MARYAMKHANOM, thirty-ninth wife of Fatḥ-ʿAli Shah Qajar (r. 1797-1834), mother of Żiāʾ-al-Salṭana and Maḥmud Mirzā (qqv.). Maryam Khanom was from Māzandarān and of Jewish origin, and had previously been married to Āḡā Moḥammad Khan Qajar (r. 1789-97) (Ażod-al-Dawla, p. 33; Lesān-al-Molk, I, p. 5; Ḵāvari, II, p. 986; Bāmdād, IV, p. 51). Upon his death, Fatḥ-ʿAli Shah’s brother, Ḥosaynqoli Khan Sardār-e Iravāni (1742-1831), sought to marry Maryam Khanom, on account of her exceptional beauty. Fatḥ-ʿAli Shah, prevented his brother from doing so by marrying her himself, thereby creating further division and enmity between them (Ażod-al-Dawla, p. 33; Masʿud Anṣāri, p. 21; see also FATḤ-’ALI SHAH).
Maryam Khanom bore eleven children, six of whom survived to adulthood (Lesān-al-Molk, I, p. 555). In addition to Żiāʾ-al-Salṭana, Maryam Khanom had another daughter, Solṭān Begom (d. 1826), who died in her youth not long after marrying Moḥammad Khan, son of Mahdiqoli Khan Devellu Beglerbegi, with whom she had one child, a daughter. Solṭān Begom was a poet and calligrapher in her own right and spent her time tending to the elderly and orphans (Ażod-al-Dawla, p. 33; Ḵāvari, II, pp.1014-1015 and 1152; Mošir Salimi, pp. 256-57). Of Maryam Khanom’s four sons, the eldest, Maḥmud Mirzā (1799-1835), was the most accomplished.
Maryam Khanom’s second son, Homāyun Mirzā (1801-56), bore a striking resemblance to his father (Ḵāvari, II, p. 988). Homāyun Mirzā succeeded Maḥmud Mirzā as governor of Nahāvand in 1825, when his elder brother was appointed governor of Lorestān (Eʿte żād-al-Salṭana, pp. 208-209; Bāmdād, IV, p. 51). Homāyun Mirzā’s principle wife (galin, q.v.) chosen for him by his father, was Māhšaraf Begom, the daughter of Mirzā Šafi’ Māzandarāni. Through this marriage, the prince inherited the bulk of the prime minister’s assests (Bāmdād, IV, pp. 430-31). Māhšaraf Begom bore Homāyun Mirzā a son in 1823, who was named Moḥammad Šafi’ Mirzā, in honour of his maternal grandfather. Fatḥ-ʿAli Shah doted on this grandson and Ḵāvari composed a lengthy ode (qaṣida) on the occasion of his birth (Ḵāvari, II, pp. 1113-18). Although Moḥammad Šafi’ Mirzā was not Homāyun Mirzā’s first son, he was officially designated such by royal decree, on account of his illustrious lineage (Ḵāvari, II, p. 1119).
Maryam Khanom’s third son, Aḥmad-ʿAli Mirzā (b. 1804), is greatly praised by Ḵāvari for his erudition and learning, particularly in the fields of medicine, astrology and geometry. Aḥmad-ʿAli Mirzā spent some of his childhood in the care of Ḥosayn-ʿAli Mirzā Farmānfarmā (q.v.) in Fārs (Ḵāvari, II, pp. 989-90). In 1829, he was appointed governor of Khorasan, with Mirzā Musā Monajjembāši Gilāni (Nāyeb-e Rašti) as his vizier. Aḥmad-ʿAli Mirzā was removed from this post when, in 1831, Fatḥ-ʿAli Shah, on the request of ʿAbbās Mirzā, appointed Moḥammad Mirzā governor of Khorasan (Eʿteżād-al-Salṭana, p. 212; Bāmdād, I, pp. 93-94, IV, pp. 165-68). Ḵāvari suggests that Aḥmad-ʿAli Mirzā’s appointment to the governorship of Khorasan may have had something to do with the special affection Mo ʿtamed-al-Dawla Mirzā ʿAbd-al-Wahhāb Eṣfahāni, the Monši al-mamālek, had for him (Ḵāvari, II, p. 990). One of Aḥmad-ʿAli Mirzā’s seven daughters, Galin Khanom Šams-al-Dawla, was Nāṣer-al-Din Shah’s (r. 1848-96) first permanent wife and mother of the first crown prince, Maḥmud Mirzā, who died in infancy in 1849 (Amanat, pp. 48-49, 141; Bāmdād, I, p. 93).
Maryam Khanom’s fourth son, Jahānšāh Mirzā (1809-35), was raised by Maḥmud Mirzā in Nahāvand and does not appear to have held any official post (Ażod-al-Dawla, p. 133; Ḵāvari, II, p. 990; Eʿteżād-al-Salṭana, p. 220). Jahānšāh Mirzā chose not to take a principle wife (galin). Nevertheless, he did manage to father at least nine children before dying from cholera aged just twenty-six (Ażod-al-Dawla, p. 64; Ḵāvari, II, p. 990). Like his brothers, Jahānšāh Mirzā was a gifted calligrapher and poet, and it appears he was renowned by his peers for his exceptionally long beard (Divānbegi, pp. 87-90, 386-87, 471-73; Maḥmud, I, pp. 38-42; Mošir Salimi, pp. 256-57; Bāmdād, VI, pp. 73-74).
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Eʿteżād-al-Salṭana [ʿAli-Qoli Khan Mirzā], Eksir al-Tawāriḵ, ed. Jamšid Kiānfar, Tehran, 2001.
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ʿAli-Akbar Mošir Salimi, Zanān-e soḵanvar, 3 vols., Tehran, 1956-57.
October 7, 2005
(Dominic Parviz Brookshaw)
Originally Published: August 15, 2006
Last Updated: August 15, 2006