IQSA 2011 Conference: Conference jointly organized by

25 June 2011

IQSA and the International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam

Princes and Courtiers in Qajar Persia
Conference Locations:
Amsterdam and Leiden
Conference Dates:
Friday June 3 and Saturday June 4, 2011

This year's conference is a two-day conference in two locations.

Day one will be held in Amsterdam at the International Institute for Social History [For address and contact details of IISH, click here] on the occasion of the opening of the Qajar Studies and Documentation Center and will be dedicated to the theme of 'Princes and Courtiers in Qajar Persia.' IQSA will also present the 2010-2011 anniversary issue of its Journal, Qajar Studies, featuring articles by Layla Diba, Bahman Bayani, Bahman Farmanfarmaian, and the translation of the Tarikh-e Azodi, by Manoutchehr Eskandari-Qajar with ancillary genealogical materials by Ferydoun Barjesteh.

Costs for Day one: Conference fee (including coffee and tea) € 15; Lunch: € 20 [To pay online, please click here.]

Day two of the conference will be held in the town of Leiden (20 minutes by train from Amsterdam), at the National Museum for Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudeheden --RMO) [For address and contact details of RMO, click here] devoted to the exploration of the work of Dutch entrepeneur Albert Hotz (1855-1930), active in Qajar Persia between 1873 and 1903, and his cultural legacy. Organized by the International Qajar Studies Association in collaboration with the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (RMO) on the occasion of the exhibition 'Handelswaar en Souvenirs' (Islamic Art from the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam in the National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden) and the 11th international IQSA conference on 'Princes and Courtiers in Qajar Persia.'

Costs for Day two: Conference fee Saturday (including coffee, tea and cakes, and museum entrance): € 25; Lunch: € 25; Dinner: € 40. [To pay online, please click here.]


Day One of Conference in Amsterdam at IISH

Iradj Amini: A Disenchanted Prime Minister -- An Overview of Mirza Ali Khan Amin-ed-Dowleh's Premiership During the Reign of Mozaffar-ed-Din Shah Kadjar
Marcello Cerruti: The Italian Mission and the Montabone Album (New Findings in a Private
Manoutchehr Eskandari-Qajar: Qajar Court and Courtiers in the Tarikh-e Azodi
Fatema Soudavar Farmanfarmaian: The Qajar Court and its Funders
Irene Natchkebia: The Royal Court of Tabriz Viewed by French Dragoman August Andréa de Nerciat (1807-1808)
Jennifer Scarce: Abul Hassan Khan (1776-1846) and the Impact of the Visual Image
Iván Szántó: The Art Patronage of Abbas Mirza: New Material from Hungary
Day Two of Conference in Leiden at RMO

Ferydoun Barjesteh van Waalwijk van Doorn: Albert Hotz, His Family and Business Backgrounds
Therese Engelberts: Albert Hotz, His Life and Work
Anneke Groeneveld: The Hotz Collection of the Wereldmuseum (Ethnographic Museum) of Rotterdam
Herman Maes: Some Words on the Condition of and Conservation Requirements for the Hotz Collection of Photographs
Hans Timmermans: Commercial Relations Between Persia and the Netherlands in the Qajar Era
Arnoud Vrolijk: The Hotz Collection of Photographs at the Leiden University Library
Corien Vuurman: Western Photographers in Qajar Persia, the Role of Albert Hotz


Bios of Conference Speakers and Presenters


A Disenchanted Prime Minister: An Overview of Mirza Ali Khan Amin-ed-Dowleh's Premiership During the Reign of Mozaffar-ed-Din Shah Kadjar

Iradj Amini is an independent scholar and researcher.

Abstract: After a brief exposé of Amin-ed-Dowleh's career, the paper will cover his life from his appointment as Prime Minister to his exile and death in his property on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

He can be reached at:

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The Italian Mission and the Montabone Album (New Findings in a Private Archive)
Marcello Cerruti is a descendant of his namesake, the Mission Chief of the Italian Mission to the Court of Nasser-ed-Din Shah.

Abstract: A short introduction about Marcello Cerruti and the Italian Mission and a dicussion of my copy of the Montabone Album and its differences with the other extant copies. Exhibition of some documents in my archive, such as:
- an unpublished photo of a Giuseppe Centurione di Giulio drawing of Demavend
- an unpublished carte de visite of Marquis Giacomo Doria in Tajrish
- a diary of the Mission from Djulfa to Teheran and from Teheran to Recht (Enzeli) (largely unpublished)
- credentials, pass, etc.
- the geographic maps of the area used by the Italian Mission
- the complete document of the Marcello Cerruti lithograph by Sani ol-Molk
- the Italian flag used by the Mission: the first Italian flag waving in Asia
- and other documents related to the Mission.

He can be reached at:

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Qajar Court and Courtiers in the Tarikh-e Azodi

Manoutchehr Eskandari-Qajar is President of the International Qajar Studies Association (IQSA) and Professor of Political Science and Middle East Studies at Santa Barbara City College, CA.
Abstract: The Tarikh-e Azodi is a unique document in many ways. Based on personal recollections and written in 1886, during the reign of Nasser-ed-Din Shah, it spans the reign of the first three Qajar shahs, and is an eye-witness account and a record of accounts by members of the imperial andaroun, of the private life of Fath Ali Shah at his court, from the point of view of one who had privileged access to the shah and the andaroun. Secondly, the Tarikh-e Azodi, is unique because of what Soltan Ahmad Mirza chooses to highlight, namely the role and the importance of the women at the Court: From the Mahd-e Olia, the mother of Fath Ali Shah, to Tavous Khanom "Tadj ed-Dowleh," Fath Ali Shah's favorite wife, to Shah Begom Khanom "Zia ol-Saltaneh," 7th daughter of Fath Ali Shah, and her father's favorite companion, interlocutor and secretary, to name but three. Lastly, the Tarikh-e Azodi is also a valuable record of social and cultural practices of the early Qajar era and of the court, which are still reflected in Iranian customs and traditions today, such as the rituals of prayers, the manner of celebrating nowrooz, the familial and official protocols, the origins of foods, terms, sayings, etc...

This paper will highlight some of this translator's favorite passages from the Tarikh-e Azodi.

He can be reached at:

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The Qajar Court and its Funders

Fatema Soudavar Farmanfarmaian is an independent scholar and researcher.

Abstract: In the pre-modern economy of the Qajar era, medieval and mostly inefficient methods were implemented to finance the court, the country and their needs. While instruments such as land tax and madakhel have been written about amply in scattered reports, other means of funding have suffered from neglect. Access to family and national archives are beginning to shed light on those whom one might refer to as the ‘bankers’ of the court. Arguably the most enduring figures among the latter were the two Malek ot-tojjar-e Mamalek-e Mahrusa-ye Iran who provided the court with many of its needs from the time of Crown Abbas Mirza down to the end of Nasser-eddin Shah, and in return they benefited from that special relationship, though not in a straight line. Nonetheless and notwithstanding inevitable ups and downs, their role was primordial in oiling the wheels of the royal apparatus and often involved more than mere funding and extended into the administrative, ceremonial, political and even personal domains.

This paper attempts to highlight the vagaries of the ‘banker’ mechanism through the case study of the two Malek ot-tojjar-e Mamalek-e Mahrusa-ye Iran (not to be confused with provincial Malek ot-tojjars), father and son, thereby revealing a more complex relationship than generally understood, and therefore a more complex society that was clearly in search of its bearings to better move beyond. The role of such semi-official yet essential players was sometimes misunderstood, and ultimately maligned by those who could neither adapt to the changing requirements of the times nor follow the first fumbling steps in a new direction. In the tug-of-war between the new and the old, the attempt to reconcile the traditional and the innovative in an uncomfortable co-habitation often reached a dead-end in the short term. In the longer term, these ‘bankers’ were among the few instrumental elements that pointed the way, albeit still very inadequately, to a different approach for later generations who are still grappling with it.

She can be reached at:

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The Royal Court of Tabriz Viewed by French Dragoman August Andréa de Nerciat (1807-1808)

Irene Natchkebia, Ilia State University’s G. Tsereteli Institute of Oriental Studies Department of Modern and Early Modern History of the Middle East.

Abstract: In the archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affaires of France is kept a manuscript entitled The Records about the Noblest Persons of the Royal Court at Tabriz (Notice sur les personnages plus distingués de la cour de Tauris AMFAE, MD/Perse, vol. 7, doc. 41). “The Records…” is dated by 17 January 1808, and signed by August Andréa de Nerciat, the second dragoman of the Plenipotentiary Minister of France in Persia General Gardane during the years 1807-1809. August Andréa de Nerciat as the interpreter of the engineering Captain Auguste de Bontems Le Fort, was in the disposition of the Crown Prince Abbas Mirza from July 1807 to November 1807. These records are divided into 8 subchapters and are written on the basis of the impressions of August Andréa de Nerciat and the information he gathered on the spot. In The Records about the Noblest Persons of the Royal Court at Tabriz the French dragoman paints a very live picture of the Prince and his courtiers and creates a gallery of such portraits.

She can be reached at:

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Abul Hassan Khan Shirazi (1776-1846) and the Impact of the Visual Image

Jennifer Scarce B.A., F.S.A.(Scot) was Curator of Middle Eastern Cultures, National Museums of Scotland. She is now an Honorary Lecturer, School of Design, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, at the University of Dundee, Scotland.

Abstract: Mirza Abul Hassan Khan Shirazi (1776-1846) was well-known in both Qajar and British political life. At the Qajar court of Fath Ali Shah (1797-1834) he was much involved in foreign policy eventually serving as Foreign Minister from 1824 to 1834. Inevitably, therefore, he played a major role in the complexities of British, French and Russian interventions in Persian affairs of the early 19th century. His appointment as Persian ambassador to the court of King George III (r. 1760-1820) resulted in two visits to Britain – the first from 1809 to 1810 and the second from 1819 to 1820. While he was formally received by George III, the King was old and in poor health, so the responsibilities of entertaining Mirza Abul Hassan were delegated to his son, the Prince Regent, later George IV (r. 1820-1830). The Regent’s circle was sophisticated, cultured and pleasure-loving and soon introduced the Mirza to London society where his courtesy, charm, good looks and spectacular clothes made him a welcome guest. Plenty of contemporary journals, letters, newspaper articles etc have survived as a record of his success. He, himself, kept a detailed journal of his first visit which combines both shrewd observation and a curious interest in a society unfamiliar to him but to which he easily adapts. He was also painted by some of the leading artists of Regency London – such as Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830) whose portrait of him painted in 1810 brilliantly captures his elegance and dignity. His awareness of the importance of the visual record and his readiness to sit for a British artist has interesting parallels with the encouragement of portrait painting at the court of Fath Ali Shah which resulted in sumptuous and richly coloured images of the ruler and his courtiers. My illustrated presentation of Mirza Abul Hassan’s visits will include a discussion of the impact and context of official portraits in both the European and Persian traditions.

She can be reached at:

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The Art Patronage of Abbas Mirza: New Material from Hungary

Iván Szántó is Assistant Professor in Iranian History and Art, Department of Iranian Studies, Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences (Budapest), as well as Researcher at the Department of Iranian Studies, Austrian Academy of Sciences (Vienna).

Abstract: The preparation of the exhibition entitled "Artisans at the Crossroads: Persian Arts of the Qajar Period, 1786-1925" - which is held at the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest coincidentally with the present conference - has created for the first time an opportunity for a thorough assessment of Qajar artworks in Hungary. These artefacts encompass almost all aspects of Persian art ranging from manuscripts and ceramics to amulets and photographs. While the majority of the material represents the taste of an urban middle-class clientele, there are also previously unpublished examples which belong to Qajar court art. In particular, there is a group within this latter category which can be associated with the Tabriz court of Abbas Mirza (1797-1833). Comprising monumental paintings and militaria, the group is heterogeneous in nature and its appearance in Hungary seems to have occurred in separate, unrelated episodes. Yet, if considered together, these objects offer an interesting addition to our knowledge of the valiahd's ideologically motivated art patronage.

He can be reached at: and

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Heidi Walcher teaches Middle Eastern and Iranian History at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.


 She can be reached at:


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