Karim Khan

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For the cricketer known as Karim Khan, see Karim Khan (cricketer). For the village in Iran, see Karim Khan, Iran.
Karim Khan Zand
'Vakil e-Ra'aayaa وكيل الرّعايا
(Representative of the People)
Lion and Sun Emblem of Persia.svg
Karim Khan by Charles Heath.jpg
Reign 1751 – 1 May/March 1779[1]
Successor Mohammad Ali Khan
Dynasty Zand dynasty
Born c. 1705
Died 1 May/March 1779[1]
Zand Palace, Shiraz
Burial Pars Museum, Shiraz
29°36′57.63″N 52°32′42″E / 29.6160083°N 52.54500°E / 29.6160083; 52.54500Coordinates: 29°36′57.63″N 52°32′42″E / 29.6160083°N 52.54500°E / 29.6160083; 52.54500
Religion Shia Islam[2]

Karim Khan Zand (Persian: کریم خان زند‎, Karīm Khān Zand), was the founder of the Zand Dynasty, ruling from 1751 to 1779. He ruled all of Iran except for Khorasan.[3] He also ruled over some Caucasian lands and occupied Basra for some years.


Karim Khan's ethnicity is still disputed to this day, some sources suggested that he was of Lak[4][5][6][7] or Lur[8] origin. Wadie Jwaideh suggested his proud Kurdishness.[9][10][11][12]

Karim Khan Zand was one of the generals of Nader Shah. After Nader Shah's death in 1747, Persia fell into a state of civil war. At that time, Karim Khan, Abdolfath Khan Bakhtiari and Ali Mardan Khan reached an agreement to divide the country among themselves and give the throne to Ismail III. However, the cooperation ended after Ali Mardan Khan invaded Isfahan and killed Abdolfath Khan Bakhtiari. Subsequently, Karim Khan killed Ali Mardan Khan and gained control over all of Iran except Greater Khorasan, ruled by Shahrokh, grandson of Nader Shah. Nevertheless, he did not adopt the title of Shah for himself, preferring the title, Vakil e-Ra'aayaa (Representative of the People).[13]

While Karim was ruler, Persia recovered from the devastation of 40 years of war, providing the war ravaged country with a renewed sense of tranquility, security, peace, and prosperity. During his reign, relations with Britain were restored, and he allowed the East India Company to have a trading post in southern Iran. He made Shiraz his capital and ordered the construction of several architectural projects there. Following Karim Khan's death, civil war broke out once more, and none of his descendants were able to rule the country as effectively as he had. The last of these descendants, Lotf Ali Khan, was killed by Agha Mohammad Khan, and the Qajar dynasty came to power.


To this day, he has a reputation as one of the most just and able rulers in Iranian history. A wealth of tales and anecdotes portray Karim Khan as a compassionate ruler, genuinely concerned with the welfare of his subjects. In the words of John Malcolm, "The happy reign of this excellent prince, as contrasted with those who preceded and followed him, affords the historian of Persia that kind of mixed pleasure and repose, which a traveler enjoys on arriving in a beautiful and fertile valley during an arduous journey over barren and rugged wastes. It is pleasing to recount the actions of a chief who, though born of an inferior rank, obtained power without crime, and who exercised it with a moderation that, for the times in which he lived, was as singular as his humanity and justice."[14] He is buried at Pars Museum of Shiraz.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Yeroushalmi, David (2009). The Jews of Iran in the Nineteenth Century. Brill's Series in Jewish Studies 40. The Netherlands: Brill. pp. xxxix. ISBN 90-04-15288-1. 
  2. ^ Dabashi, Hamid (2011). Shi'ism: A Religion of Protest. Harvard University Press. pp. 164–165. ISBN 0-674-04945-4. 
  3. ^ Perry 2011, pp. 561–564.
  4. ^ KARIM KHAN ZAND[dead link]
  5. ^ A fourth pretender was Karim Khan, son of Aymak of the Zand, a section of Lak tribe, Sir Percy Molesworth Sykes, A History of Persi, Macmillan and co., limited, 1930, p. 277.
  6. ^ One of the contenders for power was Karim Khan Zand, a member of the Lak tribe near Shiraz, William Marsden, Stephen Album, Marsden's Numismata orientalia illustrata, Attic Books, 1977, ISBN 978-0-915018-16-1, p. 158.
  7. ^ Karim Khan, the founder of the Zand dynasty of Persia that succeeded the Afsharids, was himself born to a family of these Lak deportees (of the Zand tribe), Mehrdad R. Izady, The Kurds: A Concise Handbook, Taylor & Francis, 1992, ISBN 978-0-8448-1727-9, p. 12.
  8. ^ Muhammad Karim Khan, of the Zand clan of the Lur tribe, suc- ceeded in imposing his authority on parts of the defunct Safavid empire, David Yeroushalmi, The Jews of Iran in The Nineteenth Century: Aspects of History, Community, and Culture, BRILL, 2009, ISBN 978-90-04-15288-5, p. xxxix.
  9. ^ Kurdish leader, Karim Khan Zand,..., Wadie Jwaideh, The Kurdish National Movement: Its Origins and Development, Syracuse University Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-8156-3093-7, p. 17.
  10. ^ Lokman I. Meho, Kelly L. Maglaughlin, Kurdish Culture and Society: An Annotated Bibliography, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001. ISBN 978-0-313-31543-5, p. 308.
  11. ^ ...the bulk of the evidence points to their being one of the northern Lur or Lak tribes, who may originally have been immigrants of Kurdish origin., Peter Avery, William Bayne Fisher, Gavin Hambly, Charles Melville (ed.), The Cambridge History of Iran: From Nadir Shah to the Islamic Republic, Cambridge University Press, 1991, ISBN 978-0-521-20095-0, p. 64.
  12. ^ Jwaideh, Wadie (2006). The Kurdish national movement: its origins and development. 
  13. ^ http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/karim-khan-zand
  14. ^ (John Malcolm, The History of Persia, 1829)


Perry, John R., Karīm Khān Zand: a history of Iran, 1747–1779 University of Chicago Press, 1979, ISBN 978-0-226-66098-1 and One World Publications, 2006 ISBN 978-1-85168-435-9. Malcolm, John, Sir, The history of Persia, from the most early period to the present time containing an account of the religion, government, usages, and character of the inhabitants of that kingdom in 2 volumes; London : Murray, 1815.; re-published by Adamant Media Corporation 2004 vol 1. ISBN 978-1-4021-5134-7; vol. 2 ISBN 978-1-4021-5205-4.

External links[edit]

Karim Khan
Born: 1705 Died: 1779
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Shah Rukh Afshar
Shah of Persia
Succeeded by
Mohammad Ali Khan
Preceded by
Azad Khan Afghan
Ruler of Azerbaijan (as part of Persia)
Succeeded by
Abol Fath Khan Zand
Preceded by
Mohammad Hasan Khan Qajar
Ruler of Mazandaran (as part of Persia)
Succeeded by
Abol Fath Khan Zand