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"The Kayânid Queen"



By: Prof. Jalil Doostkhah



Homây Chehrzâd, (or Chehrâzâd), a Kayânid queen; she was daughter, wife, and successor to the throne of Bahman, son of Esfandiâr (qq.v.), according to the Iranian traditional history. The length of her reign is given as thirty years in the Bundahišn (ed. Ankelsaria, 36.8; tr., p. 308) and historical sources, and as thirty-two years in the Š (ed. Khaleghi, V, p. 511, v. 312) and Bahman-nâma (p. 603, v. 10,437). Only one Pahlavi source, the Bundahišn (ed. Ankelsaria 33. 8; tr., p. 275) has a report on her: during the reign of Vohuman (Bahman) "there was scarcity, the Iranians fought among themselves, and there was no man of the ruling dynasty who could rule; they seated Vohuman's daughter Humâe‚ [Homây] on the throne of sovereignty." She reigned for thirty years (ibid., 33.8; tr. p. 307). Islamic sources (collected and discussed by Christensen, 1932, pp. 149-51; Yarshater, 1983, pp. 471-72) agree in general with this report but vary in some details. Thus her name appeared as Khomâni (Biruni, p. 121; Tabari, I, p. 687; Dinavari, pp. 27-28), Khomây (Tha´âlebi, Gh, p. 389), and Homâya (Mas´udi, Moruj, ed. Pellat, sec. 553), all various transcriptions of the Mid. Pers. Humâg (Yarshater, p. 471; cf. Arm. Hmayeak: Hübschmann, Armenische Grammatik I, p. 47), which derives from Old Ir. *Humâya- attested in Av. Humâiiâ- (the name of a daughter of Vištâspa in Yt. 13.139), Elamite (from OPers.) u‚-ma-ya (Mayrhofer and Schmitt, 1977, p. 51). The meaning of the name is disputed (E. Benveniste interpreted it as "fortunate," R. Schmitt as "possessing good thought," and M. Mayrhofer as "with good skills"; see with literature Hinz, p. 125). Her epithet is given as Ch (Š, ed. Khaleghi, V, p. 483, vv. 140, 146), which is a shortened form of Ch "of noble birth," given by most authorities (Tabari, I, p. 689; Biruni, pp. 121, 123; Tha´âlebi, Gh, p. 389; Ebn Balkhi, p. 15; Mojmal, ed. Bahâr, p. 54). The form Š in Tabari, I, p. 688 and Fârs-nâma, p. 15, represents a Parthian variation; see Christensen, 1932, p. 149, n. 2). According to Mas´udi (Moruj, ed. Pellat, sec. 553) and Ya´qubi (Târikh I, p. 179), Š was the epithet of her mother, while Hamza Esfahâni (p. 38) gives her the additional name Šemirân (cf. Semiramis; Eilers, p. 59).


Great Ferdowsi describes Homây as "talented, educated, and wise" (Š, ed. Khaleghi, V, p. 483), and gives the following story (ibid., pp. 487-512; also found in Tabari, pp. 689-90; Maqdesi, III, pp. 150-52; Bal´ami, ed. Bahâr, pp. 687-892; and in the two versions of Dârâb-nâma, q.v.): she was her father's favorite, and Bahman married her in accordance with the accepted Zoroastrian tradition and chose her as his successor. He also designated the child she was expecting as the legitimate heir to the throne. After Bahman's death, Homây gave birth to a boy; in order to keep the throne for herself, she secretly gave him away to a wet-nurse and announced that the child had died. She eventually had him put in a wooden box and sent down the Euphrates (or the Kor River in Fârs, according to Tabari I, p. 689 and Bal´ami, ed. Bahâr, p. 689). The child was rescued by a washerman or a miller, who called him Dârâb. Dârâb grew up, was recognized, and eventually ascended the throne. Homây's marriage to her own father is doubted by some authorities (e.g., Ebn al-Balkhi, p. 54, who claims that she died a virgin), probably due to their reluctance to record an incestuous marriage, which is a highly serious taboo in Islam. An altogether different descent for Homây is given in the epic narrative Bahman-nâma (pp. 95-180; cf. Mojmal, ed. Bahâr, pp. 30-31). Bahman was driven out of Iran by the conspiracy of his first wife, a princess of Kashmir) and lived incognito in Egypt, where he met Homây, the warrior daughter of Hâret, the king of Egypt. After several hand-to-hand combats with her, he married her and regained his throne with her help. Later, when Bahman felt his time had come, he appointed Homây as his successor, and she reigned justly (Bahman-nâma, pp. 591-603).


Many of the events associated with Homây's reign evidence merger of the traditional history of the Kayânids with that of the Achemenid dynasty (Christensen, 1932, p. 152; cf. Yarshater, 1983, pp. 470-73). Thus she is said to have waged war with the Greeks (Š, ed. Khaleghi, V, pp. 497-507), and employed Greek (rumi) architects that she took prisoner to build several monuments (such as the palaces of Hazâr-setun, i.e., Persepolis) in Estakhr in Fârs (Tha´âlebi, p. 690; Dinavari, pp. 27-28; Hamza, p. 38; Mojmal, p. 55). Also the stories told of the two Dârâs (Homây's son and grandson) are grounded on a combination of the ancient Iranian myths with Greek and Jewish legends. A related tradition fabricated a brother for Homây, called Sâsân, who was represented as the rightful heir to Bahman, in order to link the Sasanians to the Kayânids and thereby establish their legitimacy as successors of those ancient kings.





Irânšân b. Abi'l-Khayr, Bahman-nâma, ed. Rahim ´Afifi, Tehran, 1991. Biruni, al-Âthâr al-bâqia, ed. Parviz Adhkâ`i, Tehran, 2001. 

Arthur E. Christensen, Les Kayanides, Copenhagen, 1932. Abu Hanifa Dinavari, al-Akhbâr al-tewâl, ed. ´Abd-al-Mon´em ´Âmer and Jamâl-al-Din Šayyâl, Cairo, 1960. 

Wilhelm Eilers, Semiramis: Entstehung und Nachhall einer anteoriental-ischen Sage, Vienna, Cologne, and Graz, 1971. 

Walther Hinz, Altiranisches Sprachgut der Nebenüberlieferungen, Wiesbaden, 1975. 

M. Mayrhofer and R. Schmitt, eds., Iranisches Personennamenbuch. Bd I: Die altiranischen Namen, Wien, 1977. 

Ehsan Yarshater, "Iranian National History," in Camb. Hist. Iran III, 1983, pp. 359-477.








Source/Extracted From: Encyclopaedia Iranica


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