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Qajar dynasty  

Pahlavi Dynasty  


Islamic Republic Iran

The Royal Achievement




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Qajar dynasty



Agha Muhammad



Presentation coins of Aga Muhammad

Iran, Teheran and Isfahan, 1795-7

Emblem of the Lion and the Sun on a coin dated to Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar

The inscription on the bottom reads “Ya Ali” or  “hail Imam Ali”.

(Courtesy of Khorasani, 2006, pp.327).



a. 20 tuman coin dated ah 1210 (1795AD), Tehran, with the image of the Lion and Sun; Æ 37 mm.


Emblem of the Lion and the Sun on a coin dated to Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar (Courtesy of Khorasani, 2006, pp.327). The inscription on the bottom reads “Ya Ali” or  “hail Imam Ali”.


b. 20 tuman coin, dated ah 1211, Tehran; Æ 30 mm

c. 10 tuman coin, dated ah 1211, Tehran, same obverse and reverse as b. but struck with different dies and on a planchet half as thick; Æ 31 mm.


d. 20 tuman coin, dated ah 1210 (1795AD), Tehran with the image of a peacock, same reverse as a, but different die; Æ 37 mm.


e. 10 tuman coin, dated ah 1210, Isfahan, Æ 26 mm

f. 50 tuman rectangular coin, dated ah 1210, Tehran; 55 x 60 mm.


Heberden Coin Room, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; bequeathed by Sir Bernhard Eckstein in 1948.


The issues of ah 1210 (ad 1795-6) were probably made to celebrate the official enthronement of Aga Muhammad Khan, whereas those of AH 1211 AD 1796-7) were intended to mark the first anniversary of his reign.


Fath ‘Ali




Dish with the Royal Iranian Emblem of the Lion and the Sun.


Signed by Muhammad Jàfar.

Tehran, dated a.h. 1233/ a.d. 1817-18. Enameled gold; Æ 32.1 cm; weight 2241,1 g. Lent by the Board of Trustees of the Victoria and Albert museum, London. M.97-1949


This dish was presented by the Persian ambassador Mirza Abu ‘l Hasan to the East India Company on his second mission to England in 1828.


Provenance: East India Company;  India Office Library, transferred in 1879.

Inscriptions: In nasta’liq script, in central medaillon: raqam-i Muhammad Jàfar 1233. In nasta’liq script, within cartouches around the central medallion, reading counterclockwise from upper left: shahanshah mamalik-i ‘illieh-i Iran, bih cumpani-yi mashriq, ‘inayat-i alahazrat, qadr-i qudrat, Jamshid-hishmat sulayman rutbat. Engraved on the base of the dish: A token of Favor from his Majesty Fatah Ali Shah King of Persia to the East India Company presented to the Court of Directors Assembled Campbell Marjoribakns Esqr Chairman and George Abercombie Robinson Esqr Deputy Chaiman by His Majesty’s Ambafsador His Exellency Mirza Abul Hasan Khan, on Friday the 18th of June 1819.

Engraved on the underside of the dish: Muhammad Jaffar fecit a.h. 1233 a.d. 1817 Wt 6lb 2dwt Troy.


His seal: Borgomale Pl. 4, n  1.


Borgomale, H. L. Rabino di:

Coins, medals, and seals of the Shahs of Iran, 1500-1941 first edition.



Persian Banner 1800-‘40

Coll Victoria & Albert Museum


Place of origin: Iran (made)

Date: 1800-1840 (made)

Materials and Techniques: silk thread, metal thread, weaving, sewing

Museum number: 2318-1876

Gallery location: In Storage

Marks and inscriptions:

Nasr min Allah wa fath qarib

Inna fatahna laka fathan mubinan

Huwa Allah ta'ala subhanahu

Huwa'l-a'la al-wali

Huwa'l-fattah al-`alim

Qur'an 61:13: Help from God and speedy victory

Qur'an 48:01: Verily, we have granted you a signal victory

He is God Most High, may He be praised!

He is the Most High, the Friend

He is the Opener [of gates/sustenance], the All-Knowing

Qur'an 68:51-52 And the Unbelievers would almost trip thee up with their eyes when they hear the Message; and they say: “Surely he is possessed!” But it is nothing less than a Message to all the worlds.

Ya qahir al-`aduw

Ya vali al-vali

Ya mazhar al-`aja'ib

Ya murtaza Ali

O conqueror of enemies!

O prince of saints!

O manifesting-place of miracles!

O Ali the Chosen!


Length: 263 cm maximum, Width: 203 cm maximum

Object history note

Purchased for £40 from Robert Murdoch Smith [formerly Richard Collection]

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Baker, Patricia, L.: Islamic Textiles, London: British Museum Press, 1995. 192p., ill. ISBN 0-7141-2522-9. Fig p. 137

The Arts of Islam, Catalogue of the exhibition held at the Hayward Gallery, 8 April - 4 July, 1976, The Arts Council of Great Britain, 1976. 396p., ill. ISBN 0 7287 0081 6 paper bound, 07287 0080 8 cloth bound. Catalogue entry 91, p.113


Order of the Lion and Sun

 Collar and jewels of the Order of the Lion and the Sun  (Fath ali Shah, 1808).


Signed by Muhammad Ja’far. Iran, dated a.h. 1242 / a.d. 1828. Enameled gold set with precious stones; plaque: 8 x 9 cm; collar 35.6 x 25.4 cm; star 15.2 x 12.5 cm. nasser d. khalili collection of islamic art, jly 1631.

Inscriptions: In naskh script, on medallion below lion: Muhammad Ja’far sanah 1242.


This example of the First Class of the Order of the Lion and Sun was presented to Sir John Kinneir Macdonald in 1828 in recognition of his efforts in reducing the indemnity to be paid to Russia under the Treaty of Turkmanchai.

This insignia of the order comprises not only the star, but a semicircular plaque and collar. Such elaborate verrsions of the order were offered to only a select few.

Many variations of the order were commissioned throughout the Qajar period. One of the more interesting was the version ordered by Prince Muhammad ‘Ali Dawlatshah, the governor of Kermanshah, for foreign officers in his employ. According to George Keppel, the order’s image depicted two lions on either side of a crown, representing the rival princes Muhammad ‘Ali Mirza and Crown Prince ‘Abbas Mirza.


Lit.: Wright, Denis: The Order of the Lion and Sun. Iran 19 (1981).


Order of the Lion and Sun

Europe, possibly France, third quarter of the 19th century.


Enameled medallion encircled by three band set with brilliants, within a stellar design of pointed rays and interstitial stars, set with brilliants, surmounted by a crown with a florid aigrette, 11,5 cm diameter. hashem khosrovani qajar collection.


Nasir al-Din Shah in 1860 instituted three higher grades of the Order of the Lion and Sun. These now ranked between the old grades and the Imperial Effigy. This is an example of the highest of the three, the type known as Aqdas (‘Most Sacred’). It was intended for monarchs, and, when worn with a blue sash, was reserved for the Shah alone. The order was also given to princes and prime ministers, who were, however, only permitted to wear it with a green sash with blue edges.


Lit.: Mulder, C.P.: Persian Orders 1808-1925. The orders of the Quajar Dynasty. Copenhagen, 1990.


Flag: Blue, yellow, green, blue etc.


His flag in Ackermann p. 2782.


Battle of Sultanabad, 1812 (Detail)

State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg


Abbas Mirza, crown prince †1833

This painting once decorated the Abbas Mirza's palace. Depicted on this huge canvas is the defeat of the Russian Trinity Infantry Regiment in the battle near Sultanabad, which took place on 13 February 1812. Persian soldiers wearing European uniforms and bearing Persian banners, on which a lion holds a sabre in its paw against a background of the rising sun.





A European drawing of the Iranian flag in the early 19th century

(Consult Honar o Mardom 31, p. 18. and Falsafī, 1955-67, IV, opp. p. 160).


On the left banner the lion and sun with a sword upright, on the right banner the lion and sun just couchant.



Coins of 1 and 2 kran a.h. 1258-63 (a.d. 1842-47) On the reverse a sun radiant charged with a lion passant with sword, crowned and surrounded by a garland of laurel branches


2 krans coin a.h. 1263. Image as before  


In the 19th century, European visitors at the Qajar court attributed the lion and sun to remote antiquity, which prompted Mohammad Shah Qajar to give it a "nationalistic interpretation." In a decree published in 1846 (1836?), it is stated that "For each sovereign state an emblem is established, and for the august state of Persia, too, the Order of Lion and Sun has been in use, an ensign which is nearly three thousand years old - indeed dating from before the age of Zoroaster. And the reason for its currency may have been as follows. In the religion of Zoroaster, the sun is considered the revealer of all things and nourisher of the universe [...], hence, they venerated it". This is followed by an astrological rationale for having "selected the sun in the house of Leo as the emblem of the august state of Persia." The decree then claims that use of Order of the Lion and Sun had existed in pre-Islamic Zoroastrian Iran until the worship of the sun was abolished by Muslims. Piemontese suggests that in this decree, "native political considerations and anachronistic historical facts are mixed with curious astrological arguments"[16] At the time, the lion and sun symbol stood the state, the monarchy, and the nation of Iran, associated all with a pre-Islamic history. [1]


Substantial changes in the motif


The armed lion and Sun,

 Golistan Palace, Qajar Dynasty


Another change under the second and third Qajar king was the Africanization of the motif. At this time, the lion was an African lion which had a longer mane and bigger body compared to the Persian Lion. Yahya Zoka suggests that this modification was influenced by contact with Europeans

According to Shahbazi. the Zu’l-faqar and the lion decorated the Iranian flags at the time. It seems that towards the end of Fath' Ali Shah’s reign the two logos were combined and the lion representing Ali was given Ali's saber, Zu’l-faqar

According to Najmabadi, occasionally we come across the lion and sun with a sword in the lion's paw and with a crown during this period.


The Mohammad Shah's decree in 1836 states that the lion must erectly stand, bear a saber ("to make it explicitly to stand for the military prowess of the state"). The crown was also added as a symbol of royalty rather than for any particular Qajar monarch. The decree states that the emblem is at once the national, royal, and the state emblem of Iran. In this period the lion was depicted as more masculine and the sun was female. Before this time the sun could be male or female and the lion was represented as a swordless, friendly and subdued seated animal.

The crown over the lion and sun configuration consolidated the association of the symbol with the monarchy. The sun lost its importance as the icon of kingship and the Kiani Crown became the primary symbol of the Qajar monarchy. Under Nasir al-Din Shah, logos varied from seated, swordless lions to standing and sword-bearing lions. In February 1873, the decree for Order of Aftab (Nishan-i Afab) was issued by Nasi-al Din Shah.


In the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of 1906, the lion and sun motif in the flag of Iran was described as a lion passant that holds a saber in its paw and with the sun in its background.[1] A decree dated September 4, 1910 specified the exact details of the logo, including the lion's tail ("like an italic S"), the position and the size of the lion, his paw, the sword, and the sun. [20]


1842 According to Roger Harmignies in Le Parchemin of 1960, p. 105, the arms with the lion was established in 1842. 


Nasir al Din




1282 AH (1866 AD)




Arms: On a disk: A landscape of a grassy ground and a morning sky proper, a sun radiant charged with a lion passant Or, in its dexter claw a sword upright proper

Crown: The Safavi crown 

Garland: Of branches of olive and oak

(Heyer von Rosenfeld, 1895, Taf. XIV).


Muzaffar al Din



On coins the lion always free standing within a garland and the sun in its full shape



Aside from this Lion and Sun emblem, there is also an additional emblem associated with the Qajar (Kadjar) rulers, at least from the time of Mozaffar-ed-Din Shah, if not already from the time of his father, Nasser-ed-Din Shah: the personal emblem of the Imperial Family and the Imperial Kadjar House itself, that is, the emblem on their letterheads and on the official documents from the Qajar (Kadjar) court, as distinct from the Imperial emblem of Persia, the Lion and the Sun. This emblem was and is that of two lions with suns on their backs holding up the Kiani crown with one paw and holding the globe under the other. In addition to the immediate members of the Imperial Family, some of the princes such as Prince Mozaffar Firouz and others, have used this emblem as their personal emblem and added their own initials to it. As a rule, however, this emblem was for use of the Imperial Family itself only. Below is a picture of it.




In the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of 1906, the lion and sun motif in the flag of Iran was described as a passant lion that holds a saber in its paw and with the sun in its background. A decree dated September 4, 1910 specified the exact details of the logo, including the lion's tail ("like an italic S"), the position and the size of the lion, his paw, the sword, and the sun.


Muhammad Ali



The lion with sword standing on some foliage before a sun radiant,. Crested with th Qajar crown and surrounded by a garland of laurel and oak





The lion s with sword standing on a platform before a sun radiant,. Crested with th Qajar crown and surrounded by a garland of laurel and oak


Pahlavi Dynasty






Arms: A sun radiant charged with a lion passant guardant armed with a sword, standing on a folded ribbon, Or.

Crown:  The Pahlavi Crown

 (Länderwappen n° 140).









Muhammad Riza





Jomhouri Islami Iran / Islamic Republic Iran

جمهوری اسلامی ایران




Emblem of the Islamic Republic Iran 1979-1980


The Islamic Rveolution started in 1978 and the return of Ayatolla (Sign of God) Khomeini (*1900-03-06.1989) on 1 February 1979 resulted into the proclamation of the Islamic Republic Iran on 2 April 1979. In the first months of its existence the lion and sun emblem was maintained. The crown, however, was removed.

On 10 May 1980 a new emblem was adopted


'Allah' in arabic script


The emblem is tinctured Vert, the colour of growth, development and the road to God. In the middle the pilllar symbolizes a sword as a symbol of force and power. Above it is the character repeating letter “tashdit” symbolizing standfastness and valiance. The four crescents on both sides symbolize the growth of Islam. Together with the sword they represent the five principles of Islam. The symmetry of the emblem is interpreted as representing equilibrium and resolution.

Last but not least the emblem should express the fight for the consolidation of the Iranian political system and the solidarity with all suppressed peoples of the world


Æ See illustration in the head of this article


استقلال، آزادی، جمهوری اسلامی
"Esteqlāl, Āzādi, Jomhuri-ye Eslāmi"
Independence, freedom, the Islamic Republic"


It is not very difficult to see that the new Iranian emblem of state is a stylized version of the word ‘Allah’ written in arabic characters. With this a very long tradition is continued because already in the ancient empires the emblem of state was thesymbol of the most important God.

The emblem is in red on the national flag.


After the Persian Constitutional Revolution

The Iranian diaspora uses the lion and sun emblem on mugs, Iranian flags, and souvenirs to an extent that far surpasses its display during the years of monarchy in the motif homeland.[19]


The Royal Achievement


Fath ‘Ali



Royal Achievement of Fat’h Ali

In: “Royal Order of Fath ‘Ali Shah honouring Sir Harford Jones” dated Muharram 1224 (March 1809).

Opaque colours, ink and gold on paper; impression from the seal of Fath ‘Ali Shah, struck in 1802-3, in upper margin 61.2 x 47.4 cm.

Inscribed beneath the crown, az shafaqat-i khusravani (‘by royal favour’).

Collection of His Highness the Aga Khan.


This document was given by Fath ‘Ali Shah to Sir Harford Jones, who was sent to Iran as representative of the British Government.

It was probably prepared to honour Sir Harford Jones on his arrival, since it is dated Muharram 1224 (March 1809). In it, Fath ‘Ali Shah uses a seal engraved with the date ah 1217 (ad 1802-3), which occurs on several other documents of the period. The unusual feature is the painted crest in the margin: the shield, surmounted by the Taj-i Kiyani and supported by a British-style lion and dragon rampant, contains a Persian lion couchant with the sun rising behind. The combination of Persian and British iconography suggests that the crest was designed specifically for the occasion, and Harford Jones subsequently incorporated it into his own coat of arms.


Silver 1 kran coin, not dated (1830ca.),

struck in Brussels and showing the royal persian achievement


Arms: Vert, a lion couchant before a sun radiant proper.

Crown: The Qajar crown Taj-i Kiyani.

Supporters: A lion on the dexter and a dragon on the sinister.



Nasir al Din



Qajar society was marked by rapid change in the second half of the ninetenth centuy. IN an attempt to meet the challenge of the increasing domination of European powers, reforms were implemented, new institutions modeled on Western prototypes and aspeccts of European  material culture were introduced. These changes also comprised the introduction of a Western style achievement.

Achievement of Shahanshah of Persia

from the presentation album to Nasser ed-Din Shah Qajar in 1865,

St. Petersburg, designed and painted by Alexander Fadeyev


Arms: Azure, a sun radiant charged with a lion passant guardant Or, a sword upright in his dexter claw and standing on a rock Vert.

Crown: A persian helmet guardant.

Order: Of the Lion and the Sun (Persia 1808)

Supporters: A griffin on the dexter and a dragon on the sinister Or; and two sceptres and six standards ensigned in saltire

Mantle: Vert, fringed and tasseled Or, lined ermine vaulted and crowned with the Taj i Kiyani



Muzaffar al-Din



Aside from the Lion and Sun emblem, there is also an additional emblem associated with the Qajar rulers, at least from the time of Mozaffar-ed-Din Shah, the personal emblem of the Imperial Family and the Imperial Qajar House itself, that is, the emblem on their letterheads and on the official documents from the Qajar court, as distinct from the Imperial emblem of Persia, the Lion and the Sun. This emblem was and is that of two lions with suns on their backs holding up the Kiyani crown with one paw and holding the globe under the other. In addition to the immediate members of the Imperial Family, some of the princes such as Prince Mozaffar Firouz and others, have used this emblem as their personal achievement and added their own initials to it. As a rule, however, this emblem was for use of the Imperial Family itself only. Below is a picture of it.[2]



Achievement of  Mozaffar-ed-Din Shah, 1901 [3]



Arms: The world globe showing the western hemisphere

Crown: The Taj i Kiyani

Supporters:  Two lions with suns on their backs and swords in their paws

Motto:  A text from the quran (?)

Garland: Of branches of olive and oak, in base a persian helmet.





Royal achievement of Persia.

Kirman armorial rug, ca. 1910 (Christies, auction 2011)


Pahlavi Dynasty


Muhammad Riza



Drawing HdV

Imperial achievement of Muhammad Riza


Arms II.: ¼: 1. Azure, a sun radiant charged with a lion passant guardant Or, keeping a sword upright in his dexter paw, stnading on a ground Vert; 2. Argent,  Ahura Mazda with a ring in its dexter hand and crowned Or; 3. Sable the sword of Ali per bend Argent and Or, in sinsiter chief a five-pointed star Or, within a bordure Argent decorated Or. 4. Azure a senmurw Argent  decorated Or. In nombril point a disc charged with mount Damawend and a rising sun in chief. All within a bordure  of leaves of acanthus Or and Argent

Crown: The crown of the Pahlavi dynasty

Order: The collar and jewel of the Order of Pahlavi

Supporters: Two lion reguardant Or armed with a sword

Motto: Mara dad farmud va Khod Davar Ast" ("Justice He bids me do, as He will judge me" or, alternatively, "He gave me power to command, and He is the judge") in golden persian script on a ribbon Azure


Intelligence Service


SAVAK emblem


SAVAK (ساواک‎, short forسازمان اطلاعات و امنیت کشور Sāzemān-e Ettelā'āt va Amniyat-e Keshvar, literally "National Organization for Security and Intelligence") was the secret police, domestic security and intelligence service in Iran during the reign of the Pahlavi dynasty. It was established by Mohammad Reza Shah with the help of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Israeli Mossad. SAVAK operated from 1957 until the Iranian Revolution of 1979, when the prime minister Shapour Bakhtiar ordered its dissolution during the outbreak of Iranian Revolution. SAVAK has been described as Iran's "most hated and feared institution" prior to the revolution of 1979 because of its practice of torturing and executing opponents of the Pahlavi regime. At its peak, the organization had as many as 60,000 agents serving in its ranks according to one source and another source by Gholam Reza Afkhami estimates SAVAK staffing at between 4,000 and 6,000.




Iranian Intelligence Service



The Ministry of Intelligence of the Islamic Republic of Iran (وِزارَتِ اِطّلاعات جُمهوریِ اِسلامیِ ایران Vezarat-e Ettela'at Jomhuri-ye Eslami-ye Iran) is the primary intelligence agency of the Islamic Republic of Iran and a member of the Iran Intelligence Community. It was formed in 1984. It is also known as VAJA and previously as VEVAK (Vezarat-e Ettela'at va Amniyat-e Keshvar) or alternatively MOIS. It was initially known as SAVAMA, after it took over the Shah's intelligence apparatus SAVAK. The ministry is one of the three "sovereign" ministerial bodies of Iran due to nature of its work at home and abroad.





A Timurid Ruler 1430

Sharukh ? / Prince Baysunghur 1399-1433

the background decorated with hares


A Timurid Ruler, 1467

The king dressed in green and crowned, sitting on a platform throne with footstool, set on a rectangular rug and under a ciborium or vault decorated with hare’s and sheep’s heads


From: Timur granting audience on the occasion of his_accession. In: Zafarnama, or Book of Victory, ca 1467 from The John Work Garrett Library of The Johns Hopkins University.


Persian throne and crown

From a Shahnama of Firdawsi:  Bahram gur proves his right to the throne of Persia (last quarter16th cent.)

 (sold at Christies, 2014)


Persian Crown on credence table

From A Shahnama: Bahram Gur Kills Two Lions To Prove His Right To The Throne Of Iran, 17th cent


The story goes about Bahram V (420-438) but the crown if of the Timurid fashion (1370-1507).


Safavid Dynasty


One of the first actions of Ismail, was the proclamation of the Twelver sect of Shia Islam to be the official religion of his newly-formed state, which had major consequences for the ensuing history of Iran. Furthermore, this drastic act also gave him a political benefit of separating the growing Safavid state from its strong Sunni neighbors—the Ottoman Empire to the west and the Uzbek confederation to the east..

With him the the royal headdress became a turban (Persian دولبند, dulband), instead of a crown.



Portrait of Ismail I (* 1487-†1524), King of Persia (1501-1524), half length, in profile to left, bearded, with a large turban, his right forearm pointing upwards with index finger outstretched, his left hand holding the hilt of a sword with a lion’s head; illustration to André Thevet's 'Les vrais pourtraits et vies des hommes illustres' (Paris, 1584) Etching .[4]


Tahmasp 1524-1576


Cornelis de Bruyn: Sultan Husayn (1694-1722) wearing a turban with sarpech

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam


Shah Abbas II (1642-1666)

wearing a coloured turban with sarpech


Nadir Shah 1736-1747

wearing red cap with pearl strings and sarpech


Possibly by Muhammad Riza Hindi

Isfahan 1740. Oil on canvas, 162,7 ´102 cm (detail)

V&A Museum, London


Qajar Dynasty


The first Qajar crown was made for Aqa Muhammad (1796-1797). This consisted of a high cilinder set with pearls and figures of precious stones, on the top and the base with a golden rim. The cilinder enclosed a red cap crested with a jewel of gold and pearls.


Portrait of Aga Muhammad Khan  (detail)

Diwan -i Khaqan

Paintings by Mirza Baba (active 1789-1810)

Ms copied by Muhammad Mihdi of Tehran


Opaque colours and gold, manuscript on paper, with lacquer covers, also signed by Mirza Baba, and dated ah 1217 (ad 1802-3), 42.5 x 29.2 cm.

Inscribed:  raqam- i kamtarin Ghulam Mirza Baba-yi Naqqash-bashi.

Royal Library, Windsor Castle, Holmes ms.a / 4 rcin 1005020.

Raby, Qajar Portraits 1999, n° 111


Fath’Ali Shah wearing his first headdress

sarpech and strings of pearls


Portrait of Fath’Ali Shah (detail)

By Mirza Baba (active 1789-1810)

Iran, Tehran, signed and dated AH 1213 (AD 1798-99)

Oil on canvas 200 ´ 117 cm

Oriental and India Office collections. The British Library, London, F116

Raby, Qajar Portraits 1999, n° 110


The Taj-i Kiyani



The second crown of the Qajars was made for Fath ’Ali and is called Taj-i Kiyani. It consists of four parts, from bottom to top: a diadem set with diamonds, a high cylinder with pearls, a piece of jewelry with fleurons on either side and a velvet hat. The original crown that was kept in the National Bank of Iran in Tehran contains 1800 pearls, 300 emeralds, 1500 rubies and spinels and countless diamonds. The emerald at the bottom of the jewel weighs 80 carats.

The crown is depicted very differently on the portraits of Fath ’Ali, in particular by letting the cylinder with pearls run outwards. The decoration also changes per painting.

The successors of Fath’Ali are never depicted with this crown but with a high cap to which a jewel (sarpech) was attached. Only from Muhammad Ali is a portrait in which he was crowned. Placed on a cushion, the Taj-i Kiyani was also present at the coronation of Réza Shah in 1967.


Chaffanjon Couronnes du Monde p. 114



Fa´th Ali Shah wearing the Kiyani crown


Pahlavi Dynasty


The Pahlavi Crown



With the demise of the Qadjar dynasty and the accession to the throne of the Pahlavi, a new crown was created for the coronation of Réza Shah, the first emperor of this House. He took the name of Pahlavi belonging to princely families of the old Sassanid monarchy; they had contributed, from the 3rd to the 7th century, to make Persia a great power.

In turn, the recently dethroned emperor, son of the precedent, was crowned on 26.10. 1967 with this crown which symbolizes the will and renovation of the modern Empire of Iran as well as the greatness and the power of the old empire.

Four crenellated patterns imitate the designs of the Sassanian crowns, the pale yellow central diamond of 60 carats, radiating like the sun, evokes the ancient god Mithras and the legitimacy of the sovereign. The motif that dominates the crown and guides the egret feathers is probably a symbol of the lotus flower that can be found in the decorations of the Sassanid period. But the lotus flower is also a classic symbol of Ancient Egypt.

The original crown has 3,380 diamonds, 369 pearls, 5 emeralds and 2 sapphires. It was kept at the National Bank of Iran in Tehran.


Chaffanjon, Couronnes du Monde p. 115 afb.




In 1739 Nādir Shāh had captured the Mughal Peacock-throne from Delhi.


Nadir Shah on the Peacock Throne after his defeat of Muhammad Shah.


Opaque watercolor on paper

Dimensions: 30.8 cm ´ 42.1 cm

Credit Line: Edwin Binney 3rd Collection

Accession Number: San Diego Museum of Art 1990.407

Date: 1850 ca


The peacocks after which throne is called, are on the roof above the seat of the throne. These are the insignia of rank of a prefect or supreme administrator (shah)


* When Nadir Shah was assassinated by his own officers on 19 June 1747, the throne disappeared, most probably being dismantled or destroyed for its valuables in the ensuing chaos. One of the unsubstantiated rumours claimed that the throne was given to the Ottoman Sultan, however in reality this could be a minor throne produced in Persia and given as a gift.



The Marble Throne (Persian:تخت مرمر Taxt e Marmar) is a 250-year-old royal throne in Golestan Palace, Tehran, Iran.

The throne was built from 1747 to 1751, that is to say some ten years after the capture of the throne of Mohammed Shah on the brink between the Afsharides and the Savafids. It was designed by Mirza Baba Shirazi (Naqqash Bashi) and royal stonecutter, Mohammad Ebrahim Esfahani. It consists of 65 marble stone pieces from a mine in Yazd. The throne's supports are carved in the shape of men, women, fairies, and demons.

The most striking feature of the throne (apart from the human figures) are two coiled dragons. These make the throne an imperial seat  referring to the empire of the Il-khanids (1256-1343).


Coiled dragons on footstool supported by felines


The Royal Balcony of the Marble Throne is said to have been built during the reign of Karim Khan Zand (1751-1779), but Karim khan is known to have even refused the title king, and preferred to sit on a carpet rather than a throne so his ownership of the Marble throne is unlikely. It was changed several times during the Qajar period. The twin stone columns of the balcony were transferred to Tehran, by order of Agha Mohammad Khan (1789-1797), from Shiraz.

The Sun Throne was probably modelled after it.


Sun-Throne  / Takht-e Khurshīd


The so-called peacock throne has disappeared but emperor Fath-Ali Shah (1797-1834) ordered a new trhone, the Sun Throne (تخت خورشید‎‎: Takht-e Khurshīd)  to be constructed in the early 19th century for him. The Sun Throne has the shape of a platform just like the Marble Throne. Some rumours claim that parts of the original Peacock throne were used in its construction, however there is no evidence to that. On the contrary, apart from a sun radiant on the back there are coiled dragons, like on the marble throne, on the foot stool which are from the Il khanid repertory of insignia of rank.


Coiled dragon on footstool


Neverthess over time the Sun Throne was erroneously referred to as the Peacock Throne, a term that was later appropriated initially by the West as a metonym for the Persian monarchy. No proofed parts of the original Peacock Throne survived. Only some of the diamonds and precious stones that are attributed to it have survived and been re-worked.




The Naderi Throne of Iran is a gemmed and enameled throne made during the Qajar era, now kept in the national treasury of the Central Bank of Iran. The throne has no relation to Nader Shah: the name derives from the word nader meaning "rare" or "unique" in Persian language.

The throne was made by order of Fat'h Ali Shah Qajar (1772–1834). Unlike the platform-like Sun Throne, the Naderi Throne has the appearance of a chair.

The throne was kept in Golestan Palace but it was later transferred to the National Treasury of the Central Bank of Iran. It was lused in the coronation ceremony of Shah Reza Pahlavi in 1925 and of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1967

The throne can be taken apart into 12 separate sections. It was intended to be portable, to be carried along when the Shah traveled to his summer residences. It is made of wood, covered with gold and encrusted with jewels. Among the 26,733 jewels covering the throne, there are four very large spinels on the backrest, the largest of them weighing 65 ct. There are also four very large emeralds on the backrest, the largest of them weighing approximately 225 ct. The largest ruby on the throne is 35 ct.

The height of the throne is approximately 225cm and is 98 cm deep and 96 cm wide  It has inscribed verses attributed to Fat'h Ali Shah. Diaries written by travelers who visited Fat'h Ali Shah's court at the time also mention a throne similar to this one, though the throne may have been refurbished by Naser al-Din Shah Qajar (1848-1896)

The designs which can be seen on the throne include a peacock tail on the backrest, ducks, dragons, leaves and tree branches. A crouching leopard  rests on the front panel of the footstool.

A leopard was a badge of (military-) rank in Il khanid Persia and Central Asia ranking after a dragon and a lion.


Crouching leopard on footstool


Therefore the throne could be destined for a high military commander for which the son of Fat’h Ali Shah, Prince Abbas Mirza (†1833) would qualify.



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 © Hubert de Vries 2020-09-16





[1] - Qajar_and_Pahlavi_Dynasties


[3] First page of the Šāh-nāma of Ferdowsi with a head-piece (ʿonwān); Tehran, printing house of Āqā Mortaża, 1319-22/1901-05; edition initiated by Amir Bahādor Ḥosayn-Pāšā Khan; text prepared by Mubad ʿAbd-al-ʿAli Kāšāni; foreword by Moḥammad-Ṣādeq al-Ḥosayni Farāhāni; painters: Moṣawwer-al-Molk, Moḥammad-Kāẓem, Ḥosayn-ʿAli, ʿAliḵān; lithographers Mirzā Ḥosayn and Āqā Mirzā ʿAbbāsi; copyist Moḥammad-Ḥosayn ʿEmād-al-Kottāb.