~ Seventh Annual IQSA Conference ~

Jointly organized by IQSA and Fondation Napoleon

Diplomats and Travelers in the Qajar Era

Bibliotheque Paul Marmottan
7, place Denfert-Rochereau 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt

Friday 1 and Saturday 2 June 2007
9 am to 5 pm





Asghar Khan Afshar, Fath Ali Shah's Ambassador to Napoleonic France

Iradj Amini

To be completed

Iradj Amini can be reached at: iradjamini@wanadoo.fr


Persian Travelers in Holland and Dutch Travelers in Persia in the Qajar Era

Ferydoun Barjesteh, VP of IQSA, Editor-in-Chief Qajar Studies

To be completed

Ferydoun Barjesteh can be reached at: ferydoun@barjesteh.nl


Abol Hassan Khan, Fath Ali Shah's Ambassador to the Court of St. James

Manoutchehr M. Eskandari-Qajar, Department of Political Science, SBCC; Middle East Studies Program, SBCC; President, IQSA

Abol Hassan Khan was the first Persian official to reach England at the time of the Qajars. He famously recorded his impressions of England and Europe in his emblematic Heyrat nameh (The Book of Wonders) which set the tone for travelogues of the Qajar period. Abol Hassan Khan combines in himself the themes of this conference: he was diplomat, traveler and travelogue writer. Though he writes of the wonders of the West, he was as much an object of wonderment as the new world of Europe was to him. This double image of seeing and beeing seen will be the central focus of my presentation.

Manoutchehr Eskandari-Qajar can be reached at: president@qajarstudies.org


Fraser’s Visit of Khorassan in 1820

Fatema Soudavar Farmanfarmaian

To be completed


Claude Anet’s Persian Travels by Car

Nathalie Farmanfarma

To be completed


Safarnameh-ye Bokhara: Self-awareness and Patriotism in the Case of an Iranian Envoy to Mavara an-Nahr

Bert Fragner, Iranistik Institute, University of Vienna/Austria

To be completed


Ermakov: Traveling Photographer

Ellen Glonti

To be completed


Napoleon's Travelers: The Mission of General Gardane to Persia (1807-1809)

Irine Natchkebia, G. Tsereteli Institute of Oriental Studies Academy of Sciences of Georgia, Tbilisi

To be completed

Irina Natchkebia can be reached at: irnat@hotmail.com


Intercultural Royal Visits: State Visits of Persian Shahs to Germany, 1873-1905

David Motadel is a PhD student in history at Cambridge University and currently also affiliated as a Visiting Research Fellow at Harvard.

This paper is part of a book project about Nasir al-Din Shah’s and Muzaffar al-Din Shah's visits to Germany (as part of their European tours) in 1873, 1878, 1889, 1900, 1902 and 1905. I analyze the visits from the perspective of cultural history of diplomacy (ceremony of reception etc.). Furthermore, I reconstruct the macro-history of the bilateral relations on the basis of the micro-history of the visits.

The visits were major events in Imperial Germany and caused a Shah Mania, articulating in uncountable press reports, novels, theatre and opera pieces etc. On the Persian side, both Shahs wrote detailed travelogues about their impressions and activities. For this presentation I considered documents from all relevant Iranian and German archives.

David Motadel can be reached at: dm408@cam.ac.uk


Le séjour en France de Nasser ed-Din Shah en 1889

Bernadette Salesse

The focus of this presentation will be on the third and last journey of Nasser-ed-Din Shah Qajar to Europe and in particular to France, for which the Persian Emperor had an especial affinity. In 1873, Nasser-ed-Din Shah was the first foreign potentate to visit France after its defeat in the Franco-Prussian war, a symbolic visit much appreciated and famously celebrated by his French hosts.

Bernadette Salesse can be reached at:


The Travels of Isabella Bird Bishop in Persia During the 1870s

Jennifer Scarce, Honorary Lecturer in Middle Eastern Cultures, School of Design, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee

Isabella Bird Bishop, the clever daughter of an Anglican clergyman, was one of the travellers who visited Persia in steadily increasing numbers during the 19th century.  The two principal Qajar rulers, Fath Ali Shah (1797-1834) and Nasiruddin Shah (1848-1896) balanced dual policies of co-operation at home with the religious, administrative and commercial establishment and continual diplomacy abroad with the European powers – especially of Britain, France and Russia – who had entered Persian affairs since the beginning of the 19th century.  This foreign policy opened Persia to Europeans – diplomats, soldiers, technical and educational experts and commercial agents while a developing interest in the country’s impressive history and culture stimulated visits from archaelogists, scholars and curious travellers. 

Officially Isabella was a traveller since she had no formal position as a wife, companion, governess, nurse or missionary, but in reality the scope of her travels and her publications reveal a meticulous professionalism.  She was also remarkable as one of the Victorian women who travelled independently in both Persia and neighbouring countries of the Ottoman Empire.  This was very much to their advantage as they could be more flexible in their arrangements than men who were restrained by the responsibilities of their position.  They could, for example, be received in the private quarters of a household  where they could observe family life and customs.

Isabella came to Persia as a very experienced and respected traveller and writer.  She had already travelled alone and adventurously in America, Canada, Australia, Hawaii, Japan and Malaya and published widely on these countries.  She was a widow of fifty nine when she embarked on the hardest journey of her life. After travelling in Tibet, Kashmir and Lahore she arrived in Baghdad in January 1890 ready to depart for Persia accompanied part of the way by Major Herbert Sawyer of the Indian Army.  Her journey took her through the Zagros mountains to Tehran, where she met Nasiruddin Shah, down to Luristan where she spent time among the Bakhtiari tribes, and then up through Kurdistan and across the Turkish border to Trebizond where she arrived in December 1890 to take the boat home.

She recorded her experiences in a book Journeys in Persia and Kurdistan published in 1891 in the form of thirty five letters based on her field notes. Her account is remarkable for the objectivity and detail of her observations of the terrain through which she travelled and the daily life, customs, dress and rituals of the varied people whom she met.  Nothing escapes Isabella’s descriptive talents.  In this she was a pioneer ethnographer. 

My presentation will include a short introduction to her life  followed by an analysis of selected episodes of her journeys in the towns and countryside of Persia and Kurdistan. It will be illustrated with 35 mm colour slides.

Jennifer Scarce can be reached at: jennifer@scarce.abelgratis.co.uk


A Thousand and One Days in Europe. Mozaffar ed-Din Shah ’s Travels in 1900, 1902 and 1905

Joachim Waibel

This presentation is a world premiere of a documentary film based on original archival material put together for the first time from pictures, some seen here for the first time since their production at the turn of the last century.

Joachim Waibel can be reached at: bonavista@shaw.ca


An Accidental Emissary: Lt. Colonel Lachlan Macquarie and Anglo-French Rivalry at the Qajar Court in June 1807

Robin Walsh

To be completed

Robin Walsh can be reached at: