Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lotf Ali Khan Zand

Lotf Ali was the last of the Zand Dynasty rulers (ruled 1789-1794). His heroic struggle against the cruel eunuch Agha Mohammad Khan, the first of the Qajar kings, is the stuff of Shakespearean tragedy. After horribly torturing his rival, Agha Mohammad had him put to death and interred at the Mausoleum of Imamzadheh Zeid in the old bazaar in Tehran.

Lotf Ali's uncle, Karim Khan Zand (ruled 1747-1779) is considered one of the few truly benevolent rulers in Iran's long history. Karim Khan never took the title of King or Shah, choosing instead to call himself Vakil "regent of the people." For that reason his name remains on street signs and landmarks after those of past royals were removed following the Islamic revolution.

"The happy reign of this excellent prince, as contrasted with those who preceeded and followed him, affords the historian of Persia that kind of mixed pleasure and repose, which a traveler enjoys on arriving in a beautiful and fertile valley during an arduous journey over barren and rugged wastes. It is pleasing to recount the actions of a chief who, though born of an inferior rank, obtained power without crime, and who exercised it with a moderation that, for the times in which he lived, was as singular as his humanity and justice." (John Malcolm, The History of Persia, 1829)