AFŠĀR, ḤĀJJĪ BĀBĀ, court physician under Moḥammad Shah Qāǰār. His real name is unknown, since Ḥāǰǰī Bābā is a name usually given to a child in memory and honor of his grandfather or great-grandfather. Son of an officer in ʿAbbās Mīrzā’s army, he was sent in 1226/1811 together with a number of others to study medicine and chemistry in England at the expense of the crown prince and under the supervision of Sir Harford Jones (Yādgār 1/5, pp. 30-35). During eight years of residence in England, probably part of which was spent at Oxford, he seems to have been seriously engaged in studies, though he did not acquire a degree (Yaḡmā 6/8, pp. 184, 318). On his return to Tabrīz he began to practice medicine in the court under Dr. C. Coemick and occasionally was sent as interpreter in the company of Persian missions abroad (e.g., he was included in Ḵosrow Mīrzā’s embassy to St. Petersburg in 1245/1829-30). After the accession of Moḥammad Shah to the throne in 1250/1834, Ḥāǰǰī Bābā (then known as Mīrzā Bābā) secured the position of chief physician (ḥakīmbāšī) to the shah, who throughout his reign suffered from severe gout. According to Maṭraḥ al-anẓār, Ḥāǰǰī Bābā “had complete control over the shah’s constitution.” Ḥāǰǰī Bābā died in Šaʿbān 1258/1842-43 (Moḥammad Ḥasan Khan Eʿtemād-al-salṭana, Merʾāt al-boldān, Tehran, 1294/1877, I, p. 580). His three sons later held official positions (Jahān-e now 3, p. 571). His brother Jaʿfar-qolī Beg was trained as a mining engineer in Russia (Yādgār 1/7, p. 11). Ḥāǰǰī Bābā’s acquaintance with various foreigners seems to be the source of certain negative rumors about him (E. Rāʾīn [tr.], Anǰomanhā-ye serrī dar enqelāb-e mašrūṭīyat-e Īrān, Tehran, 1345 Š./1966, p. 94). Stuart maintains that Ḥāǰǰī Bābā was extremely annoyed at Morier’s use of his name for the title of his novel The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan.
A. Eqbāl, “Ketāb-e Ḥāǰǰī Bābā va dāstān-e naḵostīn moḥaṣṣelīn-e Īrānī dar farang,” Yādgār 1/5, pp. 28-50.
ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Khan Filsūf-al-dawla, Maṭraḥ al-anẓār, Tabrīz, 1334/1915-16.
Jahāngīr Mīrzā, Tārīḵ-enow, ed. ʿA. Eqbāl, Tehran, 1327 Š./1948.
M. Mīnovī, “Avvalīn kāravān-e maʿrefat,” Yaḡmā 6, pp. 181-85, 232-37, 274-78, 313-18, 351-53; also in Pānzdah goftār, Tehran, 1333 Š./1954.
E. L. Mitford, A Land March from England to Ceylon, Forty Years Ago, 2 vol., London, 1884.
A. D. Soltykov, Voyages en Perse, Paris, 1851.
W. Stuart, Journal of Residence in Northern Persia, London, 1835.
(Ḥ. Maḥbūbī Ardakānī)
Originally Published: December 15, 1984
Last Updated: July 28, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 6, p. 586
Ḥ. Maḥbūbī Ardakānī, “AFŠĀR, ḤĀJJĪ BĀBĀ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/6, p. 586; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/afsar-hajji-baba-court-physician-under-mohammad-shah-qaar (accessed on 14 March 2014).