Qarachaqay Khan

Qarachaqay Khan (Persian: قرچغای خان; died 1625) was a military commander in Safavid Iran of Armenian origin. He was known for his great collection of porcelain items and loyal service to Shah Abbas I. Qarachaqay Khan was killed while commanding an expedition against the Georgian rebels.

Mohammad Khan Tokhmaq Ustajlu
Iranian - Courtiers of Shah 'Abbas I - Walters W691A.jpg
"A court scene", Iran, c. 1620. Qarachaqay Khan is seen standing on the right in a red coat, with a prominent handlebar mustache.[1]
Commander-in-chief (sepahsalar-e Iran)
In office
MonarchAbbas the Great
Preceded byShahqoli Soltan Ustajlu
Succeeded byZeinal Khan Shamlu
Governor of Azerbaijan Province
In office
MonarchAbbas the Great
Preceded byShahbandeh Beg Torkman (1st term)
Succeeded byShahbandeh Beg Torkman (2nd term)
Governor of Mashhad
In office
MonarchAbbas the Great
Preceded byNazar Khan Tavakoli
Succeeded byManuchihr Khan
Personal details
BornErivan, Erivan Province, Safavid Iran
Died25 March 1625
near Martqopi
Resting placeMashhad
OccupationMilitary leader, official
Military service
AllegianceSafavid Flag.svg Safavid Iran
Battles/warsOttoman–Safavid War of 1603–1618 Battle of Martqopi  


Born as a Christian Armenian in Erivan, Qarachaqay was enslaved in childhood and brought to the Safavid court to be raised as a gholam. He began his career in a royal tailoring workshop and was soon distinguished in the Safavid army as an artillery officer. In 1605, Qarachaqay Beg, being in charge of a musketeer regiment, under the command of Allahverdi Khan—also originally a gholam of Georgian origin—contributed to Abbas I's victory over the Ottoman forces at Sufiyan near Tabriz.[2]

During his career in the Safavid army and administration, Qarachaqay amassed a valuable collection of Chinese porcelain which he presented to Shah Abbas around 1610. Shortly afterwards, Qarachaqay was bestowed with the title of muqarab al-hazrat ("intimate of the illustrious"), reserved for the Shah's close companions. In 1616, he received the title of khan and was appointed commander-in-chief (sepahsalar-e Iran) of the Safavid army.[3][4] A year after the defeat of the Ottoman troops led by Khalil Pasha, he became governor of Tabriz and all of Azerbaijan, but was soon recalled by the shah to continue his service as governor of Mashhad in northeastern Khorasan in 1618.[5][6] When Abbas I decided to marry his granddaughter to Semayun Khan of Kartli (Simon II) in 1624, Qarachaqay Khan ordered Yusuf Khan, likewise of Christian Armenian origin and a childhood friend, to host the banquet in the first term of the wedding party.[7] In the same year, Qarachaqay Khan, accompanied by the Safavid Georgian officer Murav-Beg (Giorgi Saakadze), captained a punitive expedition against the rebels in Georgia.[8] Murav-Beg conspired with the insurgents, who unexpectedly attacked and destroyed the Iranian camp at Martqopi, killing Qarachaqay Khan[9] and one of his sons, Imam Verdi Khan.[8] Both were buried within a family shrine complex in Mashhad.[8]

Of Qarachaqay Khan's other sons, Abu al-Fath Manuchihr Khan (died 1636) rose to the governorship of Mashhad and Ali Quli Khan became prefect of Qom and head of the shah's library. Manuchihr Khan's son, Qarachaqay Khan (died c. 1668), was also governor of Mashhad. All of them were known as sponsors of learning and culture.[10][8][11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Babaie 2004, pp. 125–126.
  2. ^ Babaie 2004, p. 121.
  3. ^ Babaie 2004, p. 125.
  4. ^ Floor 2001, p. 21.
  5. ^ Babaie 2004, p. 126.
  6. ^ Floor 2008, p. 241.
  7. ^ Floor & Herzig 2015, p. 484.
  8. ^ a b c d Babaie 2004, p. 127.
  9. ^ Rayfield 2012, p. 194.
  10. ^ Matthee 2011, p. 28.
  11. ^ Babaie 2004, p. 130.


  • Babaie, Sussan (2004). Slaves of the Shah: New Elites of Safavid Iran. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 1860647219.
  • Floor, Willem (2001). Safavid Government Institutions. Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers. pp. 17–23. ISBN 978-1568591353.
  • Floor, Willem M. (2008). Titles and Emoluments in Safavid Iran: A Third Manual of Safavid Administration, by Mirza Naqi Nasiri. Washington, DC: Mage Publishers. ISBN 978-1933823232.
  • Floor, Willem; Herzig, Edmund, eds. (2015). Iran and the World in the Safavid Age. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-1780769905.
  • Matthee, Rudi (2011). Persia in Crisis: Safavid Decline and the Fall of Isfahan. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-0857731814.
  • Rayfield, Donald (2012). Edge of Empires: A History of Georgia. Reaktion Books. ISBN 978-1780230306.
Preceded by
Shahqoli Soltan Ustajlu
Commander-in-chief (sepahsalar-e Iran)
Succeeded by
Zeinal Khan Shamlu
Preceded by
Shahbandeh Beg Torkman (1st term)
Governor of Azerbaijan
Succeeded by
Shahbandeh Beg Torkman (2nd term)
Preceded by
Nazar Khan Tavakoli
Governor of Mashhad
Succeeded by