A Persian Captive’s Guide to Khiva: Esmāʿil Mir-Panja’s Satirical Recollections

in Journal of Persianate Studies
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


Travel literature flourished in the Qajar period, as reports rich in political, geographical, and ethnographic detail were officially commissioned from Iranian diplomats and officers who went abroad. Many of these accounts concerned Central Asia and some historians have argued that they served to project Iranian dominance over the region. Others have argued quite the opposite: that these accounts served to articulate cultural and political borders between Central Asia and Iran. In this paper, I will introduce a new source and an alternative approach. Focusing on the little-known travelogue of Esmāʿil Mir-Panja, an Iranian officer who spent ten years as a captive in Khiva, I will show not only how this travelogue served the interests of the Qajar state, but also how it functioned as a subversive work of satire and an incisive critique of the shah to whom it was dedicated. In other words, I will emphasize the agency of the author as well as the aims of his patrons.



AmanatA. “The Downfall of Mirza Taqi Khan Amir Kabir and the Problem of Ministerial Authority in Qajar Iran,” ijmes 1991 November 23 4 577 599

AmanatA.KhazeniA. GreenN. “The Steppe Roads of Central Asia and the Persian Captivity Narrative of Mirza Mahmud Taqi Ashtiyani,” Writing Travel in Central Asian History 2013 Bloomington 113 134

GhafurMohammad ʿAli Khān Ruznāma-ye safar-e Khvārazm 1994/1373 Tehran

GustafsonJ. M. “Qajar Ambitions in the Great Game: Notes on the Embassy of ʿAbbas Qoli Khan to the Amir of Bokhara, 1844.” Iranian Studies 2013 46 4 535 552

HedāyatRezā Quli Khān ScheferC. Sefāratnāma-ye Khvārazm (Relation de l’Ambassade au Kharezm [Khiva] de Riza Qouly Khan: Texte Persan) 1876 Paris

KhānʿAbbās Quli ZamaniH. Safarnāma-ye Bokhārā 1995/1373 Tehran

KhazeniA. “Across the Black Sands and the Red: Travel Writing, Nature, and the Reclamation of the Eurasian Steppe circa 1850,” ijmes 2010 November 42 4 591 614

Mir-PanjaEsmāʿil TabarrāʾeyānSafāʾ al-Din Khāterāt-e asārat: ruznāma-ye safar-e Khvārazm va Khiva 1991/1370 Tehran

MorrisonA. “Killing the Cotton Canard and Getting Rid of the Great Game: Rewriting the Russian Conquest of Central Asia, 1814–1895,” Central Asian Survey 2014 33 2 131 142

Nölle-KarimiC. KöseY. “ ‘Different in All Respects’: Bukhara and Khiva as Viewed by Ḳāǧār Envoys,” Şehrâyîn. Die Welt der Osmanen, die Osmanen in der Welt. Wahrnehmungen, Begegnungen und Abgrenzungen. Illuminating the Ottoman World: Perceptions, Encounters and Boundaries: Festschrift Hans Georg Majer 2012 Wiesbaden 435 446

SerebrennikovA. G. Sbornik materialov dlya istorii zavoevaniya Turkestanskogo Kraya 1912 3 Tashkent (Collected Materials for the History of the Conquest of the Turkestan Region), 1841, republished

ShubinskiiP. “Ocherki Bukhary (Sketches of Bukhara),” Istoricheskii vestnik 1892 7 118 142

StremoukhovN. P. “Poezdka v Bukharu (Izvlechenie iz dnevnika) (Journey to Bukhara [Diary Extracts]),” Russkii vestnik 1875 6 630 696

WoodW. A. “The Sariq Turkmens of Merv and the Khanate of Khiva in the Early Nineteenth Century,” 1998 Indiana University unpub. Ph.D. diss.,

ZalesovN. “Pisʹmo iz Khivy (A Letter from Khiva),” Voennyi sbornik 1859 1 273 295

ZalesovN. “Posolʹstvo v Khivu podpolkovnika Danilevskogo v 1842 g. (Lieutenant-Colonel Danilevskii’s Embassy to Khiva in 1842),” Voennyi sbornik 1866 5 42 76


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 15 15 8
Full Text Views 6 6 4
PDF Downloads 0 0 0
EPUB Downloads 1 1 1