocto (Tomaschek, p. 48), which scholars have long (e.g., d'Anville, p. 149; Stein) identified with Greek Oaracta. (Curzon, II, p. 410, noted a village called "Brukth/Urukth" on Qeshm).

The Akhbâr al-Sin wa'l-Hend (851 CE) mentions the island of Abarkâwân in the eastern Persian Gulf, between Sirâf and Muscat (Sauvaget, p. 7). This is identical to the island of Bani Kâwân, assigned by Abu Eshâq Estakhri to the district of Ardašir-khorra (q.v.; Estakhri, pp. 106-7), also known to Estakhri, Mas'udi and Ebn Hawqal as Lâft, (Schwarz, p. 82, n. 13). For Yâqut (Schwarz, p. 83) the isles of Kâwân and Lâft (or Lâfet) were one and the same; and Lâft survives as the name of the second largest town, historically, on Qeshm (Curzon, II, p. 411). According to Balâdori, Abarkâwân/Qeshm was reckoned part of Kermân, rather than Fârs, prior to the Islamic conquest, a point made plausible by the fact that when 'Othmân b. al-'As landed there at the beginning of the Islamic conquest, he encountered a margrave of Kermân (Schwarz, p. 83). Later lexicographers explained Abarkâwân as a corruption of Jazira-ye gâvân, (cow island); this is a folk etymology, which is reflected in Tabari's story of a commander in Khorasan who accused his soldiers of having ridden only cattle and donkeys on the isle of Banu Kâwân before he had turned them into competent cavalrymen (Schwarz, p. 83). Ebn Khordâdbeh identified the island of Banu Kâwân as a station between Kish and Hormuz on the sea-route to India and China and described its inhabitants as belonging to the 'Ebâdi sect (Sprenger, p. 79; Schwarz, p. 83).

The natural resources of Qeshm include salt (the purest in the Persian Gulf [Pilgrim, p. 129]), naphtha, and firewood. 

In 1989 the Qeshm Free Trading Zone was established with the goal of attracting substantial infrastructure investment to expand industrial, banking and tourist facilities. With a population of around 85,000, Qeshm now has four designated industrial areas, half a dozen large towns, and over 50 villages. Qeshm is located in the midst of two of Iran's largest natural gas fields.

 

Bibliography

Z. M. Al-Rashid, Su'udi relations with Eastern Arabia and 'Uman (1800-1870), London, 1981. 

S. M. Al-Qasimi, The myth of Arab Piracy in the Gulf, London, 1986. Idem, John Malcolm and the British commercial base in the Gulf, 1800, Sharjah, 1994. 

B. d'Anville, "Recherches ge‚ographiques sur le Golfe Persique et sur les bouches de l'Euphrate et du Tigre," Me‚moires de litte‚rature, tire‚s des registres de l'Acade‚mie Royale des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres 30, 1764, pp. 132-97. 

G. P. Badger, History of the Imâms and Seyyids of 'Omân by Salîl-Ibn-Razîk, from A.D. 661-1856, London, 171. C. R. Boxer, "Anglo-Portuguese rivalry in the Persian Gulf, 1615-1635," in Chapters in Anglo-Portuguese Relations, ed. E. Prestage, Watford, 1935, pp. 46-129. 

G. N. Curzon, Persia and the Persian Question, 2 vols., London, 1892. 

F. C. Danvers, "The Persian Gulf route and commerce," The Asiatic Quarterly Review 5, 1888, pp. 384-414. P. 

Goukowsky, "Les juments du roi Érythras," Revue des Études Grecques 87, 1974, pp. 117-37. 

Handbuch des Persischen Golfs, 5th ed., Deutsches Hydrographisches Institut, Hamburg, 1976. 

J. Horsburgh, India Directory, or directions for sailing to and from the East Indies, China, New Holland, Cape of Good Hope, Brazil, and the interjacent ports, vol. 1, London, 1817. 

G. Hüsing, "Panchaia," in H. Mzik, ed., Beiträge zur historischen Geographie, Kulturgeographie, Ethnographie und Kartographie, vornehmlich des Orients, Leipzig and Vienna, 1929, pp. 98-111 (with partial map, attempting to locate various Greek toponyms). 

J. B. Kelly, "Kishm," EI 2 5, 1986, pp. 183-84. R. C. Keun de Hoogerwoerd, "Die Häfen und Handelsverhältnisse des Persischen Golfs und des Golfs von Oman," Annalen der Hydrographie und maritimen Meteorologie 17, 1889, pp. 189-207. 

J. M. Kinneir, A Geographical Memoir of the Persian Empire, London, 1813. 

J. G. Lorimer, Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, 'Oman, and Central Arabia, 2 vols., Calcutta, 1908-15, repr., Westmead, U.K., 2 vols. in 6, 1970, IIA, pp. 267-69; IIB, pp. 1557-58. 

E. Z. Ökte, Kîtab i Bahrîye Pîri Reîs, Istanbul, 1988. M. Freiherr von Oppenheim, Vom Mittelmeer zum Persischen Golf, vol. 2, Berlin, 1900. 

S. Özbaran, "The Ottoman Turks and the Portuguese in the Persian Gulf, 1534-1581," Journal of Asian History 6, 1972, pp. 45-87. 

L. Pelly, "A visit to the port of Lingah, the island of Kishm, and the port of Bunder Abbass," PRGS 8, 1864, p. 265-67. 

V. F. Piacentini, L'emporio ed il regno di Hormoz (VII - fine XV sec. d.Cr.), Memorie dell'Istituto Lombardo-Accademie di Scienze e Lettere, Vol. 35/1, Milan, 1975. 

G. E. Pilgrim, "The geology of the Persian Gulf and the adjoining portions of Persia and Arabia," Memoirs of the Geological Survey of India 34/4, 1908, pp. 1-177. Sailing directions for the Persian Gulf, 3rd ed., United States Government Printing Office, Washington, 1944.

J. Sauvaget, 'Ahbar as-Sin wa l-Hind, Relation de la Chine et de l'Inde re‚dige‚e en 851, Paris, 1948. 

P. Schwarz, Iran im Mittelalter nach den arabischen Geographen, Leipzig, 1896-1935. 

B. J. Slot, The Arabs of the Gulf, 1602-1784, Leidschendamm, 1993. A. Sprenger, Die Post- und Reiserouten des Orients, Leipzig, 1864. 

N. Steensgaard, The Asian trade revolution of the seventeenth century: The East India Companies and the decline of the caravan trade, Chicago and London, 1973. 

O. Stein, "'Oaracta," Pauly-Wissowa, 17, col. 1679-1680. W. Tomaschek, Topographische Erläuterung der Küstenfahrt Nearchs vom Indus bis zum Euphrat, Vienna, 1890. 

P. Tuson, The records of the British Residency and Agencies in the Persian Gulf, London, 1979. 

Lt. Whitelock, "Descriptive sketch of the islands and coast situated at the entrance of the Persian Gulf," JRGS 8, 1838, pp. 170-184. 

A. T. Wilson, The Persian Gulf, Oxford, 1928.

 

 

 

 

 

Source/Extracted From: Encyclopaedia Iranica

 

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