Masmughans of Damavand

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Masmughans of Damavand

Masmughan-e Damavand
Capital Damavand
Common languages Middle Persian, Caspian languages
Historical era Middle Ages
  Abbasid conquest
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Derafsh Kaviani flag of the late Sassanid Empire.svg Sassanid Empire
Abbasid Caliphate Black flag.svg

The Masmughans of Damavand (Middle Persian: Masmughan-i Dumbawand, New Persian: مس مغان دماوند, meaning Great Magians of Damavand) were a local dynasty, which ruled Damavand and its surrounding areas from ca. 651 to 760. The founder of the dynasty was a Karenid [1] named Mardanshah of Damavand.

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.

Mount Damavand potentially active volcano or Stratovolcano and the highest peak in Iran

Mount Damavand, a potentially active volcano, is a stratovolcano which is the highest peak in Iran and the highest volcano in Asia; the Kunlun Volcanic Group in Tibet is higher than Damāvand, but are not considered to be volcanic mountains. Damāvand has a special place in Persian mythology and folklore. It is in the middle of the Alborz range, adjacent to Varārū, Sesang, Gol-e Zard, and Mīānrūd. It is near the southern coast of the Caspian Sea, in Amol County, Mazandaran Province, 66 kilometres northeast of the city of Tehran.



The Masmughans of Damavand are first mentioned by Al-Tabari, where the Masmughan Mardanshah of Damavand reportedly aided the Mihranid Siyavakhsh at Ray against the Arabs. The forces of Siyavakhsh and Mardanshah, were, however, defeated. Mardanshah then made peace with the Arabs in return for an annual tribute. [2]

Al-Tabari Faqih and historian and interpreter of the Quran

AbūJaʿfar Muḥammad ibn Jarīr al-Ṭabarī was an influential Persian scholar, historian and exegete of the Qur'an from Amol, Tabaristan, who composed all his works in Arabic. Today, he is best known for his expertise in Qur'anic exegesis, Islamic jurisprudence and world history, but he has been described as "an impressively prolific polymath. He wrote on such subjects as poetry, lexicography, grammar, ethics, mathematics, and medicine."

Masmughan was a Sasanian title that existed in the 7th century, probably equivalent to governor of a district or a region.

Mardanshah was an Iranian nobleman from the House of Karen, who was the founder of the Masmughans of Damavand dynasty, which included Larijan and its surrounding areas. During the Arab conquest of Iran, he sent reinforcements to aid Siyavakhsh at Ray against the Arabs. Siyavaksh, was however, defeated. The Arabs then proceeded to Damavand, where Mardanshah made peace with Arabs, while being promised that he will not be attacked, nor approached without his permission, in return for giving tribute to the Caliphate. He thereafter disappears from history chronicles.

In 748/749, Abu Muslim sought to subdue the Masmughan but his general Musa ibn Kab was ambushed by the local forces who enjoyed the advantage of the terrain, which forced him to return to Ray. In 758/759 due to disputes between Abarwiz and his brother, who is simply called Masmughan in Arabic sources, Abarwiz then went over to the Caliph Al-Mansur who gave him a pension. In some Arabic sources Abarwiz is called Al-Masmughan Malik ( malik of the Masmughans ), and is known for his bravery.

Abu Muslim Abd al-Rahman ibn Muslim al-Khurasani, was a Persian general in service of the Abbasid dynasty, who led the Abbasid Revolution that toppled the Umayyad dynasty.

Al-Mansur the second Abbasid Caliph

Al-Mansur or Abu Ja'far Abdallah ibn Muhammad al-Mansur was the second Abbasid Caliph reigning from 136 AH to 158 AH and succeeding his brother Abu al-'Abbas al-Saffah. Al-Mansur is generally regarded as the real founder of the Abbasid Caliphate, one of the largest polities in world history, for his role in stabilizing and institutionalizing the dynasty. He is also known for founding the 'round city' of Madinat al-Salam which was to become the core of imperial Baghdad.

Malik, Melik, Malka, Malek, Malick, or Melekh is the Semitic term translating to "king", recorded in East Semitic and later Northwest Semitic and Arabic.

In 760, Masmughan, the brother of Abarwiz, was at war against his father-in-law, the Dabuyid ispahbadh Khurshid, but when he heard about the Abbasid expedition to Tabaristan, he made peace with the latter. The Arabs then defeated the ispahbadh and the Masmughan, who was captured along with his daughters Bakhtariya and Shakla. One of these daughters became the wife of Al-Mahdi.

Khurshid of Tabaristan last Dabuyid ispahbadh of Tabaristan

Khurshid, erroneously designated Khurshid II by earlier scholars, was the last Dabuyid ispahbadh of Tabaristan. He succeeded to the throne at an early age, and was supervised by his uncle as regent until he reached the age of fourteen. Khurshid tried to assert his independence from his vassalage to the Caliphate, supported various rebellions and maintained diplomatic contacts with Tang China. Finally, the Abbasids conquered his country in 759–760, and captured most members of his family. Khurshid fled to Daylam, where he ended his life.


Tabaristan, also known as Tapuria, was the name applied to Mazandaran, a province in northern Iran. Although the natives of the region knew it as Mazandaran, the region was called Tabaristan from the Arab conquests to the Seljuk period.

Al-Mahdi the third Abbasid Caliph

Abu Abdallah Muhammad ibn Abdallah al-Mansur, better known by his regnal name al-Mahdi, was the third Abbasid Caliph who reigned from 775 to his death in 785. He succeeded his father, al-Mansur.

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  1. Pourshariati (2008), pp. 253
  2. "Maṣmug̲h̲an." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs. Brill Online, 2013. Reference. 30 November 2013 <>


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