Shahrukh Mirza

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Forensic facial reconstruction

Shāhrukh Mīrzā (Persian: شاهرخ میرزا‎‎ Šāhrokh Mīrzā)[1][2] (August 20, 1377 – March 13, 1447) was the Timurid ruler of the eastern portion of the empire established by his father, Central Asian warlord Timur (Tamerlane) who founded the Timurid dynasty, governing most of Persia and Transoxiana between 1405 and 1447. Shāhrukh was the fourth and youngest son of Timur and child of one of his concubines.

After Timur's death in 1405, his empire fell apart with various tribes and warlords competing for dominance. The Kara Koyunlu Turkmen destroyed the western empire in 1410 when they captured Baghdad, but in Persia and Transoxiana Shāhrukh was able to secure effective control from about 1409. His empire controlled the main trade routes between East and West, including the legendary Silk Road, and became immensely wealthy as a result.

The devastation of Persia's main cities led to the cultural centre of the empire shifting to Samarqand in modern Uzbekistan and Herat in modern Afghanistan. Shāhrukh chose to have his capital not in Samarqand, but in Herat. This was to become the political centre of the Timurid empire, and residence of his principal successors, though both cities benefited from the wealth and privilege of Shāhrukh's court, which was a great patron of the arts and sciences.


Shāhrukh's wife, Gowwhar Shād, funded the construction of two outstanding mosques and theological colleges in Mashhad and Herāt. The Gowwhar-Shād-Mosque was finished in 1418. The mixed ethnic origins of the ruling dynasty led to a distinctive character in its cultural outlook, which was a combination of Persian civilization and art, with borrowings from China, and literature written in Persian as well as Chagatay and Arabic.

Shāhrukh commissioned the production of a number of historical and geographic works by Hafiz-i Abru. Among them is Tāriḵ-e Šāhroḵ(i), the history of Shāhrukh's reign through AH 816 (AD 1413-14). It was later incorporated by its author into larger "universal history" compilations, Majmuʿa-ye Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru (a universal history work) and Majmaʿ al-tawāriḵ [al-solṭāni(ya)] (section Zobdat al-tawāriḵ-e Bāysonḡori).[3]

Foreign relations[edit]

During Shāhrukh's rule, relations between the Timurid state and Ming China under the rule of the Yongle Emperor and his descendants normalized, as compared to the era of Timur and the Hongwu Emperor (the first emperor of Ming China), who almost started a war (which was averted only due to the death of Timur). Chinese embassies, led by Chen Cheng, visited Samarqand and Herat several times in 1414-1420,[4][5] while a large embassy sent by Shāhrukh (and immortalized by its diarist, Ghiyāth al-dīn Naqqāsh) traveled to China in 1419-1422.[6][7]


  • Gawhar Shad Agha, daughter of Giyas-al-ddin Terkhan;
  • Malikat Agha, daughter of Khizar Ughlan Chaghatay;
  • Tuti Agha, a Narin Mughal lady;
  • Aq Sultan Agha, daughter of Charkas bin Timan Ilchigiday;
  • Mihr Nigar Agha, an Uzbek Bisut lady;
  • La'l Takin Agha;

Death and succession[edit]

Shāhrukh died during a journey in Rey in Persia and was succeeded by his son, Mohammad Taragae Uluğ Bēg, who had been viceroy of Transoxiana during his father's lifetime.

In total, Shāhrukh had five sons.

  • Ulugh Beg, viceroy of Transoxiana, was the oldest.
  • Sultan Ibrahim Mirza, viceroy of Persia, was second oldest but predeceased Shāhrukh.[8]
  • Baysonqor (1397–1433), Shāhrukh's artistic third son never had a vice-royal position, but played an important part in his father's government in Samarqand, also pre-deceased his father, perhaps due to over consumption of alcohol.[9]
  • His fourth son, Mirza Soyurghatmïsh Khan, was viceroy of India and Ghazni but also died before Shāhrukh, as did
  • His fifth son Mirza Muhammad Juki.

Thus, only Ulugh Beg, who was an excellent mathematician but an incapable ruler, was left to succeed his father.[8]

Facial reconstruction[edit]

Soviet anthropologist Mikhail Mikhaylovich Gerasimov reconstructed the facial features of Timur, his son Shāhrukh and grandson Ulug Beg. Relative to the others, Timur appears to have been phenotypically East Asian, while Shāhrukh, the son of a Tajik woman, had more Europoid features. Shāhrukh appeared more similar to brachycephalic Europoids.[10][11] Shāhrukh's son Ulugh Beg however, had predominantly mongloid features, and no obvious caucasoid feature.


  1. ^ Alternatives: Shāhruh, Shāhrokh or Shāhrukh
  2. ^ The Persian meaning of the name is (literally) "face of a king"; it is also the Persian name for the chess move "castling". According to Ibn ‘Arabshāh, his father was playing chess when he received the news of his birth, using this chess move as a name for the newborn child (Ibn Arabshah, Ahmed (1936). Tamerlane or Timur the Great Amir. Trans. J.H. Sanders. London: Luzac and Co., p. 47).
  3. ^ Maria Eva Subtelny and Charles Melville, Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru at Encyclopædia Iranica
  4. ^ Tsai, Shih-Shan Henry (2002), Perpetual Happiness: The Ming Emperor Yongle, University of Washington Press, p. 162, ISBN 0-295-98124-5 
  5. ^ Goodrich, L. Carrington; Tay, C.N. (1976), "Ch'en Ch'eng", in Goodrich, L. Carrington; Fang, Chaoying, Dictionary of Ming Biography, 1368–1644. Volume I (A-L), Columbia University Press, pp. 144–145, ISBN 0-231-03801-1 
  6. ^ Brook, Timothy (1978), "Chapter 10, Communications and commerce", in Twitchett, Denis Crispin; Fairbank, John King, The Cambridge History of China, 8, "The Ming Dynasty: 1368-1644", Part 2, Cambridge University Press, pp. 583–584, ISBN 0-521-24333-5 
  7. ^ Brook, Timothy (1998), The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China, University of California Press, pp. 34–38, ISBN 0-520-21091-3 
  8. ^ a b Stevens, John. The history of Persia. Containing, the lives and memorable actions of its kings from the first erecting of that monarchy to this time; an exact Description of all its Dominions; a curious Account of India, China, Tartary, Kermon, Arabia, Nixabur, and the Islands of Ceylon and Timor; as also of all Cities occasionally mention'd, as Schiras, Samarkand, Bokara, &c. Manners and Customs of those People, Persian Worshippers of Fire; Plants, Beasts, Product, and Trade. With many instructive and pleasant digressions, being remarkable Stories or Passages, occasionally occurring, as Strange Burials; Burning of the Dead; Liquors of several Countries; Hunting; Fishing; Practice of Physick; famous Physicians in the East; Actions of Tamerlan, &c. To which is added, an abridgment of the lives of the kings of Harmuz, or Ormuz. The Persian history written in Arabick, by Mirkond, a famous Eastern Author that of Ormuz, by Torunxa, King of that Island, both of them translated into Spanish, by Antony Teixeira, who liv'd several Years in Persia and India; and now render'd into English.
  9. ^ BĀYSONḠOR, ḠĪĀT-AL-DĪN B. ŠĀHROḴ B. TĪMŪR in Encyclopedia Iranica
  10. ^ Greater Iran: a 20th-century odyssey. Author
  11. ^ Ich suchte Gesichter. Author:Mikhail Mikhaĭlovich Gerasimov
Shahrukh Mirza
Preceded by
Khalil Sultan
Timurid Empire
Succeeded by
Ulugh Beg