History of Nadir Shah Afshar


Waqiat-i Nadiri (literally “Events of Nadir”) is a historical manuscript that chronicles the political and military career of Nādir Shāh, who was born in 1688 and rose to power in Iran during the 1720s; he became shah in 1736. He is known as a military warrior famous for his campaigns in Iran, Afghanistan, northern India, and Central Asia. He was assassinated by his officers in June 1747. The name of the author of this work, Muḥammad Mahdī Munshi’ ibn Muḥammad Naṣīr (also seen as Mahdī Khān Astarābādī), appears on page four. Mahdi Khan was a court secretary, historian, and close confidante of Nādir Shāh, whom he accompanied on many of his campaigns, so the work is an important historical source. The manuscript is organized chronologically and recounts about 100 military and political events. The preliminary pages contain a preface outlining the political events in Iran and Qandahar (or Kandahar) that led to the Afghan invasion of Isfahan in 1722 and the emergence of Nādir Shāh as a ruler who would confront and eventually defeat the Afghans and other enemies. The preface is followed by a biography of Mahmud Hotaki, an Afghan commander who defeated the Safavids and briefly ruled in Isfahan. The last part of the manuscript covers the reigns of Ali Shah and Ebrahim Shah, nephews of Nādir Shāh, each of whom claimed the throne in Isfahan for brief times in the aftermath of Nādir Shāh’s assassination. In the manner typical of Persian court historiography, the author emphasizes throughout the restoration of order, the introduction of justice, and the defeat of the enemies of the state. The margins contain notes, probably by anonymous readers. Various poems and verses from the Qur’an appear throughout the text. The manuscript is written in different styles of broken nastaliq, the calligraphic Persian script. All of the events recounted have a rubricated title and are organized and described in terms of their outcomes or final causes, usually in a page or a half page. The manuscript is numbered in pencil in the Indo-Arabic numeral style, probably by an anonymous reader.

Last updated: September 30, 2016