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"Biography of Shah Safi I of Persia" Topic

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1,249 hits since 17 Aug 2011
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Druzhina17 Aug 2011 1:41 a.m. PST

A new short biography of Safi I, 1610-1642, is at:
There are also a couple of articles on the Safavid army.

Qurchi Bashi17 Aug 2011 3:29 a.m. PST

I'm not sure who is the source of that biography, but it presents a fairly one-sided, biased picture of Shah Safi. Safi got a bad reputation, in part because it fit Chardin's narrative written in the late 17th century of a decline of the Safavid Empire after Shah Abbas I, and he's never been able to shake it since.

While I do not deny that many of the facts in the bio are true, they don't give the full picture. There were a lot of people executed on his ascension, however, there was a faction pushing competing claimants, so his distrust is somewhat understandable. And the purges were limited to people around the court – there was not a wider civil war such had happened during 16th century Safavid successions.

Safi was not uninvolved in the affairs of state. This is widely repeated but demonstrably false. He led the reconquest of Erivan, and had started out to lead the reconquest of Khandahar when he died (which, no surprise, interrupted that operation). While he lost Baghdad and Iraq to the Ottomans, Persia had never been able to hold that territory for very long, and in the exchange he secured a peace treaty that lasted for nearly a century. Khandahar regularly changed hands between the Safavids and the Mughals, so I would attach no significance to its loss as to his rulership abilities. And, he regularly met with ambassadors and foreign representatives.

European missionaries spoke well of him, because he was more tolerant of other religions than other members of his dynasty. During his reign lots of foreign ideas were absorbed into Persian culture in art, poetry, architecture, etc.

He was an alcoholic, and his physicians got him hooked on opium. He was not one of the better Safavid rulers. But he was more than the bio piece, which states a fairly traditional view with a clear historiographical bias, presents.

(Forgive me, but I am working on a PhD in Safavid history, and am writing a section on Safi at this very time, so I had to get that off my chest. Andrew J Newman "Safavid Iran" gives a newer interpretation of the whole dynasty, and the Cambridge History of Iran, while taking the traditional conclusion, gives lots of facts that contradict that conclusion – such as Safi leading the army at Erivan.)

Qurchi Bashi17 Aug 2011 3:31 a.m. PST

The linked site does have an article with good pictures of the Safavid army. I encourage looking at that so maybe we can get more Safavid miniatures!

PanMark17 Aug 2011 5:29 a.m. PST

I have long held an interest in the Safavid armies and have even purchased figures from Old Glory to build my armies. If you know of any other links to uniform information of tactics, I'd be most interested. Thanks.

khurasanminiatures17 Aug 2011 8:26 p.m. PST

I would have made Safavid models in 15mm if there was any interest in revising the FoGR list for the army to reflect the reforms of Abbas the Great. I posted a thread about it on the FoGR forum and there was zero interest demonstrated in it, meaning there was no response from the FoGR people. (OTOH a spirited critique of the Colonial Portuguese list drew a lot of responses and it appears there may be some revision of the list.)

Basically the army from and after Abbas I is the same as before his ascension. I quoted Farrokh's new book describing the reforms and emphasis on firearms in the slave cavalry but that didn't seem to be of any interest. This suggested to me that interest in the army was limited so I had something else made instead.

By the way, not seeing the link that shows the troops. Interrstingly I've read on several threads on tmp that gamers expect things like "four cornered hats" on the tufengchis, but ive never seen such hats in period art I've seen! (Usually it's a turban with a very tall slender point emerging from the top.)

Druzhina17 Aug 2011 8:39 p.m. PST

The other links are:
Safavid Empire 1502 – 1736; link

Safavids; link

Gush Article; link

The article list: link also has pages with soldier pics of the later period which may be useful.

I have come across some other articles but they require payment.


Druzhina17 Aug 2011 11:13 p.m. PST

Those with turban with a very tall slender [red] point may be Qazilbash. I read here link that the red cap had "twelve perforations in it signifying their allegiance to the twelve Imams".
Later tufengchis trained with European influence may have been dressed differently. Gush shows 3 varieties of felt hat; none I would call 4-cornered.
Is Farrokh's new book 'Iran at War: 1500-1988' useful to wargamers?

Would you post a link to your FoGR forum thread?


Qurchi Bashi18 Aug 2011 2:16 a.m. PST

I hadn't heard about the Farrokh book. Thanks for mentioning. I guess it's new and I have a big pile of stuff to read already.

Druzhina has it right about the Qizilbash hats. Its a pointed cap and the turban is wrapped around it. It was a symbol of the Safavid religious order and its followers.

I'd be happy for a few Khurasan brand Safavid minis. Although I realize its not a popular period and I'm not going to buy enough on my own to make it profitable.

khurasanminiatures18 Aug 2011 6:05 p.m. PST

Hi guys, here's an example of some of the images I've seen.


khurasanminiatures18 Aug 2011 7:25 p.m. PST

I've always been a little dubious of the Gush sketches in RA, knowing full well that the sketches of western troops are rather off. I suspect the same is true of the Persian troops -- those sombreros and tyrolean hats!

On the sombreros, I wonder if they are inspired by the fellows in the lower lefthand portion of this image, whose moustaches but lack of beards suggest they may be Georgians:


I think it's clear those hats are far from sombreros!

Or are the sombreros and tyrolean hats from another source? If so, what is it? I've never seen them anywhere before except in Gush.

Druzhina20 Aug 2011 4:11 p.m. PST

I came across a site with hundreds of 14th to 20thC illustrations of the Shahnameh in contemporary dress.
Here is an interesting archer in a hat:

from a late 16th century manuscript. This picture is used in the Wikipedia article 'Shahnama'.

khurasanminiatures20 Aug 2011 6:46 p.m. PST

Thanks druzhina, wonder if that's the origin of the tyrolean cap in Gush….

Druzhina21 Aug 2011 10:41 p.m. PST

A dog handler from a 1561 Shahnama illustration:


khurasanminiatures30 Aug 2011 5:31 a.m. PST

That's an interesting picture -- it looks like the kind of tall conical peakless hat that ethnic Persian infantry are shown wearing throughout the middle ages, with some sort of edging.

The slave soldiers of Abbas's new army appear to have been largely Georgians, so perhaps it makes sense to look at them for dress to determine what Abbas's Ghilman looked like?

Druzhina30 Aug 2011 11:54 p.m. PST

The full picture is on the 2nd page of illustrations from the Shahnama. The swordbearer in this wears an a different, interesting hat.


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