See Also:Shirvan

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Updated: Sunday 12th October 2014

Shervan Definition

- Shervan also spelled as Shirvan. (Wikipedia) - Shirvan   (Redirected from Shervan) For other places with the same name, see Shirvan (disambiguation). For the history of the area prior to the late Sassanid and early Islamic era, see Caucasian AlbaniaThe battle between the young Ismail and Shah Farrukh Yassar of Shirvan.Shirvan from map of the Caucasus by Johann Christoph Matthias Reinecke. 1804

Shirvan (from Persian: شروان‎ > Azerbaijani: Şirvan;), also spelled as Sharvān, Shirwan, Shervan, Sherwan and Šervān, is a historical region in the eastern Caucasus, known by this name in both Islamic and modern times. Today, the region is an industrially and agriculturally developed part of Azerbaijan Republic that stretches between the western shores of the Caspian Sea and the Kura River and is centered on the Shirvan Plain.

  • 1 Medieval history and etymology
    • 1.1 Shirvanshahs
    • 1.2 Safavid and Afsharid eras
  • 2 Modern history up to Azerbaijan SSR
  • 3 People and culture
    • 3.1 Caucasian population
    • 3.2 Iranian influence and population
    • 3.3 Turkification of the region
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links and references

Medieval history and etymology Main articles: Caucasian Albania, Shirvanshah, Safavid, Great Seljuq Empire, Qajar dynasty, Afsharid and Ottomans

Vladimir Minorsky believes that names such as Sharvān (Shirwān), Lāyzān and Baylaqān are Iranian names from the Iranian languages of the coast of the Caspian Sea.

There are several explanations about this name:

  • Shervan in Persian means cypress tree (the same as ''sarv'' in Middle Persian and in New Persian, as well as in Arabic ). It is also used as a male name.
  • It is connected popularly to Anushirvan, the Sasanian King.
  • Another meaning of Shirwan according to the Dehkhoda Dictionary is protector of lion. This meaning is also shared in Kurdish, where the name is widely used for males; there is a castle near Kirkuk (south Kurdistan) called Qelay Shirwana/Shirvana. Also there is famous tribe in north of Erbil Province in Iraqi Kurdistan Region by the name of Sherwani that is part of Barzani tribe union, Sherwan town is the Center of Sherwani tribe.

However, Said Nafisi points out that according to Khaqani''s poems, where Khaqani contrasts his home town with kheyrvān (Persian: خیروان), the original and correct pronunciation of the name was Sharvān. So all etymologies relating this name to sher/shir (lion in Persian and Kurdish) or Anushiravan are most probably folk etymology and not based on historical facts. The form Shervān or Shirvān are from later centuries.

According to the Encyclopedia of Islam, Shirwan proper comprised the easternmost spurs of the Caucasus range and the lands which sloped down from these mountains to the banks of the Kur river. But its rulers strove continuously to control also the western shores of the Caspian Sea from Ḳuba (the modern town of Quba) in the district of Maskat in the north, to Baku in the south. To the north of all these lands lay Bab al-Abwab or Derbend, and to the west, beyond the modern Goychay, the region of Shaki. In mediaeval Islamic times, and apparently in pre-Islamic Sāsānid ones also, Shirwan included the district of Layzan, which probably corresponds to modern Lahidj, often ruled as a separate fief by a collateral branch of the Yazidi Shirwan Shahs.

Traditional pile carpet of Shirvan

The 19th century native historian and writer Abbasgulu Bakikhanov defines it as: "The country of Shirvan to the east borders on the Caspian Sea, and to the south on the river Kur, which separates it from the provinces of Moghan and Armenia".

Shirvanshahs Main article: Shirvanshahs

Shirvanshah also spelled as Shīrwān Shāh or Sharwān Shāh, was the title in mediaeval Islamic times of a Persianized dynasty of Arabic origin. They ruled the area independently or as a vassal of larger empires from 800 A.D. up to 1607 A.D. when Safavid rule became firmly established.

Safavid and Afsharid eras Main articles: Shirvanshahs and Afsharid

When the Shirvanshah Shah dynasty was ended by the Safavid Shah Tahmasp I, Shirwan formed a province of Safavids and was usually governed by a Khan, who is often called Beylerbey. Shirvan was taken by the Ottomans in 1578; however, Safavid rule was restored by 1607. In 1722, the Khan of Quba, Husayn Ali, submitted to Peter the Great and was accepted as his dignitary. By the treaty between Russian and Ottoman Empires in the year 1724, the coast of the territory of Baku, which was occupied by the Russians, was separated from the rest of Shirvan, which was left to the Ottomans. It was only when Nadir Shah defeated the Ottomans (1735) that the Russians ceded the coastal land and the area became part of the Afsharid Empire.

Modern history up to Azerbaijan SSR

When the Qajars had succeeded in restoring the unity of Persia, the sons of the Khan were no more able to maintain their independence than the other Caucasian chiefs and had to choose between Russia and Persia. The Khan of Shirwan, Mustafa, who had already entered into negotiations with Zubov, submitted to the Russians in 1805, who occupied Derbend and Baku next year (1806), but soon afterwards he made overtures to the Persians and sought help from them. By the Peace of Gulistan (12/24 October 1813), Persia gave up all claim to Darband, Quba, Shirwan and Baku. Nevertheless, Mustafa continued to have secret dealings with Persia. It was not until 1820 that his territory was occupied by Russian troops; the Khan fled to Persia and Shemakha was incorporated in Russian territory.

People and culture Main articles: Turkic peoples, Iranian Peoples, Azerbaijanis, Tat people (Caucasus), Lezgins and Caucasian languagesShirvan Tatar (i.e. Azeri). Engraving from book of Jean Baptiste Benoît Eyriès. Voyage pittoresque en Asie et en Afrique: résumé général des voyages anciens et modernes... T. I, 1839

The term Shirvani/Shirvanli is still in use in Azerbaijan to designate the people of Shirvan region, as it was historically. Since ancient time, the bulk population of Shirvan were Caucasian speaking groups. Later on Iranization of this native population and subsequent Turkification since the Seljuq era occurred. The bulk of the population today are Turkic-speaking Azerbaijanis, although there are also smaller Caucasian speaking and Iranian speaking minorities.

Caucasian population

The original population were Paleo-Caucasians and spoke Caucasian languages, like the Caucasian Albanians. Today, other Daghestani Caucasian languages such as Udi, Lezgian and Avar are still spoken in the region.

Iranian influence and population

Iranian penetration started since the Achaemenid era and continued in the Parthian era. However it was during the Sassanid era that the influence really increased and Persian colonies were set up in the region. According to Vladimir Minorsky: The presence of Iranian settlers in Transcaucasia, and especially in the proximity of the passes, must have played an important role in absorbing and pushing back the aboriginal inhabitants. Such names as Sharvan, Layzan, Baylaqan, etc., suggest that the Iranian immigration proceeded chiefly from Gilan and other regions on the southern coast of the Caspian. Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn al-Husayn Al-Masudi (896–956), the Arab historian states Persian presence in Aran, Bayleqan, Darband, Shabaran, Masqat and Jorjan. From 9th century, the urban population of Shirwan increasingly moved to Persian language. while the rural population seems to mostly have retained their old Caucasian languages. Up to the nineteenth century, there was still a large number of Tat population (who claim to be descendants of Sassanid era Persian settlers), however due to similar culture and religion with Turkic-speaking Azerbaijanis, this population was partly assimilated.

Turkification of the region

Turkic penetration in the region started in the Khazar era, however there are no unambiguous references to settlements. The Turkification of the region started in the Seljuq era, although the area in parallel maintained its Persian culture under the Persianized Shirvanshah until the Safavid era. From the Safavid era onwards, the Turkification of the region accelerated with new wave of Turkoman settlements.

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