|Emperor: Padishah, Shahanshah
|King: Sultan, Malik, Shah, Khan
|Royal Prince : Shahzada (Şehzade), Mirza|
|Noble Prince : Sahibzada|
|Nobleman: Nawab, Baig, Begzada|
|Royal house : Damat,|
|Governmental : Lala, Agha, Hazinedar|
Shah (Šâh or Şah) (//; Persian: شاه, [ʃɒːh], "king") is a title given to the emperors/kings and lords of Iran (historically also known as Persia). It was also adopted by the kings of Shirvan (a historical Iranian region in Transcaucasia) namely the Shirvanshahs, the rulers and offspring of the Ottoman Empire (termed there as Şeh), the Bengal Sultanate, as well as in Georgia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. In Iran (Persia and Greater Persia) the title was continuously used; rather than King in the European sense, each Persian ruler regarded himself as the Šâhanšâh (King of Kings) or Emperor of the Persian Empire. Mughal rulers of the Indian subcontinent also used the title of Shah. The word descends from Old Persian Xšâyathiya "king", which (for reasons of historical phonology) must be a borrowing from Median, and is derived from the same root as Avestan xšaΘra-, "power" and "command", corresponding to Sanskrit (Old Indic) kṣatra- (same meaning), from which kṣatriya-, "warrior", is derived. The full, Old Persian title of the Achaemenid rulers of the First Persian Empire was Xšâyathiya Xšâyathiyânâm or Šâhe Šâhân, "King of Kings" or "Emperor". This name is commonly confused with Indian surname Shah, which is derived from the Sanskrit Sadhu/Sahu (meaning gentleman ).
Šâh, or Shāhanshāh (King of Kings) to use the full-length term, was the title of the Persian emperors. It includes rulers of the first Persian Empire, the Achaemenid dynasty, who unified Persia and created a vast intercontinental empire, as well as rulers of succeeding dynasties throughout history until the twentieth century and the Imperial House of Pahlavi. The title was also extensively used by the sultans of the Ottoman Empire in combination with other words, as well as by the emperors of the Indian subcontinent, including those of the Mughal Empire, as they adopted Persian as their official language after it had been introduced into the region by Persianised Turko-Afghan dynasties centuries earlier. For instance, the third Mughal emperor, Akbar the Great (1542–1605), was formally known as "Shahanshah Akbar-e-Azam".
While the Ottoman Sultans never styled themselves as Shah, but rather Sultan, their male offspring received the title of Şehzade, which literally means offspring of the Shah.
The full title of the Achaemenid rulers was XšāyaΘiya XšāyaΘiyānām, literally "King of Kings" in Old Persian, corresponding to Middle Persian Šāhān Šāh, and Modern Persian شاهنشاه (Shāhanshāh). In Greek, this phrase was translated as βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλέων (basileus tōn basiléōn), "King of Kings", equivalent to "Emperor". Both terms were often shortened to their roots shah and basileus, which later resulted in confusion over the nature of the title due to the adoption of basileus by the Byzantine emperors as an explicitly imperial title equivalent to the various titles of their Roman predecessors; the resultant semantic drift caused basileus tōn basiléōn to now mean "Emperor of Emperors", a fantastical title never used in Persian history, or indeed anywhere else.
In Western languages, Shah is often used as an imprecise rendering of Shāhanshāh. The term was first recorded in English in 1564 as a title for the King of Persia and with the spelling "Shaw". For a long time, Europeans thought of Shah as a particular royal title rather than an imperial one, although the monarchs of Persia regarded themselves as emperors of the Persian Empire (later the Empire of Iran). The European opinion changed in the Napoleonic era, when Persia was an ally of the Western powers eager to make the Ottoman Sultan release his hold on various (mainly Christian) European parts of the Ottoman Empire, and western (Christian) emperors had obtained the Ottoman acknowledgement that their western imperial styles were to be rendered in Turkish as padishah.
In the twentieth century, the Shah of Persia, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, officially adopted the title شاهنشاه Shâhanshâh and, in western languages, the rendering Emperor. He also styled his wife شهبانو Shahbânu (Empress). Iran no longer had a shah after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
- The title padishah (Great King) was also adopted from the Iranians by the Ottomans and by various other Islamic monarchs claiming imperial rank, such as the Indian Mughals.
- Another subsidiary style of the Ottoman and Mughal rulers was Shah-i-Alam Panah, meaning "King, refuge of the world".
- Some monarchs were known by a contraction of the kingdom's name with shah, such as Khwarezmshah, ruler of the short-lived Muslim realm of Khwarezmia, or the Shirvanshah of the historical Iranian region of Shirvan (present-day Republic of Azerbaijan)
- The kings of Georgia called themselves shahanshah alongside their other titles. Georgian title mepetmepe ( also meaning King of Kings (Mepe-king in Georgian) ) was also inspired by the shahanshah title.
Shahzadeh (Persian شاهزاده Šāhzādeh or Şehzade). In the realm of a shah (or a more lofty derived ruler style), a prince or princess of the blood was logically called shahzada as the term is derived from shah using the Persian patronymic suffix -zādeh or -zāda, "born from" or "descendant of". However the precise full styles can differ in the court traditions of each shah's kingdom. In the Indian sub-continent, female descendants or princesses were called Shahzadi but in the original Persian, it is a gender neutral word.
Thus, in Oudh, only sons of the sovereign shah bahadur (see above) were by birth-right styled "Shahzada [personal title] Mirza [personal name] Bahadur", though this style could also be extended to individual grandsons and even further relatives. Other male descendants of the sovereign in the male line were merely styled "Mirza [personal name]" or "[personal name] Mirza". This could even apply to non-Muslim dynasties. For example, the younger sons of the ruling Sikh maharaja of Punjab were styled "Shahzada [personal name] Singh Bahadur".
The corruption shahajada, "Shah's son", taken from the Mughal title Shahzada, is the usual princely title borne by the grandsons and male descendants of a Nepalese sovereign, in the male line of the Shah dynasty.
For the heir to a "Persian-style" shah's royal throne, more specific titles were used, containing the key element Vali Ahad, usually in addition to shahzada, where his junior siblings enjoyed this style.
- Shahbanu (Persian شهبانو, Šahbānū): Persian term using the word shah and the Persian suffix -banu ("lady"): Empress, in modern times, the official title of Empress Farah Pahlavi.
- Shahmam (Persian شهمام, "Šahmām") : Empress mother.
- Shahdokht (Persian شاهدخت Šāhdoxt) is also another term derived from shah using the Persian patronymic suffix -dokht "daughter, female descendant", to address the Princess of the imperial households.
- Şehzade (Ottoman Turkish), (Persian شاهزاده): Ottoman Turkish termination for prince (lit; offspring of the Shah) derived from Persian Shahzadeh.
- Shah is a widespread name in the Indian subcontinent. See Shah (surname).
- Satrap, the term in Western languages for a governor of a Persian province, is a distortion of xšaθrapāvan, literally "guardian of the realm", which derives from the word xšaθra, an Old Persian word meaning "realm, province" and related etymologically to shah.
- Maq'ad-i-Shah, (Persian مقعد شاه Maq'ad-i-Shah), the phrase from which the name of Mogadishu is believed to be derived, which means "seat of the Shah", a reflection of the city's early Persian influence.
- The English word "check," in all senses, is in fact derived from "shah" (from Persian via Arabic, Latin and French). Related terms such as "checker" and "chess" and "exchequer" likewise originate from the Persian word, their modern senses having developed from the original meaning of the king piece.
- An introduction to Old Persian (p. 149). Prods Oktor Skjærvø. Harvard University. 2003.
- Old Persian. Appendices, Glossaries, Indices & Transcriptions. Prods Oktor Skjærvø. Harvard University. 2003.
- Shakespear, John. A dictionary, Hindustani and English: with a copious index, fitting the work to serve, also, as a dictionary of English, Nepali and Hindustani. 3rd ed., much enl. London: Printed for the author by J.L. Cox and Son: Sold by Parbury, Allen, & Co., 1834, p.1035
- D. N. MacKenzie. A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary. Routledge Curzon, 2005. ISBN 0-19-713559-5
- M. Mo’in. An Intermediate Persian Dictionary. Six Volumes. Amir Kabir Publications, Teheran, 1992.
- Shahzada son of shah, Newsvine.com
- David D. Laitin, Said S. Samatar, Somalia: Nation in Search of a State, (Westview Press: 1987), p. 12.
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