Shah (/ʃɑː/; Persian: شاه, translit. Šāh, pronounced
[ʃɒːh], "king") is a title given to the emperors, kings, princes
and lords of
Iran (historically also known as Persia). It was also
adopted by the kings of
Shirvan (a historical Iranian region in
Transcaucasia) namely the Shirvanshahs, the rulers and offspring of
Ottoman Empire (in that context spelled as Şah and Şeh), Mughal
emperors of the Indian Subcontinent, the Bengal Sultanate, as well
as in Afghanistan. In
Iran (Persia and Greater Persia) the title was
continuously used; rather than
King in the European sense, each
Persian ruler regarded himself as the Šāhanšāh (
King of Kings) or
Emperor of the Persian Empire.
The word descends from
Old Persian xšāyaθiya "king", which (for
reasons of historical phonology) must be a borrowing from Median,
and is derived from the same root as
Avestan xšaϑra-, "power" and
"command", corresponding to
Sanskrit (Old Indic) kṣatra- (same
meaning), from which kṣatriya-, "warrior", is derived. The full, Old
Persian title of the Achaemenid rulers of the First Persian Empire was
Xšāyathiya Xšāyathiyānām or Šāhe Šāhān, "
King of Kings"
2 Ruler styles
4 Other styles
5 Related terms
7 External links
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shahanshah of
Iran from 1941 to 1979, was the
last ruler to hold the title of shah.
Šāh, or Šāhanšāh (
King of Kings) to use the full-length term,
was the title of the Persian emperors. It includes rulers of the first
Persian Empire, the Achaemenid dynasty, who unified Persia in the
sixth century BC, and created a vast intercontinental empire, as well
as rulers of succeeding dynasties throughout history until the
twentieth century and the Imperial House of Pahlavi.
While the Ottoman Sultans never styled themselves as Shah, but rather
Sultan, their male offspring received the title of Şehzade, or prince
(literally, "offspring of the Shah", from Persian shahzadeh).
The full title of the Achaemenid rulers was Xšāyaθiya
Xšāyaθiyānām, literally "
King of Kings" in Old Persian,
Middle Persian Šāhān Šāh, and Modern Persian
شاهنشاه (Šāhanšāh). In Greek, this phrase was
translated as βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλέων (basileus
tōn basiléōn), "
King of Kings", equivalent to "Emperor". Both terms
were often shortened to their roots shah and basileus.
In Western languages,
Shah is often used as an imprecise rendering of
Šāhanšāh. The term was first recorded in English in 1564 as a
title for the
King of Persia and with the spelling Shaw. For a long
time, Europeans thought of
Shah as a particular royal title rather
than an imperial one, although the monarchs of Persia regarded
themselves as emperors of the Persian Empire (later the Empire of
Iran). The European opinion changed in the Napoleonic era, when Persia
was an ally of the Western powers eager to make the Ottoman Sultan
release his hold on various (mainly Christian) European parts of the
Ottoman Empire, and western (Christian) emperors had obtained the
Ottoman acknowledgement that their western imperial styles were to be
rendered in Turkish as padishah.
In the twentieth century, the
Shah of Persia, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi,
officially adopted the title شاهنشاه Šāhanšāh and, in
western languages, the rendering Emperor. He also styled his wife
شهبانو Shahbānu ("Empress").
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was the last
Shah, as the Iranian monarchy was abolished after the 1979 Iranian
From the reign of Ashot III (952/53–77), the Bagratid kings of
Armenia used the title shahanshah, meaning "king of kings".
The title padishah (Great King) was adopted from the Iranians by the
Ottomans and by various other monarchs claiming imperial rank, such as
Mughals that established their dynasty in the Indian subcontinent.
Another subsidiary style of the Ottoman and Mughal rulers was
Shah-i-Alam Panah, meaning "King, refuge of the world".
Shah-Armens ("Kings of Armenia", sometimes known as Ahlahshahs),
used the title Shāh-i Arman (lit. "
Shah of Armenia").
Some monarchs were known by a contraction of the kingdom's name with
shah, such as Khwarezmshah, ruler of the short-lived Muslim realm of
Khwarezmia, or the
Shirvanshah of the historical Iranian region of
Shirvan (present-day Republic of Azerbaijan)
The kings of Georgia called themselves shahanshah alongside their
other titles. Georgian title mepetmepe (also meaning
King of Kings [Mepe-king in Georgian]) was also inspired by the
Shahzadeh (Persian شاهزاده Šāhzādeh). In the realm of a shah
(or a more lofty derived ruler style), a prince or princess of the
blood was logically called shahzada as the term is derived from shah
using the Persian patronymic suffix -zādeh or -zāda, "born from" or
"descendant of". However the precise full styles can differ in the
court traditions of each shah's kingdom. This title was given to the
princes of the
Ottoman Empire (Şehzade, Ottoman Turkish:
شهزاده) and was used by the princes of Islamic India (Shahzāda,
Urdu: شہزاده) such as in the Mughal Empire. It is to be noted,
however, that the
Mughals and the Sultans of Delhi were not of Indian
origin but of Mongol-Turkic origin and were heavily influenced by
Persian culture, a continuation of traditions and habits
Persian language was first introduced into the region by
Persianised Turkic and Afghan dynasties centuries earlier.
Thus, in Oudh, only sons of the sovereign shah bahadur (see above)
were by birth-right styled "Shahzada [personal title]
name] Bahadur", though this style could also be extended to individual
grandsons and even further relatives. Other male descendants of the
sovereign in the male line were merely styled "
Mirza [personal name]"
or "[personal name] Mirza". This could even apply to non-Muslim
dynasties. For example, the younger sons of the ruling
of Punjab were styled "Shahzada [personal name] Singh Bahadur".
The corruption shahajada, "Shah's son", taken from the Mughal title
Shahzada, is the usual princely title borne by the grandsons and male
descendants of a Nepalese sovereign, in the male line of the Shah
For the heir to a "Persian-style" shah's royal throne, more specific
titles were used, containing the key element Vali Ahad, usually in
addition to shahzada, where his junior siblings enjoyed this
Shahbanu (Persian شهبانو, Šahbānū): Persian term using the
word shah and the Persian suffix -banu ("lady"): Empress, in modern
times, the official title of Empress Farah Pahlavi.
Shahmam (Persian شهمام, "Šahmām") : Empress mother.
Shahdokht (Persian شاهدخت Šāhdoxt) is also another term
derived from shah using the Persian patronymic suffix -dokht
"daughter, female descendant", to address the
Princess of the imperial
Shahpur (Persian شاهپور Šāhpu:r) also been derived from shah
using the archaic Persian suffix -pur "son, male descendant", to
address the Prince.
Şehzade (Ottoman Turkish), (شاهزاده): Ottoman Turkish
termination for prince (lit; offspring of the Shah) derived from
malik al-muluk "king of kings", an Arabic title used by the Iranian
Buyids, a Persianized form of the Abbasid amir al-umara
Satrap, the term in Western languages for a governor of a Persian
province, is a distortion of xšaθrapāvan, literally "guardian of
the realm", which derives from the word xšaθra, an
Old Persian word
meaning "realm, province" and related etymologically to shah.
Maq'ad-i-Shah, (Persian مقعد شاه Maq'ad-i-Shah), the phrase
from which the name of
Mogadishu is believed to be derived, which
means "seat of the Shah", a reflection of the city's early Persian
The English word "check", in all senses, is in fact derived from
"shah" (from Persian via Arabic, Latin and French). Related terms such
as "checker" and "chess" and "exchequer" likewise originate from the
Persian word, their modern senses having developed from the original
meaning of the king piece.
^ Hasan, Perween (2007). Sultans and Mosques: The Early Muslim
Architecture of Bangladesh.
^ An introduction to
Old Persian (p. 149). Prods Oktor Skjærvø.
Harvard University. 2003.
^ Old Persian. Appendices, Glossaries, Indices & Transcriptions.
Prods Oktor Skjærvø. Harvard University. 2003.
^ D. N. MacKenzie. A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary. Routledge
Curzon, 2005. ISBN 0-19-713559-5
^ M. Mo’in. An Intermediate Persian Dictionary. Six Volumes.
Amir Kabir Publications, Teheran, 1992.
^ Tim Greenwood, Emergence of the Bagratuni Kingdoms, p. 52, in
Armenian Kars and Ani, Richard Hovannisian, ed.
^ Clifford Edmund Bosworth "The New Islamic Dynasties: A Chronological
and Genealogical Manual". "The Shāh-i Armanids", p. 197.
^ Richards, John F. (1995), The Mughal Empire, Cambridge University
Press, p. 6, ISBN 978-0-521-56603-2
^ Schimmel, Annemarie (2004), The Empire of the Great Mughals:
History, Art and Culture, Reaktion Books, p. 22,
^ Balabanlilar, Lisa (15 January 2012), Imperial Identity in Mughal
Empire: Memory and Dynastic Politics in Early Modern Central Asia,
I.B.Tauris, p. 2, ISBN 978-1-84885-726-1
^ Sigfried J. de Laet. History of Humanity: From the seventh to the
sixteenth century UNESCO, 1994. ISBN 9231028138 p 734
^ "South Asian Sufis: Devotion, Deviation, and Destiny". Retrieved 2
^ Shahzada son of shah, Newsvine.com
^ David D. Laitin, Said S. Samatar, Somalia: Nation in Search of a
State, (Westview Press: 1987), p. 12.
Look up shah in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Shah at surnamedb.com
WorldStatesmen – here Iran; see each present country