BAḴTĪĀRĪ, the nesba of a number of Baḵtīārī chiefs in the 18th-20th centuries:

Abu’l-Fatḥ Khan. See Abu’l-Fatḥ Khan Baḵtīārī.

Ḥājī ʿAlīqolī Khan Sardār Asʿad.

Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Khan Šehāb-al-Salṭana.

Ḥosaynqolī Khan.

Jaʿfarqolī Khan Sardār(-e) Asʿad III.

Loṭf-ʿAlī Khan Šojāʿ-al-Solṭān.

Moḥammad-Reżā Khan Sardār-e Fāteḥ.

Moḥammad-Taqī Khan.

Mortażāqolī Khan.

Najafqolī Khan Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana.

Naṣīr Khan Ṣārem-al-Molk.


Ḥājī ʿAlīqolī Khan Sardār Asʿad, one of two military commanders who marched on Tehran, deposed Moḥammad-ʿAlī Shah, and revived the aborted movement for constitutional government in Iran.

ʿAlīqolī, a member of the Haft Lang branch of the Baḵtīārī tribe and the fourth son of Ḥosaynqolī Khan Īlḵānī (Sepehr, p. 576; Moʿayyer-al-Mamālek, p. 68), was born in 1274/1857-58, when the tribe was at its winter encampment. He completed his elementary education with the tribe and, after accompanying his mother on a pilgrimage to Mecca, received the title of Ḥājī (Sepehr, pp. 576-77). On 27 Rajab 1299/14 June 1882, the powerful governor of Isfahan and the southern provinces of Iran, Masʿūd Mīrzā Ẓell-al-Solṭān, acting on his father Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah’s instructions (Ẓell-al-Solṭān, p. 309; Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, p. 210), garroted Ḥosaynqolī Īlḵānī, who had come to Isfahan at the governor’s invitation. Ẓell-al-Solṭān also imprisoned Ḥosaynqolī’s two sons, Esfandīār Khan and the twenty-five-year-old ʿAlīqolī Khan (Sepehr, p. 579; Bāmdād, Rejāl II, p. 449), who served the governor as brigadier (sartīp) and colonel (sarhang) respectively (ʿOkkāša, p. 183). A year later, however, as a result of Prime Minister ʿAlī-Aṣḡar Khan Amīn-al-Solṭān’s intercession, ʿAlīqolī Khan was released from prison (Sepehr, pp. 177, 579) and brought to Tehran with the rank of brigadier (ibid., p. 593). In the role of honored hostage, he took command of the hundred-man brigade of Baḵtīārī horsemen that formed the prime minister’s elite guard (Sepehr, p. 579; Owžan, Waḥīd 3/11, p. 92; Bāmdād, Rejāl II, p. 450) and that served fifty men at a time (Ẓell-al-Solṭān, p. 241). ʿAlīqolī’s brother Esfandīār remained in prison until 1305/1887-88, when Ẓell-al-Solṭān was removed from office (Sepehr, pp. 171, 569; Okkāša, p. 252), and with the title Sardār(-e) Asʿad became deputy chief (īlbegī) of the Baḵtīārī tribe. Upon Esfandīār’s death in 1321/1903 (Bāmdād, Rejāl II, p. 448; or 1322/1904-05 [Sepehr, p. 593]), the title Sardār Asʿad was conferred upon ʿAlīqolī Khan (Sepehr, p. 594). During the more than forty-day interval between Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah’s assassination (17 Ḏu’l-qaʿda 1313/1 May 1896) and Moẓaffar-al-Dīn Shah’s arrival in the capital, ʿAlīqolī Khan and his horsemen protected the life of Amīn-al-Solṭān, who had taken up residence in the Golestān palace and was directing affairs of state during that critical period (ibid., p. 175; Bāmdād, Rejāl II, p. 450). After the accession of Moẓaffar-al-Dīn Shah, with Amīn-al-Solṭān removed from office and exiled to Qom (1314/1896), Sardār Asʿad left Tehran to join his tribe. He returned to the capital in 1316/1898, during Amīn-al-Solṭān’s second term as prime minister (Moʿayyer-al-Mamālek, p. 71). In 1318/1900-01, Sardār Asʿad visited several European capitals via India and Egypt, and, after a little more than two years residence in the advanced Europe of those days, having taken part in the funeral of the Queen of England and having become a Freemason in Paris, he returned to Iran (Sepehr, pp. 176, 580). Though, because of his close association with Amīn-al-Solṭān and with other important personages at the court of Moẓaffar-al-Dīn Shah he was considered a man of influence (Neẓām-al-Salṭana, I, pp. 206, 213), Sardār Asʿad did not remain in Tehran long. After Amīn-al-Solṭān was removed from office a second time (1321/1903), Sardār Asʿad, unwilling to serve as the commander of the guard protecting the new prime minister ʿAyn-al-Dawla (Moʿayyer-al-Mamālek, p. 71) and believing that a person must either live in civilized countries such as those of Europe or in the mountains (Sepehr, p. 176), rejoined his tribe. Sardār Asʿad returned to Tehran, but, finding the political atmosphere of the capital intolerable, in 1324/1906, during the first months after the issuing of the constitutional edict (farmān-e mašrūṭīyat) and about the time of the accession of Moḥammad-ʿAlī Shah, who preferred Sardār Asʿad’s rival Amīr(-e) Mofaḵḵam and treated the sons of Ḥosaynqolī Khan with indifference (ʿOkkāša, p. 555), he once again made his way to Europe, seeking treatment for his eyes (Sepehr, p. 581). It was during this three-year sojourn that Sardār Asʿad received word in Paris of the shelling of the Bahārestān and the arrest of the Constitutionalists. He contacted a group of exiles who had been driven from Iran by the tyranny of Moḥammad-ʿAlī Shah and who often gathered in Paris, and thanks to the financial resources at his disposal, turned his house into a meeting place for those opposed to Qajar despotism (Moḵber-al-Salṭana, p. 181; Afšār, pp. 430-31; Sepehr, p. 581; Qazvīnī, p. 100). Having heard that the Qajar king had appealed to the Baḵtīārī tribe for help in putting down Constitutionalist forces and that several Baḵtīārī leaders had gone to Tehran and been ordered to quash the uprising in Tabrīz, he wrote admonishing letters to his relatives (Malekzāda, pp. 1080, 1082; Dānešvar ʿAlawī [p. 20] writes that he made a secret trip to Isfahan incognito and, residing in the house of an Armenian of Jolfā, met with Ḥājī Āqā Nūr-Allāh, an influential cleric from Isfahan and the brother of Āqā Najafī, and several other supporters of the Constitution to plan a revolt and then returned to Paris; however, there is no mention of this trip in the other sources, and it is probably apocryphal). As news of the general uprising in Iran filtered back to Europe, Sardār Asʿad met with the British ambassador in Paris (Moʿāṣer, p. 991) and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sir Charles Hardinge in London (Bāmdād, Rejāl II, p. 450; Navāʾī, p. 7; Moḵber-al-Salṭana, p. 181). His discussions with British authorities made him confident that they would not stand in the way of the reestablishment of Iranian constitutional government (Malekzāda, p. 1028) and, in fact, would welcome his intervention at this juncture—as he was in any event a supporter of Britain. (The British did not want to see the credit of opposing the despotic monarch go only to the Azerbaijani fighters and their allies from the Caucasus, whose victory would have increased the Russian influence in Iran.) He then felt free to dispatch messengers and messages urging his older brother Najafqolī Khan Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana Īlḵānī Baḵtīārī to amass troops and occupy Isfahan (Nāẓem-al-Eslām, II, p. 274; ʿOkkāša, p. 592). Eventually Sardār Asʿad himself, accompanied by his younger brother Yūsof Khan Amīr(-e) Mojāhed and his nephew Mortażāqolī Khan, the son of Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana, traveled to southern Iran by sea. En route he was greeted by Muslim and Parsi Iranians living in Aden and Bombay (Sayyāḥ, p. 613). Toward the end of Ṣafar, 1327/March, 1909, two and a half months after Baḵtīārī horsemen had attacked Isfahan and Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana had taken complete control of the city, ousting the state-appointed governor, Sardār Asʿad disembarked at Moḥammara (Ḵorramšahr; Moʿāṣer, p. 1055). There he was enthusiastically greeted by the British-installed ruler of Ḵūzestān Shaikh Ḵaẓʿal (Sayyāḥ, p. 613). Together they prepared a telegram demanding a return to constitutional government and expressing their loyalty to the monarchy and sent it via Ażod-al-Dawla. Their telegram also contained this ultimatum: “If by the second month, a warrant (dastḵaṭṭ) for the return of constitutional government is not issued, we shall resort to force” (Mostašār-al-Dawla, p. 233; Moʿāṣer, p. 1061). In the meantime, Shaikh Ḵaẓʿal, who was certain of British approval (Navāʾī, p. 7), sent a 10,000-toman draft to Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana in Isfahan (Sepehr, p. 599).

Sardār Asʿad sent his brother Amīr Mojāhed to Tehran to meet with and advise Baḵtīārī chiefs loyal to the shah (Malekzāda, p. 1094), and he himself traveled through Ḵūzestān to the Baḵtīārī region. He went directly to Jāneqān, where he delegated two of his relatives to raise an army (Sayyāḥ, p. 614). Finally on 23 Rabīʿ II 1327/14 May 1909 (Sayyāḥ, p. 628), at the head of an army of 1,500 horsemen and infantry, Sardār Asʿad entered Isfahan and joined forces with Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana’s 1,500 troops. The resulting 3,000-man army staged outside of Isfahan to prepare to march on Tehran (Dawlatābādī, III, p. 104). Several days earlier (11 Rabīʿ II 1327/2 May 1909), the two brothers had sent a telegram via the Austrian ambassador, the ranking diplomat in Tehran, to the representatives of other foreign countries, declaring that, since the Constitutionalists’ repeated demands had gone unanswered, they were going to Tehran to submit their entreaties to the shah in person and that because they feared that base and corrupt elements would try to prevent them, the aggrieved parties, from entering the capital, they had assembled what forces they could to accompany them to Tehran. They would not tolerate, whatever the pretext, the introduction of foreign troops into Iran and therefore requested the representatives of the great powers to maintain their neutrality and not to engage in any form of intervention (Sepehr, p. 560).

Already troubled by the revolt in the provinces and the movement of forces from Tabrīz and Rašt under the command of Sepahdār Tonokābonī, the shah’s anxiety grew upon hearing of Sardār Asʿad’s preparations. As a result of repeated visits by Russian and British diplomats, on 14 Rabīʿ II 1327/5 May 1909 he issued a proclamation concerning the renewal of elections and the opening of parliament (Nāẓem-al-Eslām, II, p. 439). This proclamation was greeted with popular rejoicing and festivities. Advised by the Russian and British consuls-general that marching on Tehran was now pointless, Sardār Asʿad had no choice but to return to Isfahan and disband his troops (Dawlatābādī, III, p. 104).

But a month later, when the shah’s promises proved false, Sardār Asʿad, after meetings with British Consul-General Grahame (Navāʾī, p. 7), on 27 Jomādā 1/16 June, set forth from Isfahan with 700 cavalrymen (Navāʾī, p. 13) and a number of Baḵtīārī khans and leaders (Malekzāda, p. 1096). After Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana’s rebellion and with Farmānfarmā having elected not to go to Isfahan to confront him (Nāẓem-al-Eslām, II, p. 285), the shah used false promises to get Amīr Mofaḵḵam Baḵtīārī and the horsemen under his command to undertake the mission. As Amīr Mofaḵḵam remained camped at Kāšān for nearly seven months, awaiting necessary supplies and provisions (Sepehr, p. 573), Sardār Asʿad, aware of the tribal warfare and feelings of revenge that would be provoked by a confrontation with his kinsmen and fellow Baḵtīārīs, decided to avoid the city. He traveled instead through Neyzār to Qom (Nāẓem-al-Eslām, II, p. 468; Navāʾī, p. 13). The advance battalion of the Sardār’s forces, composed of 200 cavalry under the command of his son Sardār(-e) Bahādor and two of the Sardār’s nephews, entered Qom on 6 Jomādā II/25 June (Nāẓem-al-Eslām, II, p. 468) and were welcomed by its chief administrator of religious property (motawallībāšī), who previously had had a taste of the Constitutionalists’ vengeance. They occupied the city and, in an unprecedented display of discipline, prevented any form of savagery. The next day Sardār Asʿad entered the city with the remainder of his troops (Dawlatābādī, III, p. 105; Nāẓem-al-Eslām, II, p. 469).

On 4 Jomādā II/23 June, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Sir Edward Grey, who saw Sardār Asʿad’s movements as counter to his own strategy, sent a telegram to his envoy in Tehran, Sir George Barclay, telling him in effect that serious steps must be taken to stop Sardār Asʿad from reaching Tehran and that it would be wise of him to give the Sardār the details of the program of reform promulgated by the two powers (Ketāb-e ābī III, p. 582).

As news of Sardār Asʿad’s arrival in Qom spread, the anxiety felt by the royalists increased. With Premier Saʿd-al-Dawla demanding action, on Barclay’s suggestion and with the approval of Sir Edward Grey, the Russian and British consuls-general were delegated to go to Qom and dissuade Sardār Asʿad from continuing his march on Tehran (Ketāb-e ābī III, p. 580; Nāẓem-al-Eslām, II, p. 456). The Sardār, however, did not accept their advice, saying, “The two embassies have been deceived; the shah does not have the slightest intention of establishing constitutional government” (8 Jomādā II/27 June; Ketāb-e ābī III, pp. 583, 637). During secret meetings with the British consul-general in Isfahan, Grahame, the Sardār said in effect: to stop now would be impossible; a great deal of money has been spent—besides I could not hope to receive a pardon from the shah (Barclay’s telegram, dated 6 Jomādā II 1327/25 June 1909; Moʿāṣer, pp. 1135, 1137).

A group of Ḵalaj freedom fighters (mojāhed) joined Sardār Asʿad’s troops in Qom (Nāẓem-al-Eslām, II, p. 519), and finally on 13 Jomādā II/2 July, he left Qom for Tehran (Moʿaser, p. 1146). Previously having cajoled a number of royalist Baḵtīārī leaders and mounted troops, e.g., Ḵosrow Khan Sardār Ẓafar, into joining him (ʿOkkāša, p. 595; Sayyāḥ, p. 619; Malekzāda, p. 1094), Sardār Asʿad again tried to avoid a confrontation with Amīr Mofaḵḵam by sending him a message stating that, if he did not stand in his way and, instead of battling his fellow Baḵtīārī, would fight the army in the north, he (Sardār Asʿad) was prepared to cede him all the wealth he possessed and to accept him as the permanent chief of the Baḵtīārī tribe. Amīr Mofaḵḵam did not accept his offer (ʿOkkāša, p. 596; Sayyāḥ, p. 642) and marched to Ḥasanābād to block Sardār Asʿad’s path. The Sardār reacted to this news by changing his route and going through Rebāṭ-e Karīm; there he held secret discussions with Amīr Mofaḵḵam but was unable to disabuse him of his loyalty to the shah (Sepehr, p. 181). Sardār Asʿad in turn rejected the arguments of G. Churchill and Major Stokes, representatives of the two powers, who were sent to dissuade him from attacking Tehran (Ketāb-e ābī III, p. 608) and traveled to Qarātappa. At the same time Sepahdār Tonokābonī, with whom Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana and Sardār Asʿad had been corresponding and had reached an understanding, decamped with a force of 750 mojāheds (Šarīf Kāšānī, pp. 392, 395) at Yengī-emām. Sardār Asʿad, whose army was a farsaḵ away, went to meet him personally (Sepehr, p. 182), and the two Constitutionalist commanders prepared their plan of attack on Tehran.

As the two armies, one from the north and the other from the south, were nearing one another around Qandīšāh, eight Baḵtīārī chiefs and relatives of the Sardār were mistakenly killed by some of Yeprem’s (Ephraim Saʿīd’s) mojāheds. As soon as he learned of the incident, Sardār Asʿad wisely decided to stop the Baḵtīārīs from avenging the murder and accepted the apologies of the mojāheds, thereby avoiding war between the two armies (Šarīf Kāšānī, p. 399; Navāʾī, p. 71; Malekzāda, p. 1181). The armies merged at Bādāmak (Sepehr, p. 581) and on 21 Jomādā II/17 July, engaged government forces commanded by Amīr Mofaḵḵam (Šarīf Kāšānī, p. 401). After three days of inconclusive fighting, the two Constitutionalist commanders, having formed a plan, set out for the capital by night (ʿOkkāša, p. 601). On 24 Jomādā/20 July (Sepehr, p. 581; Nāẓem-al-Eslām, II, p. 487), they entered Tehran through the Bahjatābād gate without encountering serious resistance from the Iranian officers of the Cossack brigade and settled in the Bahārestān buildings (Nāẓem-al-Eslām, II, p. 499; Moʿāṣer, p. 1143).

With the ousted shah having fled to the Russian legation and after a group of prominent Constitutionalist leaders had met in an extraordinary session of the assembly, Sardār Asʿad was chosen as minister of interior and Sepahdār Tonokābonī as minister of war (Bāmdād, Rejāl II, p. 451) in the new cabinet that was formed without a premier (28 Jomādā II 1327/24 July 1909). This was done despite the fact that most Constitutionalist statesmen and those with the country’s best interests at heart opposed having the two Constitutionalist military commanders in administrative posts of government (Mostašār-al-Dawla, p. 256; Šarīf Kāšānī, pp. 245, 445; Dawlatābādī, III, p. 122; Moḵber-al-Salṭana, p. 194). Be that as it may, Sardār Asʿad was apparently not inclined to accept the post, and had to be persuaded by Sepahdār Tonokābonī who insisted that he take it (Sepahsālār, p. 295; Moḵber-al-Salṭana, p. 194). Around ten months later, during the middle of Rabīʿ II, 1328/April, 1910 (Sepehr, p. 587), the Majles, at the insistence of Nāṣer-al-Molk (Dawlatābādī, III, p. 126), selected Sardār Asʿad as minister of war in the cabinet of Sepahdār Tonokābonī; but on 4 Rajab 1328/12 July 1910, with the formation of the Mostawfī-al-Mamālek cabinet, the two conquerors of Tehran left their cabinet posts and, with the consent of the Majles (which at this time had discretion over filling its empty seats), became deputies in the National Assembly. At this crucial juncture, with rebellion brewing in every corner of Iran and power struggles rife, the Baḵtīārī army under Sardār Asʿad’s general command and led by his son Sardār Bahādor (Jaʿfarqolī Khan who later received the title Sardār Asʿad from his father) in conjunction with Yeprem Khan and his army, distinguished themselves in putting down the rebels and claimants (such as Raḥīm Khan Čelpīānlū, Sālār-al-Dawla, and Sardār Aršad-al-Dawla); more important, they eliminated the difficulty posed by the transgressions of mojāheds who entered Tehran with Sattār Khan and Bāqer Khan (Sepehr, pp. 743-45).

In Ṣafar, 1329/February, 1911, Mostawfī-al-Mamālek’s cabinet fell and Sepahdār Tonokābonī became premier again; however, Sardār Asʿad was not prepared to accept a cabinet post. Two months later, when he was awarded the medal nešān-e qods and the sum of 6,000 tomans, he returned the medal to the state and gave the money to the Ministry of Sciences to spend on education (Sepehr, p. 590). Vexed by the unsettled state of affairs in Iran, on 1 Jomādā II 1329/3 June 1911 (ibid., pp. 590, 746), the Sardār traveled to Europe to continue treatment for his eyes. Even during his treatments, he engaged in discussions designed to place himself in the position of vice-regent or to replace the then vice-regent Nāṣer-al-Molk with Saʿd-al-Dawla, who was living in Switzerland at the time (Dawlatābādī, p. 215). Sardār Asʿad returned to Iran at the start of winter of that year (1329/1912; Sepehr, p. 746), and, in the absence of Vice-Regent Nāṣer-al-Molk (in Europe on the pretext that he was ill) and with Sepahdār Tonokābonī appointed governor of Azerbaijan as a result of a Russian ultimatum and incursion into northern Iran, became an influential figure in the country during Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana’s premiership (Dawlatābādī, II, pp. 215-17). However less than a year after he returned to Tehran, Sardār Asʿad lost his sight and strength in his limbs (Sepehr, pp. 747, 766) and retired to his home. He spent his remaining years, which coincided with the beginning of World War I, in dictating various books and in educational activities (ibid., p. 766); his house was always open to scholars and litterateurs. Sardār Asʿad died on 7 Moḥarram 1336/23 October 1917 at the age of sixty-three (Qazvīnī, p. 99; most of the available sources give the second half of Moḥarram as the date of his death. This mistake is probably due to the interval between his death in Tehran and his burial in Isfahan). The people of Tehran paid fitting tribute to his memory by closing schools and offices during the funeral procession (Moʿayyer-al-Mamālek, p. 72; Owžan, Waḥīd 4, p. 264), which brought the Sardār’s body to Isfahan for burial at the Takīa-ye Mīr (Sardār Ẓafar, 4, p. 950) of the Taḵt-e Fūlād cemetery (Moʿayyer-al-Mamālek, p. 72; Bāmdād, Rejāl II, p. 451).

Some Iranian historians who have tried to attribute the early 20th-century movement for constitutional government in Iran solely to British instruction and instigation insist that Sardār Asʿad was carrying out the policy of a foreign power during the affair (Bāmdād, Rejāl II, p. 451), without actually believing in popular government himself. Several facts can be cited which sustain this view: 1. the special relations the Baḵtīārī khans enjoyed with the British government and the services rendered by Esfandīār Khan in policing the roads of Ḵūzestān and the awards he received from Queen Victoria for his services; 2. more significantly, the agreement of Sardār Asʿad, Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana, and the other Baḵtīārī khans to a 3-percent instead of a 10-percent share of the oil company of the south (Owžan, Waḥīd 4, pp. 175, 176; Bāmdād, Rejāl II, p. 450); 3. the patriarchal tradition among the Baḵtīārī and the inviolable authority invested in the khan (Sayyāḥ, p. 625); 4. the British interest in and active encouragement of establishing a constitutional government and ending the absolute power of the shah, whose guarantor was the Russian czar; this was especially evident after the dissolution of the first Majles, when disturbances broke out in Azerbaijan and Russian influence among the leaders of the mojāheds of Tabrīz and Gīlān was likely and when the British were searching for a solution that would both bring peace to the country and also allow the monarchy to remain in the Qajar family (thereby eliminating the possibility of the Russians’ using the Treaty of Torkamāṇčāy to intervene). Despite these facts, study of Sardār Asʿad’s life makes it clear that he was not solely an agent of British policy; he was also a man devoted to popular government and the advancement of the nation. He was the product of an environment which was exceptional for Iran of that era; his father, Ḥosaynqolī Khan, in the face of all the prevailing tribal violence and cruelty, remained a man of poetic sensibility (he was the author of many verses in the Baḵtīārī dialect) and was respected by a reform-minded, progressive premier like Mīrzā Ḥosayn Khan Sepahsālār (Ẓell-al-Solṭān, p. 243). ʿAlīqolī Khan was himself also enthused about learning and possessed an inquiring mind and a spirit that sought reform and that was not polluted by many of the prejudices of the time (Major Stokes quoted in Sepehr, p. 642). Raised in an environment in which, because of the Baḵtīārī khans’ close ties to British officials and travelers (Wright, pp. 43-44; Sepehr p. 639), Sardār Asʿad met many Europeans in his youth, his desire to see Europe ultimately impelled him to travel there and made him a devoted admirer of European order and advancement. It is no wonder then that a man with such a background, who had direct experience with and bitter memories of Nāṣer-al-Dīn’s tyranny and the bloodshed and power of Ẓell-al-Solṭān, who witnessed firsthand the raids on the treasury made by Moẓaffar-al-Dīn Shah’s comrades, and who saw how greedy clerics kept the people in ignorance and superstition, would turn to the secret of European advancement in viewing the expansion of modern schools as the key to his country’s awakening and would join his voice to those of respected and progressive men who were calling for creation of schools and libraries before the announcement of the Constitution. It was during his second trip to Europe and his association with a group of the outstanding refugee intellectuals and reformers, who also resided in Paris and were often his guests, that he heard news of the remonstrations of Shaikh Fażl-Allāh Nūrī and like-minded clerics who supported the tyranny of Moḥammad-ʿAlī Shah in the name of the Koran and Islam and of the unleashing of bands of ruthless troops on the people, that he conceived a passion for constitutional government and the rule of law. It was Sardār Asʿad’s respect for law and order that restrained the Baḵtīārī tribe, long-accustomed to robbing and pillaging, from any form of such crimes after their conquests of Qom and Tehran.

Other historians view Sardār Asʿad’s basic motive as a desire to gain the crown for himself. While such ambition on his part is not out of the question, Sardār Asʿad was not uninformed; he knew of the Russian pledge to maintain the monarchy for the descendants of the vice-regent ʿAbbās Mīrzā, and he also had seen evidence of the coordination of Russian and British policy on Iran in that era. Moreover, his behavior after the conquest of Tehran suggests that he refrained from accepting the vice-regency (Owžan, Waḥīd 4, p. 217) and even had to be persuaded by Sepahdār Tonokābonī and other well-intentioned men to take the foreign affairs portfolio (Sepahsālār, p. 295). He took the post of minister of war at the insistence of Nāṣer-al-Molk (Dawlatābādī, III, pp. 126-27) but a year after Tehran was taken withdrew from public life altogether. Sardār Asʿad was apparently one of the few people who knew what the Constitutional revolution was all about. Thus, when the Armenian commander Yeprem Khan was chosen to be the head of the police force and Sepahdār Tonokābonī objected on the basis of his religion, Sardār Asʿad pointed out that under constitutional government the majority must rule (Šarīf Kāšānī, p. 409). For the same reason, after Tehran fell, he joined the so-called enqelābī group, the “democrats,” and sided more with such statesmen as Mošīr-al-Dawla, Moʾtaman-al-Molk, Ṣanīʿ-al-Dawla, Woṯūq-al-Dawla, and Taqīzāda, who favored the freedom and civilization of Europe (Šarīf Kāšānī, p. 409), unlike Sepahdār Tonokābonī, who joined the group known as eʿtedālīs with Sayyed ʿAbd-Allāh Behbahānī and sided with Sardār Moḥyī, Żarḡām-al-Salṭana, Bāqer Khan, and Sattār Khan (Dawlatābādī, III, pp. 127-40; Owžan, Waḥīd 4, p. 230).

Sardār Asʿad’s behavior was tempered by moderation (Qazvīnī, pp. 100-01) and was free of malice and revenge. When he was at the height of his power, he was humane in his treatment of his father’s murderer Ẓell-al-Solṭān and of Amīr Mofaḵḵam, who never wavered in his opposition to the Sardār (Malekzāda, pp. 1077, 1313; ʿOkkāša, p. 601; Owžan, Waḥīd 4, p. 214). During the first days after the conquest of Tehran, in response to Sepahdār Tonokābonī who decried the return of fugitive members of the first Majles, Sardār Asʿad brought calm by promising “Wait until we dethrone Moḥammad-ʿAlī, then we will think of something; it is too early now” (Sepahsālār, p. 295). After Colonel Liakhoff, commander of Moḥammad-ʿAlī Shah’s Cossack brigade, swore his allegiance to constitutional government, Sardār Asʿad allowed him to continue in his post (Mostašār-al-Dawla, p. 98).

So devoted to maintaining constitutional government was Sardār Asʿad that he personally confronted the rebellions of Sattār Khan and Bāqer Khan, who, while national heroes and the people’s favorites, were supported by armed mojāheds who were fomenting riots at the instigation of Sardār Moḥyī (Dawlatābādī, III, pp. 127-40). When these armed supporters refused to lay down their arms, despite all the proof of their complicity and the binding vote of the Majles, Sardār Asʿad sent his son Amir Bahādor along with Yeprem Khan to disarm them (Sepahsālār, p. 286; Sepehr, p. 744). He also sent his son and relatives with Baḵtīārī cavalry to fight rebels wherever they raised their heads ibid., p. 576; Shuster, pp. 90, 127; Owžan, p. 209). After hearing rumors of Sepahdār Tonokābonī’s secret dealings with the deposed shah (Shuster, p. 90), he sent him a reproachful telegram warning, “After having his share of life and fame, how could a man destroy his good name?” (Malekzāda, p. 1378).

While Sepahdār Tonokābonī was an emotional man, quick to anger and mercurial, Sardār Asʿad was the picture of virtue, steadfast, forgiving, farsighted, and a promoter of education (Bāmdād, Rejāl II, p. 451). More than anything else he focused on training the nation and the expansion of existing educational facilities. With his encouragement and resources, and occasionally under his own direction, several books written in European languages were translated into Persian and published (Qazvīnī, p. 99; Sepehr, pp. 44, 593; Bāmdād, Rejāl II, p. 451). Using his own funds he sent a number of young Baḵtīārīs, who had been educated in schools established by him (Rāʾīn, p. 26; Malekzāda, p. 1079; Sepehr, pp. 44, 593), to Europe for further education (Qazvīnī, p. 100; Bāmdād, Rejāl II, p. 451). He was a man beloved by the people, just, and uncorrupted by the graft-taking that was customary at the time (Mostašār-al-Dawla, p. 98; Bāmdād, Rejāl II, p. 451). He was also free of the boasting and immune to the kind of toadyism that was practiced in his day.

These qualities notwithstanding, after the initial uproar of the Constitutional movement died down and after Sardār Asʿad’s gradual withdrawal from public life, the Baḵtīārī chiefs reverted to their old nature, i.e., cupidity, and made forays into the already bankrupt public treasury (Shuster, pp. 122, 206; Sepahsālār, p. 299). These forays went so far, after Sardār Asʿad lost his sight and retired to his home, that the Baḵtīārī khans, who were often provincial rulers, vied with one another in possessing their own personal armies. In addition to official forces provided by the state, each ruling khan also maintained a number of Baḵtīārī horsemen, which sometimes reached 200 and whose pay was borne by the state treasury (Mostawfī, II, p. 368).



Ī. Afšār, Awrāq-e tāzayāb-e mašrūṭīyat wa naqš-e Taqīzāda, Tehran, 1359 Š./1980.

N. Dānešvar ʿAlawī, Tārīḵ-emašrūṭīyat-e Īrān wa jonbeš-e waṭanparastān-e Eṣfahān wa Baḵtīārī, Tehran, 1337 Š./1958.

Dawlatābādī, Ḥayāt-e Yaḥyā. M.-Ḥ. Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, Rūz-nāma-yeḵāṭerāt. Ketāb-e ābī: Goḏāreš-e maḥramāna-ye wezārat-e omūr-e ḵāreja-ye Englīs dar bāra-ye enqelāb-e Īrān, ed.

A. Bašīrī, Tehran, 1363 Š./1984.

M. Malekzāda, Tārīḵ-emašrūṭīyat-e Īrān, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1363 Š./1984.

Ḥ. Moʿāṣer, Tārīḵ-eesteqrār-e mašrūṭīyat dar Īrān, Tehran, 1347 Š./1968.

D. Moʿayyer-al-Mamālek, “Rejāl-e ʿa¡sr-e nāṣerī,” Yaḡmā 11, 1337 Š./1958.

M. Moḵber-al-Salṭana Hedāyat, Ḵāṭerāt o ḵaṭarāt, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1344 Š./1965.

Ṣ. Mostašār-al-Dawla, Ḵāṭerātwa asnād, ed.

Ī. Afšār, Tehran, 1362 Š./1983.

ʿA. Mostawtī, Šarḥ-e zendagānī-e man, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1343 Š./1964.

ʿA.-Ḥ. Navāʾī, Fatḥ-e Tehrān, 2536 = 1356 Š./1977.

M. Nāẓem-al-Eslām Kermānī, Tārīḵ-ebīdārī-e īrānīān, ed.

ʿA.-A. Saʿīdī Sīrjānī, Tehran, 1362 Š./ 1983.

Ḥ. Neẓām-al-Salṭana Māfī, Ḵāṭerāto asnād, Tehran, 1361 Š./1982.

E. Żayḡam-al-Salṭana ʿOkkāša, Tārīḵ-eīl-e Baḵtīārī, ed. F. Morādī, Tehran, 1365 Š./1986.

A. Owžan, “Tārīḵ-e Baḵtīārī,” Waḥīd 3-4, 1345-46 Š./1966-67. M. Qazvīnī, Yādgār 5/1-2.

E. Rāʾīn, Anjomanhā-ye serrī dar enqelāb-e mašrūṭīyat, Tehran, 1345 Š./1966.

E. Ṣafāʾī, Asnād e bargozīda-ye dawrān-e Qājārīya, Tehran, 2535 = 1355 Š./1976.

Ḥ.-Ḵ. Sardār Ẓafar, “Ḵāṭerāt-e Sardār Ẓafar Baḵtīārī,” Waḥīd 4.

M.-M. Šarīf Kāšānī, Wāqeʿat-e ettefāqīya dar rūzgār, Tehran, 1362 Š./1983.

M.-ʿA. Ḥājj Sayyāḥ, Ḵāṭerāt, ed. Ḥ. Sayyāḥ, Tehran, 1364 Š./1985.

M.-W. Sepahsālār Tonokābonī, Yaddāšthā-ye parākanda, comp. A.-ʿA. Ḵaḷʿatbarī, ed.

M. Tafażżolī, Tehran, 1362 Š./1983.

W. M. Shuster, The Strangling of Persia, New York, 1912.

ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Lesān-al-Salṭana Sepehr, Tārīḵ-ebaḵtīārī, Tehran, 1361 Š./1982.

D. Wright, The English amongst the Persians, London, 1977.

S. M. Ẓell-al-Solṭān, Tārīḵ-esargodašt-e masʿūdī, Tehran, 1362 Š./1983.

(ʿA.-A. Saʿīdī Sīrjānī)

Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Khan Šehāb-al-Salṭana, then Sardār(-e) Moḥtašam (1866?-1950), one of the few Baḵtīārī chiefs who played a national role after the Constitutional revolution (1324-27/1906-09). He was the sixth son of Emāmqoli Khan, known as Ḥājī Īlḵānī, founder of the younger branch of the Haft Lang, whose chiefs were titled ḵawānīn-e bozorg (great khans). After seven years in the service of Moḥammad Shah while still a prince, he was twice īlbegī and twice īlḵānī of the Baḵtīārī tribe between 1905 and 1921, and occupied a government position 1911-13, when the government was dominated by the Baḵtīārī chiefs. He was one of the few members of his family who was not arrested and executed in 1933. He died in Tehran in 1950 and is remembered as a pensive, courageous and extremely honest man.



J.-P. Digard, “Jeux de structures.

Segmentarité et pouvoir chez les nomades Baxtyâri d’Iran,” L’homme 102 (27/2), 1987, pp. 12-53.

G. R. Garthwaite, Khans and Shahs: A Documentary Analysis of the Bakhtiyari in Iran, Cambridge, 1983, passim.

(J.-P. Digard)

Ḥosaynqolī Khan, the son of Jaʿfarqolī Khan, from the Dūrakī clan of the Haft Lang, the first credible Baḵtīārī īlḵān. After his father was killed in 1252 Š./1836-37, he was adopted for a time by his paternal uncle and then entered the service of Manūčehr Khan Moʿtamed-al-Dawla (q.v.). After Moʿtamed-al-Dawla defeated and sent Moḥammad-Taqī Kanūrsī of the Čahār Lang (q.v.) into hiding, Ḥosaynqolī Khan prospered. As a reward for his services to Manūčehr Khan in this campaign, he was appointed deputy governor (nāyeb al-ḥokūma) of the Baḵtīārī region and gradually brought the other Baḵtīārī khans under his authority. He was ruthless in suppressing and executing his opponents; he ruled as the īlḵān of the entire Baḵtīārī region for close to forty years.

The length of Ḥosaynqolī Khan’s tenure and the spread of his influence began to concern Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah; he was especially worried by the Baḵtīārī īlḵān’s dealings with the British and the Grey-Mackenzie company. The shah was also troubled by the ever-increasing power of Ẓell-al-Solṭān in the central and southern parts of Iran; he thus dispatched Ḥājī Mīrzā ʿAbd-al-Ḡaffār Khan Najm-al-Molk to the Baḵtīārī regions on the pretext of estimating the costs of building the Ahvāz dam, but in actuality to gather intelligence on the size and strength of Ḥosaynqolī Khan’s forces. In the course of his detailed report to the shah on the extent of the īlḵān’s power and influence among the tribes of the south, Najm-al-Molk indicated that Ḥosaynqolī Khan possessed more than 1,000 mares, each of which was worth between 100 and 800 tomans. He concluded “his intentions are not honest, and these sentiments are deeply rooted among the Baḵtīārī.” Najm-al-Molk’s report confirms previous reports that Farhād Mīrzā Moʿtamed-al-Dawla, the ruler of Fārs, had prepared for the shah. Nāṣer-al-Dīn was therefore persuaded to have the īlḵān executed; he instructed his son Ẓell-al-Solṭān, the ruler of Isfahan, to put an end to the īlḵān. Ẓell-al-Solṭān invited the īlḵān to Isfahan, and the īlḵān complied, taking part in ceremonies to review his host’s troops. At the end of the ceremonies, his comment “One hundred Baḵtīārī horsemen are the equal of one thousand of such troops” provided greater impetus for Ẓell-al-Solṭān to carry out his plan. With the ceremonies over, Ẓell-al-Solṭān brought the īlḵān and his two sons, Esfandīār Khan and ʿAlīqolī Khan to government house for discussions; after separating him from his sons and imprisoning them, Ẓell-al-Solṭān issued the order to execute the īlḵān, which his agents carried out that night (27 Rajab 1299/14 June 1882). In addition to the ruthlessness and bravery requisite in the life and position of an īlḵān, Ḥosaynqolī was also a man of sensitivity and refined taste, who was famous for his Baḵtīārī dialect poetry.



S. Ẓ. Baḵtīārī, Yāddāšthā wa ḵāṭerāt , Tehran, 1362 Š./1983.

Bāmdād, Rejāl I, p. 442.

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

G. R. Garthwaite, Khans and Shahs: A Documentary Analysis of the Bakhtiari in Iran, Cambridge, 1983.

Ḥ. S. Maḥallātī, Safar-nāma, Tehran, 1356 Š./1977, pp. 279-80.

ʿA.-Ḡ. Najm-al-Molk, Safar-nāma, ed.

M. M. Dabīrsīāqī, Tehran, 1341 Š./1962, pp. 24, 47, 53, 76.

Ḥ. Saʿādat Nūrī, Ẓell-al-Solṭān, Tehran, 1347 Š./1968, pp. 156-203.

M. M. Ẓell-al-Solṭān, Tārīḵ-e masʿūdī, Tehran, 1362 Š./1983, pp. 286-311.

Jaʿfarqolī Khan Sardār(-e) Asʿad III, the eldest son of Ḥājī ʿAlīqolī Khan Sardār Asʿad II, born 1296/1878-79. In 1327/1909, he accompanied his father and the army of the south in their conquest of Tehran. After Moḥammad-ʿAlī Shah was removed and after the convening of the extraordinary session of the Majles to run the country, Jaʿfarqolī Khan was appointed to the ten-member revolutionary court, in which several opponents of constitutional government were tried and condemned to death. During this time, followers of the deposed Moḥammad-ʿAlī Shah were fomenting rebellion and attacking the property, persons, and wives of the populace throughout Azerbaijan, especially in the districts of Ardabīl and Arasbārān. The second Majles considered the creation of a force to suppress these rebellions a necessity. The leader of this force was Yaprim Khan who was accompanied on his campaigns by Jaʿfarqolī Khan and the Baḵtīārī cavalry. The successful quelling of the revolts added to Jaʿfarqolī’s popularity.

Until 1336/1917-18, Jaʿfarqolī was titled Sardār(-e) Bahādor; after the death of his father, he received the title Sardār Asʿad. In 1338/1919-20, he was appointed governor of Kermān and a short time thereafter became governor of Khorasan. With the advent of Reżā Shah, Jaʿfarqolī cooperated sincerely with the new shah, and, after Teymūrtāš was removed from office and imprisoned, his closeness to and standing with Reza Shah increased. However, at the outset of Āḏar, 1312 Š./November, 1933, when he was minister of war in the Forūḡī cabinet, Jaʿfarqolī was arrested by the order of Reżā Shah as he accompanied him on a tour of Māzandarān. He was arrested and several months later, on 13 Farvardīn 1313 Š./2 April 1934, word spread that Sardār Asʿad had died in jail. It was rumored that he was poisoned or executed in prison; he was not more than fifty-five when he died. Moḵber-al-Salṭana Hedāyat writes: “Sardār Asʿad was not tried, though it was said that the Baḵtīārī had been secretly supplied with weapons. Later, in meetings with the shah I heard [him say], "Yes, they want to bring Moḥammad-Ḥasan Mīrzā; there can be no more licentiousness than this." The shah said no more, but it was clear that he was referring to Sardār Asʿad. For my part, I have seen nothing but sincere devotion to the Pahlavī ruler by Sardār Asʿad, and I have my doubts about how he was characterized.”



Bāmdād, Rejāl I, pp. 245-46.

M. Moḵber-al-Salṭana Hedāyat, Ḵāṭerāt wa ḵaṭarāt, Tehran, 1344 Š./1965, pp. 199, 403.

ʿA. Mostawfī, Šarḥ-e zendagānī-e man, Tehran, 1325 Š./1946.

W. M. Shuster, The Strangling of Persia, New York, 1912.

(ʿA.-Ḥ. Navāʾī)

Loṭf-ʿAlī Khan Šojāʿ-al-Solṭān, then Amīr-e Mofaḵḵam, Baḵtīārī chief (1862-1946), fourth son of Emāmqolī Khan, known as Ḥājī Īlḵānī. As chief of the personal guard of Moḥammad-ʿAlī Shah Qājār, he was opposed to the march of the Baḵtīārīs on Tehran in July, 1909, and was one of the few Baḵtīārī chiefs not to participate in it. He was īlḵānī of the Baḵtīārī tribe 1930-33.

Moḥammad-Reżā Khan Sardār-e Fāteḥ (1885-1934), the ninth son of Emāmqolī Khan, known as Ḥājī Īlḵānī, founder of the younger branch of the Haft Lang, whose chiefs were titled ḵawānīn-e bozorg (great khans). He married a daughter of his paternal uncle Najafqolī Khan Ṣamsām-al-Salṭana (q.v.) and was the father of Šāpūr Baḵtīār (b. 1914 in Beirut), the last prime minister of Moḥammad-Reżā Shah Pahlavī (r. 1320-51 Š./1941-78). Sardār-e Fāteḥ received his title at the order of another paternal uncle, Ḥājī ʿAlīqolī Khan Sardār Asʿad II (q.v.), during the march of the Baḵtīārīs on Tehran in July, 1909. He was governor of Yazd in 1914 and of Isfahan in 1921, then īlegī of the Baḵtīārī tribe in 1930. He retired to Tehran in 1930, was arrested in 1933 together with several other members of his family, and was executed in prison in 1934.

Moḥammad-Taqī Khan, the last and most famous of the great Khans from the Čahār Lang faction of the Baḵtīārī tribe (d. 1851 in prison). Working for the political unity of the Baḵtīārīs, Moḥammad-Taqī Khan was arrested by Farhād Mīrzā Moʿtamed-al-Dawla, governor of Isfahan, in 1841, leaving the field open for his rival Ḥosaynqolī Khan (q.v.) of the Haft Lang fraction. The year 1841 marks the end of the Čahār Lang supremacy over the Baḵtīārī tribe.

Mortażāqolī Khan (1876?-1961 ), one of the last Baḵtīārī chiefs to have played an important political role. The only son of Najafqolī Khan Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana (q.v.) and grandson of Emāmqolī Khan, known as Ḥājī Īlḵānī, he was īlbegī, īlḵānī, and ḥākem of the Baḵtīārī tribe from 1925 to 1945. During this period he was a witness to all the stages of the transformation of the administration of the tribe: the abolition of the titles īlbegī and īlḵānī in 1933, the division of the territory of the tribe between the two provinces of Isfahan and Ḵūzestān in 1936, and the creation of the governorate of Čahār Maḥāl and Baḵtīārī in 1943. In 1946, Mortażāqolī Khan, who had married a daughter of the Qašqāʾī chief Ṣawlat-al-Dawla, was together with the Qašqāʾī brothers one of the leaders of the tribal uprising in Fārs (1325 Š./1946), the so-called “southern movement” (nahżat-e jonūb). This was fomented by the English in order to organize the secession of the southern tribal provinces and led to the reorganization of the cabinet by Prime Minister Aḥmad Qawām (Qawām-al-Salṭana; cf. Homayounpour, pp. 20, 165). Ousted by his cousin and rival Abu’l-Qāsem Khan of the Īlḵānī branch, Mortażāqolī Khan then ceased to play any political role.



Bāmdād, Rejāl III, p. 181 (Loṭf-ʿAlī Khan).

J.-P. Digard, “Jeux de structures. Segmentarité et pouvoir chez les nomades Baxtyâri d’Iran,” L’homme 102 (27/2), 1987, pp. 12-53.

G. R. Garthwaite, Khans and Shahs: A Documentary Analysis of the Bakhtiyari in Iran, Cambridge, 1983, passim.

P. Homayounpour, L’affaire d’Azarbaïdjan, Lausanne, 1967 (Mortażāqolī Khan).

A. H. Layard, “A Description of the Province of Khúzistán,” JRGS 16, 1846, pp. 1-105; idem, Early Adventures in Persia . . . , London, 1887 (Moḥammad-Taqī Khan).

(J.-P. Digar)

Najafqolī Khan Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana, an īlḵān of the Baḵtīārī tribe and prime minister of Iran after Moḥammad-ʿAlī Shah was deposed. The second son of Ḥosaynqolī Khan Īlḵānī, Najafqolī was born in 1270/1853-54 and was educated to the point of literacy while with the tribe. After his father was killed by Ẓell-al-Solṭān, the reigns of Baḵtīārī government fell into the hands of Najafqolī’s paternal uncles. When Ẓell-al-Solṭān was removed from the governorate of Isfahan in 1305/1887-88 and Najafqolī’s elder brother Esfandīār Khan was released from prison and made īlḵān, Najafqolī became his deputy (īlbegī). With his brother’s death in 1331/1913, Najafqolī assumed the office of īlḵān with the title Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana (the “sword of the sultanate”) and was given the governorate of the Čahār Maḥāl of the Baḵtīārī region.

After the bombardment of the Majles building, Mīrzā Moḥammad Khan Kāšī was appointed governor of Isfahan by Moḥammad-ʿAlī Shah; the new governor ended Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana’s short tenure as ruler of the Čahār Maḥāl region. It was not long, however, before the people of Isfahan, who had had their fill of the shah’s tyranny, were emboldened by news of the successful resistance against royal forces in Tabrīz. In Jomādā I, 1327/May-June, 1909, acting on the instructions of his younger brother, ʿAlīqolī Khan, who was in Europe at the time and in contact with expatriate liberationist circles, and after obtaining the agreement of Ḥājī Āqā Nūr-Allāh, an influential Isfahani mojtahed (spiritual leader) and supporter of constitutional liberty, and assurance of support from his paternal cousin Ḥājī Ebrāhīm Khan Żarḡām-al-Salṭana, Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana attacked and took Isfahan with a force of Baḵtīārī cavalry. The Qajar governor having fled without resisting, Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana became the governor of the province. After learning of the fall of Isfahan, Moḥammad-ʿAlī Shah first delegated Farmānfarmā to confront Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana; however, when Farmānfarmā declined, the shah turned to several loyal Baḵtīārī khans residing in the capital, among them Amīr Mofaḵḵam Sardār Ẓafar, and ultimately appointed Sardār Ašjaʿ to go to Isfahan. The loyalist khans started out for Isfahan, but, on the pretext of not having the necessary supplies, stopped near Kāšān. In the meantime, Sardār Asʿad ʿAlīqolī Khan, who had returned from Europe via Moḥammara, was sending messages to the Baḵtīārī khans asking them to refrain from familial warfare. He went to Baḵtīārī territory to gather forces and entered Isfahan. Around the time the army of the north was making for Tehran, Sardār Asʿad left Isfahan, also headed for the capital, and accompanied by Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana’s cavalry. The two armies finally took Tehran and forced the shah’s resignation.

Sometime later, with rumors rife in Tehran that Moḥammad-ʿAlī Shah was preparing to attack Iran, the cabinet of Sepahdār fell and Constitutionalist leaders, who needed Baḵtīārī cavalry to repel the shah’s impending invasion and put down other rebellions, chose Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana as prime minister with the portfolio of minister of war. With the help of the Majles, Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana announced a 100,000-toman reward for the capture of Moḥammad-ʿAlī Shah. The American financial agent W. Morgan Shuster (q.v.) also greatly aided the effort to finance the war and military preparations. Finally, with the killing of Aršad-al-Dawla and with Moḥammad-ʿAlī Shah’s attack neutralized, the Russians, using the pretext that Shuster’s efforts ran counter to the financial and nonmaterial interests of the Czarist state, sent a note of protest to Iran and moved their troops from Rašt to Qazvīn. Foreign Minister Woṯūq-al-Dawla visited the Russian embassy to apologize; however, the Russians told him that another ultimatum was in the offing. They demanded that Shuster and his colleagues leave Iran within forty-eight hours, stating that Iran had no right to hire foreign agents without the approval of the Russian and British governments. The British government sided with the Russians; however, the nation of Iran to a person stood up against this presumption, and the Majles rejected the ultimatum. The terrified Regent (nāyeb-al-salṭana) Nāṣer-al-Molk and Prime Minister Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana, however, accepted it and dissolved the second Majles (2 Moḥarram 1330/23 December 1911); as a result, Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana gained absolute control of the government and Baḵtīārī influence spread on all levels. During this period, the Russians bombarded the cupola of the Emām Reżā shrine and massacred people in Rašt, Tabrīz, and Urmia. In the south, the British, for their part, were eroding the rights of the people and the interests of the Iranian state. A year and a half later in Ṣafar, 1331/January, 1913, the government of Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana fell; he retired to his home until Jomādā II, 1337/March, 1918, when he again became prime minister. Four months later, however, because he was unable to cope with a severe famine and restore order in the country, Aḥmad Shah asked him to resign. When he declined, the shah removed him from office and asked Woṯūq-al-Dawla to form a new cabinet; Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana, though confined to his home, continued to assert that he was prime minister.

Two years later he was appointed governor of Khorasan in the government of Qawām-al-Salṭana; however, because of the revolt of Colonel Moḥammad-Taqī Khan Pesyān in Mašhad against Qawām-al-Salṭana and Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana’s devotion to Moḥammad-Taqī Khan, he refused to go to Khorasan (Ḵordād, 1300 Š./May-June, 1921). Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana spent the last years of his life in Čahār Maḥāl of the Baḵtīārī region and died there in 1309 Š./1930 at the age of 82. He was buried with military honors in the Taḵt-e Pūlād cemetery in Isfahan.

Ṣamṣām-al-Salṭana was a sincere man, passionately devoted to the cause of constitutional government. However, true to his tribal background, he ruled the government as a chief; he was also a generous and forgiving man. During his prime-ministership, a commercial council composed of six merchants and six representatives of the state was formed and the gendarmerie of Iran was created by Swedish officers.



Bāmdād, Rejāl I, p. 331.

G. R. Garthwaite, Khans and Shahs: A Documentary Analysis of the Bakhtiari in Iran, Cambridge, 1983.

Mostawfī, Šarḥ-e zendagānī II, pp. 388-89.

ʿA.-Ḥ. Navāʾī, Dawlathā-ye Īrān az āḡāz-e mašrūṭa tā ūltīmātom, Tehran, 1356 Š./1977.

E. Ṣafaʾī, Rahbarān-e mašrūṭa I, Tehran, 1362 Š./1983, pp. 223-56.

W. M. Shuster, The Strangling of Persia, New York, 1912.

(ʿA.-Ḥ. Navāʾī)

Naṣīr Khan Ṣārem-al-Molk, then Sardār-e Jang (1864-1932), Baḵtīārī chief, fifth son of Emāmqolī Khan, known as Ḥājī Īlḵānī. As a commander of the cavalry regiment stationed in Tehran at the outbreak of the Constitutional revolution, he was one of the few Baḵtīārī chiefs who remained favorable to the Qajars. He was īlḵānī during World War I. In the eyes of the Baḵtīārīs, he remains a legendary figure as a fierce warrior of indomitable courage.



J.-P. Digard, “Jeux de structures. Segmentarité et pouvoire chez les nomads Baxtyâri d’Iran,” L’Homme 102(27/2), 1987, pp. 12-53.

G. R. Garthwaite, Khans and Shahs: A Documentary Analysis of the Bakhtiyari in Iran, Cambridge, 1983, passim.

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 بختیاری bakhtiari  bakhtiaary  bakhtiyaree


(ʿA.-A. Saʿīdī Sīrjānī, J.-P. Digard, ʿA.-Ḥ. Navāʾī)

Originally Published: December 15, 1988

Last Updated: December 15, 1988

This article is available in print.
Vol. III, Fasc. 5, pp. 543-551