Iranian Intermezzo
A map of Iran in 10th century AD, during the Iranian Intermezzo
A map of Iran in the 10th century AD, during the Iranian Intermezzo with Buwayhid state, Samanid state and its dependencies, Sallarids and its dependencies, Ziyarid state and others.
Resulted in
  • Rise of many Iranian Dynasties
  • End of Arab rule over Iran
  • Revival of the Persian language
  • Revival of the Iranian national spirit and culture in an Islamic form
Lead figures

Iranian Intermezzo,[1] or Persian Renaissance,[2] was a period in Iranian history which saw the rise of various native Iranian Muslim dynasties in the Iranian Plateau, after the 7th-century Arab Muslim conquest and the fall of the Sasanian Empire. The period is noteworthy since it was an interlude between the decline of Abbāsid rule and power by Arabs and the "Sunni Revival" with the 11th-century emergence of the Seljuq Turks. The Iranian revival consisted of Iranian support based on Iranian territory and most significantly a revived Iranian national spirit and culture in an Islamic form,[3] although there were some Iranian Zoroastrian movements rejecting Islam altogether as a religion (e.g. Mardavij).[4] It also focused on reviving the Persian language, the most significant Persian-language literature from this period being Shahnameh by Ferdowsi.[5] The Iranian dynasties and entities which comprised the Iranian Intermezzo were the Tahirids, Saffarids, Banu Ilyas, Ghaznavids, Sajids, Samanids, Ziyarids, Buyids, Sallarids,[6] Rawadids, Marwanids, Shaddadids,[7] Kakuyids, Annazids and Hasanwayhids.

According to the historian Alison Vacca, the Iranian Intermezzo "in fact includes a number of other Iranian, mostly Kurdish, minor dynasties in the former caliphal provinces of Armenia, Albania, and Azerbaijan".[7] The historian Clifford Edmund Bosworth states in the second edition of the Encyclopaedia of Islam that Minorsky considers the Rawadids to be flourishing during the period of the Iranian intermezzo.[8]

Muslim Iranian dynasties

Tahirids (821–873)

Early 9th century Sasanian-style silver plates from Merv.

The Tahirid dynasty (Persian: سلسله طاهریان) was an Iranian Persian dynasty that ruled over the northeastern part of Greater Iran, in the region of Khorasan (made up of parts of Iran, present-day Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan). The Tahirid capital was located in Nishapur.

Saffarids (861–1003)

The Saffarid dynasty (Persian: سلسله صفاریان) was an Iranian Persian empire[9] which ruled in Sistan (861–1003), a historical region in southeastern Iran and southwestern Afghanistan.[10] Their capital was Zaranj.

Sajids (889–929)

The Sajid dynasty (Persian: ساجیان) was an Islamic dynasty that ruled from 889–890 until 929. The Sajids ruled Azerbaijan and parts of Armenia first from Maragha and Barda and then from Ardabil.[11] The Sajids originated from the Central Asian province of Ushrusana and were of Iranian (Sogdian)[12][13] heritage.

Samanids (875/819–999)

The Samanid dynasty (Persian: سلسلهٔ سامانیان), also known as the Samanid Empire or simply Samanids (819–999),[14] (Persian: سامانیان Sāmāniyān) were an Iranian empire[15] in Central Asia and Greater Khorasan, named after its founder Saman Khuda who converted to Sunni Islam[16] despite being from Zoroastrian theocratic nobility.[17]

With their roots stemming from the city of Balkh (in present-day Afghanistan), the Samanids promoted the arts, giving rise to the advancement of science and literature, and thus attracted scholars such as Rudaki and Avicenna. While under Samanid control, Bukhara was a rival to Baghdad in its glory. Scholars note that the Samanids revived Persian more than the Buyids and the Saffarids, while continuing to patronize Arabic to a significant degree. Nevertheless, in a famous edict, Samanid authorities declared that "here, in this region, the language is Persian, and the kings of this realm are Persian kings."[18]

Gold ewer of the Buyid Period, mentioning Buyid ruler Izz al-Dawla Bakhtiyar ibn Mu'izz al-Dawla, 966-977 CE, Iran.[19]

Ziyarids (930–1090)

The Ziyarid dynasty (Persian: زیاریان) was an Iranian dynasty of Gilaki origin that ruled Tabaristan from 930 to 1090. At its greatest extent, it ruled much of western and northern Iran.

Banu Ilyas (932–968)

The Banu Ilyas were an Iranian dynasty of Sogdian origin which ruled Kerman from 932 until 968. Their capital was Bardasir.

Ghaznavids (977–1186)

The Ghaznavids were an Persianate Muslim dynasty and empire of Turkic mamluk origin, ruling at its greatest extent, large parts of Iran, Khorasan, and the northwest Indian subcontinent from 977 to 1186.

Buyids (934–1062)

Buyid dynasty, also known as the Buyid Empire[20] or the Buyids (Persian: بوییان Buyiān, Caspian: Bowyiyün), also known as Buwaihids or Buyyids, were a Shī‘ah Persian[21][22][23][24] dynasty that originated from Daylaman. They founded a confederation that controlled most of Iran and Iraq in the 10th and 11th centuries. Indeed, as Dailamite Iranians the Būyids consciously revived symbols and practices of Persia's Sassānid dynasty. In fact, beginning with 'Adud al-Daula they used the ancient Sassānid title Shāhanshāh (Persian: شاهنشاه), literally meaning king of kings.

Sallarids (942–979)

The Sallarid dynasty (also referred to as the Musafirids or Langarids) was an Islamic Persian dynasty principally known for its rule of Iranian Azerbaijan, Shirvan, and a part of Armenia from 942 until 979.

Rawadids (955–1070/1116)

Rawwadid dynasty was a Sunni Muslim Kurdish[25][26] dynasty, centered in the northwestern region of Adharbayjan (Azerbaijan) between the late 8th and early 13th centuries.[25]

Coinage of Sallarid ruler Wahsudan ibn Muhammad, dated 954-5 CE

Marwanids (983/990–1084)

The Marwanids were a Kurdish Sunni Muslim dynasty in the Diyar Bakr region of Upper Mesopotamia (present day northern Iraq/southeastern Turkey) and Armenia, centered on the city of Amid (Diyarbakır).

Shaddadids (951–1199)

The Shaddadids were a Kurdish Sunni Muslim dynasty.[a][28][27] who ruled in various parts of Armenia and Arran from 951 to 1199 AD. They were established in Dvin. Through their long tenure in Armenia, they often intermarried with the Bagratuni royal family of Armenia.[b][c]

Kakuyids (1008–1141)

The Kakuyids (Persian: آل کاکویه) were a Shia Muslim dynasty of Daylamite origin that held power in western Iran, Jibal and Kurdistan (c. 1008–c. 1051). They later became atabegs (governors) of Yazd, Isfahan and Abarkuh from c. 1051 to 1141. They were related to the Buyids.[30]

Annazids (990/991–1117)

Coins issued by the Hasanwayhid dynasty.

The Annazids was a Kurdish Sunni Muslim dynasty which ruled an oscillating territory on the frontier between Iran and present-day Iraq for about 130 years.[31] The Annazids were related by marriage to the Hasanwayhids who they were in fierce rivalry with.[31] The legitimacy of the Annazid rulers stemmed from the Buyid amir Bahāʾ al-Dawla and the dynasty relied on the Shadhanjan Kurds.[32]

Hasanwayhids (959–1015)

Hasanwayhids was a powerful Shia[33] Kurdish dynasty reigning the western parts of Iran such as Iranian Azerbaijan and Zagros Mountains between Shahrizor and Khuzestan from c. 959 to 1015.[34][35] The last Hasanwayhid ruler died in 1015 in Sarmadj, south of Bisotun, as the Seljuks began entering the region.[35]

See also


  1. ^ Qaṭrān claims the Shaddadids were of Sasanian origin.[27]
  2. ^ "However, alongside Iranian traditions, the influence of the Shaddadids’ Armenian neighbors and relatives was strong, hence the appearance of typically Armenian names such as Ašoṭ among members of the dynasty. Indeed, Qaṭrān even underlines the dynasty’s Armenian ancestry, calling Fażlun “the glory of the Bagratid family” (Kasravi, p. 261)."[27]
  3. ^ "After the capture of Ani the following year, this old Bagratid capital was ruled by a Muslim dynasty, the Shaddädids. Although of Kurdish origin, they intermarried with Armenians. The first emir of Ani, Manüchihr, for example, was the son of an Armenian princess, and himself married an Armenian."[29]


  1. ^ Such an obviously coined designation was introduced by Vladimir Minorsky, "The Iranian Intermezzo", in Studies in Caucasian history (London, 1953) and has been taken up by Bernard Lewis, among others, in his The Middle East: A brief history of the last 2,000 years (New York, 1995).
  2. ^ Harter, Conrad Justin (2016). Narrative and Iranian Identity in the New Persian Renaissance and the Later Perso-Islamicate World (Thesis). University of California Irvine.
  3. ^ Bernard Lewis. The Middle East: 2,000 Years of History from the Rise of Christianity to the Present Day. pp. 81–82.
  4. ^ Robinson, Chase F. (4 November 2010). The New Cambridge History of Islamb. Vol. 1: The Formation of the Islamic World, Sixth to Eleventh Centuries. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-316-18430-1.
  5. ^ "Ferdowsi and the Ethics of Persian Literature". UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries. Retrieved 19 September 2023.
  6. ^ Vacca, Alison (2017). Non-Muslim Provinces under Early Islam: Islamic Rule and Iranian Legitimacy in Armenia and Caucasian Albania. Cambridge University Press. pp. 5–7. ISBN 978-1107188518.
  7. ^ a b Vacca, Alison (2017). Non-Muslim Provinces under Early Islam: Islamic Rule and Iranian Legitimacy in Armenia and Caucasian Albania. Cambridge University Press. p. 7. ISBN 978-1107188518. The Iranian intermezzo in fact includes a number of other Iranian ethnic groups, mostly Kurdish, minor dynasties in the former caliphal provinces of Armenia, Albania, and Azerbaijan before the arrival of the Seljuks, such as the Kurdicized Arab Rawwādids in Azerbaijan and the Kurdish Marwānid family in eastern Anatolia from the tenth to the eleventh centuries. Finally, the most famous Kurdish dynasty, the Shaddādids, came to power in Dabīl/Duin in the tenth century, ruling until the twelfth. The Shaddādids named their children after Sasanian shāhanshāhs and even claimed descent from the Sasanian line. It is the other branch of the Shaddādid family, which controlled Ani, that Minorsky offers as the "prehistory" of Salāḥ al-Dīn.
  8. ^ Bosworth, C.E. (1995). "Rawwādids". In Bosworth, C. E.; van Donzel, E.; Heinrichs, W. P. & Lecomte, G. (eds.). The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Volume VIII: Ned–Sam. Leiden: E. J. Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-09834-3.
  9. ^ The Cambridge History of Iran, By Richard Nelson Frye, William Bayne Fisher, John Andrew Boyle, Published by Cambridge University Press, 1975, ISBN 0-521-20093-8, ISBN 978-0-521-20093-6; p. 121.
  10. ^ Nancy Hatch Dupree – An Historical Guide To Afghanistan – Sites in Perspective (Chapter 3)... Link Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ AZERBAIJAN iv. Islamic History to 1941
  12. ^ Clifford Edmund Bosworth, The New Islamic Dynasties: A Chronological and Genealogical Manual, Columbia University, 1996. p. 147: "The Sajids were a line of caliphal governors in north-western persia, the family of a commander in the 'Abbasid service of Soghdian descent which became culturally Arabised."
  13. ^ V. Minorsky, Studies in Caucasian History, Cambridge University Press, 1957. p. 111
  14. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, Online Edition, 2007, Samanid Dynasty, LINK
  15. ^ Aisha Khan, A Historical Atlas of Uzbekistan'", Rosen, 2003, ISBN 0-8239-3868-9, ISBN 978-0-8239-3868-1, p. 23; Richard Nelson Frye, William Bayne Fisher, John Andrew Boyle, eds., The Cambridge History of Iran, Cambridge University Press, 1975, ISBN 0-521-20093-8, ISBN 978-0-521-20093-6, p. 164; The New Encyclopædia Britannica, 1987, ISBN 0-85229-443-3, p. 891; Sheila Blair, The Monumental Inscriptions from Early Islamic Iran and Transoxiana, Brill, 1992, ISBN 90-04-09367-2, p. 27.
  16. ^ Elton L.Daniel, The History of Iran, p. 74
  17. ^ C. E. Bosworth, ed and tr, The Ornament of Histories: A History of the Eastern Islamic Lands AD 650–1041, I. B. Tauris, 2011, p. 53.
  18. ^ Richard Foltz, Iran in World History, Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 56–58.
  19. ^ "Ewer". Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art.
  20. ^
    • Busse, Heribert (1975), "Iran Under the Buyids", in Frye, R. N., The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 4: From the Arab Invasion to the Saljuqs, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, page 270: "Aleppo remained a buffer between the Buyid empire and Byzantium".
    • Joseph Reese Strayer (1985), Dictionary of the Middle Ages, Scribner, 1985.
  21. ^ Nagel, Tilman. "Buyids". Encyclopedia Iranica. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  22. ^ Madelung, Wilferd. "Deylamites". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  23. ^ Clifford Edmund Bosworth, The New Islamic Dynasties: A Chronological and Genealogical Manual, Columbia University, 1996. pp. 154–155.
  24. ^ "Buyid Dynasty". Encyclopædia Britannica. 25 January 2008.
  25. ^ a b Peacock 2017.
  26. ^ Christoph Baumer, History of the Caucasus: Volume 1: At the Crossroads of Empires, (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2021), 265
  27. ^ a b c Peacock 2011.
  28. ^ Kennedy 2016, p. 215.
  29. ^ Thomson 1996, p. xxxvi.
  30. ^ The Political and Dynastic History of the Iranian World, C.E. Bosworth, The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. 5, ed. J. A. Boyle, John Andrew Boyle, (Cambridge University Press, 1968), 37.
  31. ^ a b Aḥmad, K. M. (1985). "ʿANNAZIDS". Iranica Online. II.
  32. ^ Pezeshk, Manouchehr; Negahban, Farzin (2008). "ʿAnnāzids". In Madelung, Wilferd; Daftary, Farhad (eds.). Encyclopaedia Islamica Online. Brill Online. ISSN 1875-9831.
  33. ^ Azakai (2017).
  34. ^ James (2019), p. 22.
  35. ^ a b Gunter (2010), p. 117.