SOAS University of London

Brunei Gallery, SOAS University of London

The later period

The Bakhtiari never regained the pre-eminence of the so-called Bakhtiari Domination.

Many individuals did however hold key national as well as district-level positions. These included:

Sardar Asad the Third

Sardar Asad the Third was the oldest son of Sardar Asad the Second and acted as his father’s spokesman when the latter went completely blind. He was the Minister of War three times for Reza Shah, but was later imprisoned by him and then murdered in prison in 1934.
A letter from Sardar Asad the Third in his own blood is included here. 

Sardar Asad III hid this in the secret compartment of his writing case, where it was found by his family after his death. He wasn’t sure if this ruse would work: “After my death I don’t know if somebody will find these papers”, but clearly expresses his worries about his family and especially his Tehrani wife, Malek Malek. A doctor working in the prison apparently reported that Sardar Asad III was so strong that he successfully resisted being given a lethal injection. He was however gradually weakened by the imprisonment and was eventually suffocated. Sardar Asad himself writes of being unsuccessfully poisoned and declares himself prepared to die: “Reader, if you only saw my courage and my faith, you would be amazed how ready I am to die”.

Teymour Bakhtiari (1914-70) 

was important militarily in both Azerbaijan and the 1953 fall of Mossadegh. He was the founder and head of SAVAK, the National Intelligence and Security Organization, from 1958-61. SAVAK agents eventually assassinated him in Iraq. His first wife was Iran Khanom, a daughter of Sardar Zafar 

Aga Khan Bakhtiar

who was the Minister of Finance in the 1950s, and a key player in the National Iranian Oil Company. 

Rostam Khan Amir Bakhtiar

who was Empress Soraya’s Secretary. After her divorce from the Shah, he became the Head of Imperial Protocol, until the 1979 Revolution.

Shapour Bakhtiar

In his 37 days as the last Prime Minister of Mohammed RezaShah, Bakhtiar ordered all political inmates to be freed, lifted censorship of newspapers, relaxed martial law and ordered the dissolution of SAVAK. His request for a three month grace period to hold elections for a constituent assembly was not granted by the opposition. 

A more recent photo of a group of senior Bakhtiari men

taken in London in the 1980s