BURBUR, ʿALI, ʿEẒĀM-al-MOLK (b. Malāyer, 1867; d. Arāk 1922, Figure 1), administrative and military official under the Qajars. The elder son of Ḥasan Khan Burbur Kordḵordi, a personal assistant of Nāṣer-al-Din Shah, the young ʿAli was picked as commander of a three-thousand strong cavalry unit to put down various rebellions in the Lorestān region. Having proved himself a capable commander, he was bestowed with the unique title of ʿEẓām-al-Molk by the shah at an early age. His first non-military appointment was in 1901 as Master of Ceremony in daily audience at Moẓafar-al-Din Shah’s court, after which he continued to be conferred with high-ranking civil service positions.

In1904 ʿEẓām-al-Molk became the independent governor (ḥokmrān-e mostaqel) of Behbahān, Kohgiluya and Fasā; this coincided with the Fārs governor-generalship of Malek Manṣur Mirzā, Šoʿāʿ-al-Salṭana. ʿEẓām-al-Molk was already an illustrious political figure and corresponded frequently with the statesmen of his time, often signing his correspondence with the first name, ʿAli, which indicated closeness and familiarity. Some of the more frequent interlocutors, mostly the Qajar royal family or tribal leaders, including Sheikh Ḵazʿal, the paramount chief of the Arab tribes of Khuzestan; ʿAbdallāh Khan Qaragozlu; Sardār Akram, son of Moṣṭafā Khan Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, governor of Khuzestan and a civil official in Shiraz; Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Khan Baḵtiāri Šehāb-al-Salṭana; Abu’l-Fatḥ Mirzā Sālār-al-Dawla, the third son of Moẓaffar-al-Din Shah, who had laid claim to the throne and had gathered forces in Kurdistan and Kermānšāh; Ḵosrow Khan Baḵtiāri, Sardār Ẓafar; Sālār Arfaʿ, governor of Yazd and Kerman; Solṭān-Moḥammad Mirzā Sayf-al-Dawla, a prince from the favorite Isfahani wife of Fatḥ-ʿAli Shah who was installed as governor in 1841 at the age of thirteen and held important later positions; and, Ḥāji Sahm-al-Molk Amirtumān, whose daughter was the second wife of Abu’l-Fatḥ Mirzā Moʾayyed-al-Dawla.

The second assignment of ʿEẓām-al-Molk in Fārs as ḥākem of Lār and Jahrom coincided with hostilities by the nationalist forces (melliyun) against the British, the South Persia Rifles, headquartered in Shiraz, and their commander Percy Sykes who was a supporter of ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Mirzā Farmānfarmā, appointed governor-general of Fārs in the year 1916 due to the insistence of the British government. There were continuous protests and demonstrations at Masjed-e Now of Shiraz against the meddling of the British in Iranian affairs which culminated in a harsh manifesto by the nationalists. ʿEẓām-al-Molk, who kept close ties with both the tribal leaders and the nationalists,  was designated to convey their ultimatum to the governor-general. They demanded the immediate dismantling of the British-instigated South Persia Rifles, which they claimed had not been authorized by the Iranian government and which they declared unlawful, and the dismissal of Farmānfarmā as persona non grata; they threatened use of force in case of refusal.

Later on, ʿEzām-al-Molk served as a deputy governor of Isfahan. His last appointment, by Aḥmad Shah (q.v.), was as the nāyeb al-ḥokuma (vicegerent) of Arāk, where he died from kidney failure at the age of 55; he was buried in Qom. The title of ʿEẓām-al-Molk was immediately transferred by a royal decree to his eldest son, Ḡolām-ʿAli Khan Moʿtamed-al-Solṭān. ʿAli Burbur married three times, to Sakina, Ṭubā (a daughter of Esmāʿil Khan Šāmlu), and Baṭul. His first wife gave birth to Nimtāj, and his second wife was the mother of six sons, Ḡolām-ʿAli Khan, Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Khan, Ḡolām-Reżā Khan, ʿAliqoli Khan, Emāmqoli Khan, and Esmāʿil Khan, and three daughters, Mahlaqā, Aqdas and Faḵr-al-Zamān.


Bibliography: Biographical information on the subject was obtained in part by interviews.

Primary sources (unless stated otherwise, all documents are by courtesy of the heirs to Cyrus Borbor, Geneva).

Aḥmad Shah’s royal decree (farmān), 1922 (courtesy of the heirs to Noṣratallāh Khan Boorboor, Tehran).

ʿEẓām-al-Molk’s visiting card (courtesy of Arshid Boorboor, Las Vegas, Nevada); his telegrams: no. 2, 19 September 1905, from Behbahān to Isfahan; no. 5, 24 September 1905, from Behbahān to Moḥammera; 10 September 1905, from Behbahān to Shiraz; no. 1, 8 December, 1905, from Behbahān to Isfahan.

Sheikh Ḵazʿal’s telegrams: no. 1, 24 November 1905, from Nāṣeri to Behbahān; no. 2, 28 September 1905, from Nāṣeri to Behbahān; no. 3, 21 August 1905, from Moḥammera to Behbahān.

Moẓaffar-al-Din Shah Qajar’s royal decree, 28 May 1901.

Nāṣer-al-Din Shah’s royal decree, November 1886 (courtesy of the heirs to Noṣrat-allāh Khan Boorboor, Tehran).

Sālār Arfaʿ’s telegram no. 2, 25 September 1905, from Isfahan to Behbahān.

Sālār-al-Dawla’s letter, 24 January 1911.

Sardār Akram Qaragozlu’s letter to ʿAbbāsqoli Buyer-Aḥmadi Garmsiri, 28 August 1905; his telegrams: no. 22, 29 August 1905; no. 8, 15 September 1905; no. 9, 18 October 1905; no. 10, 4 September 1905 (all from Shiraz to Behbahān).

Šehāb-al-Salṭana’s telegram, 22 September 1905, from Isfahan to Behbahān.

Malek Manṣur Šoʿāʿ-Salṭana’s letter to ʿEẓām-al-Molk, ca. 1 September 1904; his telegram, 2 October 1905, from Shiraz to Behbahān.


Ḡolām-ʿAli Burbur, Zendagi-nāma va tabār-nāma-ye šāḵa-ʾi az il-e Burbur, Isfahan, 1975.

M. Etteḥadiya, Zamāna va kār-nāma-ye siāsi o ejtemāʿi-e ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Mirzā Farmānfarmā, Tehran, 2004, p. 350.

Gene R. Garthwaite, “The Bakhtiyari Khans, the Government of Iran, and the British, 1846-1915”, IJMES 3/1, 1972, pp. 24-44.

Abu’l-Faẓl Qāsemi, Oligārši yā ḵānadānhā-ye ḥokumatgar-e Iran I. Ḵānadān-e Firuz, Tehran, 1975, p. 48. 

(Dariush Borbor)

Originally Published: January 1, 2000

Last Updated: November 1, 2013