ḴĀKI ŠIRĀZI, ḤASAN BEG  (حسن بیگ خاکی شیرازی, d. 1612), Persian historian and bureaucrat, whose chronicle, titled Aḥsan al-tavāriḵ, is a general history of pre-Islamic and Islamic dynasties of Iran, the Indian subcontinent, and Central Asia.


Little is known of Ḵāki Širāzi’s life and career. He came from a family of prominent bureaucrats with a history of administrative service under the Aq Qoyunlu and the early Safavids (Aubin, p. 77). Two of Ḥasan Beg’s paternal uncles served as army clerk (lašgar-navis) under the early Safavids. His father, Moḥammadi held the same post under Ṭahmāsp I (Monši Torkmān, p. 164; tr., p. 257). Ḥasan Beg’s great-grandfather, Šams al-Din ʿAbd-Allāh Ḵāki Širāzi (d. 902/1496-7) held the rank of baḵši or military intelligence officer under the later Aq Qoyunlu (Ḵāki Širāzi, fol. 347r; Minorsky, p. 171). The family was originally from Shiraz, but in the latter part of the 15th century, Ḥasan Beg’s ancestors ended up residing in Azerbaijan and ʿErāq-e ʿAjam (Monši Torkmān, p. 164; tr., p. 258). Under Shah Ṭahmāsp, a close relative of Ḵāki called Maqṣud Beg was a well-known poet in Tabriz and held the post of mostawfi at the Safavid court (Ṣafavi, p. 60). During the reign of ʿAbbās I (1587–1629), two leading members of the Ḵāki family named Šokr-Allāh and Moḥammad-Ṣāleḥ served the Safavid provincial bureaucracy in Fārs and Kashan (Ḵuzāni Eṣfahāni, pp. 350, 745, 877)

In one of his reports (ʿarżdāšt) to emperor Akbar (1556–1605) detailing his travels in the Deccan, the poet-laureate of the Mughal court, Abo’l-Fayż b. Šayḵ Mobārak Fayżi Nāgori (1547–95) makes a brief reference to Ḥasan Beg as a former Safavid bureaucrat. In the winter of 1000/1592, Fayżi had a stopover in Dawlatābād, where he received a letter from Ḵāki. Fayżi tells us about Ḥasan Beg’s career in Safavid Iran, clarifying that before embarking for India, he had worked as an army clerk and a moḵber or intelligence officer for Yaʿqub Khan Ḏu’l-Qadr, the unruly governor of Fārs. According to Fayżi, Ḵāki had fled Iran together with his family immediately after Yaʿqub Khan’s downfall in 999/1591 and the subsequent bloodshed in Shiraz that claimed the life of many of his local allies and cronies. Ḵāki had traveled by boat from Hormuz to Bombay in the company of a group of former allies of Yaʿqub Khan in Shiraz led by Ḥosayn-Qoli Beg Afšār, a Qezelbāš emir from Isfahan (Fayżi, p. 118; Alam and Subrahmanyam, p. 287). For a while, Ḵāki took up residence in Chaul, a rural coastal town some sixty miles south of the port city of Bombay, whence he wrote to Fayżi asking for his recommendation so that he could find a job at the Mughal court (Fayżi, p. 119).

In the latter part of 1598, Ḵāki was appointed to army clerk in Gujarat (Ḵāki Širāzi, fol. 577v). He appears to have remained in this post for more than a decade up until the winter of 1019/1611, when emperor Jahāngir (1605-27) promoted him to provincial governor or subadar of Bihar. He held this post for the rest of his life (Ḵāki Širāzi, fol. 583v; Balyāni Eṣfahāni, II, p. 1222; Bhopali, p. 150; Aṣḡar, pp. 232-34).   


Ḥasan Beg is the author of Aḥsan al-tavāriḵ, or the Montaḵab al-tavāriḵ, a general history of the world in Persian. Two catalogues of Persian manuscripts and one study of Persian historiography in Mughal India have described the contents and organization of Ḵāki’s Aḥsan al-tavāriḵ in detail (Rieu, III, pp. 886-87; Ashraf, pp. 303-5; Aṣḡar, 233-35). Dated 1060/1650, the oldest known manuscript of Ḵāki’s chronicle is in the Mulla Firuz Library in Bombay (Rehatsek, pp. 84-85). Excerpts from this chronicle are translated into English (Elliot, VI, pp. 201-6). Ḥasan Beg claims that he finished his chronicle on 20 Rajab 1019/8 October 1610 (fol. 4v), but there are at least two references to the events that occurred under the years 1020/1611 and 1021/1612 (fols. 188r and 583v), indicating that he had continued working on its earlier drafts shortly before his death.

The contents of Ḵāki’s Aḥsan al-tavāriḵ can be divided into three parts. The first part deals with the lives and times of fifty prophets and dynastic histories of pre-Islamic Iranians, Jews, Greeks, Ethiopians, Yemenites, Turks, Tartars, and Mongols. The second part is devoted to the history of the four rightly guided caliphs, the Shiʿite imams, the Umayyad and ʿAbbasid caliphs, and dynastic history of Iran, Asia Minor, Egypt, Central Asia, the Deccan, and Kashmir in Islamic period. The history of the dynasties who ruled in Iran, Asia Minor, and India during the 15th and 16th centuries is discussed and illuminated in the third part. Ḵāki Širāzi’s chronological lists of the Arsacid and the Sasanian kings helped 19th-century historians have a better understanding of the dynastic history of pre-Islamic Iran (Kennedy, p. 52).     

Under each dynasty Ḥasan Beg synopsizes the reign of its rulers with special attention to major battles and diplomatic relations. Here and there, Ḵāki records the dates of important events. His coverage of the crisis that engulfed the Aq Qoyunlu in the closing decades of the 15th century is significantly detailed, providing us with important pieces of information concerning military alliances and battles in Azerbaijan and eastern Anatolia during the years leading up to Shah Esmāʿil’s rise to power. Ḵāki’s chronicle closes with an account of the dynastic history of the Safavids (fols. 584r-630v), from the establishment of the Ṣafavīyya order under Sheikh Ṣafi al-Din Isḥāq Ardabili (d. 735/1334) up until the downfall of Ḵāki’s patron in Fārs, Yaʿqub Khan Ḏu’l-Qadr and Shah ʿAbbas’ seizure of Shiraz, which took place in the early winter of 999/1591. The section dealing with the Safavids gets more detailed as it draws closer to the reign of Shah ʿAbbās, furnishing us with a chronologically accurate, albeit sketchy, account of the civil war that broke out following the death of Shah Ṭahmāsp in Iran in the spring of 984/1576.   

In 1010/1601-2, at the request of Ḥasan Beg Ḵāki, ʿAbd al-Laṭif b. ʿAbd-Allāh ʿAbbāsi al-Ṣufi, a native of Māzandarān who worked for the Mughal bureaucracy in the provinces of Bengal and Odisha, embarked on preparing a taẕkera volume titled bot-ḵāna (ʿAbbāsi, fol. 2r; Aṣḡar, p. 232). This volume contains the full-text of the divāns of more than forty Persian poets. Thomas W. Beale (p. 146) attributes the authorship of a divān to Ḵāki Širāzi, but this volume is yet to be found. In the preface to this taẕkera volume, ʿAbd al-Laṭif ʿAbbāsi confirms that in preparing it he had consulted an assortment of Persian chronicles, including an early version of Ḥasan Beg’s Aḥsan al-tavāriḵ (ʿAbbāsi, fol. 4r), suggesting that Ḵāki had spent more than a decade working on various drafts of his chronicle.     




Taqi al-Din Moḥammad Awḥadi Balyāni Eṣfahāni, ʿArafāt al-ʿāšeqin va ʿaraṣāt al-ʿārefin, ed. Ẕ. Ṣāḥebkāri and A. Faḵr-Aḥmad, 8 vols., Tehran, 1389 Š./2010.

ʿAli Ḥasan Khan Bhopāli, Ṣobḥ-e golšan, Bhopal, 1878.

Abo’l-Fayż Fayżi Nāgori, Enšā-ye Fayżi, ed. H. A. Khan, Lahore, 1973.

Ḥasan Beg Ḵāki Širāzi, Aḥsan al-tavāriḵ, MS Or.1649, British Library, London.

Iskandar Beg Monši Torkmān, Tāriḵ-e ʿālamārā-yi ʿabbāsi, ed. I. Afšār, Tehran, 1334 Š./1955–56; tr. R. M. Savory as History of Shah ʿAbbas the Great, Boulder, 1978. 

Fażli Beg Ḵuzāni Eṣfahāni, A Chronicle of the Reign of Shah ʿAbbās, ed. K. Ghereghlou, Cambridge, 2015. 

Sām Mirzā Ṣafavi, Taẕkera-ye toḥfa-ye Sāmi, ed. M. Ḥ. Vaḥid-Dastgerdi, Tehran, 1314 Š./1936.

ʿAbd al-Laṭif b. ʿAbd-Allāh ʿAbbāsi al-Ṣufi, Taẕkera-yi bot-ḵāna, MS no. 120, Majles Library, Tehran.

Studies and catalogues.

A. Aṣḡar, Tāriḵ-nevisi-e fārsi dar Hend va Pākestān: Taymurīān-e bozorg az Bābor tā Aurangzeb, 934–1118 hejri-e qamari, Lahore, 1364 Š./1985. 

M. Alam and S. Subrahmanyam, “A Place in the Sun: Travels with Faiẓî in the Deccan, 1591–1593,” in F. Grimal, ed., Les sources et le temps: Sources and Time (A Colloquium, Pondicherry, 11-13 January 1997), Pondicherry, 2001, pp. 265-305.

M. Ashraf, A Catalogue of the Resian [i.e., Persian] Manuscripts in the Salar Jung Museum and Library, vol. I. Concerning 453 Mss. of History, Hyderabad, 1965.

J. Aubin, “Šāh Ismāʿīl et les notables de l’Iraq persan (Etudes safavides. I.),” JESHO 2/1, 1959, pp. 37-81.

T. W. Beale, The Oriental Biographical Dictionary, Calcutta, 1881.

H. M. Elliot, The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians, 8 vols., London, 1867-77.

V. Kennedy, “Remarks on the State of Persia from the Battle of Arbela in † A.C. 331 to the Rise of Ardashir Babegan in A.D. 226,” Transactions of the Literary Society of Bombay 3, 1823, pp. 1-56.

D. N. Marshall, Mughals in India: A Bibliographical Survey, 2 vols., Bombay and New Delhi, 1967–96.

V. Minorsky, “A Civil and Military Review in Fārs in 881/1476,” BSOS 10/1, 1939, pp. 141–78.

ʿA. Naqavi, Taḏkera-nevisi-e fārsi dar Hend o Pākestān, Tehran, 1343 Š./1964.

E. Rehatsek, Catalogue raisonné of the Arabic, Hindostani, and Turkish MSS in the Mulla Firuz Library, Bombay, 1873.

C. Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 3 vols., London, 1879–83.

(Kioumars Ghereghlou)

Originally Published: March 21, 2016

Last Updated: March 21, 2016

Cite this entry:

Kioumars Ghereghlou, “ḴĀKI ŠIRĀZI, ḤASAN BEG,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2016, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/khaki-shirazi (accessed on 09 March 2016).