Who Was Shah Abbas?

Shah Abbas the Great & Persian Rugs

Shah Abbas the Great
Notes on Shah Abbas, the Ottoman, Mughals, and the Uzbek:

  • Abbas Safavi Shah ruled Iran from 1588 – 1629. Abbas moved the court to Isphahan and was a patron of both art and business. Abbas was famed for his fairness.
  • By 1588, Persia was in serious trouble. The Ottomen had taken Tabriz and most of Northwest Persia. Persia was forced to pay tribute to the Ottoman. While on the eastern front the Uzbek came as far west as Mashad. Abbas was able to regain Azerbaijan and it’s capitol Tabriz and he was able to regain Meshed and Herat. To the South east he set the border with the Mughals in Timurid Indian at Kandahar but I note that Kandahar passed between the Persians and the Mughals 6 times.
  • The military victories of Abbas Safavi were important but would have been meaningless without his farsighted economic policy. One interesting innovation was elevating the Armenians into important roles in trade and even lending them money. By subsidizing and encouraging trade he put Persia on a sound financial footing.
  • Artistically most people call the Abbas years the pinnacle of Persian Art. I instead see it as the beginning of the decline but then I am hopelessly stuck in the evil years.
  • Abbas was able to shift the balance of power from the tribal confederation to the state. This involved a policy of dividing the major tribes and creating new tribal confederations at the same time he was building a non-tribal standing army. Out of this policy emerged the Shahsevan and the Chahar Aymaq.
  • 1622: Shah Abbas Safavi comtibuted the screens (darih) of brass and bronze and the Kashi tiles on the the dome of the Shrine Imam Husayn at Karbala.
  • Shah Abbas died in 1628 at the age of 70 in Mazanderan. His tomb is in Kashan, in the Shrine of Habib ibn-Musa.
  • Hired British mercenaries Robert and Anthony Sherley to train his army and act as Ambassadors with Europe.
  • In the 15th century, the Talish occupied the Moghan Steppe as well as the Southeast Caspian shore. Between 1590 and 1595 the Talish joined the great Afshar revolt against Shah Abbas. By 1595 Abbas crushed the revolt and broke up the Afshar. It was at this point that he forced many Afshar to Khorasan, Urumiya, and Mughan. Abbas then gathered up many clans of the rebel tribes and created the Shahsavan. Many of the Talish including the Talish of the Moghan Steppe were drawn into this new Shahsavan confederation. I believe that many of the Shahsavan of the Moghan are descended from those.

Shah Abbas rug
In 1598, Shah Abbas the Great (1588-1629) transferred the Safavid capital from Kazvin to Isphahan and established studios for painters and weavers within the Imperial palace. The Shah himself was a skilled weaver and his ateliers produced the finest carpets to his own personal specifications.