EŠĪK-ĀQĀSĪ-BĀŠĪ (or Īšīk-āqāsī-bāšī), the title of two officials in the Safavid central administration, namely ešīk-āqāsī-bāšī-e dīvān, and ešīk-āqāsī-bāšī-e ḥaram. The jurisdiction of the latter, as his title implies, lay only within the harem, and he was of less importance than the former and subordinate to him. Their respective annual salaries indicate their relative importance; the ešīk-āqāsī-bāšī-e dīvān received 2,675 tomans and 1,503 dinars, plus a regular subvention(moqarrarī) of 975 tomans and 1,503 dinars, in addition to a sum of 1,700 tomans for the expense of the 150 retainers who accompanied him on journeys; by contrast, the salary of the ešīk-āqāsī-bāšī-e ḥaram was 300 tomans. The office of ešīk-āqāsī-bāšī-e dīvān seems to have been first held, at the time of the death of Shah Ṭahmāsb (984/1576), by Solṭān-Ebrāhīm Mīrzā, the shah’s nephew and son-in-law (Eskandar Beg, I, p. 136, tr. Savory, I, p. 220). Ebrāhīm Mīrzā was dismissed by Shah Esmāʿīl II the same year, and thereafter this officewas usually, but not always, held by a qezelbāš amir. The ešīk-āqāsī-bāšī-e dīvān was one of the four pillars (arkān) of the state. He belonged to the council of great amirs (omarā-yejānqī) and yielded extensive powers in both political and financial affairs. Described by Kaempfer as “grand marshall of the court,” by Du Mans as “master of ceremonies,” and by Chardin as “chief courtier,” (apud Minorsky in Taḏkerat al-molūk, p. 34 n. 1, and p. 118), the ešīk-āqāsī-bāšī-e dīvān’s jurisdiction covered the outer part of the palace as far as the harem gate. Under his orders were numerous aides-de-camp (yasāvolān-e ṣoḥbat), ushers (ešīk-āqāsīs), door-keepers (qāpūčīān), etc., and he had full and sole authority over court protocol. Also under his command were the jazāʾerī guards (kešīkčī), who were permanently stationed at the gate of the palace. He was stationed in the hall of the main entrance to the palace. Reports from the amirs of the marches directed to him were routed via the ešīk-āqāsī-bāšī-e ḥaram, who conveyed to the ešīk-āqāsī-bāšī-e dīvān the shah’s orders for any necessary action. In financial affairs, documents (raqam) issued by the vizier regarding the payment of salaries, assignments (toyūl), annuities (hama-sāla), sums payable by drafts (tanḵᵛāh-e barātī), and honoraria (enʿām), came to him for approval; during the reign of Shah Solṭān-Ḥosayn (1105-35/1694-1722), he additionally affixed his seal to such documents (Mīrzā Rafīʿā, p. 82). Like most Safavid administrators, the ešīk-āqāsī-bāšī-e dīvān had a number of prerequisites in addition to his salary and regular subvention. The tithe which was levied on all gifts (pīškaš) presented to the shah was divided between him and the pīškašnevīs, and he was entitled to one camel out of every fifty branded for the use of the royal household, and to one out of fifty of all sheep and lambs or lambs and kids earmarked for the royal household. In addition, his appointee, together with officials from the departments of the master of the royal stables (amīr-āḵor-bāšī), the superintendent of the animals (nāẓer-e dawābb), and the overseer of the royal stud (mošref-e īlḵī), was involved on branding and keeping a tally of the horses selected for the royal stud, and annually visited the stud farms in the provinces for this purpose.
The power of ešīk-āqāsī-bāšī was reduced under the Qajars. He was the master of ceremonies and the chief of protocol (ešīk-ḵāna), presided over public and private audiences of the king and supervised the attendants at public audiences.
Bibliography (for cited works not given in detail, see “Short References”):
Doerfer, Elemente II, pp. 183-84.
Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, al-Maʾāṯer wa’l-āṯār, pp. 44, 388, 425.
Mīrzā Rafīʿā, Dastūr al-molūk, ed. M.-T. Dānešpažūh, MDAT 16/1-2, 1347 Š./1968-69, pp. 82-84.
Taḏkerat al-molūk, tr. Minorsky, pp. 34, 44, 56, 87, 118.
(Roger M. Savory)
Originally Published: December 15, 1998
Last Updated: January 19, 2012
This article is available in print.
Vol. VIII, Fasc. 6, pp. 600-601