Arts of the Book: Manuscripts, Folios, Bindings
Royal Order Of Fath 'Ali Shah
Qajar, dated Muharram 1224 H/March 1809 CE
Materials and technique
Ink, opaque watercolour and gold on paper
61.2 x 47.4 cm
This official document (firman) written in shikasteh, the primary chancery script of the Qajars, declares that Fath 'Ali Shah (r. 1798-1834 CE) honours Sir Hartford Jones, the British envoy to Iran in 1809-11 CE, with an order which is depicted at the right. The British had simultaneously sent Sir Harford Jones from London and Brigadier-General John Malcolm from India to repair relations with the Qajars after the latter had concluded a treaty with the French in 1807 CE upon receiving no assistance from the British to repel the Russians in the Caucasus. This royal letter, dated Muharram 1224 H/March 1809 CE, was likely prepared for Sir Harford Jones’s arrival. The order combines a British-style lion and dragon rampant with the Qajar lion couchant and sun, with the Qajar Kaianian crown (taj-i kaiyani) above. Royal orders were a coveted honour and Jones was evidently so pleased with his order that after he returned to Britain he had it incorporated into his coat of arms, even including the Persian legend under the crest, ‘az shafaqat khusravani’ (By royal favour) (for an illustration, see Wright 1977, pp. 60-61).
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