Kayanian dynasty

Last updated

The Kayanians (also Kays, Kayanids or Kaianids, or Kiani) are a semi-mythological dynasty of Persian tradition and folklore which supposedly ruled after the Pishdadids. Considered collectively, the Kayanian kings are the heroes of the Avesta, the sacred texts of Zoroastrianism, and of the Shahnameh , Iran's national epic.

Pishdadian dynasty dynasty

Pishdadian is the first dynasty of Iranian people in the Shahnameh, Avesta, Islamic history and Iranian mythology. The Pishdadian Dynasty is said to have produced the first kings who ruled over the land of Persia. Some of the Pishdadian kings are thought to have ruled for thousands of years.

Avesta Zoroastrianist scripture

The Avesta is the primary collection of religious texts of Zoroastrianism, composed in the otherwise unrecorded Avestan language.

Zoroastrianism Iranian religion founded by Zoroaster

Zoroastrianism, or Mazdayasna, is one of the world's oldest religions that remains active. It is a monotheistic faith, centered in a dualistic cosmology of good and evil and an eschatology predicting the ultimate destruction of evil. Ascribed to the teachings of the Iranian-speaking prophet Zoroaster, it exalts a deity of wisdom, Ahura Mazda, as its Supreme Being. Major features of Zoroastrianism, such as messianism, judgment after death, heaven and hell, and free will may have influenced other religious systems, including Second Temple Judaism, Gnosticism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism.


As an epithet of kings and the reason the dynasty is so called, Middle 𐭪𐭣 and New Persian kay(an) originates from Avestan 𐬐𐬀𐬎𐬎𐬌‎ kavi (or kauui) "king" and also "poet-sacrificer" or "poet-priest". The word is also etymologically related to the Avestan notion of kavaēm kharēno , the "divine royal glory" that the Kayanian kings were said to hold. The Kiani Crown is a physical manifestation of that belief.

Middle Persian also known as Pahlavi or Parsik, is the Middle Iranian language or ethnolect of southwestern Iran that during the Sasanian Empire (224–654) became a prestige dialect and so came to be spoken in other regions of the empire as well. Middle Persian is classified as a Western Iranian language. It descends from Old Persian and is the linguistic ancestor of Modern Persian.

Persian language Western Iranian language

Persian, also known by its endonym Farsi, is one of the Western Iranian languages within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It is a pluricentric language primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and some other regions which historically were Persianate societies and considered part of Greater Iran. It is written right to left in the Persian alphabet, a modified variant of the Arabic script.

Rishi inspired poet of Ṛgvedic hymns

Rishi is a Vedic term from ancient India for an inspired poet of hymns from the Vedas. Post-Vedic tradition of Hinduism regards the rishis as "Jogi", "great sadhus" or "sages" who after intense meditation (tapas) realized the supreme truth and eternal knowledge, which they composed into hymns.

In scripture

The earliest known foreshadowing of the major legends of the Kayanian kings appears in the Yashts of the Avesta, where the dynasts offer sacrifices to the gods in order to earn their support and to gain strength in the perpetual struggle against their enemies, the Anaryas (non-Aryans, sometimes identified as the Turanians).

Yasht song

The Yashts are a collection of twenty-one hymns in the Younger Avestan language. Each of these hymns invokes a specific Zoroastrian divinity or concept. Yasht chapter and verse pointers are traditionally abbreviated as Yt.

Anīrân or Anērān is an ethno-linguistic term that signifies "non-Iranian" or "non-Iran" (non-Aryan). Thus, in a general sense, 'Aniran' signifies lands where Iranian languages are not spoken. In a pejorative sense, it denotes "a political and religious enemy of Iran and Zoroastrianism."

Turan region in Central Asia

Turan is a historical region in Central Asia. The term is of Iranian origin and may refer to a particular prehistoric human settlement, a historic geographical region, or a culture. The original Turanians were an Iranian tribe of the Avestan age.

In Yasht 5, 9.25, 17.45-46, Haosravah, a Kayanian king later known as Kay Khosrow, together with Zoroaster and Jamasp (a premier of Zoroaster's patron Vishtaspa, another Kayanian king) worship in Airyanem Vaejah. The account tells that King Haosravah united the various Aryan (Iranian) tribes into one nation (Yasht 5.49, 9.21, 15.32, 17.41).

Zoroaster Persian prophet and founder of Zoroastrianism

Zoroaster, also known as Zarathustra, Zarathushtra Spitama, or Ashu Zarathushtra, was an ancient Iranian prophet, spiritual leader and ethical philosopher who taught a spiritual philosophy of self-realization and realization of the Divine. His teachings challenged the existing traditions of the Indo-Iranian religion and later developed into the religion of Mazdayasna or Zoroastrianism. He inaugurated a movement that eventually became the dominant religion in Ancient Iran. He was a native speaker of Old Avestan and lived in the eastern part of the Iranian Plateau, but his exact birthplace is uncertain.


Jamasp was a Sasanian king who ruled from 496 to 498. He was the younger brother of king Kavad I and was installed on the Sasanian throne upon the deposition of the latter by members of the nobility.

Vishtaspa mythical character

Vishtaspa is the Avestan-language name of a figure of Zoroastrian scripture and tradition, portrayed as an early follower of Zoroaster, and his patron, and instrumental in the diffusion of the prophet's message. Although Vishtaspa is not epigraphically attested, he is – like Zoroaster also – traditionally assumed to have been a historical figure, and – again, like Zoroaster – that figure is obscured by accretions from legend and myth.

In tradition and folklore

Towards the end of the Sassanid period, Khosrow II (590-628, named after the Kay Khosrow of legend) ordered a compilation of the legends surrounding the Kayanians. The result was the Khwaday-Namag or "Book of Lords," a long historiography of the Iranian nation from the primordial Gayomart to the reign of Khosrow II, with events arranged according to the perceived sequence of kings and queens, fifty in number.

Khosrow II Sassanian king

Khosrow II, also known as Khosrow Parviz was the last great Sasanian king (shah) of Iran, ruling from 590 to 628, with an interruption of one year.

The compilation may have been prompted by concern over deteriorating national spirit. There were disastrous global climate changes of 535-536 and the Plague of Justinian to contend with and the Iranians would have found much-needed solace in the collected legends of their past.

The extreme weather events of 535–536 were the most severe and protracted short-term episodes of cooling in the Northern Hemisphere in the last 2000 years. The event is thought to have been caused by an extensive atmospheric dust veil, possibly resulting from a large volcanic eruption in the tropics. Its effects were widespread, causing unseasonal weather, crop failures, and famines worldwide.

Plague of Justinian pandemic

The Plague of Justinian was a pandemic that afflicted the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, especially its capital Constantinople, the Sasanian Empire, and port cities around the entire Mediterranean Sea. One of the deadliest plagues in history, the devastating pandemic resulted in the deaths of an estimated 25–50 million people in two centuries of recurrence, equivalent to 13–26% of the world's population at the time of the first outbreak. The plague's social and cultural impact during the period of Justinian has been compared to that of the similar Black Death that devastated Europe 600 years after the last outbreak of Justinian plague. Procopius, the principal Greek historian of the 6th century, viewed the pandemic as worldwide in scope.

Following the collapse of the Sassanid Empire and the subsequent rise of Islam, the Kayanian legends fell out of favour until the first revival of Iranian culture under the Samanids. Together with the folklore preserved in the Avesta, the Khwaday-Namag served as the foundation of other epic collections in prose, such as those commissioned by Abu Mansur Abd al-Razzaq, the texts of which have since been lost. The Samanid-sponsored revival also led to the resurgence of Zoroastrian literature, such as the Denkard, book 7.1 of which is also a historiography of Kayanians. The best known work of the genre is however Firdowsi's Shahnameh "Book of Kings", which - though drawing on earlier works - is entirely in verse.

Kayanian dynasts


Related Research Articles

Kavi may refer to: kavi is a term for Poet specially used in some Indian languages. The word kavi ( कवि) is in these languages and Literature used to denote a Poem, sing a poetry. Example: Poem : कविता (Kavita) Poet. : कवि (Kavi)

Middle Persian literature

Middle Persian literature is the corpus of written works composed in Middle Persian, that is, the Middle Iranian dialect of Persia proper, the region in the south-western corner of the Iranian plateau. Middle Persian was the prestige dialect during the era of Sassanid dynasty.


The Dēnkard or Dēnkart is a 10th-century compendium of the Mazdaen Zoroastrian beliefs and customs. The Denkard is to a great extent an "Encyclopedia of Mazdaism" and is a most valuable source of information on the religion. The Denkard is not itself considered scripture.

Daeva deity

Daeva is an Avestan language term for a particular sort of supernatural entity with disagreeable characteristics. In the Gathas, the oldest texts of the Zoroastrian canon, the daevas are "gods that are rejected". This meaning is – subject to interpretation – perhaps also evident in the Old Persian "daiva inscription" of the 5th century BCE. In the Younger Avesta, the daevas are divinities that promote chaos and disorder. In later tradition and folklore, the dēws are personifications of every imaginable evil.


Zam (Zām) is the Avestan language term for the Zoroastrian concept of "earth", in both the sense of land and soil and in the sense of the world. The earth is prototyped as a primordial element in Zoroastrian tradition, and represented by a minor divinity Zam who is the hypostasis of the "earth". The word itself, changed to 'Zamin' in Modern Persian, is cognate to the Baltic 'Zemes', Slavic 'Zem', Greco-Thracian Semele, meaning the planet earth as well as soil.


Peshotanu is an eschatological figure of the medieval texts of Zoroastrian tradition, in particular in the apocalyptic Zand-i Wahman yasn.

Kay Khosrow

Kay Khosrow is a legendary king of Iran of Kayanian dynasty and a character in the Persian epic book, Shahnameh. He was the son of the Iranian prince Siavash who married princess Farangis of Turan while in exile. Before Kay Khosrow was born, his father was murdered in Turan by his maternal grandfather Afrasiab. Kay Khosrow was trained as a child in the desert by Piran, the wise vizier of Afrasiab. His paternal grandfather was Kay Kāvus, the legendary Shah of Iran who chose him as his heir when he returned to Iran with his mother. The name Kay Khosrow derives from Avestan Kauui Haosrauuah, meaning "he who has good fame".

The modern Persian name of Iran (ایران) derives immediately from 3rd-century Sasanian Middle Persian ērān, where it initially meant "of the Iranians", but soon also acquired a geographical connotation in the sense of "(lands inhabited by) Iranians". In both geographic and demonymic senses, ērān is distinguished from its antonymic anērān, meaning "non-Iran(ian)".


Khvarenah or khwarenah is an Avestan word for a Zoroastrian concept literally denoting "glory" or "splendour" but understood as a divine mystical force or power projected upon and aiding the appointed. The neuter noun thus also connotes "(divine) royal glory," reflecting the perceived divine empowerment of kings. The term also carries a secondary meaning of "(good) fortune"; those who possess it are able to complete their mission or function.

Kai Bahman or -Wahman is a mythological figure of Greater Iranian legend and lore. The stock epithet Kai identifies Bahman as one of the Kayanian kings of Iranian oral tradition.

Khuda or Khoda is the Persian word for "Lord" or "God". Originally, it was used in reference to Ahura Mazda. Other Iranian languages also use it.

Khwadāy-Nāmag was a Middle Persian history text from the Sasanian era, now lost, imagined first by Theodor Nöldeke to be the common ancestor of all later Persian-language histories of the Sasanian Empire, a view which has recently been disproven. It was supposed to have been first translated into Arabic by Abd-Allāh Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ, who had access to Sasanian court documents. According to Nöldeke's theory, the book itself was composed first under the reign of Khosrow I Anushirvan, and redacted in the reign of the last Sasanian monarch, Yazdegerd III. The Arabic translation of Khwaday-Namag was the primary source of Persian book Shahnameh written by Ferdowsi. Khwaday-Namag was also translated to New Persian, and was expanded using other sources, by Samanid scholars under supervision of Abu Mansur Mamari in 957, but only the introduction of this work remains today.

Ayadgar-i Zareran, meaning "Memorial of Zarer", is a Zoroastrian Middle Persian heroic poem that, in its surviving manuscript form, represents one of the earliest surviving examples of Iranian epic poetry.

Avestan geography is the compilation of the geographical references in the Avesta which are limited to the regions on the eastern Iranian plateau up to Indo-Iranian border. It was common among the Indo-Iranians to identify concepts or features of traditional cosmography—mountains, lakes, rivers, etc.—with their concrete historical and geographical situation as they migrated and settled in various places.

This is an alphabetical list of topics related to Zoroastrianism. This list is not complete, please add more to it as needed.

Ancient Iranian religion

Ancient Iranian religion refers to the ancient beliefs and practices of the Iranian peoples before the rise of Zoroastrianism.