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By: Prof. Ehsan Yarshater



Esfandiar, one of the seven great clans of Parthian and Sasanian times. Tabarî attributed the establishment of these clans to the Kayanian king Goštâsp (q.v.) and applied the epithet al-fahlavî (Parthian) to three of them: Kâren with its seat in Mâh Nehâvand, Sûrên in Seistan, and Esfandîâr in Ray. The last traced its lineage to Esfandîâr (q.v.) son of Goštâsp.


Nöldeke suggested that, as Tabarî did not name Mehrân, one of the seven, with its seat in Ray, it could be identical with Esfandîâr (pp. 139, 439 n. 3). Mehr-Narsê, the powerful grand vizier of Yazdegerd I, Bahrâm V, and Yazdegerd II, well-known for having sponsored construction of a number of fire temples and palaces, belonged to the clan of Esfandîâr. Among other outstanding members were Mehr-Narsê's sons Zarvând(âd), chief religious teacher (hêrbadân hêrbad) under Bahrâm V; Mâhgošnaš, in charge of finances (also a wâstaryôšân-sâlâr, heading the estate of the farmers and toilers) under Bahrâm V; and Kârdâr, military commander (arteštârân-sâlâr) under the same king Bestâm and Bendôy (q.v.), maternal uncles of Khosrow II Parvêz, who dethroned Hormazd IV and were in the end discarded by Khosrow II and Šâhîn, the super-satrap (pâdôspân) of the western provinces and the general who conquered Egypt and Nubia and sent the keys of Alexandria to Khosrow II, belonged to this family. Some members of the clan, including Bestâm and Bendôy, were also said to belong to the family of Sepâhbad, another great house of the Sasanian period; the confusion may have been caused as a result of intermarriages.




(for cited works not given in detail, see "Short References"): 

Christensen, Iran Sass., pp. 104 ff., 109, 276 ff., 444 ff. Dînavarî, ed. Guirgass, pp. 83, 87, 95, 102, 105. 

M. Mehrâbâdî, Khânadânhâ-ye hokûmatgar-e Îrân-e bâstân, Tehran, 1993, pp. 74, 163-81. 

Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser, pp. 109 ff, 137, 291 n. 2, 294, 437 ff., 478 ff. 

F. Spiegel Erânische Altertumkunde, 3 vols., Leipzig, 1971-78, III, p. 504. 

Tabarî, I, p. 683, 868-69, 1002-24. Theophylactus Simocatta, 4.3.5.



Source/Extracted From: Encyclopaedia Iranica


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Page Keywords: Parthians, Arsacids, Ashkanians, Ashakanids, Pahlavas




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