South Azerbaijan - the cradle of culture in Iran
15 May 2023
The geography, where present-day Iran is located, was one of the most important territories ruled by many Turkic states and dynasties during the long time that passed until the end of the rule of Ravvadids, Seljuks, Atabays, Elkhanis, Jalayiris, Teimuris, Garagoyunlis, Aghgoyunlis, Safavids, Afshars and Gajars. The Turkish rule ended in Iran in 1925, giving way to the Pahlavi rule and then to the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979.
Up to half of Iran’s population are reportedly Turks, most of whom are Oghuz Turks. They live in Tabriz, Khorasan, Turkmensahra, Tehran, Karaj, Shiraz, Isfahan, Kerman, Arak, Qum, Qazvin, Hamadan, etc. Nine cities (Nishapur, Rey, Soltaniyeh, Maragheh, Ardabil, Tabriz, Isfahan, Qazvin and Tehran) of Iran were the capital of different Turkic states throughout history. Undoubtedly, Tabriz with its rich cultural heritage of the Turkic population is the most popular city.
From the period of the rule of Ravvadids until 1925, the geography, where present-day Iran is located, was continuously ruled by Turks. During these years, especially in the Middle Ages, South Azerbaijan has given priceless pearls to the world's culture. Historical and architectural monuments, inscriptions and manuscripts, and art schools that have survived to this day are directly related to the name of Azerbaijan and its south.
The works that have survived to date clearly show how effective the Turkic language was in Iran in the past. A large number of these works were devoted to statesmen and kings. This cultural development in the south of Azerbaijan manifests itself in different ways in several Iranian cities. Since music, art, painting, architecture, astronomy, book publishing, carpet weaving and miniature art developed individually in Maragheh, Urmia, Khoy, and other cities, all these fields of science and culture were concentrated in Tabriz.
Tabriz was recognized as the cradle of culture in the Middle Ages. The city’s cultural richness has led to a high level of arts such as carpet weaving, architecture, painting, miniatures, and music. Tabriz miniature school, which occupied one of the unique places in the field of miniatures, played a very essential role in the development of miniature art in Anatolia. The opening of a printing house, a newspaper-magazine publishing house, a kindergarten, a theater, a telephone exchange point, and a school for the deaf and blind in Tabriz for the first time in Iran is testimony to the city's commercial and cultural richness.
The fact that great Azerbaijani composer and creator of several musical instruments, Safiaddin Urmavi (1217-1294), played the oud to save himself and his relatives from the wrath of Hulagu Khan (1217–1265) and spent the end of his life in hunger and misery, as well as the immortal works gifted to the world culture by the captured architects and calligraphers, are examples of the period when Azerbaijanis were under spiritual oppression. For example, more than 20 works by Ajam Ali, a well-known architect known as Esir (Captured) Ali or Qul (Slave) Ali, have remained on the territory of present-day Türkiye. Among the material heritage of Samarkand (Uzbekistan), Delhi (India), Turkestan (Kazakhstan), Baghdad (Iraq), Cairo (Egypt), Sarajevo (Yugoslavia), and several other cities are the works of Azerbaijanis.
Hundreds of our works (miniatures, carpets, manuscripts, etc.), whose originals we do not have, decorate many libraries, archives, and museums around the world. One hundred manuscript copies of the works by Shahabaddin Suhraverdi (1145–1234) alone are stored in more than 30 libraries and manuscript archives of different countries. As it can be seen, the problem of Azerbaijan is not only the loss of land drawn on the map, but its moral losses are a thousand times greater than the loss of land.
The presence of Azerbaijani Turks in the world culture and their multifaceted invaluable services to the progress of many countries from time to time is undeniable. Of course, Iran has a special place among these countries. The works by Hasan bey Zardabo (1837-1907), Mirza Alakbar Sabir (1862-1911), Ali bey Huseynzade (1864-1940), Jalil Mammadguluzade (1869-1932), Ahmad bey Aghaoghlu (1869-1939), Nariman Narimanov (1870-1925), Mammad Said Ordubadi (1872-1950), Mammad Amin Razulzade (1884-1955), Mirza Bala Mammadzade (1898-1959) and others clearly reflect the acts of aggression against the Turks, their struggle for national independence and national identity.
The Russian-Iranian wars resulted in the signing of the Gulustan Treaty in 1813, according to which, the northern part of Azerbaijan was given to Russia and the southern part to Iran. In the first years after the signing of the treaty, the northern Azerbaijanis, who were not yet part of Russian politics, continued their cultural ties with the southern Azerbaijanis. It is worth mentioning the studies on the Persian language conducted by Abbasgulu agha Bakikhanov (1794-1847) and Mirza Kazimbey (1802-1870), the literary relations between Mirza Fatali Akhundov (1812-1878) and Mirza Mulkum khan Nizamuddov (1833-1908), as well as the works written by Mirza Agha Tabrizi in consultation with Akhundov.
The Turks played an important role in the establishment of the Democratic Party of Iran, which was founded in Tehran and had a local branch in Tabriz. The party was headed by Sayyed Hasan Taqizādeh (1878-1970). The "Irane-nou" newspaper of this party published in Tehran was edited by Mammad Amin Rasulzade, and the "Shafaq" newspaper in Tabriz was edited by Mirza Hajiaga Rzazade (Rzazade Shafaq). It should be noted that during the constitutional revolution, about 50 newspapers and magazines were published in Azerbaijan. Of them, eight were published in Turkic and Persian languages, one in Turkic and the rest in Persian. Turks were the founders and editors of many newspapers based in Tehran.
Volumes of works are needed to explain the historical, geographical and cultural characteristics of the south of Azerbaijan, especially the city of Tabriz. We also tried to collect the bibliographic indexes of all the valuable works written in our small work. We collected and systematized all the information in the scientific archives of the National Library of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Institutes of Manuscripts, Folklore and Oriental Studies of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, Baku State University, and many other libraries of the country. We tried to have all the published works reflected here.
In the north of Azerbaijan, there is always a great interest in the South, especially in Tabriz. One can understand the longing of people who have not seen Tabriz even once in their life. But people who have seen Tabriz a thousand times also long for Tabriz.