The Safavid Dynastyby Alex Montuori

Economic Backdrop

The Safavid Dynasty was fueled by trade, because the silk road ran through the Dynasty they had the opportunity to trade with Europe and Asia. Their main exports where livestock, spices, jewelry, and spices. The Artisans products also provided most of the trade for the Safavids. They mainly imported textiles, coffee, sugar, and metals. The economy for the Safavid's was very large because the silk road connected them to both the eastern areas and the western areas.

Political Backdrop

The Safavid Dynasty used a monarchy system of government. Ismail I was the founder and the Shah of the Safavid empire. The Safavid Empire had very different religious of the Ottomans, these differences shaped distinct political systems. The state religion was Shiism, this was decided in 1501.Although the Safavid Empire lasted a fraction to that of the Ottoman empire, it gave a home and location for the shiite culture. The Shah of the Dynasty preferred to connect to the people rather than block them out with large walls or buildings.This was very different compared to the enclosed, fortified citadels in other empires. The capitol was Isfahan.

The Political History of the Safavid Empire (2010) Retrieved November 16, 2011, from


Time line of Safavid Dynasty

Aspects of Culture

Social Backdrop

The Safavid Dynasty played a very large role in art, even the Shah's practiced different forms of art ranging from painting to poetry. Under the Safavids rule the arts flourished and advanced in many ways. The shiite form of the Safavids shaped the social hierarchies and gender roles.The Shah was at the top of the hierarchy followed by the bureaucracy, then craftsman, then peasants or merchants. Men were expected to work in the fields or go to work, he was expected to do all the manual labor. Women were expected to stay at home, cook, clean, and take care of the children. When Abbas I died there was a pressure to conform to traditional beliefs of the religion, women were forced to give up freedom, wear the viel, and live in seclusion. (Shapour Ghasemi, Iran Chamber Society. 2001-2011, The women also had pre-determined marriages where they did not have a say in who the got to marry. (Citizens were expected to pray often and go to mosques daily. Rural life was filled with mostly farming and manual labor.


The Safavid Dynasty believed strongly in educating the public, they understood the importance of having intelligent subjects. The majority of the dynasty was educated and literate with some few exceptions such as peasants and women. The Islam empires were known for there extensive knowledge in medicine, so the Safavids were very good doctors.

Artistic Innovation

The Safavid Dynasty strongly believed in the arts and influenced the world with the way they progressed the arts. The Safavids were big into painting, rug making, pottery, and sculpting. The art of the Safavids was very advanced, the Safavids created almost every kind of art including the art of books.

Be sure to caption your pictures with the title, artist and location of the object.

This painting depicts two lovers. Riza 'Abbasi 1629 (Found at Artstor)
A picture of a landscape. Habib Allah 1600 (Found at Artstor)
The Safavids were very talented with pottery. 16th (Found at Artstor)
This picture depicts a group of scholars. 17th century (Found at Artstor
The Safavids were very talented with rug making and the area today is still well known for this talent. 17th century (Found at Artstor)
They were very talented with glass making. 17th century (Found at Artstor)

Classic literary text

Go to page 2.(A Safavid Poet in the Heart of Darkness: The Indian Poems of Ashraf MazandaraniStephen Frederic Dale

Iranian Studies Vol. 36, No. 2 (Jun., 2003), pp. 197-212, Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of International Society for Iranian Studies, Stable URL:


The Safavid's religion was the form of the muslim religion, Shiite form. The Safavid empire did not allow other religions unlike the Ottoman empire, because of this they never had an expansive empire. The empire would prosecute those who did not follow the Shiite form of islam. Shi'ism became the state religion under Ismail I when he forced the population to convert even though they were mostly Sunni. Those who did not convert were either killed or exiled. The Safavid's were at conflict with the Ottomans for many reasons, one of which was the religious difference.


The Safavid Dynasty produced great architectural buildings and mosques. Mosques were the building that showed the true architectural talent of the Dynasty. The mosque that truly demonstrated the talent of the Dynasty in my opinion, is the Mosque of Shaykh Lutfallah. The Safavid mosques demonstrated their power, wealth and commitment to their religion.

The Mosque of Shaykh Lutfallah was built in 1590 (Found at Artstor)
This is the Al-Kazimiyyah Shrine, it was origanly built in 799 but was reconstructed in 1508 by Abbas I. (Found at Artstor)
Shah Mosque, The Shah mosque was built in 1692 by Abbas I, it is considered to be the greatest master pieces of The Safavid Dynasty. (Found at Artstor)

Courtyard of Shah Mosque.
Shah Mosque (2009) Retrieved November 16, 2011, from

Observations about what we have learned.

During this project i have learned a great deal of information about the Safavid Dynasty that i did not know before. I learned about the art that they created and it remains to be my favorite art of any dynasty/empire that we have talked about. I especially like the mosques that they built because i cannot imagine how they could build something that great and detailed without electric tools. The detail in the Mosque of Shaykh Lutfallah is very suprising and amazing. I found the culture very interesting and thought that the idea of having the Shah open to the public a very good idea because he could connect with the people and develop a connection with them, rather than boarding himself up in a fortified castle. I was surprised about the religious intolerance that was in the Dynasty. I enjoyed learning about the time difference and the evolution of the dynasty through the years. I learned who my favorite Shah was, Abbas I, and why they didn't expand the empire.


Shapour Ghasemi, Iran Chamber Society. 2001-2011,

Christine Millier, slide share,

Robert Tignor et. al.,Worlds Together, Worlds Apart: A History of the World Third Edition (London: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2011), 530

A Safavid Poet in the Heart of Darkness: The Indian Poems of Ashraf Mazandarani, Stephen Frederic Dale, Iranian Studies Vol. 36, No. 2 (Jun., 2003), pp. 197-212 Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of International Society for Iranian Studies, Stable URL:

All pictures taken from ARTsor unless otherwise noted.

New World Encyclopedia contributors, "Safavid Empire," New World Encyclopedia, (accessed November 16, 2011).

Resources to try:

Hayden Library Portal You can also find this link by going to Podium and finding the Hayden Library Link on the right side of the page.
ARTSTOR - a GIANT repository of examples of art: searchable by time, location, and type. Note that most of them have descriptions which are helpful for composing summaries. It is found in the DATABASES tab.

360 virtual tours This link takes you to the Ottoman Empire. By searching for 360 tour and the name of a specific site you can often find an online tour. Some can be embedded.

Saudi Aramco World a great source for cultural resources for the Islamic World and parts of Africa.

Internet Source Books At the top there is a directory that will move you to other regions. Helpful for finding primary source accounts.
Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History at the Met Provides samples, essays that explain the periods and production techniques. Note the thematic categories in the bottom right of the introductory page.

British Museum World History Timeline Set to open in Asia, you can move about the globe.

British Museum Cultures Gives an overview. The top right of each page gives a selection of items from the museum.

British Library contains descriptions of and digitized images of cultural artifacts and texts.

Louvre - in English

Asia for Educators Great for East Asia resources

Search of will also yield a number of resources on Japan, India, etc.

You can also use Google Books, Google Scholar, Google WonderWheel and Google Timeline to get the specific information you need. DO NOT perform a general search....


F: Follows directions but steals material. Both footnotes (or endnotes) and a bibliography (in Chicago Manual of Style format) are expected. You can change text using the T button to create superscript numbers.1 In short, treat the project like writing a research paper. There should be a caption under each picture that gives the name, originator, date, and source. Paragraphs and descriptions should be your writing, not another author's work pasted in with a few key words changed using the thesaurus function in Word.
D: Follows directions, cites sources, doesn't complete the project, is riddled with errors. It is evident that the team failed to use its time well.
C: Follows directions. Pastes the correct items into the correct places but takes no care in explaining the choices made. Uses less than six sources. Text is SLOPPY - no proofing!
B: Follows directions. Describes the choices made using complete sentences and clear language. Labels items correctly. Cites sources. Organizes the visuals. The paragraphs are clearly written, but general in nature.
A: Does B - but, shows some extra care, thought and research. An A has a "Wow" factor. This does not mean more color or flying moneys. It means that the content selected does a great job TEACHING about the culture of the in that region in that time period.