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Emigration of Iranian Elites to India during the 16-18th centuries

Masashi Haneda
p. 129-143

Texte intégral

  • 1 I shall use the term “nobility” in the same sense as Athar Ali used it in his book entitled The Mug (...)
  • 2 Athar Ali, The Apparatus of Empire, Delhi, 1985, p. xx-xxi; J.F. Richards, The New Cambridge Histor (...)
  • 3 Athar Ali, The Apparatus of Empire; id., The Mughal Nobility under Aurangzeb; Iqtidar Alam Khan, “T (...)

1It is a well-known fact that among the various ethnic groups composing the Mughal nobility1, Iranian people, that is, Persian-speaking people from the Iranian region, had considerable influence on the politics, economy and society of the Mughal empire2. An accurate and detailed knowledge of these Iranian elements is indispensable for historians interested in any field of Mughal history. At the same time, the question of Iranian emigration certainly cannot be overlooked even by those whose main studies remain within the framework of Iranian history. The background of that massive emigration must be understood to comprehend contemporary Iranian society. Despite the importance of this topic, there has not been, to my knowledge, any comprehensive study focusing on Iranian people in the Mughal Empire. Although there exist several studies on the Mughal nobility as a whole3, they do not necessarily look in depth at Iranian people within it. As a result, certain key questions remain unclarified, such as the region of Iran they came from, the type of people who emigrated to India, their status and occupations before going to India, and the reason for their immigration.

  • 4 Navvâb Ṣamṣam al-Dawla Shâh Navâz Khân, Ma’âṣir al-umarâ, ed. Mawlavî ‘Abd al-Raḥîm, 3 vol, Calcutt (...)
  • 5 The author does not always give the biography of one person per item. There is sometimes mention of (...)
  • 6 For exemple, for the period of Akbar, ‘Abd al-Bâqî Nahâvandî, Ma’âṯir-i Raḥîmî, ed. H. Ḥusayn, 3 vo (...)

2The purpose of this study is to demonstrate some little-known aspects of Iranian people in the Mughal empire and to draw a picture of Iranian immigrants in India by using as the basis for a comprehensive and analytical study the well-known biography, Ma’âṣer al-omarâ4. This source contains the biographies of 738 Mughal notables5 from the foundation of the Mughal empire until 1780, the year the work was completed. It was begun by Samsam (Ṣamṣam) al-Dowla Shah Navaz Khan, himself a descendant of an Iranian immigrant, and completed by his son, ‘Abd al-Hayy. As it was a fashion at the Mughal court to write biographies of notables, there are several other sources similar to the Ma’âṣer al-omarâ6, though none are as valuable for the present study, since the Ma’âṣer al-omarâ brings together all the available information and, moreover, covers almost the whole period of the Mughal empire.

3Before beginning to analyse the source, we must confront certain delicate problems, unavoidable when dealing with the international relations of the period under discussion. The first concerns the definition of Iran, and, more particularly, who the Iranian people were. Of course Iran did not exist as a state. In the Ma’âṣer al-omarâ, people from what is geographically Iran are usually described as either men of Khorasan or men of Iraq. In fact, the notion of Iran as a state is a very modern one. To be precise, this study should refer to the “Iranian people” as “people from the Safavid territory”. This term of reference however is long-winded and not very practical; here “Iranian people” will be employed for convenience’s sake.

4A further problem is that the Safavid territory was not always fixed; in Khorasan in the east and in Azerbaijan in the west especially, the border changed a number of times. As a result, even if the Ma’âṣer al-omarâ states that a certain person came from Khorasan, as is often the case, unless it mentions the time of immigration, it is impossible to tell whether he came from Safavid territory or not. This study therefore employs a rough solution, and defines all people coming from Khorasan, except Balkh and its vicinity, as Iranian, without taking the time of immigration into account. This solution may be criticized as being too Irano-centric. Nevertheless, the general tendencies of Iranian immigration can still be discerned, despite this simplification.

  • 7 Though Athar Ali makes a distinction between those who came from Iran and those who were born in Ir (...)

5One more problem remains. This study considers, at least statistically, both Iranian immigrants and their descendants as being the same “Iranian people”. This too may be criticized as another rough solution, for certainly there must have existed some differences in mentality, ways of thinking, and ways of acting between the immigrants themselves and their descendants. Iranian immigrants often married indigenous women and in that case their descendants cannot be simply defined Iranian even from the ethnic point of view. Nevertheless, it does not seem totally meaningless to group them all as Iranian people, because there did exist throughout Mughal history an influential Iranian group at the court composed not only of immigrants themselves but their descendants, and it was reinforced continually by newcomers from Iran. Furthermore, studies by Indian scholars concerning the Mughal nobility at a specific period do not discriminate between newcomers and their descendants7.

Numbers, time of immigration and origin of Iranian people

  • 8 We could easily diminish the number of people whose origin is not known in MU by consulting Athar A (...)
  • 9 Iqtidar Alam Khan, “The Nobility under Akbar”, p. 35.
  • 10 Richards, Cambridge History of India, p. 145.
  • 11 Athar Ali, The Mughal Nobility under Aurangzeb, p. 19-20,35. Athar Ali regards people receiving ove (...)

6Among the 738 notables included in the Ma’âṣer al-omarâ, at least 198 (26.8 per cent) were either immigrants from Iran or their descendants. This number may be even higher, because there are still 205 people whose origins have not been completely clarified8. We know from other studies on Mughal notables that the relative proportion of the Iranian elite was 25.54 per cent in 1575-959, 28.4 per cent in 1647-4810, 27.8 per cent in 1658-78 and 21.9 per cent in 1679-170711. This proportion corresponds well with that of our source and it is safe to say that twenty or thirty per cent of the elite at the Mughal court was Iranian throughout the period.

  • 12 For an example of immigration at the beginning of the eighteenth century, see MU, vol. I, p. 463.

7Immigration continued without interruption from the sixteenth century until the beginning of the eighteenth, that is, throughout the Safavid period. There is known, for instance, a certain family whose ancestor came from Iran in the sixteenth century and whose descendants still retained an important political role in the eighteenth. The family of the author of the Ma’âṣer al-omarâ, Samsam al-Dowla’s, is a good further example. On the other hand, as will be shown below, new immigrants came from Iran in the seventeenth and at the beginning of the eighteenth century12. What is important is that Iranian immigration to India was not a temporary phenomenon belonging to a specific period.

  • 13 J. Aubin, “Šâh Ismâ‘il et les notables de l’Iraq persan. Etudes safavides I”, JESHO 2(1959), p. 60- (...)

8It often happened in the Eastern Islamic world that due to a lack of expertise in administration, a new dynasty employed bureaucrats of the former dynasty. Thus the Safavid dynasty re-employed administrators of the Aq Qoyunlu, the dynasty they themselves had overthrown13. In this context, it is readily understandable that when the Mughal empire was founded in the sixteenth century, many members of the Iranian elite were invited to the Mughal court. The lack of administrative specialists with Persian bureaucratic skills in the newly conquered territory must have been particularly serious. Furthermore, the fact that the second emperor Homayun was finally able to gain the throne as a result of Safavid military aid must have had something to do with the increase of the Iranian population at the Mughal court in the middle of the sixteenth century. Therefore it is interesting and noteworthy that even at the zenith of the dynasty’s prosperity in the seventeenth century under Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, the Mughals welcomed Iranian immigrants and gave them high positions.

  • 14 All ten are descendants of Soltan Hoseyn Mirza b. Bahram Mirza, brother of Shah Tahmasp, living in (...)
  • 15 The number of people who came from Khwaf (19) is impressive, if one takes the size of the city into (...)

9Regarding the place of origin of the Iranian immigrants, among the 198 Iranian notables mentioned in the source, ten were Safavid family members14, and fourteen were tribal people; while the origin of a further nine are unclear. The accompanying table concerning the places of origin of the other 165 people shows that most Iranian immigrants to India (113) came from regions in the east and south-east such as Khorasan and Qohestan15. Taking into account that 42 people came from central regions such as Isfahan and Qazvin, it can be said that most of the Iranian immigrants came from the eastern or central part of Safavid territory. A very limited number came from the western region, as is shown by the fact that there was only one immigrant from Tabriz, the largest city there.

Features of Iranian immigrants

  • 16 V. Minorsky, Tadhkirat al-mulûk, London, 1943, p. 14-16, 187-188; Aubin, “Šâh Ismâ‘il”; A.K.S. Lamb (...)
  • 17 It is a well-known fact that horse breeding is very difficult in India and the horse was one of the (...)
  • 18 F. Robinson, “Perso-Islamic culture in India from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century”, (...)

10Minorsky’s pioneering studies have brought about a kind of consensus that the elites at the Safavid court were, in principle, divided into two different linguistic groups, Turkic-speaking Turks and Persian-speaking Tajiks. The Tajiks, often called “men of the pen”, were men of learning and mainly in charge of civil and religious matters, while the Turks, called “men of the sword”, were composed of military specialists16. Among the 198 notables mentioned in our source, Tajiks numbered 165 and Turks only 14. This imbalance may be attributed to the fact that firstly, Turkic people were primarily tribal and so individual immigration was rare, and secondly that the climate of India may not have been suitable for a nomadic way of life17. The most important reason, though, was that, Persian being the language of court and administration, Persian-speaking people with bureaucratic skills and a specialized knowledge of Persian culture were highly valued at the Mughal court18.

Number of Iranian people according to their place of origin

A. Tajiks

  

Place name

Number of people

Eastern region

Esfarayn

Herat

Joveyn

Kerman

Khorasan

Khwaf

Lar

Mashhad

Nishapur

Qandahar

Qohestan

Sabzevar

Sistan

Tun

Torbat

Yazd

1

20

1

1

5

19

1

20

11

4

1

7

1

3

4

14

Central and Northern region

Amol

Ardestan

Isfahan

Gilan

Kashan

Qazvin

Sava

Shiraz

Tehran

1

2

10

6

3

5

4

10

8

Western region

Shirvan

Shushtar

Tabriz

1

1

1

B. Turks

  

Tribe name

  

  

Afshar

Zu’l-Qadr

Qaramanlu

Qara Qoyunlu

Ostajalu

2

2

3

5

2

C. Others

  

Safavi

?

10

9

  • 19 There is much evidence that Tajik immigrants took part in military action. See, for example, the ca (...)

11Unlike the Safavid court, there was in principle no distinction in the Mughal empire between “men of the pen” and “men of the sword”. In consequence, once settled there, even Tajik notables often took part in battles with the soldiers given to them. This is an interesting fact which shows clearly the distinction between Safavid society and Mughal society19.

  • 20 There still remains some obscurity concerning the function of these posts, but the glossary on the (...)

12No particular tendencies are discernible in the positions occupied by Iranian people. They not only occupied important posts in central and local administration such as vakil (regent), vazir (prime minister), mirbakhshi (chief officer in charge of military department), ṣadr (chief officer in charge of religious affairs and endowments), local governor and local financial and military officer, but also served in the royal household as mir-sâmân (master of royal household department), mirtozuk (master of ceremonies at the court), mir-âkhwor (master of royal stables) and qush-begi (master of royal aviaries) etc.20.

  • 21 R. McChesney, “Waqf and Public Policy: the Waqf of Shâh ‘Abbâs, 1011-1023/1602-1614”, Asian and Afr (...)
  • 22 The case of the immigration of Mirak Ghiyas, a sayyid from Herat is a good example. See M.E. Subtel (...)

13It is noteworthy that 61 of the 165 Tajiks were sayyid (seyyed), that is, descendants of the Prophet. It is known that in Iranian society a sayyid was paid great respect and possessed many privileges (pensions, exemption from taxes etc.)21. Nevertheless, many sayyids emigrated to India. As Maria Subtelny’s recent study shows, political and economic persecution at the time of the conquest of Khorasan by the Safavids might have pushed some sayyids to India22. However, it is also known that several sayyids moved to India of their own volition (one example of which will appear below). The meaning of this phenomenon remains unclear, but what is certain is that India must have offered something far more attractive for a sayyid than the privileges provided in Safavid society.

  • 23 See the case of Mir Mohammad Amin, infra.
  • 24 Athar Ali affirms that most Iranian people were Shiite on the basis of a phrase in Bada’uni’s Monta (...)

14In some rare cases, the Ma’âṣer al-omarà reported the belief of a particular notable, saying the man was a zealous Shiite, etc.23 Generally, though, the source makes no mention of the religion of the subject. It is impossible, therefore, to group the Iranian people from a religious point of view, even though most of them must have been Shiite24. It must be underlined that, although the Mughal empire is often regarded as a Sunnite state, it welcomed Iranian Shiite immigrants at all times. In this respect, the Mughal empire was certainly much more liberal and pragmatic, as far as religion was concerned, than the Ottoman empire, which never permitted Shiite administrators.

Reasons for immigration

  • 25 For example, see the case of Asalat (Aṣâlat) Khan Mir ‘Abd al-Hadi (MU, vol. I, p. 167), of ‘Ali Ma (...)

15Generally speaking, there were two types of immigration. One was forced immigration, where some people fled to India as a consequence of being suspected of being rebels, being accused of being Sunnites, or merely losing royal favour25. India became for them a kind of political asylum. In this case, immigrants never returned to Iran. This type of immigration could happen anywhere at any moment of history, so it cannot be said to be characteristic of this particular period.

  • 26 Besides the two examples presented here, further such examples include Asaf (Âṣaf) Khan Khwaja Ghiy (...)

16What is much more interesting is the second type of immigration, where immigrants moved to India of their own free will. Unable to prosper in Safavid society, they moved to India without hesitation. In this case, the immigrants could return to Iran, or at least keep in touch with their friends and relatives there26. Let us now examine the careers of two notables in this category.

- Mir Mohammad Amin

  • 27 Eskandar Monshi, Târikh-e ‘âlam-ârâ-ye ‘abbâsi, 2 vol., Tehran, 1350 Sh/1971 [hereafter TAA], p. 16 (...)
  • 28 Her name was Hava (Ḥavâ) Begom. After the death of Mirza Razi, she was given to his cousin, Mirza R (...)
  • 29 According to Eskandar Monshi, Mirza Razi died in 1026/1617. He was survived by a very young son nam (...)

17Mir Mohammad Amin was a member of a sayyid family in Isfahan, the Shahristani-sayyid family, one of whose members was nominated mostowfi al-mamâlek at the beginning of the Safavid dynasty under Shah Esma‘il I27. Mir Mohammad Amin’s nephew, Mirza Razi (Râżi), was a favorite of Shah ‘Abbas I and was given the honor of marrying one of his daughters28. In the description of Isfahan by the French traveler Jean Chardin, there appears a blind prince who was incredibly good at mathematics. He was a son of this Mirza Razi29. Mirza Razi succeeded to the post of ṣadr, the most important office in the field of Safavid religious administration, following his uncle, Mir Jalal al-Din Hoseyn Sala’i (Ṣalâ’i) in 1016/1607-08 and remained there until his own death in 1026/1617. His cousin, Mirza Rafi‘ succeeded him. Thus Mir Mohammad Amin belonged to one of the most distinguished families in Safavid society at the time.

  • 30 MU, vol. III, p. 415, says it was Mirza Rafi‘, but it must have been Mirza Razi, still living at th (...)
  • 31 The story of Mir Mohammad Amin’s return to Iran and second journey to India is described by Eskanda (...)
  • 32 ZKh, p. 219, says the sovereign gave him 1 500 zats and 200 horses.
  • 33 He brought as presents twelve Iraqi horses, nine carpets and two rings of ruby (ZKh, p. 219).
  • 34 MU, vol. III, p. 413-415.
  • 35 ZKh, p. 219. The same story, a little less clear, is found in MU as well.

18Mir Mohammad Amin went to Golconda in 1013/1604-05. No source tells us the real reason for this move. The sovereign of Golconda at that time recognized his talents and gave him an important position in state administration. He finally became vakil (regent). After the death of the king, however, he was dismissed by the new monarch and subsequently moved to the kingdom of Bijapur seeking another position. Unable to find an opening there, he returned to Iran (autumn 1614). His nephew being ṣadr at that time30, he was received courteously by Shah ‘Abbas. He expected a high post at the court, but the Shah, despite his kind welcome, did not offer him an interesting position, being only eager to cash in on the fortune Mir Mohammad had accumulated in India. After four years, Mir Mohammad gave up his post at the Safavid court with the intent of going to the Mughal court. Made aware of Mir Mohammad’s ability, the emperor Jahangir wrote him an invitation and Mir Mohammad left Isfahan for the Mughal court in 1027/1617-1831. Jahangir rewarded him with 2 500 zats32 and 200 horses for his painstaking journey and his precious gifts33. Later he received important positions at court such as mir-sâmân and mir-bakhshi and was promoted to 5 000 zats and 2 000 horses. He died in India in Rabi‘ I 1047/September 163734. An ardent Shiite, he gave, according to the Ẕakhirat al-khavânin, a great deal of money in charity for people starving as a result of a drought in the Deccan, though certain Iranian people at the Mughal court insisted that it was not enough and claimed he sent two hundred thousand rupees every year to his sons and relatives in Iraq (certainly in Isfahan) to buy houses, gardens and property there35.

- Hakim Da’ud

  • 36 TAA, p. 955.
  • 37 According to Manucci, Hakim Da’ud died after taking, in place of Shah Jahan, the poison sent by Aur (...)
  • 38 MU, vol. I, p. 490-493, vol. III, p. 625-627.

19Hakim Da’ud’s father and mother were both physicians at Shah ‘Abbas’ court and harem respectively. After the death of his father in 1029/1619-2036, Da’ud succeeded him and entered a royal service as a physician. He stayed at the Safavid court throughout the reign of Shah Safi (1629-42), but received no special attention. After the enthronement of ‘Abbas II, Da’ud, realizing that he had little chance of promotion, decided to change masters and went to India in 1053/1643-44. He was successful in curing the burn of one of Shah Jahan’s daughters and so received royal favour. After that, everything went his way. He became an amir with the name of Taqarrob Khan in 1057/1647-48 and was given 5 000 zats and 3 000 horses in 1068/1657. After Aurangzeb took power, Da’ud was confined, perhaps because his relationship with the former emperor was too close. He died in 1073/1662-63. His high influence at the Mughal court is reflected in the fact that his name appears several times in European travel accounts, including those of Manucci, Bernier and Chardin37. Da’ud’s son, Mohammad ‘Ali Khan, who had gone to India with his father, was, unlike his father, a recipient of the favour of Aurangzeb and served him throughout his life38.

  • 39 Loṭfallâh Honarfar, Ganjina-ye âsâr-e târikhi-ye Eṣfahân, Isfahan, 1344 Sh/1965, p. 612-620.
  • 40 Concerning the Masjed-e Jorjir, see H. Gaube et E. Wirth, Der Bazar von Isfahan, Wiesbaden, 1978, p (...)
  • 41 Mirzâ Ḥasan Khân Sheykh Jâberi Anṣâri, Târikh-e Eṣfahân va Ray va hamma-ye jahân, Tehran, 1321, p. (...)

20Having acquired a fortune in India, Hakim Da’ud ordered a large mosque to be built in his home town of Isfahan and named after him. The construction of the Masjed-e Hakim was begun in 1067/1656-57, and completed in 1073/1662-63, the year of Da’ud’s death39. The location of the mosque was significant, being built on the site of the Masjed-e Jorjir, which had been the second Friday mosque of the city during the Buyid period40. It was situated alongside the Grand Bazar which connected the old Maydan (Meydân-e kohna) with the Royal Maydan (Meydân-e Shâh), newly built by Shah ‘Abbas I. This was the very centre of the city, and no better location could have been chosen. Much care was taken so that the labourers worked in good conditions. Not only were the workers provided for: it is said that feed was scattered along the road for the donkeys that carried the building materials41. This is all evidence of how important the building of the mosque was for Hakim Da’ud. The mosque remains today the third largest in the city after the Masjed-e Jom‘a (Friday Mosque) and the Masjed-e Emam. Hakim Da’ud never returned to Iran after his emigration to India, but he kept contact with his relatives and friends in Isfahan and seems to have identified with Isfahan until the end of his life.

  • 42 Satish Chandra stated that the Iranian people had to take their families to India and had no contac (...)
  • 43 Many such examples can be found in Sâjedallâh Tafhimi, Sho‘arâ-ye Eṣfahâni-ye Shaba Qâra, Islamabad (...)
  • 44 MU, vol. II, p. 30.

21The careers of both emigrants exemplify the strong attachment the emigrants felt for Isfahan even after their emigration. Contrary to Satish Chandra’s assertion42, a number of Iranian people kept contact with their birthplace even after their emigration and sometimes returned to Iran in a relatively casual way. The same kind of mobility can be shown in case of Persian poets who often held administrative posts at the Mughal court43. To the Persian speaking notables in Safavid society who knew all that was necessary for court life, it mattered little whether they served the Safavids or some other dynasty in India. They emigrated easily to the east. As the Ma’âṣer al-omarâ pertinently says, “India was a source of fortune” for them44.

22An analysis of only the Ma’âṣer al-omarâ may not be sufficient to fully understand the character of the emigration of Iranian elites to the Mughal court during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Much more complete information will be gained as a result of studying other Mughal sources such as chronicles, tazkiras, documents and biographies. This however awaits further research and we must remain for the present content with the temporary results mentioned here. Though providing only a general view, the paper does show clearly that the question of the emigration of Iranian elites to India cannot be overemphasized either for Indian or Iranian history.

  • 45 M. Haneda, “The Character of the Urbanisation of Isfahan in the Later Safavid Period”, in Ch. Melvi (...)
  • 46 Chardin, Voyages, vol. VIII, p. 93; S.F. Dale, Indian Merchants and Eurasian Trade, 1600-1730, Camb (...)

23At the same time, however, it must not be forgotten that the emigration was always one way, from Iran to India. No person of Indian origin is known to have attained high position at the Safavid court. At the political and cultural levels, the stream of people flowed from west to east. On the other hand, a number of Indian merchants went to Iran in the seventeenth century. Most caravanserais in good locations around the Royal Maydan in Isfahan were occupied by Indian merchants45. It is said there were more than ten thousand Indians in Isfahan and there existed even a crematory specially reserved for them on the shore of the Zayanda river in the latter half of the seventeenth century46. Stephan Dale’s study clearly shows that, from an economic point of view, the stream of people moved rather from east to west.

24All these facts mean that in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, there existed, culturally and economically, a loosely unified area including Iran, Afghanistan and northern and central India. A number of Iranian people possessing sophisticated Persian culture emigrated from Iran to India seeking honour and fortune, while many Indian merchants moved from India to Iran looking for economic profit.

  • 47 In his recent study, Robert McChesney throws doubt on the traditional view that there existed a “ba (...)

25It is an extremely interesting and important question how Central Asia under the Uzbek regime was involved with this Indo-Persian world. At least until the collapse of the Timurids at the beginning of the sixteenth century, Iran and Central Asia regularly had a common political and cultural background. People moved easily from one to the other. It is, however, generally believed that Iranian emigration to Central Asia after the rise of the Safavids was limited to those who were religiously persecuted. If so, the Mughal empire and the Uzbek regime might be thought to have had different attitudes towards immigrants. This would not just be a question of the attitudes of the two states, for the view of the Iranian people towards the two countries should also be taken into account. What was the reason for this difference? Why did Iranian people immigrate to India rather than to Central Asia? These questions remain unanswered. The actual situation of human interchange between Iran and Central Asia after the sixteenth century needs to be studied in order for these important questions to be clarified47.

  • 48 Maria Subtelny’s recent article on the emigration to India of a sayyid (“Mîrak-i Sayyid Ghiyâs”) is (...)

26Human interchange between Central Asia and India also awaits further study. It is known that the Mughal dynasty came from Central Asia and there was an influential Turani group (a group of people from Central Asia) at its court. However, no serious study has yet been done on the movement of people between India and Central Asia, at least at the political and cultural level48. Much more work remains to be done.

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Notes

1 I shall use the term “nobility” in the same sense as Athar Ali used it in his book entitled The Mughal Nobility under Aurangzeb, Aligarh, 1966. According to him, “the term ‘nobility’ generally denotes the class of persons who were officers of the king and at the same time formed the superior class in the political order” (ibid., p. 2).

2 Athar Ali, The Apparatus of Empire, Delhi, 1985, p. xx-xxi; J.F. Richards, The New Cambridge History of India I-5: The Mughal Empire, Cambridge, 1993, p. 19, 145-146. According to the tables of the ethnic composition of manṣab-holders made by Athar Ali, Iranian officials, in most cases, form the largest of all the ethnic groups throughout the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries.

3 Athar Ali, The Apparatus of Empire; id., The Mughal Nobility under Aurangzeb; Iqtidar Alam Khan, “The Nobility under Akbar and the Development of his Religious Policy, 1560-80”, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1968), p. 29-36. Athar Abbas Rizvi examined Iranian manṣab holders under Akbar based on the Â’in-e akbari in his A Socio-Intellectual History of the Isnâ ‘Ashari Shi’is in India, 2 vol., Canberra, 1986, vol. I, p. 235-241.

4 Navvâb Ṣamṣam al-Dawla Shâh Navâz Khân, Ma’âṣir al-umarâ, ed. Mawlavî ‘Abd al-Raḥîm, 3 vol, Calcutta, 1887-1895 [hereafter MU]. English translation: The Maâṯir al-umarâ, tr. H. Beveridge, revised, annotated and completed by B. Prashad, 2 vol., New Delhi, 1979.

5 The author does not always give the biography of one person per item. There is sometimes mention of more than two persons in the same item. That is why the number of items included in the English translation is different from the number of persons discussed in the present study.

6 For exemple, for the period of Akbar, ‘Abd al-Bâqî Nahâvandî, Ma’âṯir-i Raḥîmî, ed. H. Ḥusayn, 3 vol., Calcutta 1910-31; for the period before 1650, Shaykh Farîd Bhakkarî, Zakhîrat al-Khawânîn, ed. Sayyid Mu‘în al-Khaqq, Karachi 1961-74, [herefater ZKh]. We have another concise biography which covers almost all the period like MU, Kiwal Ram, Taẕkerat al-omarâ, Ms. British Library, Add. 16703.

7 Though Athar Ali makes a distinction between those who came from Iran and those who were born in Iran, in the column “country of birth” in his list, he puts both people together into a group called Irani in the end. See lists at the end of The Mughal Nobility under Aurangzeb.

8 We could easily diminish the number of people whose origin is not known in MU by consulting Athar Ali’s two works on the Mughal nobility quoted above. I did not do so here, however, because, although at least one reference is quoted in his huge list of notables in The Apparatus of Empire, it does not mean that one can get access to the exact reference to the place of origin of the notable concerned. It just shows, in principle, the reference to either his manṣab or to his promotion. We must look elsewhere to confirm the origin of the person concerned. Due to a lack of time and the inaccessibility of some of the sources, I decided against doing this.

9 Iqtidar Alam Khan, “The Nobility under Akbar”, p. 35.

10 Richards, Cambridge History of India, p. 145.

11 Athar Ali, The Mughal Nobility under Aurangzeb, p. 19-20,35. Athar Ali regards people receiving over 1 000 zats as notables, while in the other two-aforementioned studies, people receiving over 500 zats are included in this category.

12 For an example of immigration at the beginning of the eighteenth century, see MU, vol. I, p. 463.

13 J. Aubin, “Šâh Ismâ‘il et les notables de l’Iraq persan. Etudes safavides I”, JESHO 2(1959), p. 60-64.

14 All ten are descendants of Soltan Hoseyn Mirza b. Bahram Mirza, brother of Shah Tahmasp, living in the Qandahar region. They aligned with the Mughal side as a result of the purge of the royal family by Esma‘il II. See MU, vol. II, p. 670-676, vol. III, p. 296-302, 434-442, 583-586, etc.

15 The number of people who came from Khwaf (19) is impressive, if one takes the size of the city into account. The numbers reflect Aurangzeb’s particular favour towards them. See Athar Ali, The Mughal Nobility under Aurangzeb, p. 19.

16 V. Minorsky, Tadhkirat al-mulûk, London, 1943, p. 14-16, 187-188; Aubin, “Šâh Ismâ‘il”; A.K.S. Lambton, Continuity and Change in Medieval Persia, London, 1988, p. 221-257, 297-327. Although it is obvious that we have to modify this dualistic view to some extent, as being too simple and not precisely reflecting the historical reality, I think such a classification still has some meaning. For a recent study on the Tajiks and the Turks, see for exemple, J. Aubin, Emirs mongols et vizirs persans dans les remous de l’acculturation, Paris, 1995 [Cahiers de Studia Iranica 15].

17 It is a well-known fact that horse breeding is very difficult in India and the horse was one of the most important import items to India from Central Asia. See M. Alam, “Trade, State Policy and Religious Change: Aspects of Mughal-Uzbek Commercial relations, c. 1550-1750”, JESHO 37/3 (1994), p. 208-210; J. Gommans, “The Horse Trade in Eighteenth-Century South Asia”, JESHO 37/3 (1994); and M. Szuppe, “En quête de chevaux turkmènes: le journal de voyage de Mîr ‘Izzatullâh de Delhi à Boukhara en 1812-1813”, dans Inde-Asie centrale: routes du commerce et des idées, (Cahiers d’Asie centrale 1-2), Tachkent-Aix-en-Provence, 1996.

18 F. Robinson, “Perso-Islamic culture in India from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century”, in R.L. Canfield (ed.), Turko-Persia in Historical Perspective, Cambridge 1991, p. 106-107.

19 There is much evidence that Tajik immigrants took part in military action. See, for example, the case of Baqer Khan Najm-e Sani whose skill in archery was excellent (MU, vol. I, p. 408-412). He was a descendant of Najm-e Sani, a famous Tajik vakil of Esma‘il I who led the army, unlike other Tajik vakils, to Transoxiana against the Uzbeks. See M. Haneda, “La famille Ḫûzânî d’Isfahan: 15e-17e siècles”, Studia Iranica 18/1 (1989), p. 91. There is an interesting argument on the question of the Tajiks and the Turks at the Mughal court in the recent study of Stephen Blake on Shahjahanabad. See S.P. Blake, Shahjahanabad: The Sovereign City in Mughal India 1639-1739, Cambridge, 1991, p. 130-150.

20 There still remains some obscurity concerning the function of these posts, but the glossary on the principal posts by Athar Ali is useful. See Athar Ali, The Apparatus of Empire, p. XXV-XXVI. See also Ishtiaq Husain Qureshi, The Administration of the Mughal Empire, Lohanipur – Patna (n.d.); H.K. Naqvi, History of Mughal Government and Administration, Delhi, 1990; Hare Krishna Mishra, Bureaucracy under the Mughals, 1556 A.D. to 1707 A.D., Delhi, 1989; Aniruddha Ray, Some Aspects of Mughal Administration, New Delhi, 1984; R.C. Majumdar (éd.), The Mughal Empire, Bombay, 1974, chap. XVII.

21 R. McChesney, “Waqf and Public Policy: the Waqf of Shâh ‘Abbâs, 1011-1023/1602-1614”, Asian and African Studies 15 (1981), p. 171-172. Concerning the respect expressed by Mongol Ilkhans to sayyids, see Lambton, Continuity and Change, p. 325-326.

22 The case of the immigration of Mirak Ghiyas, a sayyid from Herat is a good example. See M.E. Subtelny, “Mîrak-i Sayyid Ghiyas and the Timurid Tradition of Landscape Architecture”, Studia Iranica 24/1 (1995), p. 27.

23 See the case of Mir Mohammad Amin, infra.

24 Athar Ali affirms that most Iranian people were Shiite on the basis of a phrase in Bada’uni’s Montakhab al-tavârikh. We must pay attention to the fact that Bada’uni was referring only to Akbar’s court and that he said most of the people from “Iraq” were Shiite, rather than those from “Iran” (including Khorasan) as a whole. See Athar Ali, The Mughal Nobility under Aurangzeb, p. 19; ‘Abd al-Qâder b. Moluk Shâh Badâ’unî Muntakhab al-tavarîkh, ed. Ahmad ‘Alî and Lees, Calcutta, 1865-69, vol. II, p. 326-327.

25 For example, see the case of Asalat (Aṣâlat) Khan Mir ‘Abd al-Hadi (MU, vol. I, p. 167), of ‘Ali Mardan Khan (MU, vol. II, p. 795-807) and of Mir Ghiyas al-Din ‘Ali (MU, vol. III, p. 812-817).

26 Besides the two examples presented here, further such examples include Asaf (Âṣaf) Khan Khwaja Ghiyas al-Din ‘Ali Qazvini, a son of a davâtdâr (ink-holder) at the Safavid court (MU, vol. I, p. 90-93), Asaf Khan Mirza, a son of a vizier of Kashan and himself at one time an attendant at royal meetings (bâryâb-e majles-e shâh) (MU, vol. I, p. 107-115), Asalat Khan Mirza Mohammad whose ancestors had been the guardians of the holy shrine of Mashhad (MU, vol. I, p. 222-225), Daneshmand Khan, a man of erudition and patron of F. Bernier (MU, vol. II, p. 30-32), and Fathallah Shirazi, a man of great learning who was invited to ‘Adelshah’s court (MU, vol. I, p. 100-105).

27 Eskandar Monshi, Târikh-e ‘âlam-ârâ-ye ‘abbâsi, 2 vol., Tehran, 1350 Sh/1971 [hereafter TAA], p. 164. R. Quiring-Zoche, Isfahan im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert, Freiburg, 1980, p. 242.

28 Her name was Hava (Ḥavâ) Begom. After the death of Mirza Razi, she was given to his cousin, Mirza Rafi‘. See TAA, p. 929; Naṣrallâh Falsafi, Zendegâni-ye Shâh ‘Abbâs-e avval, vol. II, Tehran, 1334/1955, p. 201.

29 According to Eskandar Monshi, Mirza Razi died in 1026/1617. He was survived by a very young son named Mir Sadr al-Din Mohammad, grandson of the sovereign through the marriage of ‘Abbas’s daughter and Mirza Razi (TAA, p. 929). Following the enthronement of Shah Safi (1039/1630-31), a purge of the royal family was carried out. Among the purged members descended from Shah ‘Abbas’s daughters, we find the name of Mirza Razi (Mohammad Ma‘sum b. Khwâjagi Eṣfahâni, Kholâṣat al-siyar, ed. Iraj Afshâr, Tehran, 1368 Sh/1989, p. 126), or a son of Mirza Razi, ṣadr (Eskandar Monshi, Ẕeyl-e târikh-e ‘âlam-ârâ-ye ‘abbâsi, ed. Soheyli Khwânsari, Tehran, 1317 Sh/1938, p. 90). He ought to have been executed, but his life was spared and he was blinded. Mir Sadr al-Din Mohammad might have taken his father’s name after growing up. He was then at least thirteen years old and this fact corresponds with Chardin’s remark that the prince was blinded after growing up. Cf. Jean Chardin, Voyage du Chevalier Chardin, en Perse et autres lieux de l’Orient, 10 vol., Paris, éd. L. Langlès, 1811, vol. VIII, p. 47-59, vol. IX, p. 554, 555.

30 MU, vol. III, p. 415, says it was Mirza Rafi‘, but it must have been Mirza Razi, still living at the time of Mir Mohammad Amin’s return, as TAA says (p. 883).

31 The story of Mir Mohammad Amin’s return to Iran and second journey to India is described by Eskandar Monshi in a slightly different way. He was received by Shah ‘Abbas near the Aras river on his return from Tiflis. But “his overweening ambition led him to make remarks displeasing to the shah; for instance, he let it to be known that he would be satisfied with nothing less that the positions of vizier of the supreme dîvân and vakîl-e nafs-e homâyûn”; TAA, p. 883, English translation by R.M. Savory (Eskandar Monshi, History of Shah Abbâs, Boulder, 1978), p. 1098.

32 ZKh, p. 219, says the sovereign gave him 1 500 zats and 200 horses.

33 He brought as presents twelve Iraqi horses, nine carpets and two rings of ruby (ZKh, p. 219).

34 MU, vol. III, p. 413-415.

35 ZKh, p. 219. The same story, a little less clear, is found in MU as well.

36 TAA, p. 955.

37 According to Manucci, Hakim Da’ud died after taking, in place of Shah Jahan, the poison sent by Aurangzeb to assassinate the emperor, see Storia de Mogor or Moghul India 1653-1708 by Niccolao Manucci, tr. W. Irvine, London, 1907-08, vol. II, p. 65; François Bernier, Histoire de la dernière révolution des états du Grand Mogol, 2 vol., Paris 1670, vol. I, p. 240-241; Chardin, Voyages, vol. VII, p. 462-463.

38 MU, vol. I, p. 490-493, vol. III, p. 625-627.

39 Loṭfallâh Honarfar, Ganjina-ye âsâr-e târikhi-ye Eṣfahân, Isfahan, 1344 Sh/1965, p. 612-620.

40 Concerning the Masjed-e Jorjir, see H. Gaube et E. Wirth, Der Bazar von Isfahan, Wiesbaden, 1978, p. 203-204; O. Grabar, The Great Mosque of Isfahan, London, 1990, p. 47-48.

41 Mirzâ Ḥasan Khân Sheykh Jâberi Anṣâri, Târikh-e Eṣfahân va Ray va hamma-ye jahân, Tehran, 1321, p. 270-271.

42 Satish Chandra stated that the Iranian people had to take their families to India and had no contact with the land of their birth after their immigration. See S. Chandra, Parties and Politics at the Mughal Court 1707-1740, Aligarh, 1959, p. xxxii.

43 Many such examples can be found in Sâjedallâh Tafhimi, Sho‘arâ-ye Eṣfahâni-ye Shaba Qâra, Islamabad, 1994; see p. 12, 23, 32, 43, 44, 52, 57, 67, 79, 85, 87, 88, 89, 94, etc. I thank Charles Melville for informing me of the existence of this valuable book and allowing me to refer to his own copy.

44 MU, vol. II, p. 30.

45 M. Haneda, “The Character of the Urbanisation of Isfahan in the Later Safavid Period”, in Ch. Melville (ed.), Safavid Persia. A History and Politics of an Islamic Society, London – New York, 1996, p. 374. The figure was drawn mainly based on the description of Isfahan by Jean Chardin and on the result of field work by Gaube and Wirth, Der Bazar von Isfahan.

46 Chardin, Voyages, vol. VIII, p. 93; S.F. Dale, Indian Merchants and Eurasian Trade, 1600-1730, Cambridge, 1994, p. 67.

47 In his recent study, Robert McChesney throws doubt on the traditional view that there existed a “barrier of heterodoxy” after the establishment of the Safavids between Iran and Central Asia. See R. McChesney, “Barrier of Heterodoxy? Rethinking the Ties between Iran and Central Asia in the Seventeenth Century”, in Ch. Melville (ed.), Safavid Persia, p. 231-267.

48 Maria Subtelny’s recent article on the emigration to India of a sayyid (“Mîrak-i Sayyid Ghiyâs”) is certainly a pioneering work in this field.

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Masashi Haneda, « Emigration of Iranian Elites to India during the 16-18th centuries », Cahiers d’Asie centrale, 3/4 | 1997, 129-143.

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Masashi Haneda, « Emigration of Iranian Elites to India during the 16-18th centuries », Cahiers d’Asie centrale [En ligne], 3/4 | 1997, mis en ligne le 03 janvier 2011, consulté le 21 octobre 2014. URL : http://asiecentrale.revues.org/480

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Masashi Haneda

Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo, Japon

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