Azerbaijan or Azarbaijan (Persian: آذربایجان; Āzarbāijān; Azerbaijani: آذربایجان, Kurdish: ئازهربایجان ), also Iranian Azerbaijan, Persian Azarbaijan is a region in northwestern Iran. It is also historically known as Atropatene and Aturpatakan. The region is referred by some as South Azerbaijan or Southern Azerbaijan, however some scholars and sources view these terms as being irredentist and politically motivated.
Etymology and usage
The name "Āzar" (Persian: آذر) means Fire and Baijan was originally known as "Pāyegān" (Persian: پایگان) meaning Guardian/Protector. (Āzar Pāyegān = "Guardians of Fire") (Persian: آذر پایگان). Such name roots back to the "Zoroastrianism" era of Persia (Iran); However after the Arab invasion of Persia (Iran) many Persian words lost their original form as in Arabic there are no letter for pronouncing "G / P / ZH / CH"; Hence "Azar Paigān" came to be known as Azarbaijan.
The name Azerbaijan itself is derived from Atropates, the Satrap (governor) of Medea in the Achaemenid empire, who ruled a region found in modern Iranian Azerbaijan called Atropatene. Atropates name is believed to be derived from the Old Persian roots meaning "protected by fire." The name is also mentioned in the Avestan Frawardin Yasht: âterepâtahe ashaonô fravashîm ýazamaide which translates literally to: We worship the Fravashi of the holy Atare-pata. َAccording to the Encyclopedia of Islam, the name of the province was pronounced as: In Middle Persian the name of the province was called Āturpātākān, older new-Persian Ādharbādhagān آذربادگان/آذرآبادگان, Ādharbāyagān, at present Āzerbāydjān/Āzarbāydjān, Greek ᾿Ατροπατήνη, Byzantine Greek ᾿Αδραβιγάνων, Armenian Atrpatakan, Syriac Adhorbāyghān. The name Atropat in Middle Persian was transformed to Adharbad and is connected with Zoroastrianism. A famous Zoroastrian priest by the name Adarbad Mahraspandan is well known for his counsels. Azerbaijan, due to its numerous fire-temples has also been quoted in a variety of historic sources as being the birthplace of the prophet Zoroaster although modern scholars have not yet reached an agreement on the location of his birth.
Iranian Azerbaijan is generally considered the northwest portion of Iran comprising the provinces of East Azerbaijan, West Azerbaijan, and Ardabil, Zanjan, and some parts of Hamadan and comprising an area of 122,871 square kilometres (47,441 sq mi). It shares borders with the Republic of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, and Iraq. There are 17 rivers and two lakes in the region. Cotton, nuts, textiles, tea, machinery, and electrical equipment are main industries. The northern, alpine region, which includes Lake Urmia, is mountainous, with deep valleys and fertile lowlands.
Grains, fruits, cotton, rice, nuts, and tobacco are the staple crops of the region.
Industries and handicrafts
Industries include machine tools, vehicle factories, oil refinery, petrochemical complex, food processing, cement, textiles, electric equipment, and sugar milling. Oil and gas pipelines run through the region. Wool, carpets, and metal ware are also produced.
Iranian Azeris, a Turkic-speaking people of mixed Caucasian, Iranian and Turkic origin, who number 16 percent of Iran's population are the largest group in Iranian Azerbaijan, while Kurds are the second largest group, and a majority in many cities of the West Azerbaijan Province. Iranian Azerbaijan is one of the richest and most densely populated regions of Iran. Many of these various linguistic, religious, and tribal minority groups, and Azerbaijanis themselves have settled widely outside the region. The Azeris are followers of Shi'a Islam. Azeris make up the majority of the population in the Iranian region of Azerbaijan. The Azeri population of Iran is mainly found in the northwest provinces: East Azerbaijan, West Azerbaijan, Ardabil, and Zanjan as well as some regions of Kordestan, Hamadan, and Markazi. Many others live in Tehran, Karaj and other regions.
Provinces and cities
According to the population census of 2006, the four provinces of East Azerbaijan (2006 pop. 3,603,456), West Azarbaijan (2006 pop. 2,873,459), Zanjan (2006 pop. 970,946), and Ardabil (2006 pop. 1,228,155) have a combined population of 7.9 million people.
Chief cities include Tabriz (the capital of East Azerbaijan), Urmia (the capital of West Azerbaijan), Zanjan (the capital of Zanjan Province), Ardabil (the capital of Ardabil), Maragheh, Marand, Mahabad, Piranshahr, and Khoy (Khvoy).
The oldest kingdom known in Iranian Azerbaijan is that of the Mannea who ruled a region southeast of Lake Urmia centered around modern Saqqez. The Manneans were a confederation of Iranian and non-Iranian groups. According to Professor Zadok:
it is unlikely that there was any ethnolinguistic unity in Mannea. Like other peoples of the Iranian plateau, the Manneans were subjected to an ever increasing Iranian (i.e., Indo-European) penetration.
The Mannaeans were conquered and absorbed by an Iranian people called Matieni, and the country was called Matiene, with Lake Urmia called Lake Matianus. Matiene was later conquered by the Medes and became a satrapy of the Median empire and then a sub-satrapy of the Median satrapy of the Persian Empire.
According to Encyclopædia Britannica, the Medes were an:
Indo-European people, related to the Persians, who entered northeastern Iran probably as early as the 17th century BC and settled in the plateau land that came to be known as Media.
After Alexander the Great conquered Persia, he appointed (328 BC) as governor the Persian general Atropates, who eventually established an independent dynasty. The region, which came to be known as Atropatene or Media Atropatene (after Atropates), was much disputed. In the 2nd century BC, it was liberated from Seleucid domination by Mithradates I of Arsacid dynasty, and was later made a province of the Sassanid Empire of Ardashir I. Under the Sassanids, Azerbaijan was ruled by a marzubān, and, towards the end of the period, belonged to the family of Farrukh-Hormuzd. Heraclius, the Byzantine emperor, briefly held the region in the 7th century until peace was made with the Sassanids. After the Islamic Conquest of Iran, Arab invaders converted most of its people to Islam and made it part of the caliphate.
During the Islamic invasion of Azerbaijan, the name of the general of Iran, was Rustam the son of Farrukh Hurmuz also known as Rustam Farrokhzad. Rustam himself was born in Azerbaijan and lead the Sassanid army into battle.
He is also mentioned in the Shahnameh.
The Sassanid Persian army was defeated in the battle of Qadisiya and Rustam was killed in the same battle. In 642 A.D., Piruzan, the Persian commander fought the Muslims in Nahavand, which was a gateway to the provinces of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Albania. The battle was fiece but the Sassanid troops failed in battle. This opened the gateway for Muslims into Azerbaijan. Muslims settled in Azerbaijan like many parts of Iran. According to the historian Kasravi, the Muslims also settled in Azerbaijan more numerously than other provinces due to its wide and green pastures. Local revolts against the Caliphate were common and the most famous of these revolts was that Persian Khurramite movement.
Abbasid and Seljuqids
After the revolt of Babak Khorramdin who was a Zoroastrian of neo-Mazdakite background, the grip of the Abbasid caliphate on Azerbaijan weakened, allowing native dynasties to rise in Azerbaijan. Later on Azerbaijan was taken by the Kurdish Daisam and the Daylamite Marzuban. The Daylamites were succeeded by the Kurdish Rawadids. After confrontations with the local Kurdish populations who had already established their own dynasties and emirates in vast areas of Azerbaijan, the Seljuks dominated the region in the 11th and early 12th centuries, at which point Turkification of the native populations began. In 1136, Azerbaijan fell to the lot of the Atabakan-e-Azerbaijan and Atabakan-e-Maragheh. It was invaded by the Khwarizm Shah Jalal ad-din until the advent of the Mongol invasions.
Mongol and Turkmen Period
The Mongols under Hulagu Khan established their capital at Maragheh. The Safina-yi Tabriz is a book that describes the general intellectual condition of Tabriz during the Ilkhanid period. After being conquered by Timur in the 14th century, Tabriz became an important provincial capital of the Timurid empire. Later, Tabriz becamse the capital of the Qara Qoyunlu empire.
Safavid, Afghan interlude, Afshars and Qajar
It was out of Ardabil (ancient Artavilla) that the Safavid dynasty arose to renew the state of Persia and establish Shi'ism as the official religion of Iran. After 1502, Azerbaijan became the chief bulwark and military base of the Safavids. In the meantime, between 1514 and 1603, the Ottomans frequently occupied Tabriz and other parts of the province. The Safavid control was restored by Shah Abbas but during the Afghan invasion (1722-8) the Ottomans recaptured Azerbaijan and other western provinces of Iran, until Nadir Shah expelled them. In the beginning of the reign of Karim Khan Zand, the Afghan Azad Khan revolted in Azerbaijan and later the Dumbuli Kurds of khoy and other tribal chiefs ruled various parts of the territory. With the advent of the Qajars, Azerbaijan became the traditional residence of the heirs-apparent. At this time, the final northern frontier of Iran with Russia (along the Araxes) was established in 1828 (Turkmanchay Treaty). After 1905 the representatives of Azerbaijan were very active in the Iranian Constitutional Revolution.
The Russian (Tsarist) army occupied Iranian Azerbaijan in 1909, and again in 1912-1914 and 1915-1918 period,the Ottoman forces occupied her in 1914-1915 and 1918-1919 periods, the Bolshevik forces occupied Iranian Azerbaijan and other parts of Iran in 1920-1921, and the Soviet forces occupied Iranian Azerbaijan in 1941, createing a very short-lived autonomous, Soviet-supported state from November 1945 to November 1946, which was dissolved after reunification of Iranian Azerbaijan with Iran in November of the same year. The history of Iran, especially its contemporary history has proven that Azerbaijani people are one of the most patriotic people in Iran. Iranian Nationalism is partly the product of Azerbaijani Intellectuals. Azerbaijani provinces have played a major in the cultural and economic life of Iran in both the Pahlavi era as well as the Iranian Constitutional and Islamic revolution.
Azeris are culturally very close to the rest of the Iranians though their language is Turkic. The people of Azerbaijan have similar DNA to other Iranian peoples as well as their religion which is Shi'a Islam, which sets them apart from other Turkic speakers (who are mostly Sunni Muslims). Azeris celebrate Nouruz for the turn of the new Iranian year, the arrival of spring. Azerbaijan has a distinct music in Iran. Many local dances and folk music continue to survive among the various peoples of the provinces. Although Azerbaijani language is not an official language it is widely used, mostly in an oral tradition, among the Azeris in Iran. Many poets that came from Azerbaijan wrote poetry in both Persian and Azerbaijani. Renowned poets in Azerbaijani language are Nasimi, Shah Ismail I (who was known with the pen-name Khatai), Fuzuli, and Mohammad Hossein Shahriar. Fuzuli and Nasimi were probably born outside what is now Iranian Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani was the dominant language of the ruling dynasties of the Turkic rulers of the area such as the Ak Koyunlu and later it was used in the Safavid courts for a short time, until Persian was adopted, however, Turkic was used especially among the Kizilbash warriors. As a longstanding province of Iran (Persia), Azerbaijan is mentioned favorably on many occasions in Persian literature by Iran's greatest authors and poets. Examples:
از آنجا بتدبیر آزادگان
بیامد سوی آذرآبادگان
From there the wise and the free,
set off to Azerbaijan
به یک ماه در آذرآبادگان
ببودند شاهان و آزادگان
For a month's time, The Kings and The Free,
Would choose in Azerbaijan to be
Colleges and universities
- Sahand University of Technology
- Tabriz University of Medical Sciences
- University of Tabriz
- Urmia University of Medical Sciences
- Urmia University
- Ardabil University of Medical Sciences
- Mohaghegh Ardabili University
- Institute for Advanced Studies in Basic Sciences (IASBS)
- Zanjan University
- Azarbaijan University of Tarbiat Moallem
- Tabriz Islamic Arts University
- University of Maragheh
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Azerbāïjān.|
- History of the name Azerbaijan
- Old Azeri language
- Iranian Azerbaijanis
- Azerbaijani people
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|Definitions and translations from Wiktionary|
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- Ethnic Conflict and International Security, Edited by Michael E. Brown, Princeton University Press, 1993
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- Minorsky, V.; Minorsky, V. "(Azerbaijan). Encyclopaedia of Islam. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill
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- For more information see: Ali Morshedizad,Roshanfekrane Azari va Hoviyate Melli va Ghomi (Azari Intellectuals and Their Attitude to National and Ethnic Identity (Tehran: Nashr-e Markaz publishing co., 1380)
- Cold War International History Project Virtual Archive 2.0 Collection: 1945-46 Iranian Crisis
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