ALQĀB VA ʿANĀWĪN, titles and forms of address, employed in Iran from pre-Islamic times.

i. Alqab.

ii. ʿAnāwīn.

iii.Titles of Cities, Institutions, etc.


i. Alqāb

Meaning and origin. The Arabic noun laqab (pl. alqāb)originally meant an approbatory or disapprobatory nickname. The use of alqāb has a long history in Iran; kings of kings, local dynasts, provincial kings, and heads of great families were distinguished by titles. As examples one may cite Geršāh, Pīšdād, Šēd, Mārdūš and Bēvarasb, Homāyūn, Tahamtan, Rōʾīntan, and Čehrāzād applied respectively to the mythical and legendary kings and heroes Kayōmarṯ, Hōšang, Jam, Żaḥḥāk, Kay Ḵosrow, Rostam, Esfandīār, and Homā (Ḵomānī). From the historical period may be mentioned Derāz-dast (Longimanus), Hūba-sonbā or Ḏu’l-aktāf, Bezehkār, Gōr, Zandīk, Anōšīravān, Abarvēz, and Šērōya for the Achaemenid Artaxerxes I and the Sasanians Šāpūr II, Yazdegerd I, Bahrām V, Kavād I, Ḵosrow I, Ḵosrow II, and Kavād II (see Bīrūnī, Aṯār al-bāqīa, pp. 101-04, 113, 121-22; Chronology, pp. 109-12, 117, 123). However, the main concern of this article is the use of alqāb in Islamic Iran, which can be divided into two periods: until the 4th/10th century, and from then until early in the 14th/20th century. In the first phase, alqāb were given only to prophets, kings, and a few other important men. Thus Abraham was Ḵalīlallāh, Moses Kalīmallāh, and Moḥammad Amīn and Moṣṭawā. Each Shiʿite Imam had one or more laqabs, e.g., Ḥaydar and Mortażā for ʿAlī, Mahdī and Qāʾem for the twelfth Imam. According to the available dynastic lists, descriptive titles of some sort were applied to sixty-five of the ancient kings of Iran. Personal appellations were also given to the first four caliphs, to some of the Omayyad caliphs, to all of the ʿAbbasid caliphs, to certain Companions of the Prophet and luminaries of Islam, and, in the early ʿAbbasid period, to certain amirs and viziers. For example, the appellation given to Abū Moslem was Sayf Āl Moḥammad. Those given to some of the viziers and amirs were constructs of ḏū and a following noun such as al-qalamayn or al-yamīnayn. The konya, a construct of abū or omm much used among the Arabs since before Islam, also came into vogue among the Iranians and was to be a component of names, at least those of kings, until the Safavid period.

The word laqab is used, particularly in regard to the second phase, with the following meanings: 1. Official title. In this most characteristic use of the term, laqab is a title in the form of a construct of two nouns, the first being descriptive and complimentary, such as pillar, upper arm, splendor, and pride, and the second indicating the social function or institution with which the recipient is connected, such as fighting, writing, commerce, religion, community, and government. Titles of this type, which first appeared in the 4th/10th century and endured until the early part of the present century, from the start had an official (dīvānī) status and were conferred on a particular individual by the decree of a caliph or ruler; they became part of the recipient’s full name and gave him distinction. Sometimes identical titles of this type were conferred simultaneously on more than one individual, e.g., šarīf al-ʿolamāʾ in the Qajar period. 2. Occupational title. Modeled on the official type, these were used in a wide range of occupations and originally were reserved for persons engaged in the specified occupation. Often the same title was held by several individuals, but in some cases, such as malek al-šoʿarāʾ, it belonged to one man at a time. Sometimes the title became part of the holder’s full name, e.g. šayḵ al-eslām, emām-e ǰomʿa. 3. Generic epithets and compliments, and even forms of address, as in letter-writing (see below under ʿAnāwīn). 4. Best-known name (see under ʿAnāwīn; on pen-names, see under Taḵalloṣ). Many famous men, including kings, generals, statesmen, ʿolamāʾ, Sufi shaikhs, mystics, poets, and writers are best known by appellations which they assumed, or which students, disciples, biographers, or the public gave to them, during or after their lifetimes. Among the appellations given to shaikhs and mentors of Sufi orders, constructs ending in al-dīn were very common; those given to them by Shiʿite Sufis in recent times have often consisted of the first name followed by ʿalīšāh, e.g., Ṣafī-ʿAlīšāh.

Official titles from Buyid to Safavid times. The history of official titles as a social institution falls into three distinct periods: genesis and growth from the Buyids to the Saljuqs; relative stagnation from the Il-khanids to the Safavids; reinvigoration, overgrowth, and collapse under the Qajars. The genesis may be said to have occurred in 334/945 when the Buyid brothers forced the caliph to give them the titles Moʿezz-al-dawla, Rokn al-dawla, and ʿEmād-al-dawla, though titles of the same type had been given earlier in the century to two viziers and two amirs. Rokn-al-dawla’s son obtained the title ʿAżod-al-dawla wa Tāǰ-al-mella, and the latter’s son for the first time acquired a title containing the word dīn, namely Bahāʾ-al-dawla wa Neẓām-al-dīn. These were the first instances of the multiple title. The Buyid innovation was maintained by the Ghaznavids, who in the early 5th/11th century persuaded the caliphs to grant them titles such as Maḥmūd b. Sebüktigin’s Yamīn-al-dawla wa Amīn-al-mella wa Kahf-al-eslām (cf. Bīrūnī, Āṯār al-bāqīa, pp. 132-34; Chronology, pp. 129-30). All the later Buyid and Ghaznavid rulers acquired titles, and between the 4th/10th and 6th/12th centuries, titles became more widespread. The caliphs, Buyids, and Ghaznavids, and even the Samanids who eschewed titles for themselves, conferred titles ending in al-dawla, al-molk, and al-dīn on their generals and ministers. Among the Saljuq rulers, the first three obtained titles ending in al-dawla from the caliphs, the remainder titles in al-dīn, and all lavished similarly formed titles on their amirs and viziers; so too did the Ḵᵛārazmšāhs. The undue proliferation of titles in the 6th/12th century is criticized by Ḵᵛāǰa Neẓām al-molk (Sīar al-molūk, ed. H. Darke, Tehran, 1340 Š./1962, pp. 190-212; tr. idem, London, 1960, pp. 152-63).

Under the Il-khanids and Timurids, bestowal of titles of this type was cut down to some extent; they went mainly to viziers and ʿolamāʾ of Iranian origin. The Mongol and Turkish rulers and generals used the appellation khan and showed no desire for titles in al-dawla, al-mella, etc., though some of them were known by their Mongol titles. Sometimes titles such as Qotloḡ Solṭān or Qotloḡ Khan were given to Turkish and Iranian dignitaries. Titles in al-dawla, which in earlier times had usually been conferred on men of the sword, went in the Il-khanid period to men of the pen, including Jewish and Christian viziers, ʿolamāʾ and Sufis. Notable examples are Arḡūn Khan’s Jewish vizier Saʿd-al-dawla and his relatives, and Ḡāzān Khan’s Jewish vizier Rašīd-al-dawla, whose title was changed to Rašīd-al-dīn after his conversion to Islam, titles in al-dīn being reserved for Muslims. The use of titles in aldīn by rulers, ministers, and generals, which had been very common ever since the 5th/11th century, was to continue for two or three centuries more; but excessive proliferation gradually removed them from the range of dīvānī titles and brought them to the level of popular appellations and, in the long run, personal names.

The Safavid kings did not assume personal honorific titles on the model of earlier dynasties, though they maintained the custom of Shaikh Ṣafī’s descendants in calling themselves Kalb-e Āstān-e ʿAlī. The word khan, as a designation, title, and rank, was reserved for the great governors (wālīs), who were men of the sword and for the most part Turks; bēg and solṭān were titles given to officers of less high rank. The dīvānī titles were few in number and either reserved for a particular office or descriptive of the function, e.g., eʿtemād al-dawla for the prime minister, mastawfī-al-mamālek for the finance minister. Throughout the Il-khanid, Timurid, and Safavid periods, it was of course customary in correspondence and communication with kings, commanders, and officials to use the appropriate titles, epithets, and forms of address (see ʿAnāwīn).

Official titles in the Qajar period. Official titles passed through three stages under the Qajars: reinvigoration under Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah (r. 1212-50/1797-1834), inflation under Nāṣer-al-dīn Shah (r.1264-1313/1848-96), devaluation and collapse under Moẓaffar-al-dīn Shah (r.1313-24/1896-1907) and Aḥmad Shah (r.1327-42/1909-24). In the first stage, the highest dīvānī title was eʿtemād-al-dawla, given on the Safavid precedent to the prime minister. Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah conferred during his reign some fifty titles in al-dawla and al-salṭana on royal princes (approximately 17), ladies of his harem, and eminent men. During Nāṣer-al-dīn Shah’s reign, the award of official titles increased rapidly. A computation of the titles conferred by this shah in the first forty years of his reign (Eʿtemād-al-salṭana, al-Maʾāṯer wa’l-āṯār, Tehran, 1306/1889, pp. 230-42) indicates their types: Out of a total of 618, approximately 218 were generic occupational titles based on the name of the function, and approximately 400 were honorific dīvānī titles; in the construction of the titles, approximately 130 first nouns and 40 second nouns were used. ʿAbdallāh Mostawfī (Šarḥ-e zendagānī-ye man I, Tehran, 1324 Š./1945, p. 591) estimated that 250 first nouns were available, which together with 40 second nouns gave a total of ten thousand potential titles. G. P. Churchill’s Biographical Notices (pp. i-iv) shows 181 first nouns and 9 second nouns.

The first noun was a descriptive word chosen to fit the recipient’s function and rank. Among those in use were 17 work-description nouns, e.g., mostawfī; 14 nouns denoting leadership, e.g., ṣadr, solṭān; 11 meaning support or reliance, e.g., rokn, ẓahīr; 12 indicating good fortune or success, e.g., saʿd, naṣr; 9 indicating honesty or fidelity, e.g., amīn, eʿtemād; 9 meaning light, e.g., šoʿāʿ, meṣbāḥ; 9 denoting grandeur, e.g., hešmat, maǰd; 5 denoting weapons, e.g., ṣārem; and about 14 with various other meanings. In addition, the titles of harem ladies contained about 30 first nouns, some in common use as women’s names, others of a complimentary nature. There were a few shared nouns, acceptable in both men’s and women’s titles but followed by different second nouns, e.g., noṣrat-aldawla for men and noṣrat-al-moluk for women. Certain nouns could be placed either first or second but with different meanings, e.g., amīr-e neẓām(neẓām here meaning the modern army) and neẓām-al-ʿolamāʾ.

The second noun was the most important part of the title. Its choice was proportioned to the recipient’s social or governmental rank and function. An analysis of 400 titles with reference to the rank or function of the holder and the frequency of the second noun shows the following distribution: royal princes and eminent men, 189 titles comprising 50 al-dawla, 31 al-salṭana, 73 almolk, 8 al-mamālek, and 27 others such as al-solṭān, dīvān, tawlīa, eḵtīār; harem ladies, 81 titles comprising 23 al-dawla, 31 al-salṭana, 18 al-molūk, and 9 others; harem staff, 15 titles ending in ḥaram, ḥożūr, or ḵalwat; army officers, 15 titles ending in neẓ¡ām or laškar; officials, 21 titles ending in al-wezāra, al-ʿadāla, etc.; ʿolamāʾ and sayyeds, 24 titles ending in al-ʿolamāʾ, alsādāt, al-ašraf, al-ḏākerīn, al-wāʿezīn, al-eslām, al-šarīʿa; physicians, poets, and writers, 38 titles with second nouns such as al-aṭebbāʾ, al-šoʿarāʾ, al-kottāb, al-odabāʾ, al-ḥokamāʾ, al-ʿolūm; merchants, 7 titles all ending in al-toǰǰār. Also important as military titles were sepahdār, sepahsālār, and nouns such as amīr and sardār followed by nouns or adjectives such as ǰang, eqtedār, moǰāhed, mokarram.

Both the first and the second words, and also the whole constructs, were hierarchically graded “according to the meanings and the sweetness or grandeur of the words and the frequency or infrequency of their use” (Hendūšāh Naḵǰavānī, Taǰāreb al-salaf, p. 350). Other factors were contemporary protocol and the standing of holders of a particular type of title. Having been held in old times by kings and more recently by viziers, titles in al-dawla bore the greatest prestige. Those in al-salṭana were given mainly to royal favorites and harem ladies, those in al-mamālek mainly to holders of particular offices, e.g., mostawfī-al-mamālek, and those in the lower-rated al-molk to middle rank officers. Among the most prestigious first nouns were āṣaf, maǰd, ẓahīr, rokn, eʿtemād, and mošīr (counselor). A title’s rating was also determined by the quality of the whole construct; for example, Mīrzā Naṣrallāh Khan Nāʾīnī was promoted from Meṣbāḥ-al-molk to Mošīr-al-molk and finally to Mošīr-al-dawla (Bāmdād, Reǰāl IV, pp. 351f.). The holder’s standing and rank was also a significant factor in the importance of a title; for example, the six holders of the title mošīr-al-dawla in the Qajar period were all either prime minister, foreign minister, or minister. On account of this association of title with status in the social and to some extent the official hierarchy, eminent men often obtained title promotion on or after job promotion. An estimate based on data in biographies shows that about a quarter of the leading figures of the Qajar period held two successive titles, and about one-tenth three or more, in the course of their careers.

Although titles, like appointments and occupations, tended up to a point to become hereditary, various factors such as the rating of the title, the standing of the prospective heir, and the influence of other claimants, determined what actually happened. The research alluded to above shows that about one-third of the titles under study were inherited and about one-half were acquired by award; relevant data on the remainder is unavailable.

In the last decade of Nāṣer-al-dīn Shah’s reign, ʿAlī-Aṣḡar Khan Amīn-al-solṭān, the prime minister, in order to broaden his influence, obtained the shah’s approval for a large number of title-grants. According to Mostawfī (Šarḥ-e zendagānī I, p. 591), from 50 to 100 gold panǰhazārīswere presented by the recipient in exchange for a firman bestowing such a laqab. Nāṣer-al-dīn Shah made some efforts to curb the proliferation of titles, but without success. More than once he sought relief from the importunity of his courtiers by temporarily ceasing to grant titles; Eʿtemād-al-salṭana mentions one such occasion in 1303/1886 (Rūz-nāma-ye ḵāṭerāt, ed. Ī. Afšār, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1350 Š./1971, p. 439). In the same year he ordered the compilation of a register of all existing titles, but only the preface and a small number of entries were completed, with the title Tartīb al-alqāb, by Malek-al-šoʿarāʾ Ṣabā. Nāṣer-al-dīn Shah also signed a law of military ranks and distinctions, which limited the number of generals (sardār) to five and of divisional commanders (amīr-e tūmān) to seven, and a code of governmental distinctions. Section 15 of this code specified five norms for the grant of a title: merit, exceptional service, possession of sufficient wealth to maintain the title’s dignity, due proportion between the title and the recipient’s social standing, and title-selection from the conventional stock along with prohibition of innovatory formulation. The code also prescribed prison penalties and fines for persons who assumed titles without royal authority (Rūz-nāma-ye Īrān, year 1311/1894, nos. 822, 830).

Under Moẓaffar-al-dīn Shah and Aḥmad Shah, so many titles were issued that the whole system collapsed. The requirement of a royal firman was dropped during Moẓaffar-al-dīn Shah’s reign; thereafter a title was granted by a mere warrant (dastḵaṭṭ). The clerks and scribes in the royal court dished out ten or even twenty warrants in a day and received a rake-off when they could (Mostawfī, Šarḥ-e zendagānī I, p. 591). Not even the warrants were really necessary. Anyone could pass for a titled person by having a title of his own choice engraved on his seal. Another method was to send a letter signed with the self awarded title to the shah or the prime minister, and to treat the reply bearing this title in the address as evidence of its authority. Furthermore many provincial governors and tribal chiefs gave titles to their subordinates. Consequently there were not many men of any standing in late Qajar times who lacked a title.

From the start of the struggle for constitutional government, criticism of titles was expressed and satirical verses about them were composed. Notable examples are a poem by Adīb-al-mamālek Farāhānī (Dīvān, Tehran, 1312 Š./1933, pp. 323-24) and a letter in the newspaper Ḥabl-al-matīn (Tehran, 1325/1908, no. 213). Nevertheless, even the Democrats, who were considered radical and progressive, kept their titles. Finally, at the time of the change of dynasty, titles were formally abolished by the law of 1304 Š./1925 for the abolition of titles, (former) military ranks, and official designations. For many years, however, leading men continued to be known unofficially by their former titles. Having to assume a family name—made compulsory by another law of 1304 Š./1925—such men often chose one reminiscent of the old title, e.g., Dr. Moḥammad Moṣaddeq who had been Moṣaddeq-al-salṭana, and Aḥmad Qawām, who had been Qawām-al-salṭana. Another practice was to put the old title under the first name and the new family name on visiting cards.

The use of royal titles was revived when the late Moḥammad Reżā Shah Pahlavi assumed the title Āryāmehr in 1344 Š./1965.


See also C. E. Bosworth, “Laḳab,” EI2.

The main sources for titles and epithets of kings are the catalogues of their coins and seals, especially R. S. Poole, The Coins of the Shahs of Persia, Safavids, Afghans, Efsharis, Zands and Kajars, London, 1887.

H. L. Rabino di Borgomale, Coins, Medals and Seals of the Shahs of Iran (1500-1941), London, 1945.

S. J. Torābī Ṭabāṭabāʾī, Sekkahā-ye Āq Qoyunlū, Tabrīz, 2535/1976.

E. von Zambauer, Die Munzprägungen des Islams, Wiesbaden, 1968. O. Codrington, A Manual of Musulman Numismatics, London, 1904.

Important sources for kings of both Islamic and pre-Islamic Iran, prophets, and caliphs include such historical works as Ḵᵛārazmī, Mafātīḥ al-ʿolūm, ed.

G. van Vloten, 1895, pp. 98-107.

Bīrūnī, Āṯār al-bāqīa, pp. 35-103.

Gardīzī, ed. Ḥabībī, pp. 46-48, 57-59, 98, 191.

Moǰmal, pp. 417-19, 426-30.

Cf. Ṣ. Kīā, “Āryāmehr,” Honar o mardom 37, 1344 Š./1965, pp. 2-17.

See also books on Islamic dynasties, especially S. Lane-Poole, The Mohammadan Dynasties, London, 1894.

Zambauer. C. E. Bosworth, The Islamic Dynasties, Edinburgh, 1967.

Justi, Namenbuch. For discussions of titles, see Hendūšāh Naḵǰavānī, Taǰāreb al-salaf, ed.

ʿA. Eqbāl, Tehran, 1313 Š./1934, passim and pp. 349-50.

Ḵᵛāndmīr, Dostūr al-wozarāʾ, ed. S. Nafīsī, Tehran, 1317 Š./1938.

Taḏkerat al-molūk. Mīrzā Rafiʿā, Dastūr al-molūk, ed.

M. T. Dānešpažūh, supplement to MDAT 16/5-6, 1347-48 Š./1968-69.

Works that are particularly helpful for titles of ʿolamāʾ, poets, Sufis, and authors include Nāma-ye dānešvarān, 7 vols., Tehran, 1296-1324/1879-1906.

Ḵᵛānsārī, Rawżat al-ǰannāt, Tehran, 1307/1890.

M. ʿA. Modarres, Rayḥānat al-adab, 8 vols., Tabrīz, n.d.

Moḥammad Maʿṣūm Šīrāzī, Tarāʾeq al-ḥaqāʾeq, ed.

M. J. Maḥǰūb, Tehran, 1339 Š./1960.

See also C. E. Bosworth, “The Titulature of the Early Ghaznavids,” Oriens 15, 1962, pp. 210-33.

L. Richter-Bernburg, “Amīr-Malik-Shāhānshāh: ʿAḍud al-Daula’s Titulature Re-examined,” Iran 18, 1980, pp. 83-102.

W. Madelung, “The Assumption of the Title Shāhanshāh by the Būyids and the Reign of the Daylam (Dawlat el-Daylam)," JNES 28, 1969, pp. 84-108, 169-83.

ʿA. Zaryāb, “Se nokta dar bāraye Rašīd-al-dīn Fażlallāh,” Majmūʿa-ye ḵatābahā-ye taḥqīqī dar bāra-ye Rašīd al-dīn Fażlallāh Hamadānī, Tehran, 1350 Š./1971, pp. 123-35.

See also general works dealing with alqāb, such as Qalqašandī, Sobḥ al-aʿšā fī ṣenāʿat al-enšāʾ, vols. V and VI, Cairo, 1915.

Ḥasan al-Bāšā, al-Alqāb al-eslāmīya fī’l-taʾrīḵ wa’l-waṯāʾeq wa’l-āṯār, Cairo, 1957.

Ebn al-Fowaṭī, Talḵīṣ maǰmaʿ al-ādāb fī moʿǰam al-alqāb, ed. M. Jawād, 3 vols., Damascus, 1962-65.

Qajar period: ʿAżod-al-dawla, Tārīḵ-e ʿAżodī, ed.

ʿA. Navāʾī, Tehran, 1355 Š./1976.

A satirical list of proposed titles for princes is given in Rostam-al-ḥokamāʾ, Rostam al-tawārīḵ, ed. M. Mošīrī, Tehran, 1348 Š./1969, pp. 467-71.

A list of titles during the first forty years of Nāṣer-al-dīn Shah’s reign is provided by Eʿtemād-al-salṭana, al-Maʾāṯer wa’l-āṯār, Tehran, 1307/1889, pp. 230-42.

Important Qajar biographical works should also be consulted: Bāmdād, Reǰāl. Mīrzā Moḥammad-ʿAlī Moʿallem Ḥabībābādī, Makārem al-āṭār, 5 vols., Isfahan, 1337-55 Š./1958-76.

D. ʿA. Moʿayyer-al-mamālek, Reǰāl-e ʿaṣr-e Nāṣerī, Tehran, 1361 Š./1982-83.

Fasāʾī, part 2, pp. 23-154. M. Ṣabā, “Tartīb-e alqāb,“ FIZ 19, 1352 Š./1973, pp. 63-88.

H. Picot, Biographical Notices of Members of the Royal Family, Notables, Merchants, and Clergy, London, FO 881/7028, 1897.

G. P. Churchill, Biographical Notices of Persian Statesmen and Notables, London, FO 881/9748, 1909.

Biographies of the Notables of Fars and Certain Persian Officials who have Served at Shiraz, IOR L/P + S/20 C207, Delhi, 1935.

See also P. Šahnavāz, Alqab-e dawlatī, ʿelmī, adabī, va maḏhabī dar dawra-ye Qāǰārīya, unpublished M.A. thesis in library science, Tehran University, 1352 Š./1973.

Ī. Afšār, “Šaš Mošīr-al-dawla,” Sawād o bayāż II, Tehran, 1349 Š./1970, pp. 243-59.

Ḥ. Bāybūrdī, “Neẓām-al-dawlahā,” Waḥīd 7, 1349 Š./1970, pp. 611-20.

Idem, “Alqab-e Qāʾem-maqāmhā,” ibid., pp. 419-25.

Idem, “Amīr Neẓāmhā,” ibid., pp. 656-59.

Idem, “Moʿtamad-al-dawlahā,” ibid., 8, 1349 Š./1970, pp. 193-96.

H. Saʿādat Nūrī, “Āṣaf-al-dawlahā,” Yaḡmā15, 1341 Š./1962, pp. 379-81, 423-27, 462-66, 522-27, 560, 566; 16, 1342 Š./1963, pp. 83-87, 179-87.

Idem, “Eʿtemād-al-dawlahā, Ḥosām-al-dawlahā, va Ẓahīr-al-dawlahā,” Yaḡmā13, 1339 Š./1960, pp. 138-42.

Idem, “Sepahsālārhā,” Yaḡmā18, 1344 Š./1965, pp. 640-43; 19, 1345 Š./1966, pp. 77-81, 406-16.

Idem, “Rokn-al-dawlahā,” Waḥīd 4, 1346 Š./1967, pp. 585-93.

J. Matīnī, “Baḥṯī dar bāra-ye sawābeq-e tārīḵ-e alqāb o ʿanāwīn-e ʿolamā dar maḍ¯hab-e šīʿa,” Iran Nameh 1/4, 1362 Š./1983, pp. 560-608.

ii. ʿAnāwīn

Meaning and origin. The Arabic word ʿonwān (pl. ʿanāwīn) originally meant the address at the head of a letter and subsequently acquired further related meanings. According to Moḥammad b. Hendūšāh Naḵǰavānī (Dostūr al-kāteb fī taʿyīn al-marāteb I, p. 6), expression of respect for dignity and rank should be done by “specifying the addressee’s rank—such as king, sultan, amir, vizier, great dignitary, lesser dignitary, magnate, or notable—and by writing or uttering titles, prayers, and address formulae befitting the worth and status of each.” The complete ʿonwān of a letter was made up of four main parts: the principal designation or address formula (ḵeṭāb), components of the person’s name, titles and generic epithets of a complimentary nature, and prayers. In the course of time, the word ʿonwān came to be applied not only to the whole but also to each of the above-mentioned parts except the prayers. Although by definition the ʿonwān should be placed at the head of the letter, this was not always the case. According to the rules, it should be placed in the top quarter of the back of the sheet, so that after the folding of the sheet it would lie above the text of the letter; furthermore, the ʿonwān should contain the principal designations of both the sender and the recipient. In practice, however, depending on the nature of the letter and the rank of the recipient, the principal designations might be placed either at the head of the letter or inside it after lines of poetry, Koranic verses, or references to third parties.

Appropriate forms, wordings, and combinations of ʿonwān parts for each class in the social hierarchy—men of the sword, men of the pen, ʿolamāʾ, merchants, and craftsmen—were composed and incorporated in books by correspondence experts (motarasselān) and clerks (monšīān). As an example, the ʿonwān of a letter from the Ḵᵛārazmšāh Jalāl-al-dīn to the Saljuq sultan of Rūm ʿAlāʾ-al-dīn Keyqobād I may be quoted: “(To) the exalted presence of the august sultan [principal designation]; the wise, just, divinely aided, and victorious fighter in the holy war and guardian of the frontier [additional designations]; ʿAlāʾ-al-donyā wa’l-dīn [personal title]; strengthener of Islam and the Muslims, pride of kings . . . [appropriate generic epithets]; may he forever be exalted and defend the realm! [prayers]" (Text in M. Ṯābetī, Asnād o nāmahā-ye tārīḵī, p. 193). The lower the rank of the addressee, the smaller was the number of words put into each part of the ʿonwān. It was even possible to omit the prayers and the titles and epithets altogether.

Prolixity and artificiality in epistolary forms of address appeared in the 4th/10th century and prevailed during the next two centuries, when the gradual penetration of the Arabic epistolary style into Persian offered ample scope for word jugglery. Under the Saljuqs and Ḵᵛārazmšāhs, the designations and complimentary epithets in the forms of address exceeded all proportion (for a critical observation see Neẓām-al-molk, Sīar al-molūk, ed. H. Darke, Tehran, 1340 Š./1962, p. 210; tr. idem, London, 1960, p. 160).

Jengiz Khan prohibited titles and complimentary epithets (Jovaynī, I, p. 19), but the use of verbal artifice in epistolary ʿanāwīn continued. Under the Timurids, Qara Qoyunlū, and Āq Qoyunlū, a style influenced by Ottoman court practices arose; it matured under the Safavids and lasted with little change until the Qajar period. Its characteristics were greater emphasis on the principal designation, modification of the form of expression of compliments, and reduced importance of prayers.

Principal designation. The principal designation or address formula, being the permanent and operative element, is the most important part of an epistolary form of address. Designations of some kind are still used today. There were two types, formal and official (dīvānī) and informal. 1. An official form of address consisted of two parts, the principal and the additional (faṛʿī) designations. The most commonly used principal designations were complimentary descriptions of rank or position which had been in vogue since Buyid times and had spread to all Islamic countries. Among them were the Persian nouns dargāh, bārgāh, pīšgāh, and the Arabic nouns ḥażra, ǰanāb, ǰāneb, maqarr, maqām, and adjectives compounded from ʿālī or aʿlā and ǰāh, šaʾn or qadr. Particular functions were designated by complimentary words such as solṭān, amīr, ḵān, wazīr, or šayḵ, mawlānā, ḵᵛāǰa, ṣāḥeb, ṣadr, ʿamīd, and sayyed. Closeness to the ruler was indicated by words such as moqarrab, moʿtamad, and fadawī. Special merit was signalized by adjectives such as awḥad, fāżel, ʿālem, and by nouns such as ʿomda, qodwa, zobda, and natīǰa, normally in construct with a following noun. A functional designation was usually accompanied by an honorific adjective, varying with the rank and also with contemporary protocol, such as aʿẓam, moʿaẓẓam, kabīr, aʿlā, ʿālī, ašraf, šarīf, akram, karīm, sāmī, rafīʿ.

In the first Iranian dynasties, the designation amir was used in accordance with Islamic state protocol, and in the 4th/10th century amir al-omarāʾ was used. The designation solṭān appears to have been first acquired by the Ghaznavid Sultan Maḥmūd b. Sebüktigin, and was applied to rulers at most times from then until early in the 14th/20th century. The pre-Islamic designation šāhanšāh was revived by the Buyids, and while not a formal designation of subsequent rulers, was much used unofficially and in letters. Only in the Qajar and Pahlavi periods did šāhanšāh become the main component of the royal designation. The Il-khans were addressed as khan. The word ḵāqān, current in Turkestan since the 4th/10th century, was also used as a royal designation until the end of the Qajar period. The word khan, which had been both an appellation and a position, in the course of time became a designation of governors and commanders who were chiefs of Turkish tribes; later it became a designation of military men in general, and finally a polite word of address to all and sundry. The Safavid kings used the designations solṭān-e ʿādel bahādor ḵān, which had precedents in earlier dynasties. The royal designations of the Qajars were solṭān-e aʿẓam, ḵāqān, and šāhanšāh, preceded by aʿlā-ḥażrat-e homāyūn.

?The prevalent designations of viziers and men of the pen in and after the 4th/10th century were ḵᵛāǰa and ṣāḥeb (master), usually followed by bozorg, aʿẓam, etc. At first the designation ḵᵛāǰa had a high value and was not given to all viziers and high officials, but in later centuries it became very common, though it was still selectively applied in communications from rulers to officials. This use of the word lasted until the 10th/16th century. Having then been made a designation of harem guards, ḵᵛāǰa eventually came to mean eunuch.

The principal designation of military commanders was amīr or amīr al-omarāʾ. Also used were constructs of omarāʾ with a preceding noun such as sayyed, malek, ʿamda, zobda, natīǰa, and with the following plural adjective ʿeẓām. The usual designations of ʿolamāʾ and mystics were ǰanāb or ʿālī ǰanāb together with mawlānā and šayḵ.

The principal designations of top-ranking governors and court officials under the Safavids were ʿālī-ǰāh, moqarrab al-ḵāqān, moqarrab al-ḥażra, and ʿālī-ḥażra, usually with preceding additional designations; e.g., for a great governor (wālī), īālat o šawkat-panāh, ḥešmat o ǰalālat-dastgāh [additional designations], ʿālī-ǰāh [principal designation, followed by titles and complimentary epithets] (M. Sotūda, Az Āstārā tā Astārābād VI, p. 52). For less exalted officials, the designations resembled the additional designations of the men at the top. Among other designations then in use, khan, solṭān, and bēg were reserved for military commanders holding a rank of governor (ḥākem).

The Qajars at first adhered to the Safavid models, but, having devalued the designations ʿālī-ǰāh and moqarrab by giving them to too many persons, they replaced them by ǰanāb, a form of address used since Buyid times and still greatly appreciated. Sons of the shah were addressed as nawwāb with the adjective vālā, and ministers as ǰanāb with ašraf, arfaʿ, aʿẓam, amǰad, or mostaṭāb. The designations of military commanders and tribal chiefs were amīr al-omarāʾ, ʿomdat al-omarāʾ, or ʿomdat al-ḵawānīn followed by the plural adjective ʿeẓām. Both military and civilian holders of top positions received designations indicative of closeness to the shah or government and made up of words such as moʿtamad, moʾtamen, fadawī, and moqarrab followed by al-solṭān, al-ḵāqān, al-wezāra. The designation ʿālī-ǰāh, followed in descending order of rank by moqarrab al-ḵāqān, moqarrab al-ḥażrat al-ḵāqānīya, and moqarrab al-ḥażrat al-ʿālīya, was given to both soldiers and civilians; standing alone it was given to men of middle rank such as colonels (sarhangs), kalāntars (superintendents of guilds), kadḵodās (headmen of guilds and villages), and substantial merchants. Lower ranking persons, such as captains and ordinary merchants, were addressed as ʿālī-šaʾn, and master craftsmen as ʿālī-qadr. These principal designations were accompanied by whatever additional designations contemporary etiquette might require, such as moqaddas-alqāb and efādat o efādat-neṣāb for ʿolamāʾ; īālat o šawkatpanāh, emārat-dastgāh, faḵāmat-ektenāh for holders of high offices; and ʿezzat-panāh, ṣadāqat-hamrāh for merchants and craftsmen. The various conventions were written down in 1279/1862 in a rulebook called Resāla-ye tarqīm o tašḵīṣ-e alqāb (FIZ 19, 1352 Š./1973, pp. 50-61 ), and on the whole were respected. In practice, however, there was a tendency to give higher designations to lower-ranking persons. Consequently ǰanāb and khan became the only sought-after designations and the only ones to be conferred by royal decree. They too were over-lavishly bestowed in the later Qajar period. A code of governmental distinctions issued by Nāṣer-al-dīn Shah restricted the grant of ǰanāb to ministers, ambassadors, generals, divisional commanders, members of the council of state (dār al-šūrā-ye dawlatī, senior governors, and persons who had rendered meritorious services (Rūz-nāma-ye Īrān 830, 1311/1894); but the code proved ineffective, and excessive bestowal of ǰanāb continued.

Most of these designations were abolished by the titles abolition law of 1304 Š./1925, but a few were kept during the Pahlavi period. Among them were aʿlā-ḥażrat-e homāyūn-e šāhānšāh for the shah, ʿolyā-ḥażrat for the queen, vālā-ḥażrat for immediate princes and princesses, and vālā-gohar for royal grandchildren. During the early years of the Pahlavi period, the premier and other ministers, ambassadors, and provincial governors were usually addressed as ǰanāb-e ašraf and ǰanāb-e mostaṭāb-e aǰall, and military commanders as ḥażrat-e aǰall, even though the official designation for these ranks was only ǰanāb. In the early part of Moḥammad Reżā Shah’s reign, the designation ǰanāb-e ašraf was conferred on Aḥmad Qawām during his premiership, subsequently cancelled, and later reconferred. In the last part of the reign, certain confidants of the royal court were addressed as ǰanāb. The official designation of women who became ministers, assistant ministers, and ambassadors during the reign was ǰanāb-e bānū.

2. In popular forms of address, the usual designations are either words which had belonged to the formal vocabulary and in the course of time became vulgarized, or words which from the start have been current in informal speech. They are normally attached to the first name and treated as a component of the full name. Several categories of informal designation may be distinguished: (a) Distinctions of genealogy, such as sayyed, mīr, mīrzā, šarīf placed before the name of a sayyed;or mīrzā placed after the name as a designation of a son or descendant of a king. (b) Distinctions of social status, as popularly conceived in recent centuries, such as khan following the name of a military commander, mīrzā preceding the name of a man of the pen, shaikh, āḵūnd, or mollā preceding the name of a cleric. (c) Words of respect current in the 13th/19th century, such as āqā (master), ḵānom (mistress), khan (chief). (d) Designations of pilgrims, such as ḥāǰǰ or ḥāǰǰī for one who has visited the Kaʿba, and Karbalāʾī or Mašhadī for one who has visited Imam Ḥosayn’s or Imam Reżā’s resting place. At the present time, the normal words of address in correspondence and conversation are Āqā (Mr.) and Ḵānom or Bānū (both meaning either Mrs. or Miss). Also in general use are two academic or professional designations, doktor (for anyone with an M.D. or Ph.D.) and mohandes (for architects and engineers). During the 1350s/1970s there was a ban on the use of academic designations in official correspondence, but it was ineffective. After the revolution of 1357 Š./1978, brother and sister were used instead of Āqā and Ḵānom in official correspondence and communications to mass media and also by supporters of the Islamic Republic in ordinary conversation. The designation ḥoǰǰat al-eslām was given to all clerics having completed the preliminary (moqaddamātī)stage of theological study, āyatallāh to those having completed the final (ḵāreǰ)stage and obtained an authorization (eǰāza)to act as a moǰtahed, and āyatallāh al- ʿoẓmā (pl. āyat-e ʿeẓām)to those qualified for final jurisdiction (marǰaʿīyat). The full designation given to the revolution’s leader was Ḥażrat-e Āyatallāh al-ʿOẓmā Emām Ḵomeynī madda ẓelloho ’l-ʿālī (His Eminence the Great āyatallāh, the Imam Ḵomeynī—may his august [protective] shadow be lengthened!). Āyatallāh, ḥoǰǰat al-eslām, and ṯeqat al-eslām had originally been the personal designations of three great theologians, ʿAllāma Ḥellī (d. 726/1325), Moḥammad Ḡazālī (d. 505/1111), and Moḥammad Kolaynī Rāzī respectively; they only began to be generalized in the Qajar period.

Compliments and prayers. The compliments in epistolary forms of address were epithets taken from the stock of polite nouns and constructs in use at any time, and were applied generically to official ranks and social classes. They thus differed from official and unofficial titles (alqāb)in two ways: (a) They were usually multiple, rhymed, and embellished. (b) They were not specific to individuals, but generic. For example: senān al-dawla wa’l-dīn, ḥosām al-eslām wa’l-moslemīn, ʿomdat al-molūk wa’l-salāṭīn [to amirs]; šams al-ḥaqq wa’l-donyā wa’l-dīn, ḡīāṯ al-eslām wa’l-moslemīn, mošīr al-solṭān wa’l-salāṭīn [to viziers and secretaries]; neẓām al-mella wa’l-dīn, qewām al-eslām wa’l-moslemīn, mofīd al-molūk wa’l-salāṭīn [to ʿolamāʾ]. In the Safavid period compliments came to be expressed by adverbial phrases to distinguish them from personal titles. For example: neẓāman le’l-dawla wa’l-mella wa’l-dīn was written instead of neẓām al-dawla wa’l-mella wa’l-dīn. There was no change in the convention that the first word should be complimentary and the second word function-related. In the Qajar period, less emphasis was laid on compliments and more on principal and additional designations; but old-style compliments continued to be used in ordinary correspondence and particularly in letters to ʿolamāʾ.

Epistolary prayers were usually in both Persian and Arabic. The often lengthy Persian prayers normally consisted of wishes that the addressee might enjoy success, prosperity, or glory and be preserved in his life, kingship, governorship, or fortune for a long time or forever. The Pahlavi text Nāmak nibēsišnīh (tr. R.Zaehner, BOAS 9, 1937-39, pp. 93-109) gives examples of similar wishes in Sasanian epistolary address formulae. The Arabic prayers were usually brief, consisting of two or three words such as “may God perpetuate, consolidate, grant, aid, prolong” followed by “his kingship” or “reign” [to kings], “good fortune, supporters, days, happiness, etc.” [to others]. In both pre-Islamic and Islamic times rules prescribed the wordings of prayers for men of different ranks and classes. Under the Pahlavi dynasty, epistolary prayers fell into disuse except among old-fashioned people and ʿolamāʾ, but after the revolution of 1357 Š./1979 they reappeared in official letters and communications to the media.

Best-known names. Before the use of a first name and a European-type surname became compulsory in 1304 Š./1925, a theologian, poet, mystic, or statesman was identified by his full name, which might have as many as four components: 1. the personal name and patronymic(s); 2. an adjective (nesba)indicating connection with a town, village, tribe, sect, function, or craft; 3. the formal or informal designation and title including patronymics and epithets, or in the case of a poet, the takallos¡; 4, the best-known name, which was usually one of the other three. The full name of a dignitary or notable normally had two of these components, sometimes more. For example: Abū Manṣūr [konya] Jamāl-al-dīn [Islamic title] Āyatallāh [personal designation] Ḥasan [name] b. Yūsof b. Moṭahhar [patronymics] Ḥellī [nesba to a city] maʿrūf be (“known as”) ʿAllāma [his best-known name among the Emāmī Shiʿites] or Ebn-e Moṭahhar [his best-known name among the Sunnis].

Since it often happens that the same person is mentioned under different titles or designations, and that the same title or konya belonged to different persons, selection of the most easily recognizable name, particularly for men of the Qajar period, is a difficult task. The Tehran Library services center works on the best-known name principle and has compiled an annotated index of names of historically famous persons and writers. The suggestion that such persons should be identified by a family name, which would most often be an urban or tribal nesba, seems of doubtful value.


The most important sources are works on letter writing (tarassol) and collections of letters (monšāʾāt). For MSS., see Monzavī, Noskahā III, pp. 2083-123, and M. T. Dānešpažūh, “Dabīrī o nevīsandagī,” Honar o mardom 114-18,1351 Š./1972.

Especially important among MSS. are Resāla-ye ṣāḥebīya (Il-khanid period), Tehran, Malek Library, 3697; and Moḥammad b. Zayn-al-ʿābedīn Noṣayrī (Safavid period), Dastūr-e šahrīārān, British Museum, MS. Or. 2941.

Important printed works on tarassol include Moḥammad b. ʿAbd-al-Ḵāleq Mayhanī (6th/12th cent.), Dastūr-e dabīrī, ed. A. S. Erzi, Ankara, 1962.

Moḥammad b. Hendūšāh Naḵǰavānī (8th/14th cent.), Dostūr al-kāteb fī taʿyīn al-marāteb, ed.

ʿA. ʿAlīzāda, Moscow, 1964, 1971, 1976.

Qalqašandī (9th/15th cent.), Sobḥ al-aʿšā fī ṣenāʿat al-enšāʾ V-VI, Cairo, 1915 (the most thorough treatment).

Ḥasan b. ʿAbd-al-Moʾmen Ḵūʾī (9th/15th cent.), Ḡonyat al-kāteb wa monyat al-ṭāleb [and] Rosūm al-rasāʾel wa noǰūm al-fażāʾel, ed. A. S. Erzi, Ankara, 1963.

Mollā Ḥosayn Wāʿeẓ Kāšefī, Ṣaḥīfa-ye šāhī, Kanpur, 1295/1878.

For the Safavid period, see Taḏkerat al-molūk as well as Dostūr al-molūk, ed.

M. T. Dānešpažūh, supplement to MDAT 16/5-6, 1347-48 Š./1968-69.

For works on coins and seals, see the bibliography under Alqāb.

Collections of firmans, chancellery correspondence, waqf documents, and inscriptions provide an important source for ʿanāwīn; S. ʿA. Moʿayyad Ṯābetī, Asnād va nāmahā-ye tārīḵī az awāʾel-e dawrahā-ye eslāmī tā awāḵer-e ʿahd-e Šāh Esmāʿīl Ṣafawī, Tehran, 1346 Š./1967.

ʿA. Navāʾī, Asnād va mokātabāt-e tārīḵī-e Īrān az Tīmūr ta Šāh Esmāʿīl, Tehran, 1341 Š./1962.

J. Qāʾem-maqāmī, Yakṣad o panǰāh sanad-e tārīḵī az Jalāʾerīān tā Pahlavī, Tehran, 1348 Š./1969.

Ḥ. Modarresī Ṭabāṭabāʾī, Farmānhā-ye Torkamānān-e Qara Qoyunlū va Āq Qoyunlū, Qom, 1352 Š./1973.

Ḏ. Ṯābetīān, Asnād va nāmahā-ye tārīḵī-e dawra-ye Ṣafawīya, Tehran, 1343 Š./1964.

ʿA. Navāʾī, Šāh Esmāʿīl Ṣafawī, Tehran, 1347 Š./1968.

Idem, Šāh Ṭahmāsb Ṣafawī, Tehran, 1350 Š./1971.

Idem, Šāh ʿAbbās, 2 vols., Tehran, 1352-53 Š./1973-74.

ʿA. Sepentā, Tārīḵča-ye awqāf-e Eṣfahān, Isfahan, 1346 Š./1967.

M. Ḏabīḥī and M. Sotūda, Az Āstārā tā Astārābād VI-VII, Tehran, 1354 Š./1975.

E. Ṣafāʾī has published 8 vols. of documents from the Qajar period, including Asnād-e sīāsī-e dawrān-e Qāǰār, Tehran, 1346 Š./1967, and Panǰāh nāma-ye tārīḵī, Tehran, 1350 Š./1971.

K. Eṣfahānīān, Maǰmūʿa-ye asnād va madārek-e Farroḵ Ḵān Amīn-al-dawla, 5 vols., Tehran, 1346-57 Š./1967-78.

Very important are the unpublished archives of the ministry of foreign affairs; see Fehrest-e baḵšī az asnād va ʿahd-nāmahā va safar-nāmahā va resālahā-ye dawra-ye Qāǰārīya, Tehran, 1354 Š./1975.

For the ʿanāwīn of scholars, poets, etc., see the works mentioned in the bibliography of Alqāb. For discussion of the best-known name, see M. Ṣabā, Oṣūl-e fann-e ketābdārī va tanẓīm-e ketāb-ḵānahā-ye ʿomūmī va ḵoṣūṣī, Tehran, 1333 Š./1954.

M. Amīr, “Šīva-ye ṣaḥiḥ-e żabṭ-e nām-e ašḵāṣ,” Āyanda 7, 1360/1981, pp. 631-35.

N. Sharify, Cataloging of Persian Works, Chicago, 1959.

Institute for Research and Planning in Science and Higher Education, Tehran Book Processing Center, The Name Authority List of Authors and Famous People I, Tehran, 1977 (in Persian).

iii. Cities, States, and Institutions

Epithets reflecting the political, religious, or other significance of major cities are often found on coins and official documents, and in historico-geographical works and dictionaries. Since towns had traditionally served as centers of administration, their political epithets were often constructs with dār (house, seat) and words such as salṭana, emāra, and ḵelāfa. An early example is dār-al-ḵelāfa, which at first referred only to a part of Baghdad, but later became the epithet of the entire city. Still later it was applied to major capitals such as Tehran and Shahjahanabad (A. Ašraf, “Vīžagīhā-ye tārīḵī-e šahr-nešīnī dar Īrān: dawra-ye eslāmī,” Nāma-ye ʿolūm-e eǰtemāʿī 1/3, 1353 Š./1974, pp. 7-49; Moqaddasī, p. 47). Similarly terms such as dār-al-emāra, dār-al-dawla (Sīstān under the Saffarids and the Taherids; Kermānšāhān under the Qajars), dār-al-molk (Marv, Balḵ, Herat, Ṭūs, Bokhara, Farḡāna, Nīšābūr ), and dār-al-salṭana, which became particularly common after the 7th/13th century, were used to characterize the urban centers in which the central government was located. Other terms such as omm-al-qorā, omm-al-boldān, and omm-al-belād were also common (Abu’l-Ḥasan Zayd Bayhaqī, Tārīḵ-e Bayhaq, ed. A. Bahmanyār, Tehran, 1317 Š./1938, p. 32; Nozhat al-qolūb, ed. M. Dabīrsīāqī, Tehran, 1336 Š./1957, pp. 11, 31, 181). The use of descriptive epithets became particularly popular under the Safavids; the trend continued down to the end of the Qajar period, even though some cities had already lost the characteristics that the epithets were supposed to reflect. Thus dar-al-salṭana was the epithet of such cities as Samarqand, Bokhara, Tabrīz, Herat, Shiraz, Qazvīn, Isfahan, Lahur , Kabul, Šamāḵī, Burhanpur, and Tehran. The Safavids called their capital maqarr-al-salṭana, while dār-al-salṭana was reserved for a town containing a royal palace (e.g., Ašraf and Faraḥābād in Māzandarān). Other appellations of note are dār-al-marz (for the provinces of Gīlān, Māzandarān, and Astarābād), dār-al-żarb (for a mint town), and the unique dār-al-wezāra, which is mentioned for Semnān in the 10th/16th century (Gardīzī, ed. Ḥabībī, pp. 93-98; Nozhat al-qolūb, pp. 11, 31, 34, 136, 181; Tārīḵ-e Sīstān, pp. 354, 403; Ḵᵛandmīr, Dostūr al-wozarāʾ, ed. S. Nafīsī, Tehran, 1317 Š./1938, pp. 35, 249, 355, 337, 380; Ḥ. Modarresī Ṭabāṭabāʾī, Farmānhā-ye Torkamānān-e Qara Qoyunlū va Āq Qoyunlū, Qom, 1352 Š./1973, p. 28; ʿAbd-al-Nabī Faḵr-al-zamānī Qazvīnī, Taḏkera-ye may-ḵāna, ed. A. Goḷčīn-e Maʿānī, Tehran, 1340 Š./1961, pp. 202, 437, 494, 662. ʿAbbās-nāma, ed. E. Dehgān, Arāk, 1329 Š./1950, pp. 48, 67, 103, 161, 173, 267; Eskandar Beg, pp. 296-97, 1086-93; Moḥammad Jaʿfar Ḵormūǰī, Ḥaqāʾeq al-aḵbār-e Nāṣerī, ed. Ḥ. Ḵadīv Jām, Tehran, 1344 Š./1965, pp. 266, 283-85, 292, 300; Eʿtemād-al-salṭana, al-Maʾāṯer wa’l-āṯār, Tehran, 1307/1889, pp. 30-35; “Alqāb-e belād-e eslāmī,” Yādgār 4/8, pp. 71-75; H. L. Rabino, Coins, Medals, and Seals of the Shahs of Iran: 1500-1941, London, 1945, pp. 97-98).

A town could receive religious epithets when it contained a shrine, was a center of religious learning, or had a population where religious disposition was well-known. In the first case the epithet might be a simple adjective (Naǰaf-e Ašraf, Karbalā-ye Moʿallā, Makka-ye Moʿaẓẓama), or a metaphor (ʿAtabāt-e ʿĀlīāt for the shrines in southern Iraq, Āstān-e Qods-e Rażawī for Mašhad, Balada-ye Ṭayyeba and Āstāna-ye Moqaddasa for Qom, etc.). In the second and third cases the epithets are often constructs, such as dār-al-ʿelm (Shiraz and Bokhara), dār-al-fażl or afāżel (Shiraz and Samarqand), dār-al-eršād (Ardabīl), dār-al-īmān (Qom and Kāšān), dār-al-ʿebāda (Yazd), dār- or baladat-al-mowaḥḥedīn (Qazvīn), qobbat-al-eslām (Balḵ and Shiraz), etc. (Nozhat al-qolūb, p. 136; Dostūr al-wozarāʾ, pp. 356, 378, 449; Taḏkera-ye may-ḵāna, pp. 329, 363, 414, 415, 662, 693, 868, 880; Eskandar Beg, pp. 276, 296, 305, 352, 354, 494, 1086-89; ʿAbbās-nāma, pp. 32, 34, 63, 84, 109, 216, 263, 264; Abu’l-Ḥasan Golestāna, Moǰmal al-tawārīḵ, ed. M. Rażawī, Tehran 2536/1977, pp. 20, 30, 31, 39, 51, 485; Ḥāǰǰ Zayn-al-ʿābedīn Šīrvānī, Rīāż al-sīāḥa, Moscow, 1974, II, p. 10; Ḵormūǰī, Ḥaqāʾeq al-aḵbār-e Nāṣerī, pp. 121, 266, 298, 309, 312, 313; Eʿtemād-al-salṭana, al-Maʾāṯer wa’l-āṯār, pp. 33-35, 58, 80; Rabino, Coins, pp. 97-98).

Descriptive epithets, often of a complimentary type, were popular during the Safavid and Qajar periods; they often rhymed with the name of the town (e.g., Šīrāz-e Jennat-ṭerāz). The following are some of the more popular names: dār-al-amān: Kermān, Multan; dār-al-amn: Sirhind; dār-al-fatḥ: Astarābād; dār-al-ǰehād: Hyderabad; bāb-al-ǰenna: Qazvīn; dār-al-noṣra: Istanbul, Herat, and Sīstān; dār-al-qarār: Qandahār; dār-al-saʿāda: Astarābā, Zanǰān; dār-al-ṣafāʾ: Ḵoy; dār-al-sorūr: Nīšābūr, Borūǰerd; neṣf-e ǰahān: Isfahan (Tārīḵ-e Bayhaq, p. 20; Dostūr al-wozarāʾ, pp. 34, 378, 435; Eskandar Beg, pp. 305, 354; Taḏkera-ye mayḵāna, pp. 429, 457, 545, 787, 892, 895; Ḥaqāʾeq al-aḵbār, pp. 125, 258, 300; al-Maʾāṯer, pp. 33-35, 61; Rabino, Coins, pp. 97-98).

Countries and governments were also characterized by certain appellations. Iran was referred to as mamlakat or mamālek-e moḥrūsa-ye Īrān or Īrān-zamīn. Epithets used in official documents were ʿalīya for Iran and the Ottoman empire; bahīyya for Iran, Russia, France, and other European royal states; and faḵīma for Great Britain (K. Eṣfahānīān, Asnād va madārek-e Farroḵ Ḵān Amīn-al-dawla IV, Tehran, 1354 Š./1975, p. 229; Ḵormūǰī, Ḥaqāʾeq al-aḵbār, pp. 150, 155, 287 , 224, 228; Eʿtemād-al-salṭana, Tārīḵ-e montaẓam-e Nāṣerī, Tehran, 1300/1883, pp. 128, 182, 189; Rabino, Coins, pp. 97-98).

The use of epithets, sometimes rhymed, to characterize institutions and edifices was also popular in the Qajar era. The most common terms were derivatives of the word baraka (blessing): ʿEmārat-e Mobāraka-ye Solṭānī, Telgerāf-ḵāna-ye Mobāraka, Madrasa-ye Mobāraka-ye Dār-al-fonūn, Meydān-e Mobāraka-ye Tūpḵāna, etc. Terms derived from naṣr, ẓafar, and qahr were used to describe the armed forces: ʿasāker-e manṣūra, qošūn-e ẓafar-nomūn, afwāǰ-e qāhera, etc. The adjective ǰalīla was used for ministries and high offices: Wezārat-e Jalīla or Ḥokūmat-e Jalīla-ye Dār-al-ḵelāfa. Important buildings included Kūšk-e Ṣāḥebqerānīya or ʿEmārat-e Šams-al-ʿemāra (Eʿtemād-al-salṭana, al-Maʾāṯer, pp. 38, 42, 44, 52, 59, 64, 65, 73, 79, 81; supplement, pp. 6, 12, 19, 26, 29, 32, 45, 46, 52, 67; cf. Qalqašandī, Sobḥ al-aʿšā VI, Cairo, 1915, pp. 183-88).

Bibliography: Given in the text.

(A. Ašraf)

Originally Published: December 15, 1989

Last Updated: August 2, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 9, pp. 898-906

Cite this entry:

A. Ašraf, “ALQĀB VA ʿANĀWĪN,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, I/9, pp. 898-906, available online at (accessed on 30 December 2012).