Some Persian Feminine Names and Etymologies

From the Timurid Dynasty

Ursula Georges


During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the Timurid dynasty ruled a Persian empire. Their domain included the modern countries of Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as parts of the surrounding nations. John E. Woods' pamphlet The Timurid Dynasty gives a family tree of the Timurid rulers of Persian and their descendants, wives, and concubines, based on a manuscript composed in the fifteenth century. The Timurids were ethnically Mongol; the names of the Timurid dynasty display a mix of Mongol, Turkic, Arabic, and Persian roots. This article collects most of the etymologically Persian women's given names from The Timurid Dynasty; I have also given the etymology of each name, insofar as I could determine it.

The recorded names of the members of the Timurid dynasty display a mix of names, titles, and titular names such as Jahânshâh 'king of the world'. The distinction between given name and title is frequently blurred, as in the case of Sultânum Begum, whose name translates literally as 'princess lady'. In the list below, I have tried to err on the side of omitting names that might be titles, rather than including titles which sound like given names.


Name Etymology
Bakht fortune
Bakht Dawlat fortune authority
Bakht Nigâr fortune painting/fortune beauty
Dawlat wealth, authority
Dawlat Bakht authority fortune
Dil heart
Dil Dâr heart-holding
Dil Khûsh happy heart
Dil Shâd happy heart
Durr pearl
Fâkhire glorious (?)
Firuz Bakht successful fortune/turquoise fortune
Firuze successful/turquoise
Gawhar pearl, jewel
Gawhar Shâd happy pearl
Gul rose, flower
Gul Badan rose body
Gul Bîkî rose lady
Gul Nâr pomegranate flower
Gul Rang rose color
Gul Rukh rose face
Gul Shâh rose king
Husn Nigâr beauty like a painting
Jân soul, life
La`l ruby
Mihr Bânû sun lady
Mihr Khushhappy sun
Mihr Nigâr sun beauty
Mihr Nûsh immortal sun
Nâr Gul pomegranate flower
Nigâr painting, beauty
Nurûz New Year
Pîrûz victory
Shâd Bakht happy fortune
Shâh Bânû king lady
Shahr Bânû lady of the land
Shîrîn sweet


John E. Woods, The Timurid Dynasty, Bloomington: Indiana University, Papers on Inner Asia no. 14, 1990
Available from the Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies at Indiana University.

By Ursula Whitcher, alias Ursula Georges, 2012