ḴᵛĀNSĀLĀR, title by which the supervisor and other workers of the kitchen department of the royal palace were known in the Ghaznavid and Saljuq periods (Bayḥaqi, p. 502; ʿOnṣor-al-Maʾāli, p. 66; ʿAbd-al-Wāseʿ Jalabi, II, p. 750). The title also occurred as salār-e ḵᵛān in Ferdowi’s Šāh-nāma and Ḵāqāni’s poems (Dehḵodā, s.v.). It was a very important function as indicated by the high level of expenditure in the kitchen department of the caliphs of Baghdad (Mez, p. 142). It is not known who was in charge of the royal kitchen from the Mongol until the Safavid period. Under the Mongols, there were three bokāvols (food servers, food tasters) and bāvorčis (cooks) who alternated serving lunch and dinner for the ruler (Spuler, p. 227; Doerfer, I, pp. 202-5, II, pp. 301-7). Under Timur, the bokāvol-e laškar was an administrative military officer who was in charge of equipment given to the soldiers and of maintaining and transmitting orders. He was also in charge of providing food at the madrasas as well as in the army. The bāvorči or cook was a less important office and there were fewer in number than bokāvols, nevertheless the function was also held by amirs, one of whom was close to the ruler (Manz, p. 172; Naḵjavāni, I, p. 48, II, pp. 53-56). Under the Timurids, Āq Qoyunlu, and early Safavids the bokāvol was still in charge of distributing food in madrasas. At court, bokāvols were ranked just below amirs and were in charge of order among the troops, marshalling them in battle order, and supplying amirs with their financial needs (Roemer, pp. 155-57; Ḵonji, p. 28, 80-81; Eskandar Beg, I p. 141; Doerfer, II, pp. 301-7), but their function as the shah’s butler and food taster (čāšnigir) was stressed. Although bokāvols or tasters as well as bāvorčis are also found at court during the early Safavid period (Bodāq Qazvini, p. 136; Waḥid-al-Zamān Qazvini, pp. 67, 108; Jonābādi, p. 555; Ḵoršā, pp. 335, 342), the superintendent of the royal kitchen during the 17th century had the title tušmāl-bāši, and he was referred to as moqarrab al-ḵāqān, indicating that he was one of the highest courtiers. He was in charge of the entire food preparation infrastructure of the royal household and responsible for the preparation and serving of food, whether at the palace or for the Shah’s traveling contingent. He was assisted by a mošref and a ṣāḥeb-jamʿ (Afšār, ed., p. 411; Mirzā Rafiʿā, p. 319, tr. p. 163; Mirzā Samiʿā, p. 89, commentary, p. 137; Richard, ed., II, pp. 15, 274; Chardin, V, p. 349; Tavernier, p. 225; Gemelli-Carreri, II, p. 381; Waḥid-al-Zamān Qazvini, pp. 205-6, 208, 213, 230, 235, 315, 320; Doerfer, I, pp. 269-71). Besides supervising cooks (āšpaz, bāvor, ḵᵛānsalār) the tušmāl probably also had some control over other food departments in the palace, such as the bakery, butchery, and fruits departments (Mirzā Rafiʿā, p. 319, tr. p. 163; Mirzā Samiʿā, pp. 89, commentary, p. 137; Wāleh Qazvini, pp. 294, 374, 420; Eskandar Beg, II, p. 775).
In Qājār times, the royal kitchen department was known as ḵᵛānsalāri and āšpaz-ḵāna, and its head as ḵᵛānsalār. It was one of the most important departments of the court and, as in Safavid times, under the supervision of the nāẓer and, after about 1880, under the court minister (wazir-e darbār; Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, I, pp. 385-86). Besides preparing the shah’s meals, this department was also in charge of providing lunch, dinner, and refreshments for the ladies of the royal harem. The šarbat-ḵāna was a subdivision of the royal kitchen, which prepared snacks (ḥāżeri) to be served with refreshments, as well as the bakery and the pantry (ābdār-ḵāna; qaḥwa-ḵāna).
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July 20, 2009
Originally Published: July 20, 2009
Last Updated: July 20, 2009