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The Kadjar Family (Qajar)


These pages are about a dynasty, the Qajars (Kadjars), who ruled Persia (Iran) for a hundred and thirty years from 1796-1925. On the grander scale of things, an hundred and thirty years of rule might not be particularly noteworthy, as there are in history many dynasties and royal houses that have ruled longer than this many times over. On the Persian scene, however, one hundred and thirty years of continuous rule, especially at the crucial time of transition that this period encompasses, is not a negligible amount of time at all.

The Qajars (Kadjars) ruled Persia at a time when she was going through one of her most trying periods, beset on all sides by powerful empires bent on using her as a means to their own designs in the "Great Game." In the end, the Qajars (Kadjars) were not able to rescue Persia from the dangerous waters they had navigated her into, and they paid for it with their throne.

We need to remember, however, that the rivals they were facing were two of the world's strongest powers of the time, Russia and England. No country could have withstood this kind of assault. "The Great Game" was a political and diplomatic confrontation that existed for most of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century between the British Empire and the Russian Empire over Iran. This was then furthered by other international powers, countries and interests groups and still continues till this day.

England aside, the other country and culture that had an equal if not greater impact on Persia was France. Fath Ali Shah's son, crown prince Abbas Mirza forged a spectacular military alliance with France that brought him at least initially victory in battles against the Russians. French advisors and men of letters travelled to Persia and influenced courtiers who would in turn make the French language the foreign language of choice of the court itself.

Thus on his first voyage abroad to Europe, to "Farang," ("Farang," the designation for the European "abroad" really referred to the country of the Franks, i.e. France, pronounced in Persian "Ferang" or "Farang"), in 1873, the shah had taken great trouble to familiarize himself with the French language and had even acquired the capacity to write in the Latin script. It was thus Nasser-ed-Din Shah who first decided how to transcribe the Persian patronymic into the Latin script and his decision was to give it the spelling of "Kadjar" as it would have been spelled in the French language to which he had taken great liking.






THE LION AND SUN (شیر و خورشید)


The symbol most associated with Persia (Iran) is that of the Lion and the Sun. So much so that most observers forget that the originators of this symbol as an emblem of Persia, and subsequently, of its ruling house, were the Qajars (Kadjars). The symbol itself is of great antiquity. It has astrological reference to the constellation of Leo and its ascendancy when the sun is in Leo. It also refers to ancient symbols of royal lineages and divinity; the sun being a symbol of solar deities and, by extension, of solar lineages. Both the Sun and the Lion are also symbols of royalty from ancient times (e.g., "Lion of Judah"), the sun being the ruler of the heavens, and the lion being the ruler over the animals, as the king is the ruler over men.

Closer in time to the Qajars (Kadjars), the emblem of the Lion and the Sun was used on banners of the Timurid dynasty of the Mughal rulers of India, notably those of Shah Jahan 1592-1666 (r.1627-1659), but also earlier by other Persian and Mughal rulers.

The emblem of the Lion and the Sun was first adopted officially by the Qajars (Kadjars) under Mohammad Shah (r.1834-48). The emblem changed over time from a lion (often depicted lying on the ground or "couchant") and a sun with a human face, to a lion standing ("passant or guardant") and holding a sword in its right paw and a sun across its back, to a lion standing ("passant or guardant") and holding a sword in its right paw with a sun across its back and the Qajar (Kadjar) crown at the top of the sun, thus merging the double symbol of royalty and royal power with that of the Qajar (Kadjar) crown. Here are two examples of medallions depicting the gradual shift of the lion and sun from simply a lion and a sun to a lion and sun with sword. On both, the sun still has a human face!

Generally, the lion always faces left and holds the sword in its right paw as depicted in the emblem above. However, in a painting at the Royal Collection at St James, entitled "Review in Windsor's Great Park in Honour of the Shah of Persia, 24th June, 1873," signed N. Chevalier and dated 1877, there is a depiction of the Imperial Standard of Persia, raised in honor of Nasser-ed-Din Shah, depicting the lion facing right not left, with the sun on its back as usual, and with what appears to be a plumed crown at the top. The banner itself is of old pink to light purplish color.

This painting is interesting for two reasons. One is that this is a rare depiction of the Imperial lion shown facing right not left (though this fact may be due to nothing more complicated than the artist's attempt to render the standard being blown in the wind, thus flipping the standard from its regular position to one where the lion faces right not left!)

The other is that this is one of the first depictions of an official flag for Persia. Apparently the flag depicted in the Royal Collection must have been the design of the Qajar (Kadjar) Persia flag at the time of Nasser-ed-Din Shah. The green, white and red flag with the lion and the sun at its center (but no crown), became the flag of Persia under Mozaffar-ed-din Shah, and remained the flag of Iran in the Pahlavi era also.

The emblem of the Lion and the Sun was also adopted by the Pahlavis, as were many other things used by the Qajars, but the crown in the emblem changed from the Qajar (Kadjar) crown to the Pahlavi crown and the sun lost its human features and became more sun-like, and, later even, more abstract.

The Lion and Sun can also be seen within a laurel wreath which is a symbol of victory which was the first crown worn by the Romans (Ceaser) and the Persian Crown (Qajar or Pahlavi) on top, The Lion and Sun also is seen holding a Sword which is the Most Sacred symbol and tool in many World traditions used to defend individuals and humanity by cutting through ignorance using peaceful means instead of violence which is ignorance.

با لشـــــــگر خـــــــود کشـــــیده شــمشیــــر افــــتــــاده در آن قــبــیــــلـــــه چـــــون شـــــــــیــــر






The Constitutional Monarchy (فرمان مشروطیت)


The Persian Constitutional Revolution (Persian: مشروطیت‎ Mashrūtiyyat, or انقلاب مشروطه Enghelāb-e Mashrūteh), also known as the Constitutional Revolution of Iran, took place between 1905 and 1911. The revolution led to the establishment of a parliament in Persia (Iran) during the Qajar dynasty.





Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar signed the 1906 constitution shortly before his death. He was succeeded by Mohammad Ali Shah, who abolished the constitution and bombarded the parliament in 1908 with Russian and British support. This led to another pro-constitutional movement. The constitutionalist forces marched to Tehran, forced Muhammad Ali Shah's abdication in favor of his young son Ahmad Shah Qajar, and re-established the constitution in 1909.

The 1921 Persian coup d'état (Persian: کودتای ۳ اسفند ۱۲۹۹) refers to several major events which led to the establishment of the Pahlavi dynasty as Iran's ruling house in 1925. Iran's parliament amended the 1906–1907 constitution on December 12, 1925, replacing the 1797–1925 Qajar dynasty with the Pahlavi dynasty as the legitimate sovereigns of Iran.


The Qajar Class Structure - Royals, Nobles and Commoners (عوام و خواص)


In the Qajar era, as in previous periods there continued to be a fundamental division between a narrow stratum of courtiers, state officials, tribal leaders, religious notables, landlords and great merchants, at the top, and the vast majority of peasants, tribes people, and laborers in agriculture, traditional industries and services, at the bottom.

Recognition of this binary division is evident in the oft-cited distinction in the Qajar sources between the nobles and notables (a'yan va ashraf ), on the one hand, and the commoners or the masses (avam-al-nas or ra'iyat ), on the other. The use of such terms of contrast as khavas va avam (the elite and the masses), aghniya va foqara (the affluent and the poor), and aqva va zu'afa (the powerful and the meek), moreover, indicate an implicit awareness of the three main dimensions of inequality, i.e., social status, material resources, and power, respectively.

Between those with privilege and power at the top and the masses there were several "middling strata", including local notables, headmen of urban neighborhoods and villages, ordinary landowners and merchants, master artisans and shopkeepers, and the like. After the ruler, members of his court, and major governors, the leading religious leaders enjoyed the highest social prestige, followed by other high state officials, tribal chieftains, great merchants, master artisans, and petty landed proprietors.


Qajar Achievments (هنر قاجاریه)


Qajar art (Persian: هنر دوره قاجاریه) refers to the Fine Persian Art, architecture, and every art forms established during the reign of the Qajar dynasty of the Imperial Persian Empire, which lasted from 1781 to 1925 in Iran (Persia).

The boom in artistic expression that occurred during the Qajar era was the fortunate side effect of the period of relative peace that accompanied the rule of Agha Muhammad Khan and his descendants. With his ascension, the bloody turmoil that had been the 18th century in Persia came to a close, and made it possible for the peacetime arts to again flourish.

This included every art form imaginable including Music, Dance, Painting, Architecture, Photography, Calligraphy, Poetry, Textile arts and the likes. It also fuses certain elements of European art and made it Persian creating a beautiful aesthetic and mix of Modern and Ancient Western and Eastern Motifs.

The concept of "The Sublime" and Perfection in All Aspects and Elements of the above mentioned Arts was an absolute obession of the Qajar dynasty. Based on the principles of "The Sublime State of Imperial Persia" or "دولت عالیه شاهنشاهی ایران".









The Qajar Family (نوادگان قاجار)


Many of the Persian Royals and Princes left Iran early during the Dynasties rule and settled in Europe and various other parts of the world. The Prince Royals and their immediate families aside, the Qajars (Kadjars) count among them a great number of princely families, the oldest of which date back to the children of Fath Ali Shah.

Qajar (Kadjar) princely families distinguish amongst themselves based on their rank. Rank is assigned in a variety of ways: How old the particular family is; how close it is to the current royal household; how close it is to previous royal households; from which royal household it stems; which prince is the ancestor ("jadd" in Persian); whether both parents are Qajars (Kadjars); whether both parents are Qajar (Kadjar) royals; whether both parents are Qajar (Kadjar) prince and princess.










However, to be a Qajar (Kadjar) prince or princess, one's father must be a Qajar (Kadjar) prince [Qajars (Kadjars) are on a patrilineal descent system]. If only one's mother is a Qajar (Kadjar) princess, then one is referred to as having Qajar (Kadjar) blood, but the title of prince or princess does not transfer to offspring whose fathers are not Qajar (Kadjar) princes.

In view of the large number of children of Fath Ali Shah, and in view of the many generations of Qajars (Kadjars) since his lifetime, there are a great many Qajar (Kadjar) princely families. So many, in fact, that it is rare to find anyone who could list them all accurately.



Qajar Imperial Might


During the reign of Fath Ali Shah Qajar, Iranian`s Painting achieved a new step and excellent conditions caused revival of art.

In order to display the King's power, some of painters such as Mihr `Ali, showed the symbolic King's figures by a narrow waist and broad shoulder like Rustam the Iranian champion.

The resplendent Royal portraits of Fath Ali Shah, the pre-eminent ruler of the Qajar dynasty, is an exemplary model of the extensive canon of life-size portraits commissioned by the monarch.

Such paintings immortalised his rule of Persia, both internally to the Iranian populace and externally to Overseas Governments and Royalty. Well-versed in the power of images, Fath Ali Shah Qajar used painting to demonstrate his authority, wealth, and accomplishments and Imperial Might.

In fact, the sense of splendor, strength, and stability that these cultural productions projected present a very different picture from the one offered by historical facts. Fath Ali Shah’s Paintings were sometimes sent to foreign leaders as displays of the dynasty’s prosperity and cultural acuity.



Naser al-Din Shah Qajar


Naser al-Din Shah Qajar (Persian: ناصرالدین‌شاه قاجار‎; 16 July 1831 – 1 May 1896) was the Shah of Qajar Iran from 5 September 1848 to 1 May 1896 when he was assassinated. He was the son of Mohammad Shah Qajar and Malek Jahān Khānom and the third longest reigning monarch in Iranian history after Shapur II of the Sassanid dynasty and Tahmasp I of the Safavid Dynasty. Nasser al-Din Shah had sovereign power for close to 50 years. He was the first modern Persian monarch who formally visited Europe and also wrote his memoirs.

Naser al-Din Shah was very interested in painting and photography. He was a talented painter and, even though he had not been trained, was an expert in pen and ink drawing. Several of his pen and ink drawings survive. He was one of the first photographers in Persia and was a patron of the art. He established a photography studio in Golestan Palace.

Naser al-Din was also a poet. 200 couplets of his were recorded in the preface of Majma'ul Fusahā, a work by Reza-Qoli Khan Hedayat about poets of the Qajar period. He was interested in history and geography and had many books on these topics in his library. He also knew French and English, but was not fluent in either tongue.[13]

Hekāyāt Pir o Javān (حکایت پیر و جوان; "The Tale of the Old and the Young") was attributed to him by many; it was one of the first Persian stories written in modern European style. He incorporated many Western and European elements and made them Persian, he also reformed many things based on his travels to Europe.



Most of Naser al-Din's modernizing reforms happened during the prime ministership of Amir Kabir. He defeated various rebels in Iranian provinces, most notably in Khorasan, balanced the budget by introducing reforms to the tax system, curbed the power of the clergy in the judiciary, built some military factories, improved relations with other powers to curb British and Russian influence opened the first newspaper called Vaghaye-Ettefaghieh, embellished and modernized cities by building for example the Tehran Bazaar and most importantly opened the first Iranian school for upper education called the Dar ul-Funun where many Iranian intellectuals received their education.

However Amir Kabir's reforms were unpopular with some people and Naser al-Din Shah first exiled him and then ordered his assassination. The Shah gradually lost interest for reform. However, he took some important measures such as introducing telegraphy and postal services and building roads. He also increased the size of the state's military and created a new group called the Persian Cossack Brigade which was trained and armed by the Russians. He was the first Persian to be photographed and was a patron of photography who had himself photographed hundreds of times. His final prime minister was Ali Asghar Khan, who after the shah's assassination aided in securing the transfer of the throne to Mozaffar al-Din.



Ahmad Shah Qajar

The Coronation of Ahmad Shah Qajar




Ahmad Shah Qajar (Persian: احمد شاه قاجار‎; 21 January 1898 – 21 February 1930) was Shah of Iran from 16 July 1909 to 15 December 1925, and the last ruling member of the Qajar dynasty. On 16 July 1909, Mohammad Ali Shah was overthrown by rebels seeking to restore the 1906 Constitution. The rebels then convened the Grand Majles of 500 delegates from different backgrounds, which placed Ahmad Shah, Mohammad Ali's eleven-year-old son, on the Sun Throne.

The Grand Majlis enacted many reforms. They abolished class representation and created five new seats in the Majlis for minorities: two seats for Armenians, and one seat each for Jews, Zoroastrians, and Assyrians. The Majles also democratized the electoral system, diminished the electoral dominance of Tehran, and even lowered the voting age from twenty-five to twenty.

Not much is known about Ahmad's early life before his succession to the throne. Due to his young age, his uncle, Ali Reza Khan Azod al-Molk, governed as regent.

Ahmad Shah was formally crowned on 21 July 1914, upon reaching his majority. He attempted to fix the damage done by his father by appointing the best ministers he could find. He was, however, an ineffective ruler who was faced with internal unrest and foreign intrusions, particularly by the British Empire and Russian Empire. Russian and British troops fought against the Ottoman Empire forces in Persia during World War I.

The weak economic state of Persia put Ahmad Shah and his government at the mercy of foreign influence; they had to obtain loans from the Imperial Bank of Persia, furthermore, under the Anglo-Persian Agreement, Persia received only a small fraction of the income generated by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. On the other hand, the Red Army along with rebels and warlords ruled much of the countryside.

On 21 February 1921, Ahmad Shah was pushed aside in a military coup by Colonel Reza Khan, Minister of War and commander of the Persian Cossack Brigade, who subsequently seized the post of Prime Minister. During the coup, Reza Khan used three thousand men and only eighteen machine guns, a very bloodless coup that moved forward quickly. One of Khan's first actions was to rescind the unpopular Anglo-Persian Agreement. In addition, he signed the Russo-Persian Treaty of Friendship. This agreement canceled all previous treaties between the two countries and also gave Persia full and equal shipping rights in the Caspian Sea.

Stripped of all his remaining powers, Ahmad Shah went into exile with his family in 1923. Ahmad Shah's apparent lack of interest in attending to the affairs of the state and poor health had prompted him to leave Persia on an extended trip to Europe. He was formally deposed on 31 October 1925, when Reza Khan was proclaimed Shah by the Majlis, as Reza Shah Pahlavi. This terminated the Qajar Dynasty.

For more information on the Qajar family descendants please visit the following websites:


Qajar Pages
Qajar Family Association
Iran Imperial