KERMAN (the ancient Karmania), a province of Persia, bounded E. by Seistan and Baluchistan, S. by Baluchistan and Fars, W. by Fars, and N. by Yezd and Khorasan. It is of very irregular shape, expanding in the north to Khorasan and gradually contracting in the south to a narrow wedge between Fars and Baluchistan; the extreme length between Seistan and Fars (E. and W.) is about 400 m., the greatest breadth (N. and S.) from south of Yezd to the neighbourhood of Bander Abbasi about 300 m., and the area is estimated at about 60,000 sq. m. Kerman is generally described as consisting of two parts, an uninhabitable desert region in the north and a habitable mountainous region in the south, but recent explorations require this view to be considerably modified. There are mountains and desert tracts in all parts, while much of what appears on maps as forming the western portion of the great Kerman desert consists of the fertile uplands of Kuhbanan, Raver and others stretching along the eastern base of the lofty range which runs from Yezd south-east to Khabis. West of and parallel to this range are two others, one culminating north-west of Bam in the Kuh Hazar (14,700 ft.), the other continued at about the same elevation under the name of the Jamal Bariz (also Jebel Bariz) south-eastward to Makran. These chains traverse fertile districts dividing them into several longitudinal valleys of considerable length, but not averaging more than 12 m. in width. Snow lies on them for a considerable part of the year, feeding the springs and canals by means of which large tracts in this almost rainless region in summer are kept under cultivation. Still farther west the Kuh Dina range is continued from Fars, also in a south-easterly direction to Bashakird beyond Bander Abbasi. Between the south-western highlands and the Jamal Bariz there is some arid and unproductive land, but the true desert of Kerman lies mainly in the north and north-east, where it merges northwards in the great desert “Lut,” which stretches into Khorasan. These southern deserts differ from the kavir of central Persia mainly in three respects: they are far less saline, are more sandy and drier, and present in some places tracts of 80 to 100 miles almost absolutely destitute of vegetation. Yet they are crossed by well-known tracks running from Kerman eastwards and north-eastwards to Seistan and Khorasan and frequently traversed by caravans. It appears that these sandy wastes are continually encroaching on the fertile districts, and this is the case even in Narmashir, which is being invaded by the sands of the desolate plains extending thence north-westwards to Bam. There are also some kefeh or salt swamps answering to the kavir in the north, but occurring only in isolated depressions and nowhere of any great extent. The desert of Kerman lies about 1000 ft., or less, above the sea, apparently on nearly the same level as the Lut, from which it cannot be geographically separated. The climate, which varies much with the relief of the land, has the reputation of being unhealthy, because the cool air from the hills is usually attended by chills and agues. Still many of the upland valleys enjoy a genial and healthy climate. The chief products are cotton, gums, dates of unrivalled flavour from the southern parts, and wool, noted for its extreme softness, and the soft underhair of goats (kurk), which latter are used in the manufacture of the Kerman shawls, which in delicacy of texture yield only to those of Kashmir, while often surpassing them in design, colour and finish. Besides woollen goods (shawls, carpets, &c.) Kerman exports mainly cotton, grain and dates, receiving in return from India cotton goods, tea, indigo, china, glass, sugar, &c. Wheat and barley are scarce. Bander Abbasi is the natural outport; but, since shipping has shown a preference for Bushire farther west, the trade of Kerman has greatly fallen off.
For administrative purposes the province is divided into nineteen districts, one being the capital of the same name with its immediate neighbourhood (humeh); the others are Akta and Urzu; Anar; Bam and Narmashir; Bardsir; Jiruft; Khabis; Khinaman; Kubenan (Kuhbanan); Kuhpayeh; Pariz; Rafsinjan; Rahbur; Raver; Rayin; Rudbar and Bashakird; Sardu; Sirjan; Zerend. The inhabitants number about 700,000, nearly one-third being nomads. (A. H.-S.)
- The word lut means bare, void of vegetation, arid, waterless, and has nothing in common with the Lot of Holy Writ, as many have supposed.