Some portraits of the Zand rulers of Iran (1751-1794)
There are several portraits of the rulers of the Qajar dynasty in the British Library collections, occurring either as manuscript illustrations or separate paintings, but there are comparatively few examples of their predecessors the Zands who ruled Iran from 1751 until 1794.
One of these is a manuscript copy of a history of the Zand dynasty (Add.24904), the TÄrÄ«kh-i gÄ«tÄ«gushÄÊ¼Ä« (here called TÄrÄ«kh-i ZandÄ«yah), by MÄ«rzÄ Muá¸¥ammad á¹¢Ädiq, which was continued after the authorâs death in 1204 (1789/90) by his pupil Ê»Abd al-KarÄ«m ibn Ê»AlÄ« RiÅ¼Ä al-SharÄ«f. It was written originally at the request of a later Zand, JaÊ»far KhÄn (r. 1785-89), intended as a contemporary record of the events of his reign. This volume contains only the section up to the death in 1779 of KarÄ«m KhÄn Zand, the founder of the dynasty.
Opening of the TÄrÄ«kh-i ZandÄ«yah by MÄ«rzÄ Muá¸¥ammad á¹¢Ädiq (Add.24904, ff.2-3)
A companion volume is Add.24903, a history of the Zands from the end of KarÄ«m KhÄnâs reign until the defeat and capture of the last ruler Luá¹f Ê»AlÄ« KhÄn (r. 1789-94). The author is Ibn Ê»Abd al-KarÄ«m Ê»AlÄ« RiÅ¼Ä ShÄ«rÄzÄ«. Despite the close resemblance of his name to Muá¸¥ammad á¹¢Ädiqâs pupil, this work appears to be different from the continuation mentioned above. According to a note at the end, this copy was made for the soldier and diplomat Sir John Malcolm (1769-1833). It is dated Safar 1218 (1803).
Both works were in fact used extensively by Malcolm in his History of Persia and according to the catalogue of the Sothebyâs sale at which they were purchased by the British Museum (Catalogue, p. 17), they were presented to him by the Qajar ruler Fatá¸¥ Ê»AlÄ« ShÄh himself (r. 1797-1834) while he was Ambassador at his Court . This would have been during Malcolm's 3rd mission to Iran in 1810. Malcolm was on very good terms with the Shah who described him as his âfirst favourite among Europeansâ and made him a SipahdÄr ('general) of the Persian army, granting him the order of the Lion and the Sun (Lambton, p. 100). Both manuscripts include richly illuminated openings in addition to exceptional contemporary lacquer bindings decorated with named portraits of the Zand rulers and their courtiers, all sporting typical Zand turbans. We are told in the sale catalogue that âThese specimens of Oriental binding are in the finest state of Bibliopegistic art, and of rarest occurrence, being only to be found on books given by the Shahs in presentsâ.
The front cover contains the following portraits (right to left):
ÄzÄd KhÄn AfghÄn (d. 1781) one of the main rivals for control after the assassination of NÄdir ShÄh in 1747 who surrendered to KarÄ«m KhÄn in 1762 and subsequently became one of his trusted nobles (Malcolm 2, p. 66);
IsmaÊ»Ä«l KhÄn - presumably blind. There was an IsmaÊ»Ä«l KhÄn, KarÄ«m KhÄn's nephew, who later became governor of Hamadan (Malcolm 2, p. 104);
KarÄ«m KhÄn (r. 1751-79), the founder of the Zand dynasty who never himself assumed the title of ShÄh, choosing instead to be VakÄ«l (âdeputyâ). With a reputation for clemency and forbearance, he apparently had comparatively modest tastes preferring to sit on a rug instead of a throne;
IbrÄhÄ«m KhÄn, KarÄ«m KhÄnâs 5th son âdeprived of his virilityâ by his cousin Akbar KhÄn (Malcolm 2, p. 89);
MÄ«rzÄ JaÊ»far VazÄ«r, minister of KarÄ«m KhÄn;
á¹¢Ädiq KhÄn surrounded by his family and courtiers. Early 19th century (Add.24904, back cover)
The back cover contains the following portraits (right to left):
Akbar KhÄn (d. 1782), son of KarÄ«m KhÄnâs half-brother, who in 1782 defeated and killed á¹¢Ädiq KhÄn and all his sons (except JaÊ»far KhÄn - see below). He was himself subsequently blinded and killed by JaÊ»far KhÄn in retribution (Malcolm 2, pp. 99-100);
á¹¢Ädiq KhÄn (r. 1779-81), the 5th Zand ruler and KarÄ«m KhÄnâs brother who was defeated, blinded and killed by Akbar KhÄn (above);
MÄ«rzÄ á¸¤usayn VazÄ«r, âa wise and popular ministerâ (Malcolm 2, p.104) of JaÊ»far KhÄn and afterwards his son Luá¹f Ê»AlÄ« KhÄn, with pen-box tucked under his arm (see also below);
JaÊ»far KhÄn (r. 1785-89), the 7th Zand ruler and sole surviving son of SÄdiq KhÄn (above);
Luá¹f Ê»AlÄ« KhÄn (left), son of JaÊ»far KhÄn, the last of the Zands, defeated in 1794, blinded and put to death on orders of his successor AghÄ Muá¸¥ammad KhÄn QÄjÄr (r. 1794-97) whose portrait with HÄjÄ« IbrÄhÄ«m (Governor of Shiraz who turned against Luá¹f Ê»AlÄ« KhÄn ultimately bringing about his downfall) is included on the front cover of this volume. Luá¹f Ê»AlÄ« KhÄn is accompanied (right) by his minister MÄ«rzÄ á¸¤usayn (Add.24903, inside back cover)
The lacquered book covers, dating from around 1803, no doubt reflect idealised rather than historical scenes, but the Library does also have a portrait of KarÄ«m KhÄn which was painted by a contemporary artist. It is one of 23 paintings purchased 15 May 1894 from Sidney Churchill (1862-1921), Persian Secretary to Her Majesty's Legation at Teheran 1886-94, who altogether acquired more than 200 Persian manuscripts for the British Museum. The portrait of KarÄ«m KhÄn is inscribed on the back, presumably by Churchill, âContemporary portrait said to be of Kerim Khan Zandâ. Churchill had a personal as well as professional connection with the Court since his sister-in-law was the daughter of Dr Joseph Tholozan (1858-97), personal physician to Shah NÄá¹£ir al-DÄ«n QÄjÄr (r. 1848 -1896). It is probable that this portrait was a personal gift.
Contemporary portrait of KarÄ«m KhÄn, founder of the Zand dynasty (Or.4938, f.1)
Charles Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museum. 3 vols. London, 1876-83: Add.24904; Add.24903; Supplement. London, 1895: Or.4398
Malcolm, John. The History of Persia, from the Most Early Period to the Present Time. New ed. London, 1829. Vol 2.
A. K. S. Lambton, Ê»Major-General Sir John Malcolm (1769-1833) and âThe History of PersiaââIran 33 (1995), pp. 97-109
J. R. Perry, Ê»Zand dynastyÊ¼ in Encyclopaedia Iranica online
Layla S.Diba and Maryam Ekhtiar, eds. Royal Persian Paintings: The Qajar Epoch, 1785-1925. London, 1998.
BL S.C.Sotheby(1): Ê»AuctioneersÊ¼ archival set of Sothebyâs sale catalogues 1739 to 22 October 1970Ê¼. Add.24903 and Add.24904 formed lot 234 of a sale held 26 June 1862, âchiefly from the Library of a Collectorâ. They were purchased by the Museum for Â£4 8s.
 Add.24904 also has the initials J.M. on folio 2r.