ʿALĪ KHAN MARĀḠAʾĪ ḤĀJEB-AL-DAWLA, ḤĀJJĪ, Qajar official (1222-84/1807-08 to 1867). The son of Ḥosayn Khan Moqaddam Marāḡaʾī, when still a child he entered as ḡolām-bača into the service of the future king Moḥammad Mīrzā, son of the crown prince ʿAbbās Mīrzā, when the latter was governor of Marāḡa. In 1250/1834, when Moḥammad Mīrzā was named crown prince, ʿAlī Khan was made his master of the wardrobe (ṣandūqdār); when he acceded to the throne in the same year, ʿAlī Khan was appointed chief of the royal household (ḵᵛānsālār). There he had close connections with Moḥammad Shah’s mother and with one of his wives, Mahd-e ʿOlyā, the mother of the future Nāṣer-al-dīn Shah. He is said to have concluded contracts of temporary marriage (moṭʿa) with each of them during different pilgrimages to Mecca (Bāmdād, Reǰāl V, p. 288, and II, pp. 375-76). Disgraced in 1261/1845, he sought sanctuary in Qom, but was removed by force on the shah’s order. He was saved on payment of 20,000 tomans and exiled to Transoxania. After a pilgrimage to Mecca, he returned with Moḥammad Shah’s mother to Tabrīz, where they contacted Mahd-e ʿOlyā. When she assumed the regency for 100 days after Moḥammad Shah’s death in 1264/1848, she appointed ʿAlī Khan her chief administrator (nāẓer) and tax collector for Gīlān.

Nāṣer-al-dīn Shah left ʿAlī Khan in office; his prime minister, Mīrzā Taqī Khan Farāhānī Amīr(-e) Kabīr, appointed ʿAlī Khan farrāš-bāšī (equivalent to court minister). After deposing Amīr Kabīr in the autumn of 1268/1851, the shah ordered his murder and ʿAlī Khan volunteered to carry out the sentence. As a result, the formula “murderer of Amīr Kabīr” is added to ʿAlī Khan’s name whenever he is mentioned by modern writers. After the Bābī attempt on the shah’s life in 1268/1852, ʿAlī Khan helped to arrest Ḥosayn ʿAlī Nūrī, chief of the Bahāʾī branch of Bābīs; his reward was the title Ḥāǰeb-al-dawla. Since Ḥosayn ʿAlī Nūrī was a relative of Āqā Khan Nūrī, the new prime minister, the latter was at least temporarily on hostile terms with ʿAlī Khan; later they cooperated closely. As chief of the royal household ʿAlī Khan was, next to the prime minister, the most powerful official in the state. ʿAlī Khan’s close connections with the prime minister eventually turned against him. Three days after Āqā Khan Nūrī’s deposal in Moḥarram, 1275/August, 1859, ʿAlī Khan was also removed from office, on the pretext of having embezzled public funds. A year later ʿAlī Khan was pardoned on the intercession of Mahd-e ʿOlyā and appointed governor of Ḵūzestān with the title Żīāʾ-al-molk. In 1277/1860-61 he was allowed to return to Tehran; he was reinstated as court minister (wazīr-e darbār) and became a member of the state council (dār-al-šūrā-ye dawlatī). From 1278/1861-62 to 1281/1864-65 he served as minister of justice (wazīr-e ʿadlīya) and in 1279/1862-63 was granted the title Eʿtemād-al-salṭana; in 1282/1865-66 he was appointed minister of pious foundations (wazīr-e waẓāyef va awqāf) and in 1283/1866-67 he was also made governor of the province of Hamadān. He died in Tehran on 30 Rabīʿ I 1284/1 August 1867 and was buried at Qom.

Partly on the shah’s orders and partly on his own initiative, ʿAlī Khan was one of the most active builders of his time, including a number of palaces in the citadel (Arg) of Tehran (Ḵᵛābgāh, ʿEmārat-e Bādgīr, Ḥammām-e Čahār Ḥawz-e Andarūn), and at Dūšān Tapa, Salṭanatābād, Nīāvarān, and on the Jāǰ-rūd. In Tehran he built forty police stations (qarāvol-ḵāna), a military hospital, and a number of factories. Outside of the capital he was as active as inside. His sons served in high government positions; the most famous of them was Moḥammad Ḥasan Khan Eʿtemād-al-salṭana, author of a number of valuable source books on Qajar history.


Eʿtemād-al-salṭana, Rūz-nāma-ye ḵāṭerāt, ed. Ī. Afšār, Tehran, 1345 Š./1966.

Idem, Ṣadr al-tawārīḵ, ed. M. Moḥsen, Tehran, 1349 Š./1970, pp. 11, 244.

Idem, Tārīḵ-emontaẓam-e Nāṣerī, Tehran, 1299/1881, III, p. 196.

Idem, Ketāb al-maʾāṯer wa’l-āṯār, Tehran, 1306/1888-89, pp. 54-59 (chapt. X on the buildings of Nāṣer-al-dīn Shah).

R. Hedāyat, Rawżat al-ṣafā-ye Nāṣerī, Tehran, 1338-39 Š./1959-60, X, pp. 811-16 (buildings of ʿAlī Khan).

M. J. Ḵormūǰī, Ḥaqāyeq al-aḵbār-e Nāṣerī, ed. Ḥ. Ḵadīv Jam, Tehran, n.d., pp. 116, 191, 240, 252, 284.

Bāmdād, Reǰāl II, pp. 374-79.

(H. Busse)

Originally Published: December 15, 1985

Last Updated: August 1, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 8, pp. 867-868

Cite this entry:

H. Busse, “ʿALĪ KHAN ḤĀJEB-AL-DAWLA,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/8, pp. 867-868, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ali-khan-hajeb-dawla (accessed on 30 December 2012).