ČAHĀR DOWLĪ (Davālī), or ČĀR DOWLĪ, a tribe of western Iran. According to tribal legend the Čahār Dowlīs acquired their name by defeating a force consisting of four other tribes (Bent, p. 92). They are Turkicized Lurs who were transplanted to Fārs in pre-­Qajar times. Āqā Moḥammad Shah Qājār (r. 1193-1212/1779-97) allegedly moved them to the Qazvīn region. Later, ʿAbbās Mīrzā settled them in the valley of the Zarrīnarūd (Jaḡatū river), from Mīāndoāb to Šāhīn Dež (formerly Ṣāʾīn Qaḷʿa). He ordered winter villages to be prepared for them and offered them the revenues of the district in return for their contribution of a contingent of cavalry to the national army (Rawlin­son, p. 40; Ker Porter, p. 538). Today the area in question forms a dehestān by the name of Čahār Dowlī (Razmārā, Farhang IV, pp. 165-66). Ever since the Čahār Dowlīs established themselves in western Azerbaijan, the residence of their chiefs has been Maḥmūd-­Jīq, one farsaḵ west of Šāhīn Dež (Rawlinson, p. 40; Bent, p. 92).

The Čahār Dowlī contingent fought with distinction against the Russians at the battle of Naḵjavān in 1223/1808 (Brydges, p. 349; Sepehr, p. 103). But when the Russians occupied Marāḡa in 1827 most of the Čahār Dowlīs fled toward Hamadān, settling down in an area southeast of Qorva, which today forms two contiguous dehestans, Čahār Dowlī and Čahār Dowlī-e Asadābād (Rawlinson, p. 40; Razmārā, Farhang V, pp. 136-37).

The 1,000 Čahār Dowlī families that had been left behind in the valley of the Jaḡatū went through some trying times, being subjected to constant raids by the Kurds and becoming embroiled in a bitter and, at times, violent quarrel with the central government over the revenues from the lands originally allotted to the tribe in the region (Rawlinson, pp. 41-42). But by the end of the century their lot had considerably improved. J. T. Bent, who visited them in 1888, during that period of relative prosperity, described their chief as “the only one in this neighbourhood who succeeded in keeping back the Kurds.” This chief, whose name was Nowrūz Khan, lived as a quasi-independent sovereign, who refused to pay taxes and exercised “regal authority over his small kingdom” (p. 92).

During the Constitutional Revolution of 1325-­30/1906-11 the Čahār Dowlī chief, Salīm Khan Bahādor-al-Salṭana, sided with Moḥammad-ʿAlī Shah and was appointed governor of Marāḡa by this ruler in 1326/1908. The Čahār Dowlīs also took part in two assaults on the besieged city of Tabrīz in February and March 1909 (British Parliament, pp. 11, 33, 34, 81).

Already in the early 1300s/late 1800s, the Čahār Dowlīs of southwestern Azerbaijan had a basically agrarian economy. They are “chiefly sedentary and engaged in tilling the fertile valley of the Checkatoo,” observed Bent, “though there are several nomad fami­lies who dwell in the villages during the winter months and go up to the yaila or mountain pasturages during the summer” (p. 92).

Rawlinson estimated their number at 4,000 families (p. 41). Bent (p. 92) was told by the Čahār Dowlī chief that he owned about 2,000 houses and had 5,000 subjects (raʿāyā). When I visited them in 1339 Š./1960, they comprised 2,000 families, were almost entirely sedentary, and occupied some 38 or 40 villages, which were located mostly to the north of the road linking Mīāndoāb and Šāhīn Dež. They were Shiʿites and spoke Turkic.



A. Amanat, ed., Cities and Trade. Consul Abbott on the Economy and Society of Iran, 1847-1866, Oxford, 1983, pp. 231-32.

E. Amīr-Ḵīzī, Qīām-e Āḏarbāyjān wa Sattār Khan, Tabrīz, 1339 Š./1960.

E. Aubin, La Perse d’aujourd’hui, Paris, 1908, p. 95.

J. T. Bent, “Azerbeijan,” The Scottish Geographical Magazine 6, 1890, pp. 84-93.

British Parliament, Accounts and Papers 1909, vol. 105, Persia, no. 2 (1909).

H. J. Brydges, The Dynasty of the Kajars, London, 1829.

A. Kasrawī, Tārīḵ-ehījdah­sāla-ye Āḏarbāyjān, Tehran, 1333 Š./1954.

R. Ker Porter, Travels in Georgia, Persia, Armenia, Ancient Babylonia, etc., London, 1822, II.

H. C. Rawlinson, “Notes on a Journey from Tabríz, through Persian Kurdistán, to the Ruins of Takhti-Soleimán, and from thence by Zenján and Tárom, to Gílán, in October and November, 1838,” JRAS 10, 1841, pp. 1-64.

Lesān-al-Molk Moḥammad-Taqī Sepehr, Nāseḵ al-tawārīḵ IX: Tārīḵ-eQājārīya, Tehran, 1337 Š./1958-59.

(Pierre Oberling)

Originally Published: December 15, 1990

Last Updated: December 15, 1990

This article is available in print.
Vol. IV, Fasc. 6, pp. 619-620