The Qajar Dynasty


The Sovereign: 'Ala Hazrat-i-Aqdas-i-Humayun Shahanshah-i-Iran, i.e. His August and Most Sacred Majesty the King of Kings of Persia, translated as His Imperial Majesty the Shah (or Emperor) of Iran.*
The first lady in the realm: 'Aliya Hazrat Mahd-i-'Aliya, i.e. the Sublime Cradle, rendered as Her Majesty the Queen Mother**.
The consort of the Sovereign: 'Aliya Hazrat Malika (given name or personal title, if any), i.e. Her Sublime Majesty, Queen ..., rendered as Her Majesty, Queen.
The Heir Apparent: Vala Hazrat-i-Humayun Vali Ahad, Shahzada (given name) Mirza, i.e His August Imperial Highness the Heir Apparent, Prince …
Sons of a Sovereign: Hazrat-i-Vala Aqdas Shahzada (given name) Mirza, (personal title, if any), i.e. His Imperial Highness Prince ...
Daughters of a Sovereign: Hazrat-i-'Aliya A'aliya Shahzadi (given name) Khanum, (personal title, if any), i.e. Her Imperial Highness Princess ...
Grandsons of a Sovereign in the male line, being sons of those holding the rank of Imperial Highness: Hazrat-i-Aqdas Shahzada (given name) Mirza, (personal title, if any), i.e. His Royal Highness Prince ...
Granddaughters of a Sovereign in the male line, being daughters of those holding the rank of Imperial Highness: Hazrat-i-'Aliya Aqdas Shahzadi (given name) Khanum, (personal title, if any), i.e. Her Royal Highness Princess ...
Other male descendants of a Sovereign, being the sons of those holding the rank of Royal Highness and their male descendants, in the male line: Hazrat-i-Vala Shahzada (given name) Mirza, (personal title, if any), i.e. His Highness Prince ...
Other female descendants of a Sovereign in the male line, being the daughters of those holding the rank of Royal Highness and their male descendants: Hazrat-i-'Aliya Shahzadi (given name) Khanum, (personal title, if any), i.e. Her Highness Princess ...

* the Imperial style was a diplomatic concession to the rulers of Persia by Turkey and the European powers, during the early years of the nineteenth century. This was partly the result of Napoleonic flattery and partly out of a sence of equality with the Emperor of Russia and the Sultan of Turkey. Until then, the usual translation of the title was "King". The actual translation of Emperor is Padshah, rather than Shahanshah. The latter translates literally as King of Kings and sits uncomfortably within the European pantheon. The last, forming yet another reason for the concession.
**the title of Mahd-i-'Aliya (sublime cradle), often translated as Queen Mother, was accorded only to the principal lady in the land. This was generally the mother of the Shah (Madr-i-Shah), whether or not her husband had enjoyed sovereignty himself. However, the title could also be conferred on the Shah's principal aghdi (permanent wife), or on the mother of the Heir Apparent. There was no title equivalent to Empress during the Qajar period.

In common with most Muslim states, Persia did not have a system of hereditary nobility on the European model. Instead, those of high birth, holding high office, distinction or state servants, received individual titles of honour for life. Nevertheless, a tradition of bestowing the same title on several successive generations of the same family, in either the patrilineal or matrilineal lines, became established by the second quarter of the nineteenth century.

The titles of honour were often poetic and lofty epithets of a descriptive nature intended to flatter the recipient or extol his achievements, e.g. Arfa ud-Daula (the high, sublime, or most eminent of the state), or Hishmat ul-Mulk (magnificence of the kingdom). The major titles can be easily identified by the six suffixes attached to them: ud-Daula (of the state), ul-Mamaluk (of the kingdoms), ul-Mulk (of the kingdom), us-Sultan (of the King), us-Sultana (of the realm), us-Sultanat (of the realms), and i-Humayun (of the Emperor). Titles with the suffix ul-Islam were usually bestowed on distingusihed religious figures; those with ul-Tujjar on merchants, men of commerce and the guilds; those with ul-Shu'ara' on poets and literary figures. Titles with the prefix Amir-i or Sardar-i were usually bestowed on senior military officers, commanders of irregular forces or great provincial and tribal leaders. Some of the more important epithets may be found in the glossary.

Precedence at court, outside the Imperial Family, largely depended on the holding of public office. There were seven such ranks by the end of the nineteenth century. These were, in descending order of importance:
1) Nawab - princes.
2) Shakhs-i-Awwal - the 'first person in the state' (usually, but not necessarily the Prime Minister) and those enjoying the style of Ashraf-i-Janab (Serene Highness), the Prime Minister and former Prime Ministers.
3) Janab - those enjoying the style of 'Excellency', high ranking clergy, Grand Ministers of State, Governors-General of major provinces, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, etc.
4) Amir/Khan - commanders of armed forces, provincial tribal leaders.
5) 'Ali Jah Muqarrab - high ranking military officers (Generals) and civil servants (mustowfiyan-i-izam).
6) 'Ali Jah - Colonels in the army and middle ranking civil servants (kalantars and kadkudas).
7) 'Ali Sha'an - Captains and Lieutenants in the army, and lower level civil servants, including secretaries and accountants.
8) 'Ali Qadir - masters of guilds, etc.



Copyright© Christopher Buyers, August 2000 - February 2009