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The Cambridge History of Iran
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    Fazel, Nasim Berndtsson, Ronny Uvo, Cintia Bertacchi Madani, Kaveh and Kløve, Bjørn 2018. Regionalization of precipitation characteristics in Iran’s Lake Urmia basin. Theoretical and Applied Climatology, Vol. 132, Issue. 1-2, p. 363.

    Mentz, Søren 2004. The Commercial Culture of the Armenian Merchant: Diaspora and Social Behaviour. Itinerario, Vol. 28, Issue. 01, p. 16.

    Babayan, Kathryn 1994. The Safavid synthesis: from Qizilbash Islam to imamite Shi'ism. Iranian Studies, Vol. 27, Issue. 1-4, p. 135.

    Hecker, Felicia J. 1993. A Fifteenth-Century Chinese Diplomat in Herat. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. 3, Issue. 01, p. 85.

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The Cambridge History of Iran is an eight-volume survey of Iranian history and culture, and its contribution to the civilisation of the world. All aspects of the religious, philosophical, political, economic, scientific and artistic elements in Iranian civilisation are studied, with some emphasis on the geographical and ecological factors which have contributed to that civilisation's special character. The aim is to provide a collection of readable essays rather than a catalogue of information. The volumes offer scope for the publication of new ideas as well as providing summaries of established facts. They should act as a stimulus to specialists, but are primarily concerned to answer the sort of questions about the past and present of Iran that are asked by the non-specialist. This volume covers the history of Iran from the collapse of the Il-Khanid empire (c. 1335) to the second quarter of the 18th century. The period id of special interest as one which, in the traditional view, witnessed the emergence of Iran as a 'national state'. It is in the latter half of this era that moderate Shi'ism acquired the definitive hold on the country which has been maintained to the present day, and which helps to differentiate Iran from the other Islamic states of south-west Asia. In addition to chapters on commercial and diplomatic contacts with Europe - contacts usually fortified by a common hostility to the Ottoman Turks - which became prominent from the 16th century, the volume contains chapters on social and economic history, the arts and architecture, the exact sciences, religion, philosophy and literature.

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Page 1 of 2

    pp 1-40
  • View abstract
    This chapter summarises the most important events on the Jalayirids, on the Īnjū family and the Muzaffarids, and on the Sarbadārs and their rivals. The name Jalāyir is derived from that of a large and important Mongol tribe. The dynasty of the same name, whose rule began in 740/1340 with Shaikh Ḥasan-i Buzurg's seizure of power in Baghdad and ended with the death of Ḥusain II at the siege of al-Ḥilla. The capture of Shīrāz and Iṣfahān gave Mubāriz al-Dīn, the first of the Muzaffarid princes, a dominant position in Iranian politics. The final end of the Muzaffarids proved to be as bloody as the period of their rule. Togha Temür and the Sarbadārs were not the only rivals for power in Khurāsān. Another contender was the Kart dynasty in Herat. In eastern Khurāsān a radical Shīʿī named Darvīsh ʿAzīz rose in revolt and established a theocracy in Mashhad in the name of the Twelfth Imām, Muḥammad al-Mahdī.
    pp 42-97
  • View abstract
    Tīmūr's advances from Transoxiana into the Near East radically transformed conditions in Iran. Tīmūr's only adversary in Persia after the defeat of the Muzaffarids was Sulṭān Aḥmad Jalāyir, whose sphere of influence stretched from Ᾱzarbāījān into Mesopotamia as far as Baghdad. On 25 September 1396, Tīmūr had won a spectacular victory over an army of crusaders at Nicopolis on the lower Danube. Later, during Tīmūr's Indian campaign, he had enjoyed success in Anatolia in operations against the princes of Qaramān. For Tīmūr the Syrian campaign reaped a rich reward in terms of goods and valuables confiscated and slaves captured. One of Tīmūr's characteristics was truly extraordinary: his military genius. His victories and conquests, his strategic and tactical feats are almost without parallel in world history. Tīmūr's effective destruction of the military and economic might of the Golden Horde did a great deal to liberate Old Russia from the Tartar yoke under which it had suffered for so long.
    pp 98-146
  • View abstract
    The period of Timurid government in Iran extends from 807/1405 to 913/1507. Successors of Tīmūr did in fact rule long after this period, in the Mughal Empire in India founded by Ẓahīr al-Dīn Bābur. The importance of the Timurid age for Iran lies in the intellectual, religious, and cultural developments which were beginning to take shape at that time. Tīmūr had appointed as his successor his grandson, Pīr Muḥammad b. Jahāngīr. Shāh Rukh's relations with China, in which Shāh Rukh's son Ulugh Beg was also involved, are renowned. The reign of Shāh Rukh saw significant advances in cultural life, especially in the sphere of the arts and intellectual inquiry. Even though the cultural achievements of the Timurid age were only just moving towards their climax, however, the death of Shāh Rukh saw the onset of the decline of the Timurid Empire as the leading political power in Central Asia and the Near East.
    pp 147-188
  • View abstract
    With the conquest of Baghdad in 656/1258, the Mongols dealt a deathblow to the empire of the caliphate. This event is often regarded as a dividing line between two historical epochs. The political success of single Turkish groups and individuals within the world of Islam which had begun more than two centuries before the Mongol onslaught, was one of the most important prerequisites for later developments. While in recent times much new light has been shed on two Türkmen groups, namely Ᾱq Quyūnlū and Qarā Quyūnlū. The fall of Qarā Iskandar had brought into Jahān Shāh's hands the Qarā Quyūnlū principality, with the exception, however, of central and southern Mesopotamia. In the years that followed his seizure of power, Uzun Ḥasan Ᾱq Quyūnlū not only held his own in conflict with his brother Jahāngīr and other kindred, but also engaged in numerous campaigns to enlarge and round off his territory and to consolidate his power.
    pp 189-350
  • View abstract
    In the summer of 906-7/1501, after his victory over the Ᾱq Quyūnlū, Ismāʿīl entered the Türkmen capital Tabriz, ascended the throne and took the title of Shah. He thereby founded the rule of the Safavid dynasty in Iran which was to last until 1148/1736. Some of Ismāʿīl's relatives had escaped the systematic elimination of the royal princes. These included his eldest brother Muḥammad Khudābanda and four of his sons, the eldest, Sulṭān Ḥasan Mīrzā, having been murdered in Tehran shortly before on Ismāʿīl's orders. Shah ʿAbbāsʾs reign saw the beginning of the end for the Türkmens, the decline of their military and political influence and the eclipse of their social status. For wide sections of the population in Iran the collapse of the Safavid Empire that occurred when Sulṭān Ḥusain relinquished the throne and power was assumed by Maḥmūd was a catastrophe greater than anything they could possibly have imagined.
    pp 351-372
  • View abstract
    This chapter outlines the Safavid administrative and social structure and the principal phases in the development of the Safavid administrative system. Safavid administrative institutions derived from two main sources: the administrative institutions of the Türkmens and the Timurids. There are three main phases in the development of Safavid administrative institutions: first, the period between the accession of Shah Ismāʿīl I and that of Shah ʿAbbās I; second, the reign of Shah ʿAbbās I; and third, the period from the accession of Shah Ṣafī to the overthrow of the Safavid dynasty. The decisive defeat suffered by the Safavids at the hands of the Ottomans at Chāldirān in 920/1514 had far-reaching effects, not only on the character and behaviour of Ismāʿīl himself, but on his relations with the Qizilbāsh amīrs. In 930/15 24, the evolution of Safavid administrative institutions was rudely interrupted when the Qizilbāsh amīrs seized control of the state from the youthful Tahmāsp.
    pp 373-410
  • View abstract
    A notable increase in the number of European missionaries occurred during the reign of Shah ʿAbbās I, when his tolerant religious policy made possible the establishment in Persia of the Augustinians, Carmelites and other orders. Like the Dominicans, these missionaries had to learn Persian, Turkish and Armenian in order to be able to preach in those languages. Although the proselytising efforts of these missions among Muslims had meagre results, their members made important contacts, and many of their letters to Europe, particularly of the Carmelites and Jesuits, are most valuable sources of information. Some of the earliest contacts between Persia and the West in 1350-1736 covered by this chapter were made by the Dominicans and Franciscans, particularly the former. The contacts made in the 17th century with the establishment of the various religious orders and of the English, Dutch and French East India Companies were to prove of a more continuous and lasting nature.
    pp 412-490
  • View abstract
    Persia, wrote Thévenot, the French traveller in the 17th century, was like a caravansarai: merchants travelled in from many directions. This was particularly true of the period from the Timurids to the end of the Safavids. The cruelty and destruction of Tīmūr's ruthless military campaigns are well known but amid the political confusion of much Persian history there is an astonishing recuperative capacity and fortitude in the midst of adversity. Herat played an important role in the Timurid trading pattern. In the 14th Century it became the main centre of the north-east/south-west trade between the Golden Horde, Khwarazm and India and of the west-east trade between the empire of the Il-khans and the western provinces of China. The economic, like the political, condition of Persia at the opening of the reign of Shah ʿAbbās I; was very unstable. The turmoil of the civil war prior to his accession had adversely affected trade.
    pp 491-567
  • View abstract
    This chapter discusses the economic situation of Iran from the 14th to the 18th century. It provides two essential sectors, which are distinct from one another: on the one hand the economy of the open countryside (agriculture, cattle-breeding, hunting, fishing and mining) and on the other hand the urban economy (commerce and industry). The chapter examines the development of the various forms and institutions of landholding. The village was the basis of rural production. Hunting and fishing were probably always of limited economic importance. Diseases and epidemics, often intensified by lack of water and absence of hygiene, endangered many lives. To the European commercial powers, Iran remained of interest chiefly on account of its products and raw materials. Inter-city trade was profitable only for commercial magnates with large capital and had the necessary trade connections and possibly also their own special organisations. The rate of taxation of farm produce varied considerably from place to place and from time to time.
    pp 568-580
  • View abstract
    Throughout the four centuries preceding the rise of Tīmūr, science had been actively cultivated in many parts of the Iranian plateau by practitioners who were in the forefronts of their respective disciplines. The foundations of geometry were repeatedly re-examined, and steps were taken towards generalising the concept of number. Advances were made in mathematical geography, and in astronomy, both in theory and in observation. In point of fact, Jamshīd Ghiyās al-Dīn al-Kāshī, working at one place, Ulugh Beg's Samarqand observatory, and in one subject, numerical analysis. The Indian decimals were used only for whole numbers and the representation was unique. Having established the theoretical basis for decimal fractions, Jamshīd went on to demonstrate their utility in the computation of areas, volumes, and other geometric problems. Trigonometry as an independent branch of mathematics was in large measure a creation of Muslim medieval astronomers.
    pp 581-609
  • View abstract
    Persia was a place of exchanges in ideas rather than a focus of original discovery. Islamic astronomy during the Safavid period lies at the end of a long tradition of geometrical representation. Whilst the mechanical clock from Europe had entered the Ottoman observatory to rival the water-clock in the recording of duration, Islamic scientific information and ideas were percolating slowly westwards through Elia Misrachi. Greaves was one of those enterprising gentlemen associated with the rise of science in 17th-century England. According to John Ward, Greaves collected five Persian manuscripts of the Samarqand Tables, translated them into Latin, and deposited the copy of his final revision with Archbishop Usher. Perhaps the most persistent feature of Safavid astronomy is the popularity of the astrolabe. The a priori approach of Muslim scientists inclined men to a respectful acknowledgement of traditional practice, especially in the conservative profession of medicine.
    pp 610-655
  • View abstract
    Tīmūr, the "refuge of the Caliphate", the cosmic vindicator of all Islam represents the mediation between the Mongol heritage and the new complex of political and religious requirements of Islam. The religious history of Iran can be seen as being wholly reflected in the complex relationship of the Qarā Quyūnlū and Ᾱq Quyūnlū with their subjects, in a complicated network of alliances and enmities which do not seem to have been dictated by any coherent religious policy. It was in this climate of ambiguity and an uncertain political situation that heretical movements like those of the Hurūfīs and the Mushaʿshaʿ were born, and that the Qizilbāsh movement assumed the form of a military and religious organisation. The official religious history of the Safavid era, beginning with ʿAbbās I;, is concerned with three fundamental problems: the condemnation of sufism; the juridical codification and, lastly, the promulgation of the new Majlisian theology.
    pp 656-697
  • View abstract
    The Safavid period is one of the outstanding epochs in the intellectual and spiritual history of Islamic Iran, although its artistic and political life is much better known to the outside world than what it created in the domains of Sufism, philosophy and theology. As for the intellectual background of the Safavid era, there also the theoretical and doctrinal aspect of Sufism, known as gnosis, plays a fundamental role along with schools of philosophy and theology. For both religious and political reasons the Safavids sought from the very beginning of Shah Ismāʿīl's reign to foster the study of Shiʿism and to encourage the migration of Shīʿī scholars from other lands to Persia. It has often been said that the very emphasis upon religious and theological learning during the Safavid period stifled science and literature and even Sufism.
    pp 698-727
    • By F. Spuhler, Museum für Islamische Kunst, Berlin
  • View abstract
    The finest Persian carpets are considered to be those of the Safavid period. The geometrical carpets were replaced towards the end of the 9th/15th century by those with arabesque and floral patterns. The Safavid miniatures show that the whole wealth of forms that recurs in textile design was already fully developed by the beginning of the 16th century. Some of the carpets described in this chapter include Herat carpets, the Sanguszko carpets, vase carpets, garden carpets, Portuguese carpets and Polonaise carpets. The pro-European policy of Shah ʿAbbās drew many Europeans to Persia as envoys, traders and missionaries, and their reports are of great help in determining the origin of silk textiles brocaded with gold and silver. The medallions of the early Safavid carpets have an unbroken linear contour and vary from star shaped and round to ogival. In artistic terms Persian fabrics reach their peak in the figured satins and silk velvets brocaded with precious metal of the Safavid period.
    pp 728-758
  • View abstract
    The architectural achievements of Timurid dynasty described in this chapter range over four hundred years of Persian history. With the political decline of the Timurids in the middle of the 9th/15th century, the initiative in architecture returned to western Persia under the patronage of the Türkmen dynasties. The development of the Muzaffarid style architecture can be traced in the history of two notable religious buildings, the Great Mosque of Yazd and that of Kirmān. The major monuments belong to the last ten years of Tīmūr's reign. His earliest efforts were directed to commemorating the deceased members of his family by the building of mausolea in the complex known as the Shāh-i Zinda. The most significant feature of the mausoleum is its portal decoration which is executed entirely in tile mosaic. Much of the building effort in the reign of Shāh Rukh was directed to the architectural development of the shrine complex.
    pp 759-842
  • View abstract
    Safavid buildings are preserved in greater abundance than those of any other period in Iran. One of the most notable features of Safavid architecture in Iṣfahān after 1598 is the change of pace. In the field of religious architecture about half of the work associated with Shah ʿAbbās II is found in Iṣfahān. The Safavid period has left a legacy of wall painting incomparably richer than the sum total which survives from previous periods. This chapter describes the political context of Safavid architecture, including questions of patronage; its quantity, distribution, type and time-scale; and its characteristic styles. It discusses the rôle of the craftsman and of foreign influence on Safavid architecture. Flagging inspiration is particularly plain in cultic buildings and much of the best Safavid work is secular architecture, a hitherto less intensively exploited field. This may help to explain why in religious architecture Safavid builders so often relied on sheer scale for their most dramatic effects.
    pp 843-876
    • By Basil Gray, Oriental Antiquities, British Museum
  • View abstract
    The history of miniature painting is well enough known for its assessment in the scale of world art. The leading centre for the arts of the book was in the west, in Tabriz and Baghdad, alternate capitals of the Jalayirid dynasty; it then shifted briefly to Shīrāz for the opening years of the 9th/15th century, and was then fixed in Herat for the period until 853/1449, and again from about 1480 to 912/1506. In the interval the capital of the Qarā Quyūnlū under Jahān Shāh and of the Ᾱq Quyūnlū under Uzun Ḥasan and his son Yaʿqūb, Tabrīz again became a leading centre for the arts of the book and for architecture. The Timurid style of miniature painting was not developed in Samarqand nor even in one of the seats of Timurid rule but in the precarious capitals of the last of the Jalayirids, Sulṭīn Aḥmad.
    pp 877-912
  • View abstract
    The Herat tradition of the school of Bihzād is the purer, and, so long as it preserved the interior feeling, the most perfect expression of the miniature art in Iran, or indeed anywhere else. When it lost that integrity of vision, it became only a mirror of the old style, lacking in warmth, invention and personality. For the later Safavid period there is also some evidence from Western travellers about the conditions of painters and other artists of the book and the way that their work was organised. One of the crucial artistic documents for the understanding of Safavid book-painting in the mid-sixteenth century is the manuscript of the Haft aurang of Jāmī in the Freer Gallery, Washington. Apart from manuscripts, there is fortunately one surviving monument to illustrate the art of wall-painting in the mid-10th/16th century, a Safavid palace pavilion at Nāʾīn.
    pp 913-928
  • View abstract
    Tīmūr's attack on Iran, which began in 782/1380-1 with the invasion of Khurāsān and Sīstīn, terminated the pre-Timurid interregnum in a period characterised by sudden alarms. Besides numerous princes of the Timurid dynasty, there were other leaders on the scene, such as those of two Türkmen dynasties, the Qarā Quyūnlū and Ᾱq Quyūnlū, who had established themselves in the regions of Ᾱzarbāījān and western Persia, with occasional inroads into the eastern regions of the country. Mysticism was still a favourite topic for poetry. In particular, ṣūfī expressions were in common use in ghazals. Among the various poetical forms practised in the Timurid period, the ghazal received special attention. The Timurid prose writers paid less attention to archaic Persian wording; they often used the words and compounds in common use in their own time, hence the simplicity and fluency of their style. Also writers in this period paid little attention to the fundamental rules and conventions of the Persian language.
    pp 929-947
  • View abstract
    During the long history of Islam Shīrāz was always an important centre of learning, mysticism, and poetry. In spite of frequent changes in government, numerous wars and internecine feuds of its rulers the city can boast of a long-standing cultural tradition. To speak of Shīrāz in the 8th/14th century, the one name that has become the epitome of the Persian lyric for both Oriental and Western readers, that of Muḥammad Shams al-Dīn Ḥāfiẓ. Very little is known about Shīrāz's personal life. Some of Shīrāz's poems praise the tolerant and artistically-minded prince and his vizier Qivām al-Dīn Ḥasan. Single ghazals of Ḥāfiẓ can be found in manuscripts written during his lifetime, for example in a collection made in 781/1379-80 in Baghdad. People's admiration for Ḥāfiẓ is reflected in the care the calligraphers took to transcribe his verse on beautiful coloured paper, surrounded with margins full of delicate golden drawings.
    pp 948-964
  • View abstract
    The Safavid era witnessed a political, religious and military reorganisation and unification of which Iran as it stands today is in no small degree the legacy. Attention to and production of Persian literature had begun in Asia Minor in the time of the Saljūq rulers of that region, that is, from the middle of the 5th/11th century For the poet using Indian style the primary objective is the expression of fine-spun thoughts, unusual, wonder-evoking themes, and a general conjunction of ideas the most conducive to delighted surprise in auditors or readers. The well-known poets of the close of the Timurid and the beginning of the Safavid age was Bābā Fighānī. A contemporary of his was Umīdī Ṭihrānī, who wrote excellent ghazals and qaṣīdas. Another of the great poets of the early part of the Safavid era was Vaḥshī of Bāfq, a dependency of Kirmān.
    pp 965-994
  • View abstract
    Politically, Safavid period extended from the death of the last great Īl-Khān to the accession of Nādir Shāh. It encompassed the rise and fall of two powerful dynasties, the Timurids and the Safavids, as well as of a number of lesser houses. This chapter focuses on poetry, as in Persia and the countries which came under its literary influence, it was poetry that until recently was the vehicle par excellence of literary expression. Imaginative prose literature, in the sense commonly understood in the West, was scarce in medieval Persia, novels, short stories, and plays being alien to Persian literary tradition. The period 1400-1750 is one of the longest in Persian letters. No conspicuous literary event marks its beginning, but the forty-two years of the relatively peaceful reign of Shāh Rukh is long enough to allow one to notice the budding of the characteristics of the Indian style.

Page 1 of 2

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