Written by Dr. Majid Tehranian
I was born into a family with a dual social background. My
mother's side of the family belongs the Qajar dynasty that ruled Iran from 1796
to 1925, while my father's side originates from a Georgian princely family.
From my mother's side, the Farmanfarmaii Family traced their
lineage to Prince Abbas Mirza, Fathali Shah's valiant crown prince who died
an untimely death in 1833. When in the 1930s, Iran required all its citizens
to acquire a surname, the family assumed the name of Farmanfarmaii in honor
of one of their 19th century ancestors who bore the title.
My grandfather, Prince Mohammad Ali Mirza Borhan ul-Mulk was
a Director General of Finance who passed away in 1965. My grandmother, Princess
Gallinulmuluk Khosravani, also a Qajar, passed away in 1960. I remember them
both vividly as kind and generous grandparents.
Borhan ul-Mulk had a handsome Qajar look, much like that of
Nasser ed-Din Shah's. He also had a literary flair and an excellent sense of
humor. Princess Gallin was equally well-educated with strong liberal nationalist
feelings. She supported Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq, the democratically-elected Iranian
Prime Minister of Qajar lineage who was overthrown by the CIA in 1953.
My mother, Iran ul-muluk Farmanfarmaii, was known in the family
for her exquisite beauty and great integrity. Here is a poem that I wrote for
her when she passed away in 1993:
- despite her tattered pride.
- despite her rough roads.
- despite her pounding pains.
- I remember
- her formidable faith
- in that angelic
- the Koranic verses
- awakening us
- to a new day.
- She was
- a true princess,
- in lineage
- in deed.
- I hear her now
- to her children.
- My father's side of the family trace their origins to two
Georgian princes, Afrasiab Khan and Esfandiar Khan, who took refuge to the
Qajar court in Tehran when their country was conquered by Russia in the early
- Esfandiar assumed the role of the Cashier at the Court,
hence his descendants assumed the title of Naghdi, of whom General Naghdi
became the most well-known.
- Afrasiab migrated to Mashhad where he engaged in scholarship
and commerce. His descendants came to be known Tehranian, because they were
assumed to have migrated from Tehran. They actively participated in the Constitutional
Revolution of 1906-09, as journalists, publicists, and business leaders.
- A member of the family, cousin to my father, became known
as the poet-laureate of Iran, Malek ol-Shoara Bahar.
- Malek ol-Shoara Bahar was subsequently elected to the Majlis
and was part of the opposition to the rise of the Pahlavi dictatorship. He
suffered imprisonment but was later released. In the
immediate postwar period, he assumed the position of Minister of Education
under Prime Minister Qavam ul-Saltaneh .
- Other prominent members of the family included Mohammad
Sadeq Tehranian, my uncle and founder of the Khorasan daily newspaper, and
Mehdi Tehranian (later Bahar), prominent medical doctor and author who went
into exile at the wake of the Islamic revolution of 1979.
- Abdol-Hossein Tehranian, my father, was a prominent businessman
who founded the Khorasan Almanac and two printing houses in Mashad and Tehran.
- My extended family thus includes the Tehranians, the Bahars
(many of whom also married Qajar princesses), the Farmanfarmaiis, and the
- My mother's family were the first to choose the surname
FARMANFARMAII. The Farmanfarmaiian family had to resort to the plural.
to Qajar (Kadjar) Families Page