Agha: tribal leader or member of landed aristocracy.
Balam: flat-bottomed carvel-built boat, approx. 35 feet long, usually punted but sometimes sailed.
Caliph: successor ofthe Prophet Muhammad, temporal and spiritual head of all Sunni Muslims. The Ottoman sultans claimed the title of caliph, never seriously contested by other Muslims.
Caliphate: dominion of the caliph (claimed by the Ottoman state).
Chalabiya: small boat or home-made raft.
Firman (also ferman): royal decree or order.
Khan: title for feudal lord or prince; also an inn or hostel for travellers and their goods
Khanum [or Khatun]: title of respect used for a woman, corresponding to the male Khan.
Kibasha: the Marshmen.
Liwa: administrative district, subdivision of vilayet in the Ottoman Empire; also known as a sanjak (sancak).
Madan: a soggy platform made from reeds and rushes and used as the foundation of a house in the Marshes.
Montifick [also Montefick Arabs]: Muntafiq tribes.
The meaning and origin of the name 'Montefick' is unknown. Amongst the Marsh Arabs the most powerful conferederation of tribes on the lower Euphrates in the C18th was the grouping of the principal tribes - the Bani Malik, the Ajwad and the Beni Said under the family of Al Shabib. The whole grouping was famous by 1770, even outside Iraq, as the Muntafiq. Their paramount sheikh was residing at Nahr al Antar near Qurna. In 1778 they inflicted a devastating defeat upon an invading Persian force of 12,000 infantry and cavalry. The Muntafiq sheik lured the Persians into a trap near Samawa on the Euphrates where they bogged down in the Marshes and were slaughtered almost to a man.
Mukhtar: village chief.
Mullah: religious dignitary.
Muslim: person who professes Islam.
Mussulman: obsolete term for Muslim.
Pasha: Ottoman title for high military and civilian officials.
Pashaliq (or pashalik): territory under a pasha.
Porte [full title: 'The Sublime Porte']: The Ottoman Court at Constantinople and, by extension, the government of the Ottoman Empire.
Qalit: hereditary headman.
Qasab: giant marsh reed growing to a height of 25 feet [Phragmites communis].
Quffa: circular coracle used on the Tigris.
Sarifa: building of reeds and mats which has the roof suported by a ridge pole.
Shaykh: chief of a tribe.
Tarada: sheik's canoe, with large iron-bossed nails studding its flanks.
Tuhui: floating island of vegetation.
Vilayet: province of the Ottoman Empire.
Wahhabis: puritanical-religious tribal movement in the Arabian pensinsular.
Wali [also Vali]: governor of a province (Vilayet) of the Ottoman Empire.
Zaima: a coracle made of qasab and coated outside with bitumen.
Nieuwenhuis, Tom. Politics and Society in Early Modern Iraq: Mamluk Pashas, Tribal Shayks and Local Rule between 1802 and 1831. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1982 pp.xi-xiii.
Thesiger, Wilfred.The Marsh Arabs London: Longmans, 1964 pp.221-222.
Young, Gavin. Return to the Marshes. London: Collins, 1977 pp.47-48.
Caravanserai: roadside resting place where travellers could relax and recover from the day's journey; typically a building with a square or rectangular walled exterior and a single portal wide enough to permit large or heavily laden beasts to enter. The central courtyard was almost always open to the sky, and the inside walls of the enclosure were outfitted with a number of identical stalls, bays, niches, or chambers to accommodate merchants and their servants, animals, and merchandise.
Charwadar [also charvadar]: muleteer, caravan-master.
Gholam: official messenger or attendant.
Istikbal: procession of welcome.
Jul: horse's outer blanket.
Kadjar: see Qajar.
Kalian: waterpipe for smoking tobacco; a 'hubble-bubble' [see also: qaleoun].
Ketchuda: headman of a village.
Khan: lord or prince.
Khanjar: curved dagger.
Mihmandar [also Mehmandar]: guide, escorting official.
Mirza: as a prefix signifies 'Secretary' or 'Scribe'; as a suffix means 'Prince'.
Qaleoun: water pipe (for smoking) [see also: kalian].
Qajar [also Kadjar]: Turcoman tribe, to which the Qajar ruling dynasty of Persia (1796-1925) belonged. Their ancestral lands were in Ganja in present-day Azerbaijan, which was then part of Persia (Iran). In 1779, following the death of Mohammad Karim Khan Zand, the Zand dynasty ruler of southern Persia, Agha Mohammad Khan, the leader of the Qajar tribe, set out to reunify Persia. Agha Mohammad Khan defeated numerous rivals and brought all of Persia under his rule, establishing the Qajar dynasty. By 1794 he had eliminated all his rivals including Lotf 'Ali Khan, the last of the Zand dynasty, and had reasserted sovereignty over the former Persian territories in Georgia and the Caucasus. Agha Mohammad established his capital at Tehran, a village near the ruins of the ancient city of Ray (now Shahr-e Rey). In 1796 he was formally crowned as Shah.
Agha Mohammad was assassinated in 1797 in the Azerbaijani town of Shusha (in Karabakh) and was succeeded by his nephew, Fath 'Ali Shah Qajar. Under Fath 'Ali Shah Persia went to war against Russia which was expanding from the north into the Caucasus Mountains, an area of historic Persian interest and influence. Persia suffered major military defeats during the war. Under the terms of the Treaty of Golestan in 1813, Persia recognized Russia's annexation of Georgia and ceded to Russia most of the north Caucasus region.
Seraidar: keeper of a caravanserai.
Shah: term for a Persian/Iranian monarch; an imprecise rendering of shahanshah (meaning 'king of kings').
Shulwars: wide trousers.
Sowar: horseman or horse-soldier.
Encyclopaedia Iranica. New York: Bibliotheca Persica Press, 1983- [in progress].
Encyclopaedia of Islam. [New Edition]. Leiden: Brill. 1960- [in progress].
Brigadir [Russian military rank]: brigadier.
Cossack: a member of a free and (originally) democratic military brotherhood (Host), mostly made up of runaway serfs, who lived in he borderlands of the Russian Empire. They lived mainly from looting and pillaging. They enjoyed special status in the Russian armed forces.
Ducat [unit of currency]: 2 roubles.
Generalanshef [Russian military rank]: general.
General Feldmarshal [Russian military rank]: field-marshal.
General Poruchik [Russian military rank]: lieutenant-general.
Gradonachálnik: a city governor, or the senior state official in the town, appointed by the Tsar.
Gorodníchi: a governor of a town.
Kabeetka (Kabitka or Kibitka): covered cart or sledge.
Kapitan [Russian military rank]: captain.
Kopek [unit of currency]: 100th part of a rouble.
Praporshchik [Russian military rank]: ensign.
Podporuchik [Russian military rank]: second lieutenant.
Polkovnik [Russian military rank]: colonel.
Poruchik [Russian military rank]: lieutenant.
Pud [unit of weight]: 1638 grams or 36.11 lbs.
Rouble (also: Ruble) [unit of currency]: 100 kopeks.
Samovar: Russian tea-urn.
Sazhen [unit of measurement]: equivalent to 2.13 metres or 7 ft.
Serf: a peasant in bondage to a private owner.
Steppe: the grassy, treeless plain stretching from Hungary to Mongolia.
Taigá: coniferous forest stretching across the north of Russia bwtween the tundra and the steppe.
Verst [unit of measurement]: 1,067 metres or 3,500 ft. (500 sazhens).
Duffy, Christopher. Russia's Military Way to the West: origins and nature of Russian military power 1700-1800. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981.
Longley, David. The Longman companion to Imperial Russia, 1689-1917. London: Longman, 2000 pp.313-323.
Parkinson, John. A Tour of Russia, Siberia and the Crimea 1792-1794. London: Frank Cass, 1971.