AMĪR(-E) TŪMĀN, commander of 10,000 men, a military rank originally used by the Il-khanids in the 7th/13th century (see Jovaynī, I, p. 23; cf. the nōyān also a commander of 10,000 men; see G. Doerfer, Türkische und mongolische Elemente im Neupersischen I, Wiesbaden, 1963, p. 528). The term tūmān (tümen, tūman, etc.), used with various administrative and monetary values, originally referred to a district capable of providing approximately 10,000 men (but see W. Barthold, “Tuman,” EI1 IV, p. 836; on the origins, spellings, and meanings of the word see Doerfer, Elemente II, pp. 632-42).
Armies in Iran were generally divided in groups of ten, hundred, thousand, and ten thousand men with various terminologies which partly survived till Qajar times. Successive Qajar reforms introduced many changes in military ranks and titles (G. N. Curzon, Persia and the Persian Question, repr., London, 1966, I, pp. 576ff.; J. Qāʾem-maqāmī, Taḥawwolāt-e sīāsī-e neẓām-e Īrān, Tehran, 1326 Š./1947). Under Amīr(-e) Kabīr (1264-68/1848-51), top level officers were sartīp and sarhang (infantry), sarkarda and solṭān (cavalry) (F. Ādamīyat, Amīr Kabīr o Īrān, Tehran, 1354 Š./1975, p. 301). However, the highest executive ranks remained linked with titles like sālār, sardār, and amīr and terminology remained confused. Thus ʿAzīz Khan Mokrī then held the title of āǰūdān-bašī. From that time the title amīr tūmān (ranking below the sardār and above the mīr panǰa) was granted to various Qajar dignitaries such as Moḥammad Khan Gīlānī (Bāmdād, Reǰāl II, p. 329), Fażl-ʿAlī Khan Qarabāḡī and Mehr-ʿAlī Khan Šoǰāʿ-al-molk Nūrī (at the time of the Anglo-Persian war of 1273-74/1856-57; see Fasāʾī, I, pp. 317-18, tr. Busse, pp. 332ff.; Bāmdād, Reǰāl IV, pp. 187-88), and Mīrzā Nabī Khan Qazvīnī (Mīrzā Ḥosayn Khan Mošīr-al-dawla’s father; see S. Bakhash, Iran: Monarchy, Bureaucracy and Reform under the Qajars: 1858-1896, London, 1978, p. 43). Nāṣer-al-dīn Shah conferred it on his favorite Ḡolām-ʿAlī Khan known as Malīǰak at the age of nine (ibid., p. 262). This probably accounts for the progressive depreciation of this title. However, since Nāṣer-al-dīn Shah sold titles, medals, military rank and other honors, the number of omarā-ye tūmān increased considerably. In Ramażān, 1311/March, 1894, a royal decree limited the highest military ranks to three sardārs and seven amīr tūmāns. A day after issuing this decree, the Shah approved the title of amīr tūmān for two new candidates and Eʿtemād-al-salṭana complains that there were more than one hundred amīr tūmāns in the country although the Shah had once told him that the government couldn’t afford to have even three of them (Rūz-nāma-ye ḵāṭerāt, ed. Ī. Afšār, Tehran, 2536 = 1356 Š./1977, pp. 940f.).
Among outstanding persons who held the title of amīr tūmān from late Nāṣer-al-dīn Shah’s reign one may mention: Mīrzā Karīm Khan Arǰomandī Fīrūzkūhī (amīr tūmān from 1308/1890-91, see Bāmdād, Reǰāl III, pp. 175-76), Moḥammad-Ṣāeq Khan Qāǰār Šāmbayātī, better known as Amīn(-e) Neẓām, who, among other things, was commander of the artillery (Eʿtemād-al-salṭana, Rūz-nāma, p. 682 and index; in 1312/1894-95, he was Iran’s representative at Ešqābād to settle border disputes with Russia; see Bāmdād, Reǰāl III, pp. 410-12; ʿA. A. Šamīm, Īrān dar dawra-ye salṭanat-e Qāǰār, Tehran, 1342 Š./1963, p. 192), Mahdī Khan (Nāṣer-al-molk’s brother), ʿAbdallāh Khan Qaraguzlū, later Amīr(-e) Neẓām (Farīd-al-molk Hamadānī, Ḵāṭerāt-e Farīd, ed. M. Farīd, Tehran 1351 Š./1972, index), and Mīrzā Reżā Khan Arfaʿ-al-dawla were also amīr tūmān (see Nāmahnā-ye Moḡīṯ-al-salṭana, ed. M. Māfī, Tehran, 1362 Š./1983, pp. 96, 111, nn.). Among ʿAbbās Mīrzā Molkārā’s retinue at Moscow in 1313/1896, his own son Moḥammad Mīrzā and ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Khan Modīr-al-molk Fūmanī had the rank of amīr tūmān (ʿA. Molkārā, Šarḥ-e ḥāl, ed. ʿA. Navāʾī, Tehran, 1361 Š./1982, pp. 205f.). In 1304 Š./1925, the title and function of amīr tūmān were abolished and replaced by amīr(-e) laškar.
See also Spuler, Mongolen3, pp. 299, 305, 335, 399.
M. Ḥ. Eʿtemād-al-salṭana, Tārīḵ-e montaẓam-e Nāṣerī, Tehran, 3 vols., lith., 1299-1300/1881-83.
Idem, Maṭlaʿ-al-šams, Tehran, 3 vols., lith., 1301-03/1883-86.
Idem, al-Maʾāṯer wa’l-āṯār, Tehran, lith., 1307/1890-91, giving the dates of nomination, promotion, and discharge for each individual officer.
See also various ephemerides in Sāl-nāma-ye Īrān, 1290, n.p., lith., 1290/1873-74.
Originally Published: December 15, 1989
Last Updated: August 3, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 9, p. 971
J. Calmard, “AMĪR TŪMĀN,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/9, p. 971, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/amir-e-tuman-commander-of-10000-men-a-military-rank-originally-used-by-the-il-khanids-in-the-7th-13th-cent (accessed on 30 December 2012).