Shah

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Royal and noble ranks in Persia, Pakistan, Nepal and India
Pahlavi Crown of Imperial Iran (heraldry).svg
Shah : Emperor
High King
King : Sultan
Royal Prince : Shahzada, Mirza
Noble Prince : Sahibzada
Nobleman: Nawab, Baig

Shah (/ˈʃɑː/; Persian: شاه‎, [ʃɒːh], "king") is a title given to the emperors/kings and lords of Iran a.k.a. Persia. In Iran (Persia and Greater Persia) the title was continuously used; rather than King in the European sense, each Persian ruler regarded himself as the Shahanshah (King of Kings) or Emperor of the Persian Empire. In Pakistan and India, the title was used by Mughal rulers. The word descends from Old Persian xšāyaΘiya- "king", which (for reasons of historical phonology) must be a borrowing from Median,[1] and is derived from the same root as Avestan xšaΘra-, "power" and "command", corresponding to Sanskrit (Old Indic) kṣatra- (same meaning), from which kṣatriya-, "warrior", is derived. The full, Old Persian title of the Achaemenid rulers of the First Persian Empire was XšāyaΘiya XšāyaΘiyānām or Shahanshah, "King of Kings"[2] or "Emperor". The Indian surname Shah has a different source.

History[edit]

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran from 1941 to 1979

Shah, or Shāhanshāh (King of Kings) to use the full-length term, was the title of the Persian emperors. It includes rulers of the first Persian Empire, the Achaemenid dynasty, who unified Persia and created a vast intercontinental empire, as well as rulers of succeeding dynasties throughout history until the twentieth century and the Imperial House of Pahlavi. The title was also extensively used by emperors of the Indian subcontinent, including those of the Mughal Empire. For instance, the third Mughal emperor, Akbar the Great (1542–1605), was formally known as "Shahanshah Akbar-e-Azam".

The full title of the Achaemenid rulers was XšāyaΘiya XšāyaΘiyānām, literally "King of Kings" in Old Persian, corresponding to Middle Persian Šāhān Šāh, and Modern Persian شاهنشاه (Shāhanshāh).[3][4] In Greek, this phrase was translated as "βασιλεύς τῶν βασιλέων (basileus tōn basiléōn)", "King of Kings", equivalent to Emperor. Both terms were often shortened to their roots shah and basileus.

In Western languages, Shah is often used as an imprecise rendering of Shāhanshāh. The term was first recorded in English in 1564 as a title for the King of Persia and with the spelling "Shaw". For a long time, Europeans thought of Shah as a particular royal title rather than an imperial one, although the monarchs of Persia regarded themselves as emperors of the Persian Empire (later the Empire of Iran). The European opinion changed in the Napoleonic era, when Persia was an ally of the Western powers eager to make the Ottoman Sultan release his hold on various (mainly Christian) European parts of the Ottoman Empire, and western (Christian) emperors had obtained the Ottoman acknowledgement that their western imperial styles were to be rendered in Turkish as padishah.

In the twentieth century, the Shah of Persia, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, officially adopted the title شاهنشاه Shâhanshâh and, in western languages, the rendering Emperor. He also styled his wife شهبانو Shahbânu (Empress). Iran no longer had a shah after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Ruler styles[edit]

  • The title padishah (Great King) was also adopted from the Iranians by the Ottomans and by various other Islamic monarchs claiming imperial rank, such as the Indian Mughals.
  • Another subsidiary style of the Ottoman and Mughal rulers was Shah-i-Alam Panah, meaning "King, refuge of the world".
  • Some monarchs were known by a contraction of the kingdom's name with shah, such as Khwarezmshah, ruler of the short-lived Muslim realm of Khwarezmia, or the Shirvanshah of Shirvan.
  • The kings of Georgia called themselves shahanshah alongside their other titles.

Shahzada[edit]

Shahzada (Persian شاهزاده Šāhzāde). In the realm of a shah (or a more lofty derived ruler style), a prince of the blood was logically called shahzada as the term is derived from shah using the Persian patronymic suffix -zāde or -zāda, "son, descendant". However the precise full styles can differ in the court traditions of each shah's kingdom. Female descendants or princesses are called Shahzadi.

Thus, in Oudh, only sons of the sovereign shah bahadur (see above) were by birth-right styled "Shahzada [personal title] Mirza [personal name] Bahadur", though this style could also be extended to individual grandsons and even further relatives. Other male descendants of the sovereign in the male line were merely styled "Mirza [personal name]" or "[personal name] Mirza". This could even apply to non-Muslim dynasties. For example, the younger sons of the ruling Sikh maharaja of Punjab were styled "Shahzada [personal name] Singh Bahadur".

The corruption shahajada, "Shah's son", taken from the Mughal title Shahzada, is the usual princely title borne by the grandsons and male descendants of a Nepalese sovereign, in the male line.

For the heir to a "Persian-style" shah's royal throne, more specific titles were used, containing the key element Vali Ahad, usually in addition to shahzada, where his junior siblings enjoyed this style.[5]

Other styles[edit]

  • Shahbanu (Persian شهبانو, Šahbānū): Persian term using the word shah and the Persian suffix -banu ("lady"): Empress, in modern times, the official title of Empress Farah Pahlavi.
  • Shahdokht (Persian شاهدخت Šāhdoxt) is also another term derived from shah using the Persian patronymic suffix -dokht "daughter, female descendant", to address the Princess of the imperial households.

Related terms[edit]

  • Shah is a widespread name in Iran and the Indian subcontinent. See Shah (surname).
  • Satrap, the term in Western languages for a governor of a Persian province, is a distortion of xšaθrapāvan, literally "guardian of the realm", which derives from the word xšaθra, an Old Persian word meaning "realm, province" and related etymologically to shah.
  • Maq'ad-i-Shah (Persian مقعد شاه Maq'ad-i-Shah), the phrase from which the name of Mogadishu is believed to be derived, which means "The seat of the Shah", a reflection of the city's early Persian influence.[6]
  • The English word "check," in all senses, is in fact derived from "shah" (via Arabic, Latin and French). Related terms such as "checker" and "chess" and "exchequer" likewise originate from the Persian word, their modern senses having developed from the original meaning of the king piece.

References[edit]

  1. ^ An introduction to Old Persian (p. 149). Prods Oktor Skjærvø. Harvard University. 2003.
  2. ^ Old Persian. Appendices, Glossaries, Indices & Transcriptions. Prods Oktor Skjærvø. Harvard University. 2003.
  3. ^ D. N. MacKenzie. A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary. Routledge Curzon, 2005. ISBN 0-19-713559-5
  4. ^ M. Mo’in. An Intermediate Persian Dictionary. Six Volumes. Amir Kabir Publications, Teheran, 1992.
  5. ^ Shahzada son of shah, Newsvine.com
  6. ^ David D. Laitin, Said S. Samatar, Somalia: Nation in Search of a State, (Westview Press: 1987), p. 12.

External links[edit]