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Mohammad Reza Pahlavi , the last Shah of Persia (r. 1941–1979)

Shah ( Persian شاه, DMG Šāh , pronunciation [ʃɒːh] ) is the Persian word for ruler . It was used in Persia and in the Iranian cultural area already in antiquity at the time of the Achaemenids , Parthians and Sassanids (with Cyrus the Great in ancient Persian texts: xshâya ). The title continued to be used in Islamic times . So called themselves until the Iranian Revolution 1979 a . a. the Safavids , the Qajars and the Pahlavi rulers "Shah", but also the Afghan rulers of the 18th, early 19th and 20th centuries (1926 until the fall of the monarchy in 1973).

Shah is often part of the name, e.g. B. with the name Shahbaz . The name of the game of chess and other compounds also goes back to the Persian word.


One of the most important and oldest variations of the Shah's title is the form Shahanshah , which dates back to the Achaemenids (New Persian شاهنشاه, DMG šāhanšāh , Middle Persian and New Persian up to about the Buyid period šāhān-šāh ). The form Shahinschah - or even Shah-In-Shah -, which has also become known in German mainly through the press , is influenced by the Turkish form şehinşah or şahinşah . The title literally means "ruler of the rulers" and describes an absolute ruler, comparable to a " great king " or " emperor ". Shahanshah could (originally) only be one supreme, most powerful monarch at a time. In addition to the Persian rulers (up to Mohammad Reza Pahlavi ), this title was also borne by the great kings of Asia Minor or Transcaucasian such as B. Mithradates VI. of Pontus or Tigranes II of Armenia . After the fall of the Sassanids by the Arabs, the title was reintroduced by the Buyids.

The minor form Padischah , Padeschah or Padschah ( Persian پادشاه, DMG pād [e] šāh ) means “ruler” or “great king”, but in today's Persian usage “king”. It is composed of the old Iranian words patiy (adv. “ Towards something, against; again”) and xšāyaθiya- (“ruler”, derived from the verb xšā (y) “able to rule”). This variation of the Shah title was mainly used for the sultans of the Ottomans (until 1922) and the rulers of the Indian Mughal Empire (until 1858).

The forms of Khorezm-Shah ("Shah of Khorezmia "), Shirvan-Shah ("Shah of Shirvan ") and Shah-i Arman ("Shah of the Armenians ") existed as regional variants .


The well-known Ottoman title Pascha is directly derived from Padischah .

Shah-zade (from Shahzād ;شهزاد) means prince in Persian, shah-zade-chanom or shah-wick princess and shah-zan queen. The loan word Şehzade , transferred into Turkish, was an Ottoman title.

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi changed the title of his wife Farah Diba to shāh-bānū in 1961 .


The name of the chess game is also derived from the word Shah . Checkmate is traced back to the expression schah mat ( šāh māt - "the king is helpless / defeated").

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Shah  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. Cf. Christian Bartholomae : Old Iranian Dictionary. Trübner, Strasbourg 1904.
  2. ^ Catherine Legrand, Jacques Legrand: Shāh-i Īrān. Creative Publishing International, Minnetonka MN 1999, ISBN 0-86573-500-X , p. 90, (farsi edition), ( bānū means lady, mistress or princess).
  3. The King Isn't Dead After All! The Real Meaning of Shah Mat or the Lesson of the Commode ( Memento of July 16, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), Jan Newton,, September 2003