ĀZĀDĪSTĀN (ĀZĀDĪESTĀN), the title of a Persian educational magazine which came out at Tabrīz in Jawzā, 1299/June-August, 1920.
The magazine was in fact the mouthpiece of Shaikh Moḥammad Ḵīābānī’s rebel government in the educational-cultural field. Ḵīābānī seized power in Tabrīz in April 1920 and controlled the provincial government of Azerbaijan until his defeat and death in September of that year. The first issue of the magazine was brought out on 15 Jawzā 1299/5 June 1920, one month after the historic province had been renamed “Āzādīstān” (Land of freedom) by Ḵīābānī and his followers as a gesture of protest against the giving of the name “Azerbaijan” to the part of Caucasia centered on Bākū.
The magazine was printed under the supervision of the poet and writer Moḥammad Taqī Rafʿat (b. at Tabrīz 1890-91, d. at Qezel Dīzaj September 1920). After completing his studies at Istanbul, Rafʿat had served as a teacher at Trabzon and then at Tabrīz. From the start of the revolt he worked closely with Ḵīābānī. Through articles and poems in Tajaddod (Regeneration), the newspaper which Ḵīābānī published at Tabrīz from April 1917 to August 1920, Rafʿat and other like-minded writers had attempted to initiate a reform of Persian literature and had engaged in controversy with the Tehran periodical Dāneškada. For Āzādīstān, Rafʿat wrote under both his own name and a pseudonym, “Femina.” Shortly after the sanguinary crushing of the revolt and killing of its leader Ḵīābānī, he committed suicide at a village near Tabrīz when little more than thirty years old.
Āzādīstān has a special importance in the history of modern Persian literature. It not only sought to give its readers new educational and social insights, but also contributed to the modernization of Persian prose and, above all, to the transformation of the language, content, and form of Persian poetry. The poems of Taqī Raʿfat and the poetess Šams Kasmāʾī which appeared in Āzādīstān are the earliest examples of modernist Persian verse.
Beneath the title on the cover were printed the words “a magazine devoted to the regeneration of literature.” In the first issue of Āzādīstān, Taqī Rafʿat emphasized this point with calls for “sincerity and boldness of innovation” and for a “literary revolution.” The nature of the desirable innovations became a matter of dispute between Āzādīstān and the periodical Kāva (published at Berlin). For various reasons, particularly semantic imprecision and overuse of words borrowed from modern Ottoman Turkish, as well as resistance by conservative elements, the literary reform efforts of Tajaddod and Āzādīstān made no impact at the time. Nevertheless credit is due to these two publications for their pioneering attempt to find new forms and styles of expression.
Āzādīstān was meant to come out once a fortnight, but in the circumstances this was impossible. The first issue bears the date 15 Jawzā 1299/15 June 1920. Some authorities, following Ṣadr-Hāšemī, place its start on 15 Saraṭān, which is a month too late. Altogether three issues of Āzādīstān came out in the course of three months. The fourth issue, dated 21 Sonbola 1299/12 September 1920, was in the press at the time of the suppression of Ḵīābānī’s revolt, but some passages from it are quoted in Y. Āryanpūr’s Az Ṣabā tā Nīmā.
Āzādīstān consisted of fourteen two-column pages measuring 30.5 x 23 cm. Contrary to M. M. Tarbīat’s statement (Dānešmandān, p. 405), it was not lithographed but printed. No illustrations and no advertisements were carried. The price per copy was 30 šāhīs. Annual subscription rates of 18 qerāns in Tabrīz, 20 in other Iranian cities, and 25 abroad were announced.
Incomplete sets of Āzādīstān are preserved in the National Library of Tabrīz and the Central Library of Tehran University.
Y. Āryanpūr, Az Ṣabā tā Nīmā II, Tehran, 1350 Š./1971, pp. 446-64.
M. Ṣadr-Hāšemī, Tārīḵ-ejarāʾed wa majallāt-e Īrān, Isfahan, 1327 Š./1948-1332 Š./1953, no. 111.
M. M. Tarbīat, Dānešmandān-e Āḏarbāījān, Tehran, 1314 Š./1935, p. 405.
Originally Published: December 15, 1987
Last Updated: August 18, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. III, Fasc. 2, p. 177