The five texts made available here (Zamimeh-ye Tarikh-e Montazam-e Naseri (vol. 2), Zamimeh-ye Khayrat-e Hesan (vols. 1–3), and Zamimeh-ye Ketab al-Tadvin fi Ahval-e Jabal-e Sharvin) were all written under the supervision and direction of Mohammad Hasan Khan Eʿtemad al-Saltaneh (1259–1313 A.H. / 1843–96), a statesman, scholar, and author of late nineteenth-century Iran. One of the earliest students to be educated in the Dar al-Fonun, Iran’s first modern university, Eʿtemad al-Saltaneh was appointed to numerous positions during the course of his political career, including royal dragoman, director of the Government Press Bureau, director of the Government Translation Bureau, deputy Minister of Justice, and Minister of Press and Publication. He accompanied Naser al-Din Shah, the Qajar monarch from 1848 to 1896, on all three of the royal tours of Europe (in 1873, 1878, and 1889) and like many other contemporary statesmen who were influenced by European ideas, he favored a form of restrained monarchy. Although during his own time Eʿtemad al-Saltaneh was often overshadowed and outmaneuvered by more powerful and shrewd Qajar statesmen, he was among the most prominent ministers of the Qajar period and remains a crucial figure for understanding Qajar history, in part because of the breadth of his political activities and cultural output, but more specifically because he supervised the writing and translation into Persian of an extensive number of texts.
Zamimeh-ye Ketab al-Tadvin, Zamimeh-ye Khayrat-e Hesan, and Zamimeh-ye Tarikh-e Montazam-e Naseri are evidence of the enduring significance of Eʿtemad al-Saltaneh’s career. The texts are supplements (zamimeh) to historical (Tarikh-e Montazam-e Naseri), geographical (Ketab al-Tadvin fi Ahval-e Jabal-e Sharvin), and biographical (Khayrat-e Hesan) works, which were also produced under Eʿtemad al-Saltaneh’s supervision, and are informative and useful historical sources in their own right. The supplements provide a wealth of detailed information about who staffed the Qajar state for the years in which they were published: the supplement to Montazam-e Nasiri in 1299 A.H. / 1881–82; the supplements to the three volumes of Khayrat al-Hisan in 1304 A.H. / 1886–87, 1305 A.H. / 1887–88, and 1307 A.H. / 1889–90 respectively; and the supplement to Ketab al-Tadvin in 1311 A.H. / 1893–94. Each supplement provides the names and key information about Qajar princes, princesses, children, and tribal khans, as well as the names and information about those individuals who served in various government ministries, departments, military units, and provincial administrations of Qajar Iran for the calendar year. In short, they are reference works that can be likened to almanacs of the Qajar government.
Much of the information in these texts — like, for instance, who the translators in the Government Translation Bureau were, or who the courtiers of the Qajar court (darbar) were, or what the names of the tribal khans in provinces and localities were — is difficult to find in other Qajar sources. The information is organized and categorized, which make them relatively easy to use, but also may reflect Eʿtemad al-Saltaneh’s mild reformist tendencies and a desire to impose “order” (tanzim) on the Qajar state. The supplements, therefore, are invaluable sources and will be of interest for any scholar interested in Qajar political history as well as the social makeup of the political elite and the state during Iran’s late nineteenth century.
This introduction is written by:
University Lecturer in the Eastern Islamic Lands and Persian-speaking World
University of Cambridge