FĀRS iv. History in the Qajar and Pahlavi Periods



iv. History in the Qajar and Pahlavi Periods

In the 19th and 20th centuries Persia underwent major political, social and economic changes which had particular repercussions in Fārs. This article reviews the nature of these changes and the course of major historical events in the province of Fārs in two sections: Fārs under the Qajars and Fārs under the Pahlavis.


The history of Fārs in the Qajar period (1794-1921) was marked by a number of events and developments: the rule of dozens of prince-governors; Britain’s domination of the Persian Gulf, which brought Fārs under its influence; the opening of Suez Canal, which led to the rapid increase in the flow of commodities to the ports of Fārs; formation of a binary division of the Qašqāʾī and Ḵamsa tribal confederacies; continuation in local autonomy of tribal Khans and influential landowners; semi-autonomy of urban notables; the increasing role of the ʿolamāʾ in provincial politics; and a number of urban disturbances which, combined with tribal unrest, caused frequent disorder in the province.

Governors and viziers vs. khans and kalāntars. The Qajar provincial administration was arranged on two sets of temporary and permanent positions. The first set included the governor-general and the vizier who, representing the shah and central government, were appointed from Tehran and often served for a short term, ranging from several months to several years (see Table 1). The governor-general often served as the commander of the provincial army, whereas the vizier was primarily in charge of tax administration. The second set comprised the local administrators whose positions were often hereditary and permanent, including tribal khans, county governors (ḥākem), district deputy governors (nāyeb al-ḥokūma or kalāntar). An important, basic local position was the kalāntar or supervisor of a number of headmen (kadḵodās) of villages, tribal clans (ṭāyefas), urban quarters (maḥallas), or guilds (aṣnāf). The bases of political power of these local chiefs were land ownership, military force, official position, or combinations thereof. In most cases it was official position and tribal military power that led to land ownership. A landowner without political power often lost his property to powerful office-holders or tribal chiefs (for illuminating cases in Fārs, see Lambton 1967; Qāʾem-maqāmī, pp. 29-116). While acknowledging the nominal sovereignty of the shah and his provincial governors and viziers, the tribal khans and kalāntars of Fārs and, more specifically, those of powerful Qašqāʾī and Ḵamsa tribal confederacies remained autonomous in their local affairs and performed a pivotal role in politics of the region. Also important in the provincial political hierarchy were the ʿolamāʾ and wealthy merchants (tojjār) who often used the bāzār-mosque alliance to mobilize popular movements against the governing notables (Ashraf, 1988).

Prince-governors. Āḡā Moḥammad Khan and Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah (qq.v.) revived the Saljuq practice of assigning governorship of provinces to princes of royal blood. As a result, for much of the Qajar period, Fārs was entrusted to prince-governors who ran the provincial administration with the assistance of a vizier. Following the overthrow of the Zand dynasty and the coming into power of the Qajars in the 1790s, Āḡā Moḥammad Khan moved the capital to Tehran from Shiraz and in January 1795 assigned Fārs and Kermān provinces to his nephew Bābā Khan Jahānbānī (later Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah) who governed Fārs until 1797 when Āḡā Moḥammad Khan was killed and Bābā Khan hastened to Tehran to establish his claim to the throne (Hedāyat, Rawżat al-ṣafā IX, pp. 260-61, 305-7; Sepehr, I, p. 71).

Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah handed over the governorship of Fārs in 1797 and 1798 to two Qajar notables, and, in the following year, to his nine year-old son, Ḥosayn-ʿAlī Mīrzā with the title Farmānfarmā (q.v.) and with Čerāḡ-ʿAlī Khan Navāʾī as his mentor and vizier. Ḥosayn ʿAlī Mīrzā served in the office for over 36 years until the death of his father in 1834 when he claimed the throne and had his name read in the ḵoṭba and coins were struck in his name. But Moḥammad Shah, who had already been enthroned in Tehran, appointed his brother Fīrūz Mīrzā governor of Fārs and sent Manūčehr Khan Moʿtamad-al-Dawla to repossess the province. Fīrūz Mīrzā’s forces conquered Fārs and the Shah granted him the title Farmānfarmā (q.v.; Hedāyat, Rawżat al-ṣafā IX, pp. 360-61, X, pp. 92-95, 138-40, 156-58; Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, Montaẓam-e nāṣerī, ed Reżwānī, III, p. 1454, 1620-21, 1630-31; Eʿteżād-al-Salṭana, pp. 431-34). During the 130 years of the Qajar era more than thirty governors ruled in Fārs, with princes of royal blood occupying the office for over 100 years of that period (Table 1).

Viziers of Fārs. Some of the noted viziers of Fārs in the earlier Qajar period were Čerāḡ-ʿAlī Khan Navāʾī (1214-20/1799-1805), Moḥammad-Nabī Khan (1323-24/1808-9), Mīrzā Yūsof Ašrafī (1224-29/1809-14) who founded Bāzār-e Mīrzā Yūsofī in Shiraz, Moḥammad-Zakī Khan Nūrī (1338-44/1823-29), Moḥammad-ʿAlī Khan Mošīr-al-Molk (1243-62/1820-46, intermittently) and his son Abu’l-Ḥasan Khan Mošīr-al-Molk (1262-93/1846-76), and Mīrzā Fatḥ-ʿAlī Khan Ṣāḥeb(-e) Dīvān (1298-1305/1881-88; see Table 1, n. 4). Serving as the viziers of Fārs for about half a century, the Mošīr-al-Molks contended for provincial power with both Qawāmī family and the Qašqāʾī īlḵānī, the main actors of the provincial power structure (see below). In his long term in the office, Abu’l-Ḥasan Khan founded three magnificent monuments in Shiraz, including a mosque (Masjed-e Mošīr), and a building for the ritual of mourning for Imam Ḥosayn (Ḥosaynīya-ye Mošīr; q.v.), and a caravansary (Kārevānsarā-ye Mošīr), and a number of caravansaries and bridges in the province. Abu’l-Ḥasan Khan was dismissed from office, disgraced and bastinadoed in 1876 by the order of Farhād Mīrzā Moʿtamad-al-Dawla (q.v.), the new governor-general of Fārs (Fasāʾī, Fārs-nāma, ed. Rastgār, I. pp. 676, 702, 739, 766, 771, II, pp. 966, 976, 982, 1069-72; Ḥosaynqolī Khan Māfī, I, pp. 56-59).

Kalāntars and beyglarbeygīs. The office of the mayor (kalāntar or beyglargeygī) of the provincial capital of Shiraz became the most important part of the provincial power structure in the Qajar period. Overseeing the headmen of the city quarters and guilds, the kalāntar was responsible for law enforcement in the city as well as for collecting the assigned taxes from the residents of the town. The office of the kalāntar of Shiraz was the hereditary position of the clan of Qawām-al-Molks, the descendants of Mīrzā Hāšem who assumed the position of the kalāntar of one-half of the city quarters in the early Nāder Shah’s period in 1160/1754. His son, Ebrāhīm Khan Eʿtemād-al-Dawla (q.v.), rose to the office of kalāntar of Shiraz and to the governorship of Fārs and, finally served as the first grand vizier of the Qajars from 1209/1795 until 1215/1801 when he was executed. Eʿtemād-al-Dawla’s son, Mīrzā ʿAlī-Akbar Khan assumed the hereditary position of the kalāntar of Shiraz in 1226/1811, a position which remained in his clan until the fall of the Qajars in 1925. He was later granted the title Qawām-al-Molk, which had been inherited by his descendants for over four generations (Fasāʾī, Fārs-nāma, ed Rastgār, II, pp. 960-70; Saʿīdī, ed., Waqāyeʿ-e ettefāqīya, passim; see further below).

Excessive taxation. The main function of governors and their viziers was to collect the designated tax revenue from the subjects with the assistance of khans and kalāntars and transfer it to the Shah’s treasury and also to maintain law and order in the region. Next to Azerbaijan, Fārs collected the highest revenue among various provinces and districts of Persia. For instance, in the last decades of the 19th and early decades of the 20th centuries the total revenue of Fārs was about 6.7 mil. qerāns (about 13 percent of the revenue of all provinces combined; Curzon, Persian Question II, pp. 480-82; Jamālzāda, p. 123). It was in the personal interest of most governors to extract as much tax as possible (madāḵel). The practice of “sale of offices,” begun during the Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah’s reign (1848-96), increased the burden on the subjects. Considering that the average length of governor’s term of office was 2.3 years under Moḥammad Shah, 3 years under Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah, about 1 year under Moẓaffar-al-Dīn Shah, and less than 1 year during the Constitutional era (calculated from Table 1), the governors, many of whom borrowed the required cash from merchants, resorted to exacting excessive taxes in order to repay their debts (for an unusual example involving Šoʿāʿ-al-Salṭana, see Qāʾem-maqāmī, pp. 419-58). Moḥammad Moṣaddeq-al-Salṭana, who served as the last governor of Fārs in the Qajar era, related in his memoirs how the provincial magnates provided the governors with a fund matching their formal salary (Table 2).

Oppression and rebellion. Factional conflicts among urban and tribal notables, coupled with the ʿolamāʾ’s increasing role in urban politics and the discontent prevailing among the people, brought about numerous protests against governors and viziers of Fārs, including five major riots: in 1224/1809 against Moḥammad-Nabī Khan; in 1255/1839 against Fereydūn Mīrzā Farmānfarmā; in 1264/1848 against Ḥosayn Khan Neẓām-al-Dawla; in 1309/1892 against Solṭān Oways Mīrzā Eḥtešām-al-Dawla; in 1323/1905 against Malek-Manṣūr Mīrzā Šoʿāʿ-al-Salṭana (Fasāʾī, Fārs-nāma, ed. Rastgār, pp. 78, 686, 788-90; Garmrūdī, pp. 139-86; Saʿīdī, ed., Waqāyeʿ-e ettefāqīya, pp. 306-98; Moḵber-al-Salṭana Hedāyat, 1984, pp. 304-7; Qāʾem-maqāmī, pp. 40-116).

The available sources prepared by the official chroniclers only report major urban riots and tribal unrest. They are, however, silent on recurrent oppressive measures often adopted by officials and frequent protests involving urban notables and their subjects. Waqāyeʿ-e ettefāqīya, the unique eyewitness news of local events, reported by a British agent in Shiraz in the last three decades of the 19th century, is replete with invaluable information concerning the continuous oppression and protests in the region (Table 3).

The reports show that in 30 years from 1874-1904 the people of Fārs were victims of numerous oppressive measures inflicted by government agents, including excessive taxation, confiscation of property, looting of communities, intrusion into private matters by government agents, etc. Incited by the factional politics of local notables and rallying the support of the ʿolamāʾ, the people of Fārs and, more specifically the inhabitants in Shiraz, mobilized numerous collective protests against the governors in this period through such non-violent collective action as submitting complaints and taking sanctuary in holy shrines to violent collective action that included urban riots (Table 3). Also playing an important part in these protests were the ʿolamāʾ who led or supported urban movements in 62 reported instances (Saʿīdī, ed., Waqāyeʿ-e ettefāqīya, p. 787). The number of these cases increased considerably in the last two decades of the Qajar rule when the central government weakened and provincial leaders gathered considerable power (see below).

A binary tribal division. The formation of a binary division of Qašqāʾī and Ḵamsa tribal confederacies and their continuous rivalry became one of the main features of the history of Fārs in the latter half of the 19th and early 20th centuries. During the early Qajar period the Qašqāʾī īlḵānīs and īlbegīs (qq.v.) became prominent contenders of power in Fārs and often clashed with the powerful Qawāmī clan. As early as 1841 Baron de Bode (p. 181) found Shiraz “divided into two rival camps,” led by Moḥammadqolī Khan, īlbegī of the Qašqāʾīs, and Mīrzā ʿAlī-Akbar Qawām-al-Molk, kalāntar of the city. To neutralize the power of Qašqāʾīs and establish a balance of power in the region, Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah ordered, in 1861, the formation of a new tribal confederacy of five tribes under ʿAlī-Moḥammad Khan Qawām-al-Molk. The five tribes (Īl-e Ḵamsa) included Bahārlū, Bāṣerī, ʿArab, Īnālū, and Nafar (Fasāʾī, Fārs-nāma, ed. Rastgār, p. 967), which had been loosely affiliated with the Qašqāʾī confederacy for many years (Oberling, p. 65). The binary tribal division was further complicated by internal conflicts among sub-tribal (tīras, ṭāyefas) khans of both confederacies and external tribal forces in the region and in the neighboring provinces, including Mamassanī and Boir Aḥmadīs in the northwest, and minor tribes of Kāzerūn, Lārestān, Borāzjān, Daštī and Daštestān in the west and south, and the Baḵtīārīs in the northern frontier of the province.

According to Waqāyeʿ-e ettefāqīya (Saʿīdī, ed., pp. 780-81) in 30 years from 1874-1904 the province of Fārs witnessed numerous tribal unrest, including 91 cases of tribal infighting, 32 cases of tribal uprisings, 96 cases of major caravan robberies, and 62 cases of plundering of urban and rural communities. The number of these cases increased rapidly in the first two decades of the 20th century, when the authority of the central government was eroded substantially (see below). In this period Esmāʿīl Khan Ṣawlat-al-Dawla Qašqāʾī and three chiefs of the Qawāmī clan (Qawām-al-Molks) became the main actors in the politics of the region, and their consent was imperative for the appointment and successful functioning of governors of Fārs as shown, e.g., in the case of Moḵber-al-Salṭana in 1912-15 (see below) and that of Moṣaddeq-al-Salṭana in 1920 (see Table 2).

The opening of the Suez Canal and the flow of commodities via the Bušehr-Shiraz-Isfahan route in the 1870s-1910s provided the tribal khans with a golden opportunity to acquire their share of the new wealth either as toll collectors, as highway patrols, or as tribal bandits and caravan robbers. While the Shiraz to Isfahan road crossed over the border line between the Qašqāʾī and Ḵamsa summer camps, the Shiraz to Bušehr route passed through the Qašqāʾī winter camps, and the route in the vicinity of Bušehr was under the control of Borāzjānī, Tangestānī, Daštī, and Daštestānī khans.

The binary tribal division in Fārs became more complicated when Great Britain found a natural ally among the Qawāmīs, who, with the exception of Moḥammad-Reżā Khan Qawām-al-Molk (1268-1325 /1852-1907), collaborated with the British. British ties with the Qawāmīs helped promote the interest of the two parties in establishing stability in the region for the flow of commodities via the Bušehr-Shiraz-Isfahan route. Furthermore, the Qawāmīs, who were considered by the British as sophisticated Shirazis and administered the affairs of Ḵamsa tribes indirectly from the city, “could not be held responsible for their predatory activities to the extent that the Qašqāʾī ilkhani, who lived with his tribesmen and wielded absolute power could” (Oberling, p. 88n; see also Bayāt, 1986, p. 24.). The close ties of Qawāmī clan with the British nurtured a feeling of Anglophobia among the Qašqāʾī Khans and led to several clashes between them and the British forces. The uneasy Anglo-Qašqāʾī relations continued during the First and Second World Wars, when the Qašqāʾīs sided with Germany against the British in Fārs (see below).

The British and the transit route. The British ascendency in southern Persia came after two ill-fated expeditions to Herāt, first by Moḥammad Shah in 1834 and later by Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah in 1857. The British swiftly reacted by occupying Ḵārg Island in 1834 and Bušehr and Moḥammara (later Ḵorramšahr) in 1857 and forcing the Persian army to retreat from Herāt. In the Anglo-Persian war of 1856-57 the tribal forces in the Bušehr area, consisting of Qašqāʾī riflemen and Aḥmad Khan Tangestānī and his men, marched against the British occupation forces (Fasāʾī, Fārs-nāma, ed. Rastgār, pp. 772-76, 808-17; Wilson, 1928, pp. 254-73; Oberling, pp. 64-66; Farrāšbandī; Outram). Britain’s influence was also enhanced by the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 which led to the rapid flow of British merchandise to the region. The main British interest in Fārs throughout the period from the 1870s to the 1910s was, therefore, the maintenance of security on the transit route from Bušehr to Shiraz and Isfahan, which passed through a vast area controlled by the Qašqāʾī and Ḵamsa tribes (see below). Many of the historical events and developments in the province of Fārs in the last three decades of the Qajar period were thus caused by the interaction between the British and major provincial groups and personalities, including local governors, tribal khans, landowners, urban notables, and the ʿolamāʾ.

Fārs as a transit mart. The transfer of the capital from Shiraz to Tehran in the early Qajar period and the emerging political, strategic, and economic importance of the northern provinces led to a period of neglect in Fārs. Travelers in the early 19th century emphasize the decay evident in southern Persia (Lambton, 1970; Hambly, pp. 574-77). However, the opening of the Suez Canal, with its considerable reduction in distance, coupled with the vast improvements made in steam navigation, lowered maritime freight rates by approximately two-fifths in the two decades extending from the early 1870s to the early 1890s. Furthermore, the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 and Russia’s protectionist policies, shutting its northern transit routes to foreign commodities, led to the diversion from Azerbaijan to the ports of Būšehr and Lenga of a large portion of the imports to Persia. These changes brought the province of Fārs into the arena of international trade and led to a period of relative prosperity in the province (Curzon, Persian Question II, p. 558; Command Papers, Cd. 465, p.16; Cd. 2460, pp. 241-60; Ashraf, 1987, pp. 1-4). In the early 1870s only a monthly steamer visited the Persian Gulf Ports, whereas in the last decade of the century the annual number of steamers arriving at the major ports of the Persian Gulf increased to 339 vessels, 60 percent of which arrived at Bušehr and Lenga ports (Lorini, pp. 420-28; Curzon, Persian Question II, pp. 572-75; Command Papers, Cd. 465, pp. 1-16; 1876, pp. 200, 202; Cd. 2460, pp. 241-60). During the period from 1874 to 1895 the total value of exports and imports via the the Persian Gulf ports increased from ć1.7 to ć3.0 million and in the year 1913-14 it reached over ć4.5 million (Busch, Appendix F; Command Papers, Cd. 1616, pp. 200, 202; Ashraf, 1987, pp. 1-4). Bušehr, which accounted for over one-third of the total value of the annual trade of the major Persian Gulf ports in the last quarter of the 19th century, became the principal port of the Persian Gulf. Furthermore, it was described, along with the city of Tabrīz, as “being the principal marts of the trade of Persia with foreign countries” (Command Papers, Cd. 3131, p. 495).

The location of Shiraz on the principal caravan route from Bušehr to Isfahan and the capital city of Tehran led to its increased role in foreign trade. The city’s commerce subsequently flourished in the last quarter of the century, and the total value of its import and export trade exceeded one million pounds sterling annually. Shiraz thus ranked, along with Tabriz, as one of the two principal trade centers of the country. The prosperous and ambitious Shirazi merchants engaged more and more actively in exporting opium, cotton, wool, carpets, tobacco, hides and skin, horses and mules, dried fruits, etc., and in return imported cotton goods, sugar and tea, spices, metals, indigo, glass and china, and other commodities (Ashraf, 1987, pp. 7-10).

The opening, in the 1890s, of commercial navigation route on the Kārūn River between Moḥammara and Šuštar and construction of a mule track from Šuštar to Isfahan by the Lynch Company marked a diversion in the trade route from Bušehr-Isfahan-Tehran to Moḥammara-Isfahan-Tehran (Busch, Appendix F)..

Fārs from 1891-1921. The power of local notables and the ʿolamāʾ was on the rise during the period from the last decade of the 19th to the first two decades of the 20th centuries when the central government lost its tenuous control over the provinces of the country. Fārs was the scene of recurrent disturbances in this period and particularly in the course of the Tobacco Protest of 1891-92, the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-11 (q.v.), and the First World War.

The Tobacco Protest. The awarding of the Tobacco Concession (Tobacco Régie) to Major Talbot, a British subject, led to strong opposition and protest by tobacco merchants in Shiraz, Tabrīz and Tehran. An additional source of anti-British resentment of Shirazi merchants was their dissatisfaction with the Imperial Bank’s operations, “[t]he Bank, more than the Regié, has caused dissatisfaction among the people here” (the British agent from Shiraz reported, as cited in Keddie, p. 68). Finally, Sayyed ʿAlī-Akbar Fāl-asīrī (q.v.), a leading cleric who had gained prominence in the 1880s by inciting his followers against Jews on several occasions, instigating the demolition of the newly-constructed tomb of Ḥāfeẓ in Shiraz, and applying the šarīʿa code of punishment, became the key figure in stirring up the Tobacco Protest in Fārs (Saʿīdī, ed., Waqāyeʿ-e ettefāqīya, pp. 139-41, 160, 264-66, 373-77, 337-39, 374-80, 392-94).

Tobacco merchants in Shiraz, the center of a major tobacco growing area, felt the effects of the concession at an early stage and mobilized in April 1891, with the support of Fāl-asīrī, a major movement against the tobacco concession. When Fāl-asīrī was exiled to Iraq on 8 Šawwāl 1308/17 May 1891, about three to four thousand men and women gathered in the Shrine of Šāh(-e) Čerāḡ to protest the governor’s order, while the ʿolamāʾ refused to offer religious services in public (Saʿīdī, ed., Waqāyeʿ-e ettefāqīya, pp. 378-80). Finally, in Jomādā II 1309/December 1891 when an edict (fatwā) attributed to Mīrzā Moḥammad Ḥasan Šīrāzī, the leading source of emulation (marjaʿ-e taqlīd), directed the believers to abstain from smoking, new disturbances erupted in the province and opposition against the concession took a more serious turn in Tehran, leading to the cancellation of the concession a month later. Fāl-asīrī returned to Shiraz triumphantly in March 1892 (ibid., pp. 392-94; 400-401; Teymūrī, pp. 60-70, 72, 103-92; Keddie, pp. 95-97).

The Constitutional Revolution. The avarice of Malek-Manṣūr Mīrzā Šoʿāʿ-al-Salṭana, Moẓaffar-al-Dīn Shah’s son and prince-governor of Fārs, who routinely confiscated large number of prosperous villages and imposed oppressive measures on the people during his two terms of governorship of Fārs, in 1901-2 and in 1904-5, is considered to be the main factor in pushing both large and small landowners, the ʿolamāʾ, and the bāzārīs of Shiraz to join the Constitutional Revolution (Saʿīdī, ed., Waqāyeʿ-e ettefāqīya, pp. 629-67; Qāʾem-maqāmī, pp. 28-38). The ʿolamāʾ and notables of Fārs informed the shah of their discontent and the tyranny of the prince-governor and mobilized an effective protest movement against him in the fall of 1905. Mīrzā Ebrāhīm Šarīf Šīrāzī led the clerics of Shiraz in the movement and Sayyed ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Lārī, a militant cleric of Lārestān, moved to Shiraz with armed men to support the protesters. From Rajab to Šawwāl 1323/September to December 1905 the bāzārs of Shiraz were closed down and merchants, artisans, and the ʿolamāʾ took refuge in the Shrine of Šāh (-e) Čerāḡ, while armed men besieged the citadel. When Šoʿā ʿ-al-Salṭana was forced to leave the country in early fall the shah dispatched Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Khan Ṣāḥeb-Eḵtīār (q.v.) to pacify the people of Fārs in late December. Meanwhile, in Kāzerūn the local sayyeds had sought sanctuary in holy sites and tradesmen closed their shops; in Fasā several demonstrators were killed. Violent protests also broke out in Behbahān, Borāzjān, and Daštestān. The khans of Bahmaʾī and Boir Aḥmadī tribes refused to pay tax, and highway robbers made roads insecure. Following these disturbances Ṣāḥeb-Eḵtīār was removed from office in June 1906. Once again, the bāzār of Shiraz was closed down to protest his removal and the intrigues of Šoʿāʿ-al-Salṭana (Qāʾem-maqāmī, pp. 40-116). The bitter rivalry and infighting among local notables continued unabated in the province and in October 1907 Sayyed ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Lārī, supported by Qašqāʾī riflemen, marched to Shiraz to oppose the Qawāmī clan. In March 1908 Moḥammad-Reżā Khan Qawām-al-Molk, a leading anti-Constitutionalist figure, was assassinated. The Spring of 1908 witnessed the increasing activities of several Constitutionalist associations in Shiraz which lasted until 23rd of June when Moḥammad-ʿAlī Shah bombarded the Majles and suspended the constitutional movement (Woṯūqī and Kamālī Sarvestānī, pp. 23-30).

In 1909 Sayyed ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Lārī led a rebellion in southern and south eastern districts of Fārs and issued postal stamps and ruled Lārestān until the spring of 1915 when Moḵber-al-Salṭana, the governor-general of Fārs, dispatched a contingent under Ḥabīb-Allāh Khan Qawām-al-Molk to pacify Lārestān; the latter succeeded in putting down the rebellion and began to collect taxes from the region (Tārīḵ-e bīdārī, ed. Saʿīdī, pp. 278, 318, 337, 357, 395; Āyat-Allāhī, pp. 52-80; Moḵber-al-Salṭana Hedāyat, 1984, p. 325).

Ṣawlat-al-Dawla’s fortune rose in 1911 when his old friend Reżāqolī Khan Neẓām-al-Salṭana, who owned a number of large estates in the Qašqāʾī zone of influence, was appointed governor-general of Fārs. Qawām-al-Molk and his brother Naṣr-al-Dawla were arrested by the order of the new governor and only after increasing pressure from Tehran Neẓām-al-Salṭana consented to send them to Europe. On their way to Bušehr, they were ambushed near Shiraz by some Qašqāʾīs; Naṣr-al-Dawla was killed but Qawām-al-Molk managed to escape and take refuge in the British Consulate. During the summer of the same year civil war broke out in the province and later engulfed the city. The governor’s forces along with Qašqāʾī warriors took position in the western quarters of Shiraz and the Qawāmī forces on the eastern parts of the town. With Ḵamsa reinforcement (primarily the Arab tribesmen) and British support Neẓām-al-Salṭana was expelled from the town and Qawām-al-Molk was appointed as acting governor-general (Moḵber-al-Salṭana Hedāyat, 1950, pp. 314-15; Oberling, pp. 90-111).

When Moḵber-al-Salṭana was appointed as the governor-general of Fārs in 1912, he managed a working relations with Ṣawlat-al-Dawla and Mīrzā Ḥabīb-Allāh Khan Qawām-al-Molk. He reestablished peace and order in Fārs and, particularly, in the transit route of Bušehr-Shiraz-Isfahan. In this he enjoyed the help of the tribal leaders and the gendermerie (q.v.), which had recently been established by Swedish officers (Moḵber-al-Salṭana Hedāyat, 1950, pp. 316-19; Bayāt, 1994, pp. 9-19).

World War I. During the First World War, the province of Fārs became the stage for a fierce Anglo-German rivalry and a brutal struggle between their agents and allies among tribal khans and local notables. The British camp registered the support of Ḥabīb-Allāh Qawām-al-Molk and his son Ebrāhīm Khan, and part of the Ka¨msa tribes as well as khans of Ḥayāt-dāwūdī, Līrāvī, and Šabānkāra clans. The pro-German camp rallied the support of Swedish and some Persian officers of the gendarmerie of Fārs and their allies in the Democrat Party of the province (Ḥezb-e demokrāt-e Fārs), a number of local khans in Kāzerūn-Bušehr area, including Nāṣer Dīvān Kāzerūnī and Raʾīs ʿAlī Dolvārī. Shaikh Jaʿfar Maḥallātī, a leading Shirazi cleric also joined the pro-German camp by publicly reciting the edict of the ʿolamāʾ of the ʿatabāt (q.v.) calling for jehād in support of the Ottoman-German war against the Allies. Moḵber-al-Salṭana Hedāyat, in 1915, and Ṣawlat-al-Dawla Qašqāʾī, in 1918, also joined the German camp (Bayāt, 1994, pp. 32-49).

With Wilhelm Wassmuss, an unrelenting German agent who acquired the nickname of The German Lawrence, the anti-British movement gathered force in Fārs during World War I (see, e.g., Sykes, passim; von Mikusch, passim). Utilizing Persia’s profound distrust of the British and Russians as well as resorting to the German alliance with the Ottoman Empire, Wassmuss began a well-received propaganda campaign among Persians to the effect that the German emperor had been converted to Islam and had assumed an Islamic name “Moḥammad Wilhelm,” and that the Axis Powers would be the ultimate victor in the war (Sepehr, pp. 140-41). Furthermore, tribal khans received monetary rewards and supply of weapons and ammunitions from Wassmuss. He also exploited tribal discontent with the British which had resulted from a number of conflicts of interest, including (1) enforcing regular tax collection from tribal khans, which was needed for the daily operations of provincial administration; (2) controlling tribal arm smuggling in Tangestān and Daštestān; and (3) fighting against tribal banditry and caravan robbery along Bušehr-Shiraz-Isfahan route (Oberling, pp. 127-30; Moḵber-al-Salṭana Hedayat, 1984, pp. 304-8).

On 8 August 1915 the British forces occupied Bušehr and on 14 September removed Moḵber-al-Salṭana from Shiraz and installed Ḥabīb-Allāh Qawām-al-Molk as acting governor of Fārs. Between August and October 1915, Qawām-al-Molk received 1,350,000 qerāns in support from the British (Oberling, p. 139, n. 27). But in late December the British protégé was expelled from Shiraz by pro-German officers of gendarmerie and the radical Democrat Party members who occupied the city and confiscated the British assets. In the Fall of 1915 a number of bloody clashes occurred between the British forces and the pro-German tribes of Bušehr area during which Raʾīs-ʿAlī Dolvārī, an anti-British local chief, was “martyred” (Yāḥosaynī, pp. 94-189; Bayāt, 1994, pp. 29-71; idem, 1990, pp. 109-75).

In February 1916 Qawām-al-Molk, aided by the British, set out for Shiraz but was killed in an accident. His son, Ebrāhīm Khan, who assumed the title Qawām-al-Molk, led the victorious tribal army to the city in April and became acting governor-general. On 11 November General Sir Percy Sykes, who was assigned to raise and command a force of local levies named the South Persia Rifles, marched to Shiraz accompanied by his old friend ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Mīrzā Farmānfarmā (q.v.), the new governor-general of Fārs (for a detailed account of the South Persia Rifles, see Safiri; see also Sykes, II, pp. 470-72; Bayāt, 1994, pp. 67-151; according to Moṣaddeq, Farmānfarmā acquired a gift of some half-a-million tomans to cooperate with the SPR; Moṣaddeq, 1980, pp. 98-100). Furthermore, Sykes reached an agreement for peaceful coexistence with Ṣawlat-al-Dawla in late 1916 (Sykes, II, pp. 472-79). Meanwhile, in 26 June 1916 an anti-British uprising broke out in Shiraz, but was put down the next day (Sykes, II, pp. 504-7). The fragile British control over Fārs was disrupted in May 1918 when Ṣawlat-al-Dawla, leading the Qašqāʾīs (with the exception of the dissident Kaškūlīs) and other pro-German tribal forces from Kāzerūn, Daštī, Daštestān and Tangestān, embarked upon a war against the British. In a move to incite internal struggle among the Qašqāʾīs, the British encouraged Farmānfarmā to appoint Aḥmad Khan Żayḡam-al-Dawla, Ṣawlat-al-Dawla’s half-brother, as īlḵānī of the Qašqāʾīs. The latter resisted the appointment and fought back against the dissident Qašqāʾīs and the forces of Qawām-al-Molk which collaborated with the South Persia Rifles. Eventually, Ṣawlat-al-Dawla’s uprising subsided due to the spread of influenza and British pressure. In late 1920 Moḥammad M oṣaddeq-al-Salṭana, the new governor-general of Fārs, reinstated Ṣawlat-al-Dawla to the office of īlḵānī. The South Persia Rifles ended its activities following the British supported coup d’état of 1299/1921 (q.v.), which was followed by the formation of a modern army in Persia and the eventual suppression of tribal rebels (Sykes, II, pp. 507-14; Moṣaddeq, 1986, pp. 121-30).

The history of Fārs under the Qajars which began with the governorship of crown prince Bābā Khan (later Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah) ended with the short-lived governorship of Moṣaddeq-al-Salṭana who was dismissed after the 1921 coup.


The years 1921-78 saw the development of a modern centralized nation-state in Persia, rapid population growth, and urbanization, establishment and growth of a national system of education, expansion of transportation, and economic development. In this period, the central government established its tight control over the local government and launched several military campaigns against autonomous tribal enclaves throughout the country. Dominated by tribes, Fārs became the scene of the most severe clashes between the government army and tribal warriors in 1929, 1945, and 1963.

The Reżā Shah period: 1921-41. This period saw the suppression of provincial tribal forces in the late 1920s, the beginnings of urban development of Shiraz in the 1930s, and the termination of transit trade in Fārs in 1938 when the construction of Trans-Iranian Railway, connecting the Persian Gulf via-Tehran to Bandar-e Šāh (now Bandar-e Torkaman) on the Caspian Sea, monopolized the transportation of the whole transit trade from the south.

The modern mechanized armed forces established in the 1920s set out to eliminate tribal warriors throughout the country. The use of tanks and armored cars combined with construction of motorable roads shifted the focus of battle “from the mountain, where the nomads had the advantage, to the motorable roads, where the Persian army had the advantage.” As a result, by “stationing themselves on the roads which the tribesmen had to cross in order to reach their summer or winter quarters, the government troops could prevent their passage and, consequently, cause their death by starvation” (Oberling, p, 164). In addition to military and political concerns, the Pahlavis believed that the tribal mode of life would not be suitable for a modern state in the 20th century. Reżā Shah’s policy of tribal sedentarisation in the 1930s was, therefore, partially aimed at cleansing the countryside from the “disgraceful” black tents (Ḥekmat, pp. 257-61).

The spring of 1929 saw a growing restlessness among the Qašqāʾīs when a corrupt and hated Solṭān (Captain) ʿAbbās Khan, former military governor of the Qašqāʾīs, who had been dismissed as a result of repeated complains of tribal chiefs, was reinstated by Major General Moḥammad Šāhbaḵtī, the new commander of the Fārs Brigade, allegedly in exchange for a gift of 100,000 tomans (Bayāt, 1986, p. 46). Moḵber-al- Salṭana (1950, p. 489), the prime minister at the time, attributed the cause of tribal uprising in Fārs to both the greed of officials and the rebellious character of the tribes. The outbreak of violence began in the summer when Sohrāb Khan Bahādorī, the nephew and son-in-law of Ṣawlat-al-Dawla and ʿAlī Khan Sālār Hešmat, Ṣawlat’s half brother, formed a rebellious alliance, first among the Qašqāʾī khans and later with other tribal chiefs. In June of the same year the Qašqāʾīs seized control of Shiraz-Bušehr and Shiraz-Ābāda road, captured most of gendarmerie outposts, damaged the Ḵān Bridge (Pol-e Ḵān over the river Kor), massacring a group of soldiers stationed there, occupied the Shiraz airfield (by a well-known rebel, Mahdī Sorḵī), and gained control of the outskirts of the city. When in late June Major General Ḥabīb-Allāh Khan Šaybānī, who was appointed military commander and governor-general of Fārs, was crossing the Bājgāh Pass (Tang-e Bājgāh) near Shiraz, his motorcade was ambushed by hundreds of Qašqāʾī warriors. In the spring of 1929 the Ḵamsa tribes also joined the rebellion and occupied the eastern cities of the province, and the Bahārlūs reached the frontier of Kermān. The Boir Aḥmadīs ambushed a column of soldiers in the Šūl Pass (Tang-e Šūl) and pillaged the district of Bayżā (Bayāt, 1986, pp. 39-68; Qahramānī Abīvardī, pp. 333-51; Oberling, pp. 156-60).

The summer of 1929 saw the rebels in control of the whole province of Fārs. Peace was restored only in August when Šaybānī, who made numerous contacts with Qašqāʾī tribal chiefs, convinced the shah to release Ṣawlat-al-Dawla from prison and proclaim an amnesty (Bayāt, 1986, pp. 69-76; Oberling, pp. 160-62).

Following the victory of Boir Aḥmadīs in the battle of Dūragmedū in the fall of 1928, when a column of soldiers suffered heavy casualties and surrendered, the whole area of Kohgīlūya went out of government control. In the summer of 1930, Šaybānī mobilized the main units under his command to crush the Boir Aḥmadī and Mamasanī rebels. On 13 Mordād 1329 Š./4 August 1930 government forces entered the Tāmorādī Pass (Tang-e Tāmorādī), where the Boir Aḥmadīs under Kay Lohrāsb ambushed the column and killed about four hundred soldiers. Eventually, through the mediation of neighboring Baḵtīārī and Qašqāʾī tribal leaders (Sardār Asʿad and Ṣawalt-al-Dawla) the rebels surrendered to the authorities. In September 1932 Ṣawlat-al-Dawla was arrested and in August 1933 he was killed in prison (Bayāt, 1986, pp. 39-45, 92-99, 126).

The 1930s saw the beginnings of urban development in Fārs and more specifically, in Shiraz: the establishment of an electric plant in 1930, construction of government buildings and schools in the 1930s, the opening of a spinning factory in 1936 and a textile factory in 1937, as well as reconstruction of the tomb of Ḥāfeẓ in 1936-38 (Forūzānī, pp. 70-71).

The period 1941-53. Following the occupation of Persia by Allied forces in September 1941 and the forced abdication of Reżā Shah, Fārs became, once again, an arena for international and local power struggles. Moḥammad-Nāṣer Khan escaped from Tehran with his younger brother Ḵosrow Khan, hastened back to his tribal stronghold in Fīrūzābād, and proclaimed himself īlḵānī of the Qašqāʾī confederacy. With the return of Ebrāhīm Khan Qawām-al-Molk to Shiraz by the British, Moḥammad-Nāṣer Khan threw his lot with the Germans. As early as spring of 1942, Nāṣer Khan contacted the German secret agent in Tehran, Berthold Schulze-Holthus, and persuaded him to move to the Qašqāʾī headquarters in Fīrūzābād as his military advisor. In September of the same year an airstrip was built at Farrāšband with the help of another German agent, Konstantin Hummel, for delivery of weapons to the Qašqāʾīs by Germans. Contact was also made with General Fażl-Allāh Zāhedī, the commander of Persian troops in Isfahan and one of the most prominent Germanophile figures of the time. The war broke out between the government forces and the Qašqāʾīs in Spring of 1943 when Moḥammad-Nāṣer Khan rejected first the British offer of five million tomans and later the government’s offer of 20 million tomans in exchange for Schulze-Holthus. In a series of clashes with government forces who were accompanied by Ḵamsa warriors under Qawām-al-Molk, the Qašqāʾī and Boir Aḥmadī warriors inflicted heavy casualties upon government soldiers. In a most formidable attack on the Samīrom garrison a number of senior and junior officers and about 200 soldiers were killed. Finally, an agreement was reached between the government and Moḥammad-Nāṣer Khan calling for tribal autonomy along with the survival of army garrisons in three tribal locations. When in 1944 the German forces began to retreat on the Russian front, and the British arrested Moḥammad-Nāṣer Khan’s brothers, Malek-Manṣūr Khan and Moḥammad-Ḥasan Khan, on their way from Germany to Persia, the Qašqāʾīs handed over the German spies in exchange for the two brothers (for a detail eyewitness report of these events see Schulze-Holthus, pp. 162, 167-70, 192-203, 216-26, 231-41; see also Oberling, pp. 169-82).

The next major event of this period was an anti-Communist tribal rebellion which began on the 18th of September 1946, when Moḥammad-Nāṣer Khan called a conference of leading tribal khans and religious leaders of the province to announce the creation of the South Resistance Movement (Nahżat-e moqāwamat-e janūb). He sent an ultimatum to the then prime minister Aḥmad Qawām (Qawām-al-Salṭana), demanding, inter alia, the formation of a provincial council similar to that in Azerbaijan, the resignation of the Tudeh (Tūda) party members of the cabinet, and more representatives for Fārs in the Majles. When Qawām rejected the ultimatum, tribal warriors occupied several army garrisons and acquired a considerable amount of booty. To pacify the region, Qawām sent a mission to Shiraz under Major General Fażl-Allāh Zāhedī. On 15 October 1946, General Zāhedī and Moḥammad-Nāṣer Khan reached a settlement, with the government acceding to the demands of the movement (Nūrīzāda Bušehrī, passim; Qahramānī Abīvardī, pp. 371-414; Jāmī, pp. 410-23). In this period Moḥammad-Nāṣer Khan and his brothers rose to prominence and became main players in the politics of Fārs until the coup d’état of 1953 (q.v.) when Moḥammad-Nāṣer Khan and Ḵosrow Khan left the country and all tribal forces came under the government control (Qahramānī Abīvardī, pp. 418-20; Ṣawlat Qašqāʾī, passim).

The period of 1941-53 also witnessed the opening of the pro-Soviet Tudeh party branches in Fārs and its struggle against propertied classes and religious groups, including the Qašqāʾī chieftains, Qawām-al-Molk and other tribal khans as well as against fanatical Barādarān party (Ḥezb-e barādarān) led by an influential cleric, Sayyed Nūr-al-Dīn Hāšemī. In this period the above circles along with the following Majles deputies were active in factional politics of Fārs: Sardār Fāḵer Ḥekmat, the powerful Speaker of the 15th and 16th Majles (1947-51), Mahdī Nemāzī, Loṭf-ʿAlī Moʿaddel Šīrāzī, and ʿAbbāsqolī ʿArab Šaybānī. Also active in the politics of Fārs were Ayatollahs Shaikh Bahāʾ-al-Dīn Maḥallātī, Sayyed Moḥammad Rażawī and Ḥosām-al-Dīn Fāl-asīrī (Golšāʾīān II, pp. 839-62; ).

The 1953-78 period. Following the 1953 coup, the province of Fārs was quiet until 1962 when the Land Reform Program was set in motion and caused tribal resistance and urban religious riots. The khans of the Boir Aḥmadī tribes, under ʿAbd-Allāh Khan Żarḡāmpūr, refused to have their lands divided and incited a rebellion. After a column of soldiers was massacred in Gačīna Pass (Tang-e Gačīna) and the highways connecting Kohgīlūya to the province of Ḵūzestān and Shiraz were cut off by rebels in early 1963, the government arranged the poisoning of Żarḡāmpūr by his own cook and quelled the uprising (personal survey in the region in the fall of 1967). Following this episode the government transformed social conditions in tribal areas through grant of agricultural loans, construction of roads and a sugar refinery, establishment of tribal schools, and the creation of jobs in towns and cities. During this period, the remnants of migratory tribes continued their traditional summer and winter migrations under the supervision of officers of the Tribal Security Force (Nīrū-ye enteẓāmāt-e ṭawāyef; see also Qahramānī Abīvardī, pp. 420-21).

The land reform and women’s suffrage measures, which were part of the six reform measures proposed by the shah (known as the White Revolution) in a referendum conducted on 26 January 1963, also led to violent protests by a front of the ʿolamāʾ, bāzārīs, and landowners at major urban centers. On 5 June urban riots broke out in Shiraz, Tehran, Qom, Mašhad, Isfahan, and Kāšān to protest the reforms. The disturbances were suppressed the same day (Rūḥānī, pp. 492-94, 528, 567, 576).

In the period from 1963 to 1978 Fārs was brought still more firmly under the control of the central government with the proliferation of its civilian and military agencies, and the tribal areas came under the tight control of the security forces. Rapid population growth and urbanization (the population of Shiraz rose from 170,000 in 1956 to 425,000 in 1976; see FĀRS vi), and expansion of communication, transportation, and education also induced radical changes in the social and economic conditions of Fārs. The construction of the first pipeline water system in the country in Shiraz in 1948 and the establishment of the Nemāzī Hospital in 1955, both initiated by Ḥājj Moḥammad Nemāzī, stimulated urban development in the period from the 1950s to the 1960s. Other developmental projects included the foundation of a fertilizer plant in the late 1950s and an oil refinery in the 1970s, both near Shiraz, construction of a network of natural gas pipeline in the province, and the development of Marvdašt sugar plant and other food processing factories in that area in the 1960s-70s. Another factor in the development of Fārs in this period was the modernization and expansion of Shiraz University (renamed Pahlavi University) from March 1964 when Amīr Asad-Allāh ʿAlam, the shah’s close confidant, was appointed as its president, less than a fortnight after he had resigned from the premiership. The shah had great ambitions for Pahlavi University “hoping that it might rival or even surpass the University of Tehran, founded by his father” (Alikhani’s introduction, in Alam, p. 7). Pahlavi University was assisted by the University of Pennsylvania in adopting the American system of university organization. The construction of several military bases in the province and the establishment of central command of the Third Army, covering the southern provinces, and the strategic command of the Imperial Air Force in Shiraz brought to Fārs a large amount of state development funds as well as current budget. Furthermore, construction of a new airport, the start of regular daily flights to Shiraz, and the expansion of the tourist industry in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which were to facilitate the extravagant and controversial celebration at Persepolis in 1971 of the 25th century of the formation of the Persian empire as well as the organization of the annual international art festivals in Shiraz, also contributed to the development of the city. They made the Shiraz-Persepolis area one of the major points of tourist attraction in Persia.

Fārs joined the 1977-79 Revolution on 6-7 May 1978; in connection with the commemoration of the fortieth day of mourning for the martyrs of Yazd, clashes took place between students and the police on the campus of Pahlavi University. On 11 August an urban riot left several dead and scores wounded in Shiraz. In the fall and winter of 1978-79 Shiraz and other major cities of Fārs followed the revolutionary course in the country by mobilizing sporadic urban riots, demonstrations and strikes.



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(Ahmad Ashraf)

Originally Published: December 15, 1999

Last Updated: January 24, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. IX, Fasc. 4, pp. 341-351