ALLĀHYĀR KHAN QELĪČĪ (b. ca. 1150/1735-36), khan of the Qelīča, a minor Turkish tribe in northern Khorasan, and ruler of Sabzevār at the turn of the 19th century. He rose to power in the late 12th/18th century when supremacy over Khorasan was disputed by the Zands, the Qajars, and the remnants of the Afsharids. Around 1190/1776-77 he provided support for Ḥosayn-qolī Khan Qāǰār, father of Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah, in his engagements with the Kūklān Torkmans of the northwest (Rawżat al-ṣafā IX, pp. 106-07). Though in 1210/1795-96 he acknowledged the sovereignty of Āḡā Moḥammad Khan, after Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah’s accession he joined other local tribal leaders in defying direct Qajar rule. Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah’s three successive campaigns (1214-16/1799-1801) to subdue the khans of Khorasan were only partially successful, in spite of the destruction and great hardship for the population. In early 1215/1800, accompanied by more than ten thousand troops, he laid siege to Sabzevār and captured the strategically important fortress of Mazīnān; the siege was eventually lifted when Zamān Shah, the ruler of Kabul, mediated on Allāhyār’s behalf. Zamān’s policy of maintaining northern Khorasan as a buffer zone temporarily consolidated Allāhyār’s position at a time when the newly enthroned Qajar monarch, in spite of British pressure, was willing to show leniency. But in the same year Zamān was overthrown by a pro-Qajar regime; soon the absence of a unified defense resulted in intensified Kūklān encroachments and further weakened Allāhyār. At the same time Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah had eliminated most of his opponents, including Allāhyār’s ally Ṣādeq Khan Šaqāqī, and was now in a stronger position to deal with the rebellious khans of Khorasan. Allāhyār, who had already lost vital positions around the city and no longer was able to withstand the Torkmans, reluctantly surrendered to Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah in exchange for an offer of clemency negotiated by the crown prince ʿAbbās Mīrzā. He released the shah’s envoy Mīrzā Asadallāh Nūrī and with him dispatched his daughter Ṭarlān, who had long been promised to the shah as a guarantee of Allāhyār’s loyalty. In 1216/1801-02 he was forced to leave Sabzevār for the capital, where he was granted the toyūl of Eštehārd as compensation. He spent the rest of his life peacefully in exile. He was one of the first khans to fall victim to the Qajars’ long-term policy of exercising direct control over Khorasan, a process of assimilation that took more than half a century.
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Originally Published: December 15, 1985
Last Updated: August 2, 2011
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