Five days ago, Tinco Lycklama arrived at Kirva. On his way from Sultanieh, towards the city of Qasvin, he had been traveling north of the river, which is why he missed the interesting town of Abher. Purposefully so, because Tinco didn’t feel well at all, and was keen on reaching a major city like Qasvin where he would be able to see a doctor.
He didn’t get further than Kirva (Qerveh), though. When Tinco arrived at the chapar khaneh of this little village, he thought that the same fate would befall him as it did Jean Thévénot in 1667 in Mianeh: to die and be buried in a nameless grave, forgotten by everyone (Tinco sometimes had a sense for exaggeration, especially when it concerned his health).
In fact, at Kirva, a local doctor told Tinco that he might well have cholera, and that he had little hopes for him. Which prompted Tinco to send his Armenian servant Tatous ahead towards Tehran, with missives for Jacques-Adolphe Cousseau, comte de Massignac (1815-1879), the permanent envoy of France in Persia – asking for a doctor to be sent.
Fortunately, at Kirva, Tinco came across “colonel Andrini”.
At the time of writing his travel journals, Tinco wouldn’t know about the future importance of Enrico Andreini (his real full name) for the military organisation of Qajar Persia. The man Tinco met at Kirva seemed just an Italian adventurer who was, with the rank of colonel, in the service of Persia.
Born near the Italian town of Lucca and an officer in the army of Tuscany, Enrico Andreini (1828-1894) had been dismissed for irregularities in 1853. Seeking his good fortune, he traveled to Persia where he engaged as a foreign mercenary in the Persian army. Like other foreign mercenaries, Andreini was engaged as an instructor for the Persian troops and gained the trust of Naser al-Din Shah.
Little seems to be documented in English about Enrico Andreini, but Iranian and Italian sources may tell us more. What we do know is that, from 1871 onwards, Andreini was in the good grace of the Italian king Viktor-Emmanuel II, and became his agent in Persia. The reporting of Andreini is an important source for understanding the politics of Persia under the Qajar dynasty (see note). At the same time, Andreini climbed the Persian ranks and became a general and the instructor-in-chief, responsible for the re-organisation of the Persian army until his death in 1894).
Tinco’s encounter with Andreini was sheer coincidence. The colonel was on an inspection trip to troops stationed in the Gilan province (just north of Zanjan), and stopped at Kirva when he heard about “a sick European traveler”. Andreini, obviously familiar with the health issues that travellers may experience in Persia, reassured Tinco immediately that this was not cholera but simply a very bad fever. In a most elegant way, Andreini told Tinco that travelling in such a bad season, for many hours on horseback across difficult terrain, was the right recipe for exhaustion and catching a cold. Tinco felt reassured, and put himself on a strong diet and heavy doses of quinine – and turned out fine.
Andreini and Tinco had an instant liking for each other, and the Italian decided to stay for another three days in Tinco’s company until the latter’s full recovery, talking about Persia and about his first-hand experience living in the country for almost ten years.
Did Tinco meet Andreini again? We don’t know (yet). But, it is safe to assume that Andreini must have told Tinco a few things about Tehran and about whom to meet upon his arrival there. He may have given Tinco a few good introductions. Andreini’s career in Qajar Persia really took off after 1871, and Tinco wrote this volume of his travels only two years later, in 1873. Have they met or corresponded in later years? It’s what we hope to unravel.
On the night of 3 april 1866, Tinco left Kirva in good health – on his way towards Qasvin.
Note: Angelo M. Piemontese, An Italian source for the history of Qajar Persia: the
reports of the general Enrico Andreini (1871-1886), estr. da East and West, Roma, 1969, pp. 147-175
Further literature: War and peace in Qajar Persia: implications past and present / edited
by Roxane Farmanfarmaian. Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2008