• Iranian-Georgian Relations XIV-XIX
Iranian-Georgian Relations in the 16th- 19th Centuries
The roots of Iranian-Georgian relations should be sought in hoary antiquity. As far back as in Achaemenid cuneiform inscriptions we find evidence on Georgian tribes that had contacts with Iran and other countries – largely through trade and caravan routes. Owing to its geopolitical situation, South Caucasia, especially the Georgian territory, lying between the Black and the Caspian Seas, was the object of confrontation between the major states of the West and the East.
The historical line of development of Georgia suffered a radical change in the 16th-17th centuries. The fall of Constantinople, as the capital of the Christian East, was followed by a total transformation of economic, political and cultural relations between the Near East and Europe. Temporarily severed from Europe, Georgia came under the influence of the Islamic East.
Early in the 16th century, both Georgia and Iran faced new state and political realities. At this time a new period began in the history of Iran: on the ruins of the Ak-Koynlu (“White Sheep”) Turkmen state arose a powerful state – that of Kizilbash Iran, headed by the safavid dynasty. The expansionist intentions of Safavid Iran in the near East came into collision with Ottoman interests. South Caucasia and Georgia became one of the main arenas of struggle between Iran and Turkey, the cited region being a major bridgehead for domination in the Caucasia.
By this time the process of disintegration of the united Georgian state into kingdoms and principalities had completed. Several independent kingdoms and principalities took shape on the territory of Georgia: the kingdom of Kartli and Kakheti in Eastern Georgia, the kingdom of Imereti and the principalities of Guria and Odishi in western Georgia, and the principality of Samtskhe-Saatabago in Southern Georgia.
Thus in the 16th-18th centuries Iran had to deal with Georgia not as a single state but with several independent kingdoms and principalities, these entities often following divergent political courses. Iran’s interests were largely directed at Eastern, and partly Southern Georgia, for Western Georgia was basically under Ottoman influence.
As a result of Div-Sultan Rumlu’s campaign in 1518 Kartli and Southern Georgia (Samtskhe-Saatabago) became vassal to the Kizilbash, while Kakheti accepted the vassalage of Iran early in the 16th century. The vassal relationship of the kings of Kartli and Kakheti and the prince of Samtskhe to Iran was expressed in the following: the Kizilbash should not interfere in thier internal affairs, while the successor kings of Kartli and Kakheti and the atabag were obliged to pay a certain ammount of tribute; also, in case of war breaking out in the neighbourhood of Georgia, they were to come out with theire troops – at the shah’s call – to the aid of the Kizilbash.
Notwithstanding such an agreement, the Georgian kings and princes sought to break loose of their vassalage. David, the king of Kartli refused to adopt Islam, did not present himself at shah Ismail’s court, and made preparations for war. Iran could not put up with David’s recolcitrance. In 1521 Shah Ismail sent out a large army aginst Kartli. Invading the capital of Georgia, Tbilissi, the Iranians garnisoned the fortress, called Nariqala.
Shah Ismail died in 1524, being suceeded to the Iranian throne by the ten-year old Tahmasp. Taking adventage of the domestic strife that followed in Iran, King David retrieved Tbilisi the same year and freed himself from vassalage to the shah.
in 1527 Luarsab I ascended the royal throne of Kartli. He is known in Georgian history as a tireless fighter for freedom. Iskander Munshi, an Iranian historian of the first half of the 17th century, noted that Luarsab was distinguished among Georgian kings for his bravery bravery and courage, refusing to show obediance and pay tribute. Some Georgian kings (of Imereti and Kakheti) chose to come to terms with Shah Tahmasp. Only Luarsab continued to fight against the Iranians. In 1540-1554 Shah Tahmasp led four campaign against Georgia, devastating the country’s eastern (Kartli and Kakheti) and southern regions (Samtskhe-Saatabago). Luarsab fell heroically in battle in 1556.
By the peace treaty concluded at Amasya on 29 May 1555, Iran and Turkey divided Transcaucasia between themselves. Western Georgia and the western part of southern Georgia fell to Turkey, while Eastern Georgia – the kingdoms of Kartli and Kakheti – and the (largest) eastern part of southern Georgia fell to Iran.
In 1556 Luarsab’s son Simon mounted the throne of Kartli. The latter continued the struggle for independece with no less courage. In 1569 Simon was taken prisoner in a batlle and sent to Qazvin. Refusing to adopt Islam, he was imprisoned in the fortress of Alamut. During Simon’s captivity Kartli was governed by his Islamised brother Daud-Khan, adopted son of the shah of Iran.
Ismail Mirza, i.e. Shah Ismail II released Simon the King of Kartli, making him an ally in the fight against Turkey.
From this time groupings of Islamized Georgians began to rise in Iran. These groupings gradually consolidated their positions and began to enjoy some influence at the Safavid court – even taking part in dynastic strife. In particular, they actively supported Heydar, one of the real successors of Shah Tahmasp. Heydar’s mother was a Georgian by birth. However, their struggle met with a reverse and Ismail mounted the throne.
In 1587 Iran’s royal throne was filled by Shah Abbas I, a versatile and clever person. In the years of his reign Iran’s domestic and foreign condition consolidated and strengthened. Shah Abbas I set the Georgian-Caucasian element, or so called “New Aristocracy” against the Kizilbash Turkish-Turkmen military-feudal aristocracy.
The feudal house of the Undiladzes enjoyed a special position in the political and military arena of Safevid Iran, the house being represented by Alaverdi-Khan, his sons Imam-Quli-Khan and Daud-Khan, and grandson Sefi-Quli-Khan.
Shah Abbas I’s guard, the so-called “Quli troops”, was largely manned by Georgians and commanded by a qular-aghasi – ordinarily a Georgian by descent. Prior to the conquest of Iran by the Afghans (1722), the qular-aghasi was member of the majlis (legislative as sembly) as well. The first qular-aghasi was the Georgian Alaverdi-Khan Undiladze, beglar-beg of Fars, a well known commander, organizer of Shah Abbas’s military reforms. Undiladze carried out major military costruction. Thus, in Isfahan, a bridge build b Undiladze has survived to the present day on the river Zayander. He died in 1614. Shah Abbas had him buried with great honours at Meshed.
Representatives of the feudal house of Undiladze were patrons of culture and art as well. Some frescoes of the Chehel-Sutun palace at Isfahan were commissioned by Alaverdi Khan.
After long preparations, in 1603 Shah Abbas began hostilities against Turkey. Russia’s interests in Transcaucasia caused no less concern of the Shah Abbas, the more so that Georgian politicians pinned greet hopes on Russian’s aid in the struggle both against Turkey and Iran. It was in Iran’s interests to repulse both Turkey and Russia. Thus, settling the “Gurjistan question” (i.e. final conquest of eastern Georgia) constituted one of the main goals of the war launched by Shah Abbas.
Shah Abbas sought to set up his loyal authority in Georgia by various stratagems and methods. One expression of this policy was the treacherous murder on 12 March 1605 by Alexandre’s son Konstantine, King of Kakheti, of his own father and brother. Having being reared at the royalcourt of Iran, Konstane proclaimed himself King of Kakheti, temporarily usurping the throne of Kakheti. In reference Konstantine the Iranian historian Iskander Munshi quoted Nizami’s folloving verse:
“A patricide cannot be a King, Even if he assumes kingship, he cannot last more than six months”.
Endeed, Konstantine was soon expelled from Georgia, and within six month of the assasination, was killed in a battle fought to regain power.
The first quarter of the 17th century proved especially dramatic in the history of Iranian-Georgian relations. King Teimuraz of Kakheti took the road of uncompromizing struggle against Iran. In response, in 1614-1617 Shah Abbas marched into Kakheti four times, devastating it. At the same time, he was relentless with Teimuraz children and mother. Refusing to adopt Islam, Teimuraz’s moter Ketevan was tortured to death. She was canonized by the Georgian church.
During these campaigns up to 200 000 residents were deported to various regions of Iran – mainly to places where attacks by incalcitrant tribes were expected, with a view to creating a “live” barrier. The province of Fereydan – the central mountainous region of Iran – is one such place where Georgians live to the present day. The Fereydan Georgians speak Georgian among themselves, preserving the memory and love of their homeland left several hundreds of years ago.
The relations with the Kingdom of Kartli also developed tragically. Here Giorgi Saakadze, a gifted commander and political figure, was in the centre of events. In 1612-1625 he was in the Shah’s service, distinguishing himself as a brilliant commander. A punitive expedition sent to Georgia by the Shah Abbas in 1625 was commanded jointly by Qarchikha-Khan and Giorgi Saakadze. Saakadze established contacts with plotters and the rebels destroyed the shah’s army by surprise attacks. The infuriated shah had Saakadze’s son, held to ransom, put to death. In a fresh battle on 1 July 1625, the Georgians were defeated. The Kizilbash too suffered great losses. The shah realized that solution of the Gurjistan question by turning Kartli and Kakheti into Kizilbash Khanates was premature; hence he took the road of compromise.
These developments were followed by a period of relative compromise in the relations between Iran and Georgia. Shah Abbas’ grandson, Shah Sefi sent Khosrau Mirza to occupy the Georgian throne. A scion of Georgian kings and reared in Iran, Khosrau Mirza had served as a commander of the Shah’s Guard (Quli Army) and as governor (tarugha) of Isfahan. He su of bsequently became King Rostom of Kartli. Thanks to his policy of foresight, Rostom succeeded in establishing peace in Kartli and he launched renovation work in the kingdom. Henceforth, Iran’s government recognized the reign of the Georgian royal dynasty of the Bagrations, on condition of the King adopting Islam, while the Islamized King of Kartli accepted vassalage of Iran and the position of Iran’s official. This status lasted for almost one hundred years.
Throughout the first half of the 17th century King Teimuraz, expelled from Kakheti, continued to fight tirelessly against the Iranians. He dreamed of a united Kingdom of Kartli and Kakheti. and of throwing off the Iranian yoke. He sought vainly to enlist Russia’s aid in his struggle. Teimuraz’s intransigence forced Iran to make some concessions.
In 1660 a great uprisig took place against Iran. In the mid 17th century the Iranian government began to settle the Turkmen tribes – the Els – in Kakheti, soon causing universal discontent in the region. After defeating the Persian garrisons, the Georgians attacked the Turkmens, expelling them from Kakheti. Of course this made the threat of Iranian retaliation near. Resistance made no sense and to avert the danger from the people the three headers of the rebellion presented themselves to the shah, dying the death of martyrs.
Early in the 18th century the Iranian empire faced a real threat of being conquered by the Afghans. At this critical moment the shah of Iran entrusted the command of the troops fighting against Afganistan to the Islamized Georgian kings. There were about 2000 Georgian troops in Afganistan. Led by Giorgi XI, the Georgians succeeded temporarily in halting the raids of Afgan tribes against Iran. In 1709 Giorgi XI was treacherously murdered by instigation of Afghan leader Mir Veis.
From the 18th century the religious factor did not seem to determine state relations, yet the Shah’s court ascribed serious meaning to the valee of Kartli professing Islam. By such policy towards Eastern Georgia, Iran clearly confronted the schemes of Russia and Turkey in this country. That is why the shah made many concessions to the valee of “Gurjistan” – adding to his titles, raising his “salary”, granting him villages in Iran, on condition that the valee remained loyal to the shah and his official religion.
From 1703, Vakhtang VI, a talented statesman, poet and scholar became the actual ruler of the kingdom of Kartli. In 1716, taking stock of the obtaining situation, he adopted Islam and the shah confirmed him as King of Kartli. However, the shah retained vakhtang in Iran, appointing him as spasalar (“commander”) of South Azerbaijan. Vakhtang VI carried out successful campaigns against the Dagestanians. However, at the decisive moment the shah ordered him to discontinue the campaign. Henceforth, Vakhtang chose a drastically pro-Russian orientation, although Russian failed to tender him the promised military aid. In 1722 Iran herself became the victim of the aggression of the Afghans. The situation was exploited by Turkey. In 1724 she occupied Kartli and started to introduce own rules here. In July of the same year Vakhtang was forced to go into exile to Russia, with a 1200 strong retinue.
In 1736 the Safavid dynasty collapsed finally, being succeeded by the Avshars. The newly elected Nader Shah’s entire reign passed in aggressive wars.
Long experience convinced Iran in the advantage of preserving long-term dominance in Kakheti and Kartli through a Christian ruler obedient to the shah than by means of Islamized Khans who enjoyed less confidence among the broad strata of society. In 1744 Nader Shah appointed Teimuraz as King of Kartli, and the letter’s son Erekle as king of Kakheti. Earlier Erekle had taken part, with Nader Shah, in a campaign against India.
In the period under discussion the feudal aristocracy of Dagestan waged continuous warfare against Georgia, devastating the country and appropriating here wealth. Nader’s campaign in Dagestan objectively served the interests of Kartli and Kakheti.
Erekle II, the successor of Teimuraz II, was well aware that the three major powers – Iran, Turkey and Russia – vied for supremacy in Transcaucasia. Georgia must of necessity make a choice between these states. By throwing Georgia’s lot in with Russia, Erekle hoped Georgia’s Europian development would be ensured. On 24 July 1783 a treaty was signed at the fortress of Georgievsk. According to the treaty, Erekle recognized Russia’s protection, while Russia committed herself to protecting Erekle and his successors.
Naturally enough, such a drastic turn of the Kingdom of Kartli and Kakheti towards Russia irritated Turkey and Iran. The new shah of Iran, Aga-Muhammad Khan Qajar began to prepare a major punitive expedition against the Kingdom of Kartli and Kakheti. The attempt of Erekle’s government to receive military aid from Russia failed. On 11 September 1795 the army of Aga-Muhammad Khan took Tbilisi, devastating it.
Following these developments the history of relations between Iran and Georgia as between independent states caused for a long period. The Manifesto of 12 September 1801 sealed the abolition of the kingdom of Kartli and Kakheti, the latter being turned into a gubernia of the Russian empire. This was soon followed by the Russian conquest of Estern Transcaucasia, which alarmed Iran greatly. Russia now threatened the northern provinces of Iran. The confrontation of Russia and Iran in the Caucasus was soon followed by the First Iranian-Russian War (1804-1813).
In the war against Russia Iran sought to rally the Caucasian peoples to support her. Part of Georgian aristocracy entered Russian service, while part took the road of pro-Iranian orientation. The leader of pro-Iranian opposition, Prince Aleksandre, son of Erekle, fled to Iran and was appointed by the shah as valee of Georgia. Aleksandre hoped to restore kingship in Georgia with the aid a Persian army. Pathali Shah gave all-out support to Georgians of anti-Russian orientation, rewarding them generously.
Upon the end of the Russo-Iranian wars (1805-1813 and 1826-1828), Iran recognized Russian domination over the Azerbaijanian Khanates and the Caspian sea. Now Russia found it much easier to consolidate her rule in Georgia.
Trade and Economic Relations
Georgia’s trade and economic contacts with the Iranian world were rooted in the ancient past. A trade and caravan route crossed the territory of Georgia by which raw silk, quality wine inferior to its Shiraz counterpart, fruits, Kakhetian walnuts (annually 4000 camel-loads of Kakhetian walnuts were exported to Safavid Iran), various vegetables and madder were exported to Iran. Furs were also exported to Iran and Turkey from Tbilisi. Kakhetian horses, known under the name of “gurji” were exported from Georgia to Iran.
Much greater was the variety of commodities imported in Georgia from Iran. Georgian documentary sources supply abundant evidence on this. Georgian “Dowry Books” very often refer to clothes make from fabrics manufactured in Iran, e.g. daraia, of Yezd, wool of Kerman, daraya of Gilan, wool of Rizaiyh, sheidish of Yezd and of Khar. Frequently mentioned among valuable fabrics are zarbab, darayabavt and diba. Georgian feudal aristocracy largely used foreign (in particular Iranian, in Eastern Georgia) costly fabrics for garments.
In the 17th –18th centuries precious stones were also imported in Georgia from Iran. “Dowry Books” make frequent mention of Nishapur turquoise, Badakhshan ruby, jacinth, pearls, emerald.
Owing to her geographical situation, Georgia found herself at the centre of influence of the West and East. Being at the crossroads of these two worlds, Georgia gave the an inimitable example of synthesis of Greco-Byzantine and Eastern Cultures.
Georgian-Persian cultural contacts boast a long deep-rooted history. Georgian culture assimilated and reflected in a peculiar way the achievements of her neighbouring Iran’s literary life and spiritual achievements. These influences left a significant imprint on all spheres of the cultural life of the Georgian nation – literary, linguistic, artistic and a scholarly.
Whereas part of the Georgians defended their homeland from foreign invaders, another part translated with great interest and love, brilliant specimens of Persian literature. This is a paradox, yet a fact, that while in political life Georgian had to fight against Iran and other Muslim states, poetry and art served the spiritual unity of the Georgians and Persians, sowing love among them in place of hatred.
We find traces of Iranian myths and legends from ancient times in Georgian traditions. In Leonti Mroveli’s (11 century georgian historian) chronicles and other narrative sources we find references to the names to the legendary heroes of Iranian traditions, current in pre-Christian Georgia (4th century): Ardashir, and others. The Georgians were familiar with Pahlavi literature too (“Iadgare Zarenan” and “Spandadat Namak”). The evidence of archeological excavations and literary sources attest to the spread of Manichaeism and Zoroastrianizm in pre-Cristian Georgia.
Following the spread of Christianity in Georgia and the conquest of Iran by the Arabs, the cultural contacts between the two countries ceased temporarily. Contacts became particularly intensive from the 11th century. This was the period of the flourishing of New Persian Persian literature in Iran, while Georgian secular literature gained ground in Georgia.
It was at this time that Fakhr ed din Gorgani’s “Vis o Ramin” a brilliant monument of classical Persian literature, was translated into Georgian. Following the original with great precision, the translation is of high artistic value, being a fine example of Georgian literature.
The dynamic development of Georgian culture appreciably slowed down due to the invasion of Mongol hordes, the continual inroads of Timur-Lenk and the ascendancy of the Ottoman Turks.
In the view of literary theorists, these vicissitudes must have been responsible for the loss of translations of masterpieces of Iranian poetry and literature, e.g. Firdowsis’s “Shah-Nameh”, “Kilila and Damana”, and other works that must have been translated into Georgian as far back as the 12th century.
The revival of Georgian poetry began in the 15th century. The revival of Georgian secular in the 16th-17th centuries was the second stage of no less importance in the history of Persian-Georgian literary contacts.
Georgian interest in the “Shah-Nameh” grew particularly in the period of the “Revival” (!6th-17th cent.). Both poetic and prose versions of the “Shah-Nameh” were translated and adapted in Georgian; the “Shah-Nameh” in the version of an adaptor or translator, must have been at the centre of these versions, Rostom’s image figuring permanently. The great popularity of Firdowsi’s poem is attested by the entry of his characters into Georgian folklore. In parallel to the “Shah-Nameh” the works of the continuators or imitators of the “Book of Kings” were also translated into Georgian: the “Shah-Nameh”, “Saam-Nameh”, etc. The interest of Georgians in Firdowsi’s work was so great that in the worlds of Seid Nafisi “It may be said without exaggeration that Firdowsi’s work is one of the most wellknown books in Georgia. The Georgian translation of the “Shah-Nameh” have been issued in three volumes.
The genre variety of Persian poetry of the Timurid and Safevid periods was reflected in Georgian translations and adaptations of the period of the “Revival”. Among Georgian poets of this period a distinctive place is assigned to the works of the King-poet Teimuraz I (1606-1648), the author of poems of mystic character: “Vardbubuliani” (“The Rose and Nightingale”) and “Shami-Parvanaiani” (“Candle and Ash”). In these works the Georgian poet echoed the motifs of Persian Sufic poetry. Teimuraz I translated into Georgian the “Leil-Majnuniani” (“Leyle wa Majnun”) and “Ioseb-Zilikhaniani” (“Yusef wa Zulekha”), widely known in the entire oriental literature.
Persian poetry the Safevid period – rich in terms of genre – must have given Teimuraz an impetus from the point of view of creating new forms of Georgian verse (munazare, majama, marsia, etc.).
Along with works of heroic character, romantic-didactic poetry was also translated into Georgian in the same period. Whereas the heroic epic met the demands of the period, helping to revive the heroic spirit of the Georgian people and adding them strength in the unequal struggle. The special interest in works written on the love theme was due to the continuation of the line established in the classical period. However, in the period under discussion, Georgians writer and translators evinced interest not only in works of the romantic genre. Neither did they overlook writings o didactic-moral characters, as exemplified by the works of Vakhtang VI. Georgian learned men began to translate works of this genre on Vakthang’s initiative and with his participation.
“Kilila wa Dimna” – a well known monument of world literature – enjoyed special popularity in the East. At the turn of 16th-17th centuries three versions of the work were composed in Georgian. One belongs to Vakhtang VI, while the most widespread (canonical) version to Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani, a renowned Georgian political figure, writer and lexicographer. Besides “Kilila and Dimna”, Vackhtang translated “Qabus-Nameh”, a Persian work of moral character, entitling it “Amirnasariani”.
Vakhtang VI’s role in the development of Georgian science should be noted specially. With his original works or those translated from the Persian, Vakhtang greatly facilitated the development of astronomy, geography, chemistry and medicine in this country. During his residence in Iran, Vakhtang VI translated the “Ziji” – “Catalogue of the Stars”, written by Ulug-beg, a well-known 15th century scientist and scholar. The cited work is considered the best catalogue prior to Tucho Brahe (16th cent.). This translation, being a brilliant example of compiling a Georgian scientific book, has survived in a fine Georgian manuscript.
Vakhtang’s translation of Nasireddin Tusi’s “Astrolab Manual” is an example of collection work of the king-scientist and his collaborators. Vakhtang himself made this instrument for determining the position of celestial bodies, which is now preserved in the state Museum of Georgia. The “Hidaat al Nujum” and “Tala Masala”, translated into Georgian by Vakhtang, largely constitute astrological interpretation of the motion of the heavenly bodies.
Special mention should made of “Ayat”, printed by Vakhtang at his own printing-press in 1712, a work dealing with questions of astrology and observational astronomy. The work was translated from the Persian-language “Sudation al-Hayat”(“Choice Ayat”).
Vakhtang compiled his well-known “Chemistry” while residing in Iran. The work reflects the period following alchemy. The author introduced several paragraphs from the work “Treasury of Mysteries” by the well known Iranian alchemist ar-Razzi (866-925).
Literary activity towards rendering Persian works into Georgian continued later too. A prose version of Khosrau Dehlevi’s “Khosrau and Shirin”, translated by an anonymous author has survived. In the same period Teimuraz II translated the “Sindband-Name” – the Georgian “Timsariani”, the “Baramgulandamiani” (18th cent.).
The Georgian translations can be of great service from the viewpoint of the textual and editorial study of the Persian originals. This especially refers to texts surviving in the form of later manuscripts that had suffered considerable changes. Interpolations, supplements, inserts, etc. appeared in them over the centuries. The evidence of the Georgian translations – which especially refers to the Georgian versions of the “Shah-Nameh” and the Georgian “Visramiani” – are significant in the establishment of the Persian critical text.
Works translated from the Persian into Georgian in the 16th-17th centuries are richly illustrated, forming two differing groups created under the direct influence of Iranian miniature art. In the miniatures of the first group we find a high technique of miniature art, total dependence on the traditional schemes of Persian specimens, striving of professional masters to continue – on Georgian soil – the artistic tradition of illumination of first-class Iranian manuscripts, stemming from Behzadi’s work. Two 17th century manuscripts of Shota Rustaveli’s “The Knight in the Tiger’s Skin” a masterpiece of Georgian literature created in the 12th century, belong to this group of manuscripts.
The second group of miniatures also evinces an obvious influence of Persian art, though these miniatures already reflect the national trend of Georgian artistic thought and some specific features. Miniatures of this order adorn the Georgian versions of the “Iosebzilikhaniani”, “Rostomiani” and “Visramiani”, and the miniatures of “The Knight in the Tiger’s Skin”, preserved in the Bodleian Library. The Persian tradition of treating secular themes continued in the period subsequent to the 16th-17th centuries. However in the 18th century it took place in parallel to the Western orientation.
The rise of Iran in the Safevid period was attended by export to Georgia of objects of art and of the principal elements of artistic work – forms and norms. The dominant state of society fully accepted the Iranian artistic taste that had become a fashion. Representation of the nobility sought to imitate the Persians in the way of life, names, apartments, architecture, etc. The influence of Iranian culture is quite obvious on Kakhetian (Eastern Georgia) goldsmithing of this period. These specimens are generally referred to as items of “Iranian orientation”. Chased items of this type make use of various ornamented motifs or elements and decor that are of doubtless Iranian provenance.
Islamic-oriental influence is seen on monuments of Georgian architecture as well, especially in civil construction. The Tbilisi baths constitute structures of such practical design, introduced from the East back in the 13th century with unaltered architecture. In palace architecture Iranian features became established in the 16th-17th centuries.
Persian and Persian-Georgian Historical Documents
Iranian-Georgian relations of the 16th-19th centuries found reflection in historical sources of the period: Persian and Persian-Georgian documents.
The collection of Persian documents preserved in the K. Kekelidze Institute of Manuscripts of the Georgian Academy of Sciences is based on the documents accumulated in the depositories of the Georgian Historical-ethnographical Society in the pre-revolutionary period (1917), largely purchased from private persons in Georgian families.
The collection is made up of 511 Persian documents: firmans, hocms, deeds of purchase, arzas (petitions), with endorsements of the shah or Georgian king. Documents on trade deals, notes, trade and tax receipts, etc.
Persian documents deal with Georgia as well as other regions of the Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Dagestan). They contain much noteworthy evidence on the political, economic and social life of Georgia and her neighbouring countries in the 16th-19th centuries. They were issued in the name of Georgian feudal lords, catholicos, Armenian meliks, rulers of Dagestan and others. The Russian-Iranian confrontation in the Caucasus and Georgia’s role in the policy of these two countries are reflected in 19th centuries documents.
Georgian-Persian bilingual documents essentially rank among unique developments in the history of general diplomatics. The existence of bilingual documents is accounted for by the fact that by establishing formal control over Georgian agrarian relations Iran was actually paving the way for the dominance of oriental land ownership in Georgia, which should ultimately ensure its incorporation in the Iranian empire.
Bilingual documents expressed the formal dependence of the Georgian king on Iran’s government. The earliest bilingual document is precisely of the time of our interest, dated to 15 October 1580.
1. T. Abuladze, The translation activity of Vakhtang VI, Tbilisi, 1990 (in Georgian).
2. V. Gabashvili, The Undiladze feudal house in 16th-17th cent. Iran, Makhlobeli agmosavleti istoriis sakitkhebi (MAIS) (“Questions of the History of the Near East”), II, Tbilisi, 1972, pp. 93-103 (in Georgian).
3. D. Katsitadze, Georgian documentary sources of the 17th-18th centuries on Iranian-Georgian trade and economic relations, MAIS, II, Tbilisi, 1972, pp. 131-145 in Georgian).
4. D. Katsitadze, A. Gvakharia, Georgian-Iranian Cultural and Historical Contacts, Tbilisi, 1978 (in Russian).
5. D. Katsitadze, 19th century Persian Documents on Georgian-Iranian Political Relations, Kartuli Diplomatia (KD) (“Georgian Diplomacy”), Tbilisi, 1999, N6, pp. 93-100 (in Georgian).
6. D. Katsitadze, 18th century Persian Documents on Iranian-Georgian Political Relations, KD, Tbilisi, 2001, N8, pp. 157-173 (in Georgian).
7. D. Katsitadze, A History of Iran, Tbilisi, 2001 (in Georgian).
8. K. Kutsia, The Georgian Tarughas of Isfahan, MAIS, II, Tbilisi, 1972, pp. 93-103 in Georgian).
9. M. Mamatsashvili, The Persian Sources of Teimuraz I’s Leilmajnuniani, Tbilisi, 1967 (in Georgian).
10. T. Natroshvili, From Mashriq to Magreeb, Tbilisi, 1991 (in Georgian).
11. Esseys on Georgian History, IV, Tbilisi, 1973 (in Georgian).
12. Khuskivadze, Islam and Georgian art, Literatura da Khelovneba (“Literature and Art”), Tbilisi, 2001 (in Georgian).