Foreign Legations in Persia in 1866-67

Inventory of the personnel of the foreign legations in Persia in 1866-1867. This page will be updated regularly. The sources used are mentioned at the bottom. Personalities mentioned by Tinco Lycklama in his travel diaries are marked with .

(The abbreviation “E.e. et M. Pl.” is French practice and stands for “Envoyé extraordinaire et Ministre plénipotentiaire”. Some names have been enriched with information stemming from our research. This inventory is non-exhaustive. Corrections and suggestions are welcome)

The personalities


  • Tehran
    • Jacques-Adolphe Cousseau, comte de Massignac (1815-1879), E. e. et M. Pl. (appointed 05/10/1864, accredited 30/11/1865) 
      • Replaced in March 1867 by Ernest de Bonnières de Wierre (1825-1909) (see Geni…)
    • Louis Julien Emilien, comte de Rochechouart (1831-1879), secretary (3rd class) (see Geni…)
    • André Théodore Pichon (1805-1891), attaché (see Geni…)
    • Jean-Baptiste Nicolas (xxxx-1875), 1st drogman
    • Amedée Querry (1825-1900), chancelier 
    • Emile Charles Bernay (1841- ), commis de chancellerie 
    • In 1867…
      • Le Roy, attaché
  • Consulates
    • In Tabriz: Ernest Crampon, acting consul
      • Replaced by Amedée Querry in 1869
    • In Resht: Jean-Baptiste Nicolas, honorary consul


  • Tehran
    • Charles Alison (1810-1872), E.e. and M. Pl. (appointed 07/04/1860) 
    • Ronald Ferguson Thomson (1830-1888), secretary (see Geni…) (E.e. and M. Pl. 1879-1887)
    • William John Dickson (1826-1900), Oriental secretary  (see Wikipedia…)
    • August Henry Mounsey (1834-1882), 2nd secretary  (see Wikipedia…)
    • C.W. Lawrence, 2nd secretary
    • J.R.L. Dickson, doctor (Dr. Joseph Dickson – physician to the legation 1848-1887?)
    • Andrew Glen, interpretor and vice-consul
  • Consultates
    • In Tabriz: Keith Edward Abbott (1814-1873), consul general (see Wikipedia…)
    • In Resht: William George Abbott, consul general (see Geni…)


  • Tehran
    • Nicolas de Giers (1820-1895), E.e. et M. Pl. (appointed 01/08/1863)
    • Ivan Alekseevich Zinoviev (1835–1917), 1st secretary 
    • Serchputowski, 2nd secretary
    • Vasily Sevryugin, 1st drogman
    • Basile Amiroff, 2nd drogman
  • Consulates
    • In Astrabad: Goussew, consul
    • In Gilan: Nicolai Pavlov (Pauloff), consul
    • In Tabriz: Valérien Bézobrazow, consul general


  • Tehran
  • Consulates
    • In Kirmanshah: Méhémmed Bey, consul
    • In Tabriz: Ahmed Ilmi Effendi, consul


  • Vacancies at the consular agencies of Resht, Bandat Bushir, Tabriz and Tehran



  • Almanach de Gotha: annuaire généalogique, diplomatique et statistique pour l’année 1867, published November 1866 by Justus Perthes, Gotha. (see link…)
  • Almanach de Gotha: annuaire généalogique, diplomatique et statistique pour l’année 1868, published November 1867 by Justus Perthes, Gotha. (see link…)
  • Amédée Querry : drogman en Perse au milieu du XIXe siècle, by Florence Hellot-Bellier, Paris, 2009


Sir Robert Murdoch Smith (1835-1900), engineer, archaeologist and diplomat

In 1866, when Tinco Lycklama visits Tehran for the first time, he meets with “Captain Smith” – who happens to be the later Major-General Sir Robert Murdoch Smith. Their relationship is social; Robert Murdoch Smith had just arrived in Persia and had not yet started the work he is most remembered for – collecting objects in Persia.

Whereas Robert Murdoch Smith started his career as an Scottish engineer working on the Persian telegraph system, in 1873 he also would become an agent for the South Kensington Museum and, later, for the Victoria & Albert museum. The acquisitions by Robert Murdoch Smith have been the start of the Iran collection at the V&A.

(See biography and links below the picture)

Robert Murdoch Smith (1835-1900)
Robert Murdoch Smith (1835-1900) – Collection National Museums Scotland



(see source in notes below)

Major General Sir Robert Murdoch Smith KCMG (18 August 1835 – 3 July 1900) was a Scottish engineer, archaeologist and diplomat. He is known for his involvement with the excavation of antiquities found at Knidos and Cyrene, the telegraph to Iran, Persian antiquities bought for the Victoria and Albert Museum, and for serving as Director of the Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art.

Early life
Smith was born on 18 August 1835 in Bank Street, Kilmarnock. He was the second child of Jean (born Murdoch) and Dr Hugh Smith.[1] He attended Kilmarnock Academy and went on to spend four years at Glasgow University.[2] He found moral philosophy vague, but excelled at science, in which he was taught by a young Lord Kelvin.[1]

Smith joined the army during the Crimean War and out of the 380 candidates who took the entry exam he came first. In September 1855, Smith was gazetted to Lieutenant and in the following October was chosen to lead a small group of Royal Engineers bound to help Charles Thomas Newton’s archaeological mission to the remains of the ancient civilisation at Knidos in Turkey.[1]

The Lion of Knidos was found in 1858 by the architect Richard Popplewell Pullan near where he was helping Newton’s Knidos excavations.[3] Smith’s role was significant as he was presented with a large statue that had fallen onto its front face on a high cliff[1] and it was Smith who discovered the location of the mausoleum.[4] The limestone core of a monument was still there but the marble had been moved or stolen. Other pieces of worked stone lay around where they had been abandoned. Smith was able to replace, examine and move each of the remaining stones, and to create a detailed report on the supposed construction and its historical context.[1] This allowed Pullen to sketch what is thought to be a good reproduction of what the whole mausoleum would have looked like.[5] The Lion of Knidos was loaded onto the naval ship HMS Supply and shipped to London, where it is now held in the British Museum.[3]

Smith was very interested in archaeology and he decided to fund another two-year expedition to excavate the lost settlements of Cyrenaica in North Africa. The British government had permitted this expedition and when Smith and Lieutenant E. A. Porcher returned they deposited a large quantity of Cyrene sculptures and artefacts in the British Museum. This included the 2.29-metre (7 ft 6 in) high Apollo of Cyrene which they found in 121 pieces. They moved the pieces away secretly, fearing the marble fragments would be further destroyed by the locals because the sculpture was non-Islamic.[6] In 1862, Smith was able to publish his account of the excavations at Knidos, and in 1864 he wrote and Porcher illustrated their report on the Cyrene work.[4]

From 1865 Smith was a director of the Persian Telegraph Company, which enabled him to drastically improve the local infrastructure. He obtained this appointment following two years he spent assisting with the difficult task of installing the 1,200-mile-long wire required to join Tehran to London. Smith noted that this was done under difficult conditions as the locals saw it as a tool of the colonists.[2]

In parallel with this he had not lost his interest in culture. In 1873, he was given the unusual task of gathering artefacts and antiquities for the United Kingdom paid for by the Department of Science and Art. Smith did not just buy individual items, but in at least one case bought an entire collection belonging to Jules Richard in 1875.[7] Richard was known as Ri??r Khan and had initially worked as a translator, but he was involved in a variety of tasks from photography to balloon manufacture for the Shah.[8]

He lived in Tehran and his collection was so extensive that a special exhibition was staged in 1876 with a guide to the Victoria and Albert Museum’s special gallery written by Smith. The V&A acknowledge that it is Smith’s acquisitions that formed their Iranian collection.[7] Smith had not ignored his main job and his partnership with the Shah, Nasir al-Din, was noted when he received his Sword of Honour.[4]

The relatively new Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art appointed him as its director in 1885 and he was made Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) three years later, following a successful diplomatic mission to renegotiate Persian telegraph contracts. He gained a significant extension to the contracts and a diamond snuff box from the Shah. He died in Edinburgh in 1900, leaving two daughters.[4]

^ a b c d e The Life of Major-General Sir Robert Murdoch Smith, K.C.M.G., Royal Engineers, William Kirk Dickson, 1901, Blackwood
^ a b Robert Murdoch Smith (1835-1900), Kilmarnock Academy. Retrieved 2 December 2013
^ a b British Museum Collection The Lion of Knidos, British Museum. Retrieved 30 November 2013
^ a b c d George Stronach, ‘Smith, Sir Robert Murdoch (1835-1900)’, Rev. Roger T. Stearn, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 2 Dec 2013
^ Jenkins, Ian (2006). Greek architecture and Its Sculpture. New York: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674023889.
^ The Cyrene Apollo, Peter Higgs, History Today, Vol. 44, No. 11. Retrieved 2 December 2013
^ a b Major-General Sir Robert J. Murdoch Smith, Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 2 December 2013
^ Rishar Khan, iranicaonline. Retrieved 2 December 2013


Joseph Alberdingk Thijm (1820-1889), author and publisher

Josephus Albertus Alberdingk Thijm (Amsterdam, 13 August 1820 – Amsterdam, 17 March 1889). Dutch author, publisher and lecturer. Alberdingk Thijm was a member of the Amsterdam publishing firm C.L. van Langenhuysen – the Dutch publisher of Tinco Lycklama’s four volumes about his travel through the Orient (see “Voyage…”)


Joseph Alberdingk Thijm (1820-1889) – photography from around 1880

Mehmed Emin Namık Pasha (1804-1892), Ottoman statesman

Mehmed Emin Namık Pasha (1804-1892)

Tinco Lycklama met Mehmed Namik Pasha in the month of February 1867, in Baghdad. At that time, the Pasha was the governor of Baghdad and of its whole province. He gave Tinco full support for the continuation of his travel plans – including a special passport and personal letters that Tinco would use wherever he went throughout the Ottoman empire.

The Pasha is considered as one of the most influential Ottoman statesmen of all times, who has made an indelible imprint on Ottoman politics throughout the 19th century.

See a background in Turkish on Biyografya…


11/05/1866 – Finally in Tehran… but why?

Shrine of Abdol Azim by Eugène Flandin
Shrine of Shah Abdol Azim. Drawing by Eugène Flandin in “Voyage en Perse”, éd. Gide et Baudry, 1851

Tinco Lycklama catches his first glimpse of Tehran with the distant sight of the magnificent golden dome of Shah Abdol Azim‘s holy shrine. Against the backdrop of the Elbourz mountains, “the panorama is grandiose“, writes Tinco.

He continues his sentence by saying that “seen from this perspective, the city of the Qajars holds more promise than it really delivers.

That doesn’t sound very inviting, and more like a ‘showstopper’, doesn’t it? In the preceding hundreds of pages of his travel story, Tinco insists on how keen he is to reach Tehran. Once he gets there (today), he stays no less than five months. And, a year later, her returns for another month. Surely, if a city doesn’t live up to its promises, why not pick up your bags and go elsewhere?

There are certainly many mysteries as to what Tinco Lycklama really did during all those months in Tehran.

Any 19th century traveler to the Persian capital would know that Tehran doesn’t make any particular promise in terms of history or archaeology. For a period of about fifty years prior to the advent of the Qajar dynasty, around 1795, the capital of Persia was Shiraz. At that time, Tehran was barely a village, in the shadow of the ancient city of Ray which is just six kilometers to the west (and actually the location of the Abdol Azim shrine). Though the recorded history of the village of Tehran goes back to at least the 13th century, when its inhabitants were living in underground caves, there was nothing interesting about the place until the Qajars decided to build their capital there. By the time Tinco visited the city, it had grown in barely seventy years’ time to a population of about 100,000 people (and it had absorbed the ancient ruins of Ray as a suburb).

Tehran with overlay of the 1858 map by August Krziz
Modern Tehran with overlay of the 1858 map by August Krziz (Google Earth imaging)
Tehran with overlay of the 1858 map by August Krziz - Zoom
Zoom on the August Krziz map of Tehran of 1858

Our illustration is telling. By adding an overlay of an 1858 map by the Austrian lieutenant August Krziz on top of a current Google Earth satellite view of Tehran, we get a good idea of how small Tehran really was. We get a sense for the city’s fortifications and the location of official buildings and palaces.

So, what was so interesting for Tinco Lycklama to justify a five-month stay? We know how keen Tinco was to explore ancient sites likes Persepolis or Ctesiphon, and undertake some archeological digging there – so why did he linger in Tehran?

Of course, there were quite a few things to do in Tehran – including visiting the royal fortress (the arg) and admiring the many palaces and mosques that had been built in very little time by the ruling Qajar dynasty and its princes. In his writings, Tinco covers many interesting aspects of Tehran, including observations about Persia’s history and customs. But, in itself, Tinco isn’t telling us much new, and he actually duly refers to the writings of others from which he copied a lot of information.

Naser al-Din Shah Qajar (1831-1896), King of Persia
Naser al-Din Shah Qajar (1831-1896)

Over the next months, we will try and unravel the mysteries around Tinco. We will look into the people that he met and socially involved with – people that he explicitly mentions in his wirings, such as shah Naser al-Din himself. And, we’ll also look into the people that he doesn’t mention, for some strange reason.

One of the latter is the minister of the Russian legation – Nikolay Karlovich Girs (also called Nicholas de Giers). During all his months in Tehran, Tinco mingles with the foreign diplomats who constantly invite him to their residencies and their lively parties. He has excellent relationships with the three western legations – the Russians, the British, and the French. Actually, it is the Russian chargé d’affaires Ivan Zinoviev who takes Tinco along to meet with shah Naser al-Din. And Tinco is very involved with French Minister de Massignac and British minister Charles Alison. But, why not a single word about Nikolay Girs (1820-1895)? This was not an ordinary man. He was not only minister plenipotentiary of Russia in Tehran, in 1881 he also became the Foreign Minister of the Russian czar Alexander III and remained in that position for thirteen years. This obviously occurred after Tinco wrote his books, but the fact that he doesn’t even mention Nikolay Girs by name is absolutely startling.

There are many mysteries about Tinco’s life. Over the next few months, we may not be able to disclose many big secrets, yet. However, we will bring up all the right questions and run our investigations on the long run, if necessary. Perhaps state archives in Iran or in Western Europe may provide us with additional clues.

Tehran - Entrance to Bazar Emyr - Photography by Luigi Pesce, 1860
Tehran – Entrance to Bazar Emyr – Photography by Luigi Pesce, 1860 (Collection : Getty Research Institute)

One interesting aspect of our exploration of Tehran in Tinco’s days will be the encounter with a broad variety of people in its international community. Let’s have in mind that Persia used to be one of the most formidable empires in history. And, by the mid 19th century, Persia is still of crucial political and military importance, where all nations were vying for influence. Needless to say, to this day, Iran still has a very special place in world politics and in particular in the Middle Eastern region.

History books will be better than Tinco’s story to understand the facts and figures of 19th century diplomacy. However, the names that appear in the history books have real people behind them, and these people are often little known or understood. Tinco’s stories not only offer a glimpse into the social life of diplomats in Tehran, he also provides us with a good reason to dig deeper and to work on a more complete picture of how the geopolitical realities were often shaped by simple individuals with life stories of their own.

As such, when working our way through Tinco’s narrative, we may open new pêrspectives on previously ignored or under-explored areas of research. In the process, we will also look into the daily life of Qajar Tehran – the food, the shopping, the clothes, the harem… Tinco Lycklama is a most entertaining writer, with an excellent eye for good stories.


10/05/1866 – At Karaj, sleeping under abandoned Qajar art

Over the past three days, on a last straight stretch from Qazvin to Tehran, the weather has been wonderful. Tinco Lycklama is enjoying the easy ride through the beautiful and flat countryside. He makes little stops here and there – in Abdol-Abad, Safarghadj, Songhorabad and other villages . But, his last night before reaching the capital would be the most remarkable.

Fath Ali Shah (1772-1834)
Fath Ali Shah (1772-1834), 2nd Qajar king (coll.: British Library)

He hadn’t anticipated it, and the old authors he had read (like Jean Chardin, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier and Pietro della Valle) never mentioned Soleymaniyeh. Not really surprising, as this place only came into existence around 1810 – when Fath Ali Shah (1772-1834) – the second Qajar king – constructed a summer palace here. Today, Soleymaniyeh is just part of Karaj, Iran’s fourth largest city but only a small old village back then (Tinco calls it Gheredj, after the river that runs through it).

Interestingly, the palace is abandoned. A few guards are present on the grounds, but they let Tinco enter freely. Even more, Tinco simply installs himself in one of the vast halls of the palace to set up camp for the night! On the walls around him, Tinco admires historical portraits and oil paintings in traditional Qajar style. Tinco can’t believe his eyes and thinks he must be dreaming an oriental fairy tale.

In fact, here at Soleymaniyeh, Tinco takes note of the same observation he makes throughout his travels in Persia…

The palace is totally abandoned. In other words, the ruins progress with a speed that is so typical in this country. Only sixty years are needed to accomplish what centuries would do elsewhere. It’s a pity, because the royal palace at Soleymaniyeh, with its grand splendour and its interior decorations, deserves meticulous conservation.
(Translated from “Voyage…”, Vol. II, page 171)

Over the past month, Tinco saw many mosques, caravanserai and palaces that are left in a bad state – built by a previous generation and totally ignored by a new one. If UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee would have existed back then, there is no doubt that Tinco would have started campaigning for preservation upon his return to Paris.

For now, Tinco and his companions are simply camping amongst magnificent art – and enjoying every minute of it. Has the art that Tinco saw at Soleymaniyeh survived? It’s hard to tell, as Tinco didn’t publish a full inventory of the contents of the palace. As the illustration shows, some restoration of wall paintings has taken place, fortunately.

Soleymaniyeh Palace at Karaj
Interior of the Soleymaniyeh palace at Karaj



07/05/1866 – No veils in Siadoun, nice liquor in Kasbin, and a few more days of rest

“Even though the Prophet prohibited the use of spirits, many Persians unscrupulously break the law and – in the evenings, behind closed doors and with the blinds closed – they sometimes drink without measure all sorts of wines and even finish these unauthorized rituals with a couple of dry shots of a spirit called Arack.”

(“Voyages…”, Volume II, page 243)

Telling from Tinco’s own description, little seems to have changed in Iran today! But, back in the 19th century, when Tinco was traveling there, people were producing alcohol pretty much in the open, produced from the excellent grapes from Qazvin (written Kasbin by Tinco) – the city where Tinco arrived three days ago, May 4th 1866.

We don’t know whether Tinco was a real connoisseur, but he does have an opinion about the quality of wine. He ranks his personal preferences in a simple fashion:

  • Tehran wines are mediocre
  • Tabriz wines are good
  • Hamadan wines are very good, but…
  • the wines from Chiraz are the best.

Having said that, the grapes from Qazvin are famous and they are transported throughout Persia to produce a highly popular liquor. Let’s assume though, that wine is not what kept Tinco for four days in Qazvin.

Remember that he left Kirva on May 3th at night, almost fully recovered from his very bad flu and exhaustion. Early in the morning on the next day, he made a brief stop at the chapar khaneh of Siadoun (modern Takestan); he was really surprised to see that the majority of women there were not veiled! Throughout his travels across Persia, Tinco noticed that veiled women were the norm, and usually describes the veil as a white piece of cloth with two holes for the eyes. Sometimes he would see women working on fields who would shed their veils. But, the sight of so many unveiled women in Siadoun really came as a surprise. Unfortunately, Tinco does not give us an explanation.

Qazvin - Imamzada Hussayn Mosque - photography by Antoin Sevrugui ca. 1890
Imamzadeh Hossein Mosque – Qazvin – Photography ca. 1890 by Antoin Sevruguin.

He has been in Qazvin since May 4th, where he arrived in the evening. For a period of sixty three years, in the 16th century, Qazvin had been the capital of the Persian empire under the Safavid dynasty, and notably under shah Tahmasp I (1514-1576). To reflect on the geographical reality of that time… Tehran was just a tiny village of no significance, and Isfahan would only become a major center in the 17th century. Qazvin thus became the capital after the Safavids moved there, coming from Tabriz. During his stay, Tinco visited the mosque and the royal palace of Tahmasp.

Qazvin caravanserai - drawing by Eugène Flandin ca. 1840
Qazvin caravanserai, drawing by Eugène Flandin ca. 1840.

When he arrived at Qazvin, Tinco was happy to see that his trusted Armenian servant Tatous had traveled back safely from Tehran. When ill in Kirva, he had sent Tatous with a message for the head of the French legation in the capital, the comte de Massignac. Obviously, the latter had been very willing to oblige and had sent a Persian doctor to Tinco.

When they reunited at Qazvin, Tinco had no immediate need for a doctor, but the young Persian doctor proved the be a most agreeable person who would be a fine companion on the road to Tehran. In fact, Dr. Mirza Cheikh Djellal had had the privilege to study at the Faculté de médecine in Paris, and Tinco had a great time conversing – in French – about both Paris and the customs in Persia. The doctor’s only health recommendation to Tinco was to take additional rest. Which is why Tinco and his group only left Qazvin on May 8th, to commence the last leg of his travel towards Tehran.

He had been in Persia for over a month now, since he crossed the Azerbaijani-Persian border at Jolfa, on April 6th.


03/05/1866 – Tinco’s new friend, the future Qajar general Enrico Andreini

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.

Kirva - Qerveh
Kirva (Qerveh) today

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.

War and Peace in Qajar Persia - Roxane Farmanfarmaian
Ed. Roxane Farmanfarmaian (2008)

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 literatureWar and peace in Qajar Persia: implications past and present / edited
by Roxane Farmanfarmaian. Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2008

27/04/1866 – Zanjan, babism, and the happiest people of Persia

Over the past few days, Tinco Lycklama has been traveling the countryside on his way from Tabriz to Tehran.

Tinco briefly halted at Turkmenchay. That was slightly disappointing. In February 1828, this town was the site of an historical agreement between the Russian general Ivan Paskevich (1782-1856) and the Persian heir to the Qajar throne, Abbas Mirza (1789-1833). This agreement settled (to this day) the border between Russia and Persia on the Aras river (which Tinco crossed a few weeks ago when he first set foot on Persian soil). However, Turkmenchay was nothing more than a big village with nothing interesting to show to a curious traveler like Tinco.

Jean Thévenot (1633-1667)

The next stop was Mianeh. He didn’t have high hopes for his visit but, in a sense, he had to halt here to pay his respects to Jean Thévenot (1633-1667) – one of his great examples who traveled and described Persia two centuries earlier. Indeed, it was in Manieh that Thévénot died, on his way from Isfahan to Tabriz. It is reported that he is buried here, but his tomb has never been found.


Yesterday, April 26, Tinco reached Zanjan, where he spent the night. This ancient town held far more interesting things to see than Tinco did on his Persian travel so far. For one, he visited the palace built by Fath Ali Shah (1772-1834), the second Qajar king. The palace was out of order now, but only recently (in 1840) it had also housed the French delegation to Tehran under comte de Sarcey et marquis de la Valette, and in 1850 it was the baron Minutillo, the Prussian envoy, who stayed in the palace. The closer he was getting to Tehran, the closer Tinco sensed the presence of the ruling Qajar dynasty.

But, it is another aspect of Zanjan that captures Tinco’s attention: the Bábism religion (1844-1852). Tinco’s devotes many pages to this phenomenon. This is of considerable interest, as he is one of only very few westerners that have written about the events that took place in 1850-1851, in particular in Zanjan – on the basis of eyewitness reports. One of the leaders of the Bábi movement, Mullá Muḥammad-‘Aliy-i-Zanjání (1812-1851, also nicknamed “Hujjat“), had taken refuge in Zanjan – but he and his followers (and thousands of inhabitants) were totally massacred. The events at Zanjan marked the beginning of the end of Bábism, and Tinco has described these events faithfully after interviewing many survivors.

Despite the persistent marks of these recent events on the city, Tinco also takes note of what he observed of the present inhabitants of Zanjan:

Les habitants ont beaucoup de penchant pour la plaisanterie et le sarcasme. L’auteur du Ssour-al-iqalim (Description des Contrées) les accuse d’insouciance et de paresse.” (“Voyage…”, Vol II , page 102)
(The population has a tendency for joking and sarcasm. The author of Ssour-al-iqalim (Description of the regions) accuses them of insouciance and laziness).

This remark is particularly interesting as a recent report by ISNA (the “Iranian Students News Agency“) in 2013 suggests that the people of Zanjan have the highest level of happiness amongst the thirty provinces that constitute modern Iran.

Soltanieh mosque in Tinco’s time (photo credit: Iranian Institute for Contemporary Historical Studies)

Today, Tinco is reaching Sultanieh. It will be just an overnight stop – but not without importance. It was just a village in ruins but, once upon a time, Sultanieh had been the capital of Mongol Persia. Under shah Mohammad Khodabanda (1532-1596), who adopted shi’a islam for Persia, it was also the capital of the Safavid dynasty, until the shah’s son Abbas the Great (1571-1629) overthrew his father and moved the capital to Isfahan.


By traveling these roads and seeing so many ruins, where critical events took place across many centuries, Tinco gets a strong sense for the impact that these events have had for the whole region – and beyond.