Culturology issues of comparative description of the ethnolinguistic identity of historical heritage of Azerbaijan (based on period of Safavid Empire) | Статья в сборнике международной научной конференции

Библиографическое описание:

Мустафаева Н. В., Гасанов Э. Л. Culturology issues of comparative description of the ethnolinguistic identity of historical heritage of Azerbaijan (based on period of Safavid Empire) [Текст] // Культурология и искусствоведение: материалы IV Междунар. науч. конф. (г. Казань, июнь 2018 г.). — Казань: Молодой ученый, 2018. — С. 15-17. — URL (дата обращения: 19.06.2018).

In this paper have been researched the basic principles of culturology issues of comparative description of the ethnolinguistic identity of historical heritage of Azerbaijan based on period of Safavid state.

Key words: Azerbaijan, culturology, history, philology

Ethnolinguistic identity of the Azerbaijani Safavid Empire is one of the most disputable issues in Anglophone historiography. Partly under the influence of paniranism, ethnopolitical bias, partly due to weak analyses of historical sources (especially “Safvat as-safa” by Ibn Bazzaz that is the first hagiography of the Safavids), partly due to presentation of Azerbaijan as a part of “Iran” in western historiography most western researchers mistakenly present the Azerbaijani Safavids as an “Iranian dynasty”. For example, according to E.Yarshater, the origins of the Safavids are clouded in obscurity. Nevertheless, he claims the Safavids to be originally an Iranian-speaking clan (perhaps of Kurdish origin), that was Turkified and adopted Turkish as their vernacular. J. R. Perry adheres the same concept. According to R.Savory, the Safavid family was of indigenous Iranian stock, and not of Turkish ancestry as is sometimes claimed. R.Savory says that “the creation of the Safavid state in 1501 marks a watershed in Iranian history in a number of ways. First, the whole of the area historically considered to be the heartlands of Iran was reunited under the rule of one Persian king (albeit he spoke the Azeri dialect of Turkish) for the first time since the Arab Conquest of Iran more than eight and a half centuries earlier. The restoration of Iranian sovereignty by the Safavids, within the traditional boundaries of Iran, naturally heightened Iranian national consciousness or Iranismus…” R.Savory supposes that the family originated in Persian Kurdistan, and later moved to Azerbaijan, where they adopted the Azari form of Turkish spoken there, and eventually settled in the small town of Ardabil some time during the XI century. In Encyclopedia Britannica, the oldest English-language encyclopedia, the Safavid dynasty is presented as an Iranian dynasty whose establishment of Shiite Islam as the State religion of Iran was a major factor in the emergence of a unified national consciousness among the various ethnic and linguistic elements of the country. Even if R.Matthee admits that the Safavids set up the state with the assistance of Turkmen tribal forces of eastern Anatolia, he characterizes them as Persians of Kurdish origin. Even on the official site of BBC the eponymous ancestor of the Safavids Shaikh Safi-al-din described as a “Persian nationalist”.

So as you can see, unfortunately, western researchers ignore or don’t pay attention (maybe even purposely falsificate the real history!) to the irrefutable facts given in medieval sources on the Safavids᾽ being a Turkic and Turcophone family originally from Ardabil in Azerbaijan. There are a lot of facts that the Safavids were of a Turkic ethnolinguistic origin Some of them are the diplomatic letters written in Turkic and sent from Safavid shahs to some European emperors as well as from some European emperors to the shahs (for example, the Russian Tsar Michael I᾽s letter to shah Abbas I was written in Turkic), “Divan” of shah Ismail Khatai and quatrains of Shaikh Safi-al-din, the Safavids᾽ eponymous ancestor, both written in Turkic. H.Javadi and K.Burrill stress that the reigns of Ismail I and his son Tahmasb I are considered the most brilliant period in the history of the Azeri Turkish language and literature at this stage of its development. Moreover, the Turkic language was not only the mother tongue of the ruling dynasty, the language of the court, the military and diplomacy but a high-status vernacular and a widespread contact language in the whole Safavid Empire. Moreover, there are a lot of facts about the Turkic origin of the Safavids in “Safvat as-safa” itself, the hagiography of the Safavid dynasty. For example, during the dialog of Shaikh Safi-al-din with murids in such a Persian city as Shiraz he was referred as “pir-i turk” (Turkic Saint) and the village of Ardabil where he was living was called “deh-i turk” (Turkic village). In most medieval sources the Safavid State is called “Devlet-i Kizilbash” since the kizilbash turcomans constituted the main core of the state and its army. Besides, according to “Tarikh-i alam-ara-yi Abbasi” by Iskandar Beg Munshi, 56 of 72 emirs known by names of 114 ones were kizilbash and 61 of them were Turks.

European travelers that visited the Safavid Empire in different periods of time such as A.Olearius, J.Chardin, P.Della Valle, J-B.Tavernier, E.Kaempfer and others witnessed that the Safavids were a Turkic and Turcophone family, the language of court even in the XVI — XVII centuries was Turkic, even the only language that ghulams (non-Turkic military elements) knew was Turkic. According to Pietro Della Valle and Adam Olearius, even during welcome ceremony of foreign guests at the court shah Abbas I used such Turkic words as “«Xoş gəldin», «Səfa gəldin»”. As Adam Olearius notes, during the feast devoted to the foreign guests shah Abbas I spoke Turkic: «Suffre Hakine Schahe doevvletine, Kasiler kuwetine. Alla dielum». Besides, he also states that most of the Persians learnt the Turkic and the Persian was heart seldom at the court, even the children were taught the Turkic.

Nevertheless, along with some facts of distortion there are a number of western researchers (for example, such outstanding scholars as R.Frye, M.Mazzaoui, M.Price, T.Sonn, D.Ayalon, A.Goldschmidt, L.Davidson and others) who acknowledge the Safavids as a Turkic dynasty. A famous German philologist and turkologist best known for his studies of the Turkic languages G.Doerfer talking about the long-lasting Iranian-Azeri symbiosis pointed that many Azeri words (about 1200 words!) entered Persian, since Iran was governed mostly by Azeri-speaking rulers and soldiers since the 16th century. Moreover, he stresses that the Azeri language belongs to the Oghuz branch of the Turkic language family. According to H.Stein, “a specific Turkic language was attested in Safavid Persia during the XVI and XVII centuries, a language that Europeans often called Persian Turkish (“Turk Agemi”, “lingua turka agemica”), which was a favourite at the court and in the army because of the Turkish origin of the Safavid dynasty. The original name was just türki… That language might generally be identified as Middle Azerbaijanian”.

The Safavid shahs themselves claimed to be Sayyids — descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, although many scholars have cast doubt on this claim. In the oldest manuscript of “Safvat as-safa” written by Ibn Bazzaz in 1350 the origin of the Safavids is traced to Piruz Shah Zarrin Kulah, while in the later versions of the manuscripts Shaikh Safi’s ancestry is traced back to the seventh imam of the Twelver Shiah, Musa al-Kazim. The Safavids after the establishment of the Safavid state fabricated evidence to prove that the Safavids were Sayyids. The main aim of the Safavids in revision of the “Safvat as-safa” and, as a result, falsification of their genealogy was to justify their political legitimacy and fight the claims of the competing Islamic empires, in particular the Ottoman Empire. According to T.Swietochowski, shah Ismail I made the Shia branch of Islam the official religion of the empire, thus setting the Azeris firmly apart from the ethnically and linguistically similar Ottoman Turks, who were Sunni Muslims. As we know the Ottoman Empire was the bitter enemy of the Safavids. But R.Savory mistakenly claims that textual changes were designed to obscure the Kurdish origins of the Safavid family.

Thus, one of the main reasons of distortion of ethnolinguistic identity of the Safavid state in Anglophone historiography is ignoring Azerbaijan by western scholars as a sovereign political entity, presenting it as a part of Iran and, as a result, ignoring the presence of strong Turkic component in ethnopolitical history of Azerbaijan until the Seljuk migration in the XI century when most of them settled here. Moreover, after the misconception of an ancestor of the Safavids Piruz Shah al-Kurdi Zarrin Kulah as a Kurd by an outgoing Iranian historian Ahmad Kasravi in 1930s most western researchers started to “iranize” the Safavids and present them as an Iranian or Kurdish dynasty that was turkified only after the settlement in Ardabil in the XI century.


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Ключевые слова

Azerbaijan, culturology, history, philology


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