Administrative Documents of Astan-e Quds-e Razavi in the Safavid Era
Astan-e Quds-e Razavi is a major religious, cultural and economic institution founded on the Waqf endowments to the shrine of the 8th Shia leader, Imam Reza (764–818) in the eastern Iranian city of Mashhad. The institute is more than 1,100 years old with a long historical precedent of recordkeeping. The endowments of this charitable estate stretched from Eastern Persia to today's Afghanistan. So important was this estate to Mashhad that the Motevalli, or Head of the Estate, was in the Safavid Era (1501–1722) made the King's deputy in the area.
This great religious estate is still operational today with a work-force of over 1,000 people. It supports, as it has always done, two universities, a hospital and a religious school, all grouped around a great religious shrine. Its archive holds 6 million documents, of which 69,000 pages are assigned to the Safavid era. Produced between 1589 and 1735, they cover cultural, social, economic, political and military developments in Khorasan province. They also capture details of peoples’ ordinary lives, their food staples, occupations, products, clothing, agriculture and husbandry, as well as natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, droughts and disease outbreaks. Data about names and information on cities, villages, districts, buildings, qanats, gardens and other constructions are discovered in the documents. Most Safavid documents from other archives are lost: these 69,000 pages record the social history and anthropology of the province. This estate and its archive show in greater detail than any other source how a major Muslim charitable estate worked, and as such, is of world cultural and historic heritage value. This documentary heritage was inscribed on the International Memory of the World Register in 2009.