JAVĀNŠIR QARĀBĀḠI, JAMĀL (b. Ḵājalu village, 1773; d. Ḵājalu village, 13 April 1853), a leader of the Javānšir tribe and an office-holder in Qarābāḡ and Dagestan. He was born in 1773 in Ḵājalu village of Javānšir district near Dizak (in the present-day de facto Nagorno-Karabakh Republic). He was the son of Moḥammad Khan Beg, the grandson of Salif Beg Minbāši, and the great-grandson of Šarif Beg Javānšir. His grandfather was the chief of the Javānšir tribe. After his death, Jamāl Javānšir’s father was named the chief of the Javānšir tribe by Ebrāhim Ḵalil Khan Javānšir (1730-1806, q.v.), the ruler of the Šuši/Šuša fort in Qarābāḡ, and was transferred to the fort as its commander.

Jamāl Javānšir studied Persian and Turkish, and in 1787-88, at the age of fifteen, he became one of the scribes (dabir) in Ebrāhim Ḵalil Khan’s chancery. After a decade, under threat from Āḡā Moḥammad Khan Qājār (d. 1797, q.v.), he left Šuši together with other members of the Ebrāhim Ḵalil Khan’s household and settled in the village of Khoznak. He became the secretary (mirzā) to one of the wives of Ebrāhim Ḵalil Khan, Bike Ḵānom, who was the sister of ʿOmma Khan (r. 1774-1801), the ruler of the Avars in Dagestan. He studied Arabic for several years and returned to the Šuši fortress after the death of Āḡā Moḥammad Khan Qajar in 1797. In gratitude for the courage displayed by Moḥammad Khan Beg and his Javānšir tribesmen during Āḡā Moḥammad Khan’s attack, Ebrāhim Ḵalil Khan appointed Moḥammad Khan Beg’s son, Mirzā Jamāl, to the post of his personal secretary and the vizier of Qarābāḡ. Mirzā Jamāl was thus present during the signing of the agreement of 1805 between Ebrāhim Ḵalil Khan and the Russian Prince Pavel Tsitsianov (1754-1806), which brought Qarābāḡ under Russian tutelage. In the same year, Jamāl Javānšir acted as a secretary to Moḥammad Ḥasan Āqā, the eldest son of Ebrāhim Ḵalil Khan, who led the Qarābāḡ cavalry under the command of General Pyotr Nebol’sin (?-1810) during the First Russo-Persian War (1804-13). In June 1806 Mirzā Jamāl witnessed the battle of Khonashin between the forces of Nebol’sin and ʿAbbās Mirzā (1789-1833, q.v.) and reported on the early stages of the war to Ebrāhim Ḵalil Khan. Soon after, he went to Nakhichevan (Naḵčavān), from where he was put in charge of provisions for the Russian army in the region. After the murder of Ebrāhim Ḵalil Khan in 1806, Mirzā Jamāl remained in the service of Ebrāhim Ḵalil Khan’s son, Mehdiqoli Khan, the last Khan of Šuši. When the latter fled to Persia in 1822, Qarābāḡ was officially annexed to Russia, and Mirzā Jamāl retired. During the entire period of the war, he and his extended family of some one hundred people were supported by Russia. After retirement, he received an annual pension of 510 silver rubles, 120 bushels of wheat, and 30 bushels of rice from General Alekseĭ Yermolov (1777-1861), the commander-in-chief of the Russian troops in the Caucasus. When Yermolov ordered an official survey of Qarābāḡ to be made, Mirzā Jamāl was called out of retirement and was appointed by the Russian commandant of Šuši to the post of secretary, in which he served various Russian commanders.

During the second Russo-Persian War (1826-28), Mirzā Jamāl accompanied Prince Valerian Madatov (1782-1829) across the Araxes (Aras) River (q.v.), where, with the help of his nephew Karim Beg, Jamāl managed to move the entire village of Sayyed-Aḥmadlu to Dizak district. In 1840, already in his late sixties, Mirzā Jamāl retired from service again. Subsequently, his pension was terminated, and he was suffering financial difficulties, until the Russian viceroy of the Caucasus Mikhail Vorontsov (1782-1856) granted to him the income from the village of Karga-bāzār in the late 1840s. In addition to his knowledge of the aforementioned languages, Mirzā Jamāl knew the Lezgi and Avar languages, had some knowledge of astronomy, and an excellent knowledge of history and geography. It is reported that he was also familiar with medicine and composed poems in Persian. Jamāl Javānšir Qarābāḡi died on 13 April 1853 in Ḵājalu village.

Mirzā Jamāl is best known for his Tāriḵ-e Qarābāḡ (History of Qarābāḡ) written in Persian—which was the literary language of the Muslims in the Caucasus—sometime after 1847, upon the order of the Russian Viceroy of the Caucasus Mikhail Vorontsov. It is clear that Mirzā Jamāl had already possessed a draft of the work and that he simply added the introductory and concluding remarks, as well as a number of short chapters, in order to please the Viceroy and to reinstate his own pension. The book covers the history of Qarābāḡ from the arrival of the Arab armies until its conquest by the Russians. Its primary focus, however, is the history of the Khanate of Qarābāḡ from the time of Nāder Shah (r. 1736-47, q.v.) until the death of Ebrāhim Ḵalil Khan in 1806. The part of his work dealing with the struggle between the Javān-šir khans and the Armenian petty princes (meliks) of Qarābāḡ is an especially valuable source, being written by a non-Armenian on the major Armenian presence in the region.



G. Bournoutian, Two Chronicles on the History of Karabagh: Mirza Jamal Javanshir’s Tarikh-e Qarabagh and Mirza Adigözal Beg’s Karabagh-name, Costa Mesa, CA, 2004.

Akhmedbek Dzhavanshir, O politicheskom sushchestvovanii Karabakhskogo khanstva s 1747 po 1805 god (On the political existence of the Khanate of Qarābāḡ from 1747 until 1805), Baku, 1961.

Mirza Jamal Javanšir Garabaghi, Garabag Tarikhi, Baku, 1959.

Dzhemal Dzhevanshir Karabagi, “Karabag,” Kavkaz 61-69, 1855.

Mirza Cemal Cevansir Karabaghli, Karabag Tarihi, Ankara, 1990.

Mirzā Dzhamal Dzhevanshir Karabagskiĭ, Istoriya Karabaga (History of Qarābāḡ), Baku, 1959.

Mirzā Jamāl Javānšir Qarābāḡi, Tāriḵ-e Qarābāḡ, MS B-712/11603, Institute of History, Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan, Baku, Azerbaijan; tr. G. Bournoutian as A History of Qarabagh: an Annotated Translation of Mirza Jamal Javanshir Qarabaghi’s Tarikh-e Qarabagh, Costa Mesa, Calif., 1994; ed. Ḥosayn Aḥmadi as Tariḵ-e Qarābāḡ, Tehran, 2003.

(George Bournoutian)

Originally Published: December 15, 2008

Last Updated: June 13, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XIV, Fasc. 6, pp. 602-603