Kashan rug depicting Ahmad Shah Qajar, the last king of Qajar, on order of the Attarha Brothers, circa 1910. Condition: wear and tear, some cuts, some lost pile
A brief history of Ahmad Shah Qajar
The Qajars ceased the throne of Persia in 1785. There are a lot of art legacies from the Qajar times, from portraits to architecture that is exquisite and awe inspiring, yet the economy of Iran started to decline in the late 19th century and the people became restless. They pushed for reforms and wider freedoms across all classes but the shah of the time, Mohammad Ali Shah, would not agree. After he was successfully exiled to Russia his 11 year old son, Ahmad Shah, was placed on the throne.
Due to his young age his uncle acted as his guardian and adviser during his rule as king. Unfortunately for the young king, the world was in turmoil and with a threatening Russian force invading Persia and lack of cohesive decision making, the power of the Qajar kingdom diminished over time. Persia started losing ground and this gave rise to military intervention from the Persian Army to regain the strength of the country. In 1923 Ahmad Shah Qajar traveled to Europe on an "extended holiday" and was successfully overthrown in a bloodless coup by Colonel Reza Khan, later known as Reza Shah Pahlavi, whose line would be the last line of kings of Persia before the revolution in 1979. This marked the end of the last longlasting Persian Dynasty, Qajar, in 1925 after ruling Persia for 136 years.
The boy king died in exile in France in 1930 due to ill health. His wish was always to return to Persia and continue his reign until his last day, but he never recovered from the sadness of being exiled from his beloved Iran.
A brief history of the Attarha Brothers and their heritage house in Kashan
Kashan is a city situated in the Isfahan province of Iran estimated to be between 7,000 and 9,000 years old. It has been known through the ages for its many inhabitants and arts, of which the Iranian tile (called “kashi”), malile (silk fabric) and carpets are the most famous still.
Kashan is also these days favoured as a top tourist destination with many incredible buildings and estate houses built by very influential families during the Qajar Dynasty, most notable is the Tabātabāei House, the Boroujerdi House and the Attarha house. The first two mentioned houses were designed by Ali Maryam, a very famous architect at the time, with some traces of the advice of Saniol Molk and later his nephew, Kamalol Molk, both top painters of the Qajar period. Prior to the Qajar Dynasty and earthquake levelled nearly the entire city and for a good few decades the city was in derelict state until the Qajars decided to rebuild and renew the once bustling economic hub. The mosques, bazaar and many other public buildings in Kashan thus showcase the exquisite architecture of the Qajar Era.
One of the affluent families in Kashan in the late 1800’s to mid-1900’s were the Attarhas. The two Attarha brothers were top merchants of Kashan at the time and were so successful in their endeavors that one of them were given the title of “Malakol Tojar”, translated to King of the Merchants. This brother built an estate home for his family which came to be known as the Attarha House. The family exerted their influence in the business world of the city and was also responsible for commissioning and financing many Persian carpets. One of his sons, Javad, later became the mayor of Kashan and inhabited the family home, together with his wife and four sons, until the Pahlavi Dynasty. At that time the family moved out of the stately home, but it was later occupied again by one of Javad’s sons, possibly Mahsoud, who renovated the home. Later the home was donated to the city of Kashan, like most of the other estate houses, and it became part of the Architecture University of Kashan. Today it is occupied as a study centre of Persian carpets by the Kashan University.