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Thread: Decree by Shah Ismail in Azeri Turkish discovered2546 days old

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    Default Decree by Shah Ismail in Azeri Turkish discovered



    Əbülmüzəffər sözümüz

    Əmiri-əzəm əkrəm Musa Dorğut oğlu inayət və şəfqətimiz ümidvar olandan sonra şöylə bilsün kim, iftixarül-əazim vəl-əyan Əhməd ağa Qaramanlu ol tərəfə göndərdük və ol yerin ixtiyarligini kəndunə şəfəqqət etdük. Gərək kim, müşarileyh sözümdən və məsləhətimdən çıxmasun və mütabiət və yardım ona qılsun kim, inşaallah-təala hər nə kim, etmək muradi və istəgi olsa, hasildür. Gündən-günə hər iş vaqe bolsa. Əhməd ağa ittifaqi ilə dərgahi-müəllamizə bildirsünlər kim, hər növ buyruğumuz olsa, əməl etsün, könlümüzə xoş dutub mərhəmətimizə əmrdar olsun.

    Təhrirən 7 rəbiüləvvəl, sənə 917
    Xətm


    Its about appointment of a Qizilbash chief named Ahmad Agha Qaramanlu as a governor (Beylerbey) to a Safavid province. Shah Ismail writes "ol tərəfə göndərdük", "we sent him to the other side", which probably means Khorasan.

    "Abulmuzaffar" is the title of Shah Ismail.

    ---------- Post Merged at 01:33 ----------

    This confirms that Azeri Turkish was not only used by the court and military, but also at a administrative level.

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    IstenmeyenTuy (2017-01-22)

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    By Willem Floor & Hasan Javadi

    "During the Safavid period Azerbaijani Turkish, or, as it also referred to at that time Qizilbash Turkish, occupied an important place in society, and it was both spoken at court and by the common people. Although Turkish was widely spoken in Safavid Iran this fact is rarely mentioned. Usually neither Persian nor European authors mention in which language people communicated with each other. The Turkish spoken in Safavid Iran was mostly what nowadays is referred to as Azeri or Azerbaijani Turkish. However, at that time it was referred to by various other names. It would seem that the poet and miniaturist Sadeqi Afshar (1533-1610), whose mother tongue was not Azerbaijani Turkish, but Chaghatay (although he was born in Tabriz), was the first to refer to speakers of Qizilbashi (motakallemin-e Qizilbash), but he, and one century later `Abdol-Jamil Nasiri were the exception to this general rule of calling the language “Turki.” The Portuguese called it Turquesco. Other Europeans and most Iranians called it Turkish or Turki. For the sake of simplicity and to avoid confusion we call the Turkic language used in Safavid Iran, Azerbaijani Turkish.



    Throughout the Safavid period there were two constants as to Azerbaijani Turkish as a spoken language in Iran. First, it was and remained the official language of the royal court during the entire Safavid period. Second, the language remained the spoken language of the Turkic Qizilbash tribes and also was spoken in the army. Browne observed that the Safavid army’s war cry «was not ‹Long live Persia!› or the like, but, in the Turkish language, ‹O my spiritual guide and master whose sacrifice I am!’» Until 1590, the Qizilbash tribes had a hold on certain provinces (e.g. Shiraz: Dhu’l Qadr; Yazd; Afshar; Herat: Shamlu). This had consequences for how Azeri Turkish was diffused. During the 16th century this meant that Azeri was also spoken by various groups outside NW Iran, but after the break-up of the Qizilbash links with certain provinces Azerbaijani Turkish mostly withdrew to NW Iran in the 17th century, certain Turkic pockets remained in the rest of Iran.


    The development of the distribution of Azerbaijani Turkish over Iran is evolutionary and is a story of contraction and concentration. In the 16th century Azerbaijani Turkish was spoken in areas where now it is not any more. In Larestan the Portuguese (1515, 1523) observed migratory Turkmen who were robbers and Qizilbash and who spoke Azerbaijani Turkish. There are still Turkic speaking tribes (Baharlu. Qashqa’i) in that area to-day, but not in Lar itself, where in 1541, according to Michele Membré, the Venetian envoy, “they speak Turkish and Persian.” In 1523, according to the Portuguese traveler Tenreiro, in Shiraz the inhabitants were Turkmen and Persians, the former spoke Azerbaijani Turkish. In Kashan and Qom lived Persians and Turkmen, and likewise in Soltaniyeh, Zanjan, and the villages between Zanjan and Tabriz. In Shirvan Azerbaijani Turkish was spoken. In 1607, Shamakhi was inhabited by Armenians and Turks, according to the Carmelites. In 1565, in Ardabil, the inhabitants were Persian speakers, and some Turkmen. By 1600, the Carmelites report about Ardabil that “Their tongue is Turkish, like that of Shirvan.” At that time there also were many Armenians living in Ardabil, deportees from old Jolfa. In Qazvin, in 1607, the Carmelites report that “the language spoken [is] neither Turkish nor Persian, but all understand Turkish and the majority Persian,” while in 1655, according to the Ottoman traveler Evliya Chelebi, in Qazvin “People speak Kurdish, Yakka Turkman, Persian, Arabic and Pahlavi.”
    It is very interesting to learn that, according to Tenreiro, in 1523 among the people of Tabriz, there were only some Turkmen and the rest were Persians as well as many Armenians. West of Tabriz, most of the inhabitants were Armenians and Nestorians, while Kurds become an important additional element at Van and Bitlis. The environs of Alanja [?], which, according to Zeno was situated north of Tabriz, were inhabited by Christians. In 1570 “in the district of Alingia … although they use only the Turkish, Persian and Armenian languages, these places are called by the Persians ‘Frankish’.” Although around 1500, Elatamedia castle (situated between Khoy and Marand) was inhabited by Turkmen, the inhabitants of Nakhjevan province were Christians and some Persians. In 1652, Azeri Turkish had made slow progress, because Chelibi in 1652 noted that “the people of this city [Nakhjevan] speak the Dehqani language, but the learned poets and the refined boon companions speak the Pahlavi and Mongolian language in a refined and polished manner, which are old languages. The cities are old and its inhabitants use these languages. First, the Dehqani language, then the Dari language, the Farsi and Parsi language, the Ghazi language, and the Pahlavi language, when they speak them in their localities they are respected. In Maragheh, according to Chelebi, “Most of them speak the Pahlavi language, and they are eloquent and articulate.” Of Tabriz he reported that the Turkmen and Afshar speakers have a special dialect, of which he gives the following examples: Heze tanimamishem (I have not known him); Menimchun khatirmande olupdir (he has been in my mind); Darjunmishan (I am heart stricken); Yavuncimisham (I have become the enemy); Apar gelen chaqeri (bring the wine). However, he further notes that the people of learning speak Persian. In the 1670s the Spanish traveler Pedro Cubero Sebastián, wrote that the inhabitants of Shamakhi were: «Persians, Armenians and Georgians.» However, by that time the term Persians also included Turkic-speakers as is further evident from what, e.g., John Bell reported in 1715 about the same city. «The greater part of the inhabitants are Persians; there is also a considerable number of Georgians and Armenians: The vulgar {commom} language is Turkish, but the people of distinction speak Persian.»
    It would thus appear that in the 16th century, Tabriz was inhabited by Persian speaking Moslems and Christians, while most of Azerbaijan and Nakhjevan was inhabited by Christians, but that south-east of Tabriz no Christians were to be found. Here the population was Moslem; a mixture of Persians and Azerbaijani Turkish speakers. In 1570, according to Alessandri, Tabriz “is thickly inhabited by Persians, Turkomans, and gypsies. There are a good number of Armenian Christians, but beyond Tauris there are no Christians of any kind found.” In Kurdestan in 1600, only Kurdish
    was spoken and not even Persian, Arabic or Turkish, according to Sherley, who further states that the same held for Gilan where only Gilaki was spoken.
    In the 17th century, Turkish had apparently receded from Shiraz and Kashan, probably due to the fact that the Qizilbash had no longer an automatic claim on certain provinces as they had prior to 1590. However, whereas in Isfahan Turkish was not a major item in the 16th century it was widely spoken there in the 17th century due to the presence of the royal court and the settlement of a large group of Azerbaijani Turkish speaking people from Tabriz in the Isfahani suburb of `Abbasabad. The father of the famous poet Sa’eb was one of these migrants, and because he was born in Tabriz he is sometimes referred to as Tabrizi, and sometimes as Esfahani.
    As noted above, the fact that the court language was Azerbaijani Turkish of course promoted the use of that language in the capital cities (respectively, Tabriz, Qazvin, and Isfahan). In fact, at court more Turkish was spoken than Persian. In 1607, the Carmelites reported that “the Turkish language is usually spoken and understood and the Shah [`Abbas I] and chief men and soldiers generally speak in it. The common people speak Persian, and all documents and communications are in that language.” The court ceremonial was also in Azerbaijani Turkish. The Italian traveler Pietro della Valle wrote: «that the Qizilbash grandees told him that: ‹Persian is a very soft and sweet language, and really used by women for poetry, but Turkish is manly and fit for warriors; therefore, the shah and the emirs of the state speak Turkish.’» Adam Olearius, the secretary of the 1637 Holstein embassy, reports how, at the end of a royal banquet, the ishik aghasi bashi loudly called: «sofreh haqineh, shah dowlatineh, ghazilar allah dilam allah allah va hazerat kalamat-e allah allah ra tekrar kardand. (:» سفره حقینه، شاه دولتینه، غازیلر قوتینه، الله دیلم الله الله و حضرات کلمات الله الله را تکرار کردند.») He further reports that, apart from their own language, Iranians teach their children Turkish in particular in the provinces of Shirvan, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Baghdad and Erevan that the Qizilbash conquered. «In Isfahan at court Persian is seldom heard, but in Fars and Shiraz they only speak Persian.» Olearius also recounts how popular poets were in Iran so that some were standing in coffee-houses or in the street and for some pul or money wrote a poem for the common folk. For better appreciation by literati Olearius quotes Fozuli in this context:

    Schaer olmisch her derede bir kodokh
    bis dahe schaelri Elden koidkh

    شاعر اولموش هر دره ده بیر قودوخ بیز داهی شاعرلیغی الدن قویدوخ
    When in every valley an ass becomes a poet.
    We give up the art of poetry.

    He also relates that Iranians were even-handed where Persian and Azerbaijani Turkish was concerned and, therefore, they knew famous Turkish as well as Persian poets such as “Saadi, Hafis, Firdausi, Füssuli, Chagani, Eheli, Schems, Nawai, Schahidi, Ferahsad, Deheki, Nessimi, etc.” Under Shah `Abbas II, the Carmelites reported that “Turki [not Osmanli Turkish] was the language of the court and widely used in Isfahan and in the north.” Chardin explicitly states about the Qizilbash, “these people, as well as their language, are so widespread in the northern part of the country, and later at court, and therefore, mistakenly all Iranians are called Qizilbash.” In 1660, Raphael du Mans wrote: “the every day language of Iran is Persian for the common people, [Azerbaijani] Turkish for the court.” According to Kaempfer, who was in Iran in the 1670s, “[Azerbaijani] Turkish is the common language at the Iranian court as well as the mother tongue of the Safavids in distinction of the language of the general populace. The use of [Azerbaijani] Turkish spread from the court to the magnates and notables and finally to all those who hope to benefit from the shah, so that nowadays it is almost considered shameful for a respectable man not to know [Azerbaijani] Turkish.” The French missionary Sanson, who lived in Iran between 1684-1695, states that Iranians regularly invoked the spiritual power of the king by using expression such as «qorban olim, din imanum padshah, bachunha dunim.» Azerbaijani Turkish remained the court language till the very end of the dynasty and Shah Soltan Hoseyn was even nicknamed yakhshi dir (‹It is good’), because that is what he said to any official who submitted a proposal to him, as he was not interested in matters of state. Nicolaes Schorer, the Dutch chief of the VOC office in Isfahan, who like his predecessors only knew Persian, met with Shah Soltan Hoseyn on 18 March 1722, and reported that his dragoman “told us [what was said], because the conversation had been in Turkish.” It is odd and interesting to note that the Dutch who had very intensive and regular contacts with the court at the highest levels had not taken the trouble to learn Azerbaijani Turkish in addition to Persian throughout the entire 133 years of the relationship with Safavid and Afsharid Iran.
    Not only Persians learned another language, but so did the Azerbaijani Turkish speakers, who, despite the fact that Azerbaijani Turkish was the court language, had to know Persian, because it was the bureaucratic and literate language of the land. Shining examples of Qizilbash who spoke and wrote perfect Persian were Hasan Beg Rumlu (author of the Ahsan al-Tavarikh) and Eskandar Beg Monshi (author of the Tarikh-e `Alamara-ye `Abbasi). But among those Azerbaijani Turkish speakers who were less literary inclined some (or maybe many) made slow progress in learning Persian. The first Iranian ambassador to the Netherlands, Musa Beg, who visited that country in 1624, was so suspicious of his Armenian interpreter that he wrote comments on the Dutch translation of the texts that he submitted to the States-General. This allows us to understand how well he knew Persian. Musa Beg wrote the following marginal comments:

    بخدمت وزرا و ارکانی دولت جماعت اولنده [هلند] معلوم باشد که سخن بسیار است و بنده وایشان زبان نمی دانیم که خود گفته و جواب بگیریم و نمیدانیم که آنچکه [آنچه که] ما گفته ایم همان را نوشته است یا هرچه که بخاطرش رسیده است نوشته است. العبد العقل [الاقل] موسی غلام خاصه شریفه زیاده مرحمت و دعا.
    The Safavid Shahs were bilingual and were fluent in both Persian and Azerbaijani Turkish. Della Valle in his letter of 18 December 1617 wrote: «the [Azerbaijani] Turkish language is spoken generally in Iran, and it is even more used than Persian at court and among the magnates.» He then reports that he talked with `Abbas I’s courtiers in Turkish, which they related to shah when he asked whether della Valle knew that language. The shah then said: «chose ghieldi, safa ghieldi.» Della Valle further related that “The king talked in Turkish to me and I narrated succinctly my entire journey and answered his various questions.» … “And then when I had finished, he reported in the Persian language most clearly and distinctly, as he always has to do by custom, all that I had told him to his people standing around, saying to them: have you heard what he said?”
    Like now, several Azerbaijani Turkish dialects were spoken in Safavid Iran, such as that spoken by the governor of Hasan Abdāllu, who with two or three other governors had fled from the war. “H.M. the world conqueror then ordered that they all had to be to be put on donkeys and taken around the royal army camp dressed like women in a square female mantel and female head cover on their head. When the turn came for the governor of Hasan Abdāllu, the said governor, who always had a Sufi hat [taj] on his head, after having seen the female mantle he went down on his two knees before the person who had been charged with this matter [i.e. to take him around the army camp], took off his Sufi hat and said loudly in the Turkish language in the dialect of the Hasan Abdāllu tribe:

    Fāteheh ukhuylim! Ta imdiyeh dinj tāj-vahhāj keh hezrat Amir al-Mo’minin ‘aleyhu al-salām Shāh Mardānenek kesvati [eydi] ba shamizdeh eydi; eydi Hezrat-e Fatemeh-ye Zahrā salāvāt allah ‘aleyhha kesvatini be shamizeh bāghliruq. (I want to read the Fāteheh. Until now the glorious hat, the apparel of the Commander of the Believers, p.b.u.h., the King of Men, the Sainted ‘Ali was on our head, now the apparel of the Sainted Fatemeh, may God’s prayers be on her, is on our head.)
    Apart from this dialect other Turkish dialects were also spoken in Iran. According to Evliya Chelebi, in the year 1650 in Tabriz, members of the Afshar tribe as well as those of the Yakka Turkman had a special dialect. He further noted that in Qazvin and Gorgan province members of the Yakka Turkman spoke their own Turkman language. In various other parts of Iran there were other Turkic speakers, among them speakers of Turkic in Khorasan, who are still to be found in the regions of Bojnurd, Esfara’in, Quchan, Dargez, and Shirvan. According to Doerfer, these are remnants of the Seljuq tribes who spoke Oghuz Turkish, which is close to Chaghatay. A group of Khalaj Turkic speakers is still to be found near Fahan and south of Tehran, and between Saveh and Qom, whose language differs from Oghuz and forms a linguistic sub-group of its own.
    The existence of grammars and dictionaries written by European missionaries also allow us to determine the existence of other Azerbaijani Turkish dialects. The missionaries considered it very important to know the local language[s] because they needed to communicate their points of view to whomever was willing to listen to their message or wanted to engage them in a debate. Already in 1607, the Carmelites wanted to have a Missal in Turkish or Persian to say mass. The Roman Catholic bishop of Isfahan and Baghdad in 1641 wrote a Dictionnaire français et turcq, meslé de Persan et d’Arabe and a Dictionarium latinum turcicum, which manuscripts are kept in the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris. The various missionaries made an effort to know in particular Persian, and one of them even taught grammar 3x per week in 1640 to young Iranian nobles in Isfahan. Another, around 1684, wrote a Latin-French-Persian encyclopedic text entitled Gazophyliacum, which also cites many Turkish words with their correct meaning. One of the Carmelites also wrote a three-language dictionary (Italian, Persian, Turkish), which like the other ones mentioned below give an indication of the Azerbaijani Turkish dialect spoken in Isfahan. Raphael du Mans, who had many contacts at court and was often used as interpreter (kalamchi), in the 1670s wrote a Turkish grammar (now in the British library). It is written in Latin and first describes the verb system, then the nominal flexion and explains the meaning of some adjectives Some tables offer a schematic overview of the different nominal, verbal and other flexions. It further offers some principles of syntax. There is another grammar (now in Upsala University) written by a Swedish scholar based on notes by du Mans, whom he had visited in Isfahan in 1679. This grammar is in French, and apart from declinations, conjugations, and examples of the possessive pronoun etc. and also has a French-Azerbaijani Turkish dictionary with many common words that were in daily use in Isfahan.
    The importance of Safavid poets who wrote poems in Turkish requires a separate study. The most well-known is Fozuli Baghdadi. Of the poets who wrote poems in Turkish only we may mention Masihi (Varqeh and Golshah), Qusi Tabrizi (divan), Malek Beyg Owji (divan), Morteza Qoli Khan Zafar (divan), Mirza Mohammad Mahjub Tabrizi (divan), Salman Momtaz Mowji (divan), Mirza saleh Tabrizi and `Asheq `Abbas Tufarqanlu (divan). Poets such as Amani, Sadeqi, Tarzi Afshar, Vahid Qazvini, Mosaheb Ganjavi each have a divan with poems in both Persian and Turkish. Finally there are poets who have divans in Persian, but who also wrote poems in Turkish such as Sa’eb Tabrizi (17 ghazals in Turkish), Va`ez Qazvini (9 ghazals in Turkish), Ta’thir Tabrizi (a few ghazals and a qasideh in Turkish), Safi and Mirza Mohsen Ta’thir Tabrizi.
    Contrary to the belief of some historians the Safavid shahs were patrons of poets and a few of the shahs and princes were themselves bi-lingual poets. Most important of them all is Shah Esma`il I, the founder of the Safavid dynasty, who under the penname of Khata’i has a divan in Turkish, which has been reprinted several times. Ebrahim Mirza (1540-1577), a grandson of Shah Esma`il was a great patron of the arts and wrote poems in Persian and Turkish. Shah `Abbas I, who himself wrote poems in Persian and Turkish, ordered that the Makhzan of the Chaghatay poet Heydar be translated into Persian, while he also had Sadeqi Afshar, the court librarian translate Mowlavi’s Mathnavi into Turkish. Shah `Abbas II also wrote a few poems in Turkish under the penname of Thani. Turkish was also used by the poet laureate or malek al-sho`ara at the Safavid court on various occasions, such as when he declaimed poems praising the shah, lauded the construction of a new building, or marked the passing of the old into the new year, some of which were in Turkish.
    At least since the Sasanian period it was common that the royal secretariat had a multi-lingual staff. The same was the case of the Safavid royal secretariat, which, among other things stressed the importance of having secretaries that knew Turkish. `Abdol-Jalil Nasiri, the author of a five-language dictionary, in the 1680s wrote in its introduction: «Because much correspondence arrives at the royal court from the Turkish, Kalmyk and other Turkic kings it is necessary to translate that into Persian and, therefore, it is necessary to know difficult Turkish words.» In 1731, Mirza Naqi Nasiri, a younger family member and the author of the third Safavid state manual, lists as one of the characteristics of the monshi al-mamalek, that he “has to be a clerk without peer and total competence in the art of style, knowledge of the language of kings and of the rules and behavior of the kings of this world and to know each language such as Arabic, Persian and Turkish so that when he is ordered to write a letter to each of these kings of the [quarters of] the world, he knows in what way to do it and in which manner and this highest office is his.” This also borne out by the fact that not all official correspondence was in Persian. Although most of the secretariat’s correspondence was in Persian, some of it was also in Turkish written to recipients both inside as well as outside Iran from the very beginning of the Safavid state. For example, on 23 May 1512, Shah Esma`il wrote a letter in Turkish to the chief of the Dughurt tribe in Anatolia.

    امیر اعظم اکرم موسی دوغورت عنایت و شفقتمز امیدوار اولندون صونکره شیله بلسون کیم افتخار اعاظم و اعیان احمد آغا قرامانلو اول طرفه گوندردوک و اول هرنکه اختیار لکنی کندونه شفقت اتسون گرک کیم مشارالیه سوزوندن و مصلحتدن چخمسون و متابعت و یاردم اونگا قیلسون کیم انشاالله تعالی هرنه کیم اتمک مرادی و استکی اولسه حاصل دور. گوندن گونه هر ایش واقع بولسه احمد آقا اتفاقی ایله درگاه معلامزه بیلدرسونلر کیم هر نوع بویر غمز اولسه عمل اتسون گونلیمزه خوش دوتوب مرحتمزه امردار الســـــــون.
    تحریراً 7 ربیع الاول سنه 918

    Official letters continued to be written in Turkish under later shahs as well. Arthur Edwards, a merchant of the Muscovy Company reported in 1567 that four copies of the trading privileges granted by Shah Tahmasp I were made «by his Secretarie,» … «whereof two as I required, are in the Turkish tongue.» During the reign of Shah `Abbas I it is noted in Russian sources that “The great envoys (of Russia) desired in their talks to the courtiers [of the Persian Shah], Ikhtam-Davlet [E`temad al-Dowleh] and his colleagues that the reply of the Shah should be in the Turkish language but in Tatar script.” This was the logical consequence of the fact that in the 16th-18th century the Russian tsars employed a considerable number of secretaries to translate incoming and outgoing letters to and from rulers in Europe, Asia Minor and the Middle East. In 1789, the Russian court employed 22 of such translators, eight of whom knew the Tatar (Turkic) language, and some of them knew «the Turkish language,» which presumably was Ottoman Turkish. The Russian envoys and ambassadors that were sent to Iran all carried official letters written in Russian with a translation in «the old Tatar language.» In reply, the Safavid court wrote its official letters in Persian or «in the old Azerbaijan language.» In the 16th and 17th centuries the Russian court received more than 55 letters from the «Qizilbash kings» written in the «Persian and Azerbaijani Turkish languages.» In 1588, the Russian court for the first time wrote a letter in the Tatar language to the Safavid court. The Safavid shahs also continued to use Turkish for internal affairs as well, such as in 1660, when Mohammad Taher Vahid writes: «As Darvish Mostafa wants to return to his own country» `Abbas II had a royal order written to Hajji Manuchehr Khan Beglerbegi of Shirvan in Turkish, which began as follows:
    اخلاص طریقنده راسخ العقیده و شجاعت و مبارزات یولونده پسندیده حاجی منوچهر خان توجّه و
    عنایتم طرفینه بی نهایت سیزبیلوب اوزکی اکثر خاطره مده بیله سن خصوص بعضی فیضلو مجلس لرده ان شاء الله یخشی وجهله حضورمزه یتمک میسّراوله. آیینۀ ضمیری ائمّه معصومین –علیهیم السلام- مهرندن مصفّی درویش مصطفی یولداشی بیرله شیروان سمتندن اوز ولایتنه گتمک اراده سی وار مهربانلیق لازمه سن یر کتوروب روانه ایده سن.

    According to Tourkhan Ganjeh’i, during the reigns of Esma`il I and Tahmasp I, the correspondence in Turkish was written in a more popular style than later when bureaucrats took their cue from their Ottoman colleagues. To make this point, he gave as examples a letter written by Safi I to emperor Ferdinand II and another one by Shah Soltan Hoseyn to Frederick August of Poland.
    In short, Turkic languages and dialects played a much more important role in Safavid Iran than what has been the accepted wisdom so far, while Azerbaijani Turkish in particular was widely spoken and written in Safavid Iran. It was not only the language of the court and the army, but it was also used in poetry, even by renowned poets who usually wrote in Persian. The Safavid shahs, many of whom wrote poetry in Turkish themselves, promoted its literary use. Also, Turkish was used in the court’s official correspondence, both for internal and external affairs. The style of the Turkic language used changed over time, but that is a subject for another study.


    ---------- Post Merged at 09:31 ----------

    Iranian Azeris - The Formative Years of Their Influence in Iran

    Apr 30, 2012 Enver Guseynov


    With important contributions during the Safavid and Constitutional eras, Iranian Azeris have played a vital role in Iran's evolution as a nation state.
    Iran is a multiethnic state whose population of 78 million people is divided between the Persian majority and various ethnic minorities (Iran, CIA World Fact Book). Azeri Turks, numbering around 20 million, are by far the largest of these minorities, predominating in northwestern provinces of Ardabil, East Azerbaijan, West Azerbaijan, and Zanjan. Like Iran’s Persian majority, Azeri Turks are Shi’a Muslims. A Turkic people, they speak a variation of Turkish, strongly influenced by Persian and to lesser extent Arabic languages (Riaux, 56-57). In addition eight million more Azeris reside in the neighboring Republic of Azerbaijan, which borders Iran’s Azeri populated provinces to the north.


    Safavid and Qajar Dynasties
    Between 1500 and 1722, Iran (then known as Persia), was ruled by the Turkic and Kurdish based Safavid Empire, which had its roots in Iran’s northern region of Azerbaijan (that region has since been split into the three of the four provinces mentioned earlier, excluding southernmost Zanjan). Azeri Turkish was the predominant language of the Safavid court, and Shah Ismail - the empire’s founder – was known for writing Azeri poetry and is considered to be an important contributor to the development of the Azeri language (Shaffer, 19). It was this dynasty that introduced Shi’a Islam as Iran’s official religion. The Safavid Empire is to this day revered as one of the most influential in the country’s history.
    In 1779, another Azerbaijani based empire, the Qajars, assumed control over Persia. As it was under the Savafids, Azeri Turkish was the main spoken language of the Qajar court, and according to experts on Azerbaijan Brenda Shaffer and Pierre Oberling, “The position of the Azerbaijani language and one of the Azerbaijanis was so significant that all of the students first sent abroad in the beginning of the 19th century from Iran to study in Europe were from Azerbaijan.” (Shaffer, 22). In addition, Iran’s Azerbaijan region, particularly its largest city Tabriz, served as the political and commercial core of both empires, and played a key role in the country’s development in these spheres.
    Azeris and the 1906 Iranian Constitutional Revolution
    Just as they ran and influenced things from the top, Azeris were similarly active operating from the bottom, at the grassroots levels of Iran’s political life. In 1906 Tabriz became the center of Iran’s constitutional movement aimed at curbing the power of the Qajar dynasty, which has lost much of its appeal among the Iranian people due to its absolute rule and dependence on Russian and Britain support in return for these empires’ increased influence in Iran. Among the goals of the 1906 Constitutional revolution, which sought to abolish the absolute control of the monarchy and establish a parliamentary government that would better represent the will of the Iranian people, was to ensure the right of people in Iranian provinces to have their own provincial councils, which would supervise local affairs and collect and allocate taxes (Atabaki, 29).
    When in 1908 Qajar Shah Mohammed Ali began neglecting the covenants of the constitution in an attempt to reimpose authoritarianism over Iran, the ruling court was assailed with telegrams from the members of the Council of Tabriz, referring to Shah as a traitor, and calling for “all Iranian brothers to stand up and safeguard the Constitution” (Atabaki, 31). These clashes between the Azeri-Turkish Shah of Iran and the ordinary Iranian-Azeri civilians that constituted the Council of Tabriz epitomized the far-reaching role of Azeris in Iran’s socio-political strata. The fact that the council called for unity of all Iranians against the empire’s Azeri-Turkish ruler goes on to show that Iranian Azeris were more concerned about Iran’s national, rather than its ethnic character.
    The tensions between the monarchy and the constitutional movement soon culminated in a thirteen month long civil war. In his book, Azerbaijan: Ethnicity and the Struggle for Power in Iran, expert on Iranian Azerbaijan Touraj Atabaki describes the importance of Iranian Azeris during this time period:
    “Generally speaking, the part which Azerbaijan, and especially the Tabrizi Constitutionalists, played during the course of these thirteen months of war and famine was so impressive that, from that time on, Azerbaijan was seen by many Iranians as the centre from which any future progressive political change would originate” (32).
    Thus throughout the nascent years of the 20th century, Azeri Turks were an integral part of Iran’s political life, playing the role of both the power hungry despot and the uncompromising resistance. By being the birthplace of the influential Safavid dynasty and the Constitutional Revolution, Iran’s Azerbaijan province became the political hub of the nation, facilitating its emergence as a modern nation-state.
    Sources

    • Atabaki, T. (1993). Azerbaijan: Ethnicity and Struggle for Power in Iran. New York: I.B. Taurus.
    • Iran. (2012). The CIA World Factbook.
    • Riaux, G. (2008, March). The formative years of Azerbaijani nationalism in post-revolutionary Iran. Central Asian Survey, 27(1), 45-58.
    • Shaffer, B. (2002). Borders and Brethren: Iran and the Challenge of Azerbaijani Identity. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.


    Copyright Enver Guseynov. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.
    Last edited by nk191919; 2012-09-28 at 15:13.

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    Some interesting facts, thank you.

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