DARYĀBEYGĪ (sea lord), originally an Ottoman naval title dating from the 15th century (Lewis, p. 165). In Persia it was first adopted in the 18th century, when Nāder Shah Afšār (1148-60/1736-47) built his fleet. The naval commander in chief bore the title daryābeygī or occasionally sardār or sardār-e banāder (Estarābādī, p. 580; Eskandar Beg, II, p. 665; Lockhart, 1936, p. 11; Floor, 1987, pp. 40-49). Nāder Shah’s choice, in 1146/1733, of Būšehr (q.v.) for his shipyards and the residence of the daryābeygī led to the eclipse of Bandar-e ʿAbbās (q.v.) as the major Persian Gulf port (Floor, 1979, p. 169; Lockhart, 1938, pp. 92-93; idem, 1936, p. 12). Nevertheless, the commanders of the fleet at Bandar-e ʿAbbās and of a group of two frigates and four smaller vessels on the Caspian Sea (Lockhart, 1936, pp. 7-17) also bore the rank of daryābegī. Nāder Shah’s naval project did not survive his assassination in 1160/1747, but the title daryābeygī was also used to designate the commander of the small fleet assembled under the Zands (Lockhart, 1936, p. 15; Perry, pp. 150-66).
In the early Qajar period daryābeygī was simply an honorific, as the state had no navy. Most often it was awarded by the governor of Fārs to the municipal governor of Būšehr and occasionally to other local dignitaries. For example, in 1238/1823 Ḥosayn-ʿAlī Mīrzā Farmānfarmā, bestowed it on the shaikh of Šārja and Raʾs al-Ḵayma, Solṭān b. Ṣaqr, in order to enlist his help in capturing Bahrain (q.v.). When the British navy threatened the Persian Gulf coast in 1256/1840, in response to the Persian siege of Herat, Moḥammad Shah (1250-64/1834-48) himself appointed as daryābeygī and governor of Būšehr Shaikh Nāṣer, whose family, of the Mataresh Arabs of Oman (Perry, p. 154), had ruled the city since the mid-18th century (Kelly, pp. 42-43, 220, 347). In 1266/1850 Fīrūz Mīrzā Noṣrat-al-Dawla, governor of Fārs, appointed Mīrzā Ḥasan-ʿAlī Khan, son of Mīrzā ʿAlī-Akbar Qawām-al-Molk of Shiraz, governor of Būšehr and daryābeygī (Fasāʾī, I, p. 305). When he was captured by invading British forces during the Anglo-Persian War (q.v.) of 1273/1857 and sent to Bombay Aḥmad Khan Navāʾī ʿAmīd-al-Molk was appointed governor of Būšehr with the title daryābeygī (Fasāʾī, I, p. 318).
Despite repeated efforts, the state remained without a fleet until the commissioning of two small vessels from German shipyards, Persepolis and Susa, in 1300/1883 (Curzon, Persian Question, II, pp. 393-96; Rāʾīn, II, pp. 744-61; Ṣafāʾī, pp. 81-82; Lorimer, Gazetteer I/1, p. 294), which transformed the position of the daryābeygī and permitted the extension of the central authority over Arab tribes on the Persian Gulf coast, for example, the Jawāsem of Lenga (Sadīd-al-Salṭana, pp. 606-12; Šaybānī, pp. 345-52).
By the beginning of the 20th century the entire Persian coastal region was administered by the daryābeygī (Busch, pp. 41-47). The title was abandoned when Reżā Shah Pahlavī (1304-20/1925-41) expanded the Persian navy; it subsequently became a surname.
B. C. Busch, Britain and the Persian Gulf, 1894-1914,Berkeley, Calif., 1967.
Mīrzā Mahdī Khan Estarābādī (Astarābādī), Dorra-ye nādera, ed. J. Šahīdī, Tehran, 1341 Š./1962.
W. Floor, “A Description of the Persian Gulf and Its Inhabitants in 1756,” Persica 7, 1979, pp. 165-86.
Idem, “The Iranian Navy in the Gulf during the Eighteenth Century,” Iranian Studies 20/1, 1987, pp. 31-53.
J. B. Kelly, Britain and the Persian Gulf 1795-1880, Oxford, 1968.
B. Lewis, “Daryā-Begi,” in EI2 II, p. 165.
L. Lockhart, “The Navy of Nadir Shah,” Proceedings of the Iran Society 1/1, 1936, pp. 3-18.
Idem, Nadir Shah, London, 1938.
J. Perry, Karim Khan Zand. A History of Iran 1747-1779, Chicago, 1979
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Idem, Nahẓat-e āzādī-ḵᵛāhī-e mardom-e Fārs dar enqelāb-e mašrūṭīat-e Īrān, Tehran, 1350 Š./1971.
E. Rāʾīn, Daryā-navardī-e Īrānīān, 2 vols., Tehran, 1350 Š./1971.
M.-ʿA. Sadīd-al-Salṭana Kabābī, Bandar(-e) ʿAbbās wa Ḵalīj-e Fārs, ed. A. Eqtedārī, Tehran 1363 Š./1984.
E. Ṣafāʾī, Āʾīna-ye tārīḵ, Tehran, 1353 Š./1974.
Ṣadīq-al-Mamālek Šaybānī, Montaḵab al-tawārīḵ, Tehran, 1366 Š./1987.
Originally Published: December 15, 1994
Last Updated: November 18, 2011
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