The Info List - Daylamites

--- Advertisement ---

The Daylamites
or Dailamites (Middle Persian: Daylamīgān; Persian: دیلمیان‎ Deylamiyān) were an Iranian people inhabiting the Daylam—the mountainous regions of northern Iran
on the southern shore of the Caspian Sea.[1] They were employed as soldiers from the time of the Sasanian Empire, and long resisted the Muslim conquest of Persia and subsequent Islamization. In the 930s, the Daylamite Buyid dynasty emerged and managed to gain control over much of modern-day Iran, which it held until the coming of the Seljuq Turks in the mid-11th century.


1 Origins, language and equipment 2 History

2.1 Pre-Islamic period

2.1.1 Seleucid and Parthian period 2.1.2 Sasanian period

2.2 Islamic period

2.2.1 Resistance to the Arabs 2.2.2 The Daylamite expansion

3 Culture

3.1 Names 3.2 Religion 3.3 Customs, equipment and appearance

4 References 5 Sources

Origins, language and equipment[edit] The Daylamites
lived in the highlands of Daylam, part of the Alborz range, between Gilan and Tabaristan. However, the earliest Zoroastrian and Christian sources indicate that the Daylamites
originally came from Anatolia
near the Tigris,[2] where Iranian ethnolinguistic groups, including Zazas, live today.[3] They spoke the Daylami language, a now-extinct northwestern Iranian variety similar to that of the neighbouring Gilites.[4] During the Sasanian Empire, they were employed as high-quality infantry.[5] According to the Byzantine historians Procopius
and Agathias, they were a warlike people and skilled in close combat, being armed each with a sword, a shield and spears or javelins. History[edit] Pre-Islamic period[edit] Seleucid and Parthian period[edit] The Daylamites
first appear in historical records in the late second century BCE, where they are mentioned by Polybius, who erroneously calls them Ἐλυμαῖοι ("Elamites") instead of Δελυμαῖοι ("Daylamites"). In the Middle Persian
Middle Persian
prose Kar-Namag i Ardashir i Pabagan, Artabanus V of Parthia
Artabanus V of Parthia
(r. 208–224) summoned all the troops from Ray, Damavand, Daylam, and Padishkhwargar to fight the newly established Sasanian Empire. According to the Letter of Tansar, during this period, Daylam, Gilan, and Ruyan belonged to the kingdom of Gushnasp, who was a Parthian vassal but later submitted to Sasanian emperor Ardashir I
Ardashir I
(r. 224–242).[6] Sasanian period[edit]

Rudkhan Castle, constructed in Daylam
during the Sasanian Empire.

Map showing Daylam
(far right) under the Sasanian Empire.

The descendants of Gushnasp were still ruling until in ca. 520, when Kavadh I
Kavadh I
(r. 488-531) appointed his eldest son, Kawus, as the king of the former lands of the Gushnaspid dynasty.[6] In 522, Kavadh I
Kavadh I
sent an army under a certain Buya (known as Boes in Byzantine sources) against Vakhtang I of Iberia. This Buya was a native of Daylam, which is proven by the fact that he bore the title wahriz, a Daylamite title also used by Khurrazad, the Daylamite military commander who conquered Yemen
in 570 during the reign of Khosrow I
Khosrow I
(r. 531-579),[6] and his Daylamite troops would later play a significant role in the conversion of Yemen
to the nascent Islam.[4] The 6th-century Byzantine historian Procopius
described the Daylamites

"barbarians who live...in the middle of Persia, but have never become subject to the king of the Persians. For their abode is on sheer mountainsides which are altogether inaccessible, and so they have continued to be autonomous from ancient times down to the present day; but they always march with the Persians as mercenaries when they go against their enemies. And they are all foot-soldiers, each man carrying a sword and shield and three javelins in his hand (De Bello Persico 8.14.3-9)."[7]

also took part in the siege of Archaeopolis in 552. They supported the rebellion of Bahrām Chōbin
Bahrām Chōbin
against Khosrow II, but he later employed an elite detachment of 4000 Daylamites
as part of his guard.[4]

A Daylamite soldier.

Some Muslim sources maintain that following the Sasanian defeat in the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah, the 4000-strong Daylamite contingent of the Sasanian guard, along with other Iranian units, defected to the Arab side, converting to Islam.[8] Islamic period[edit] Resistance to the Arabs[edit]

Map of the Caspian coast of Iran
during the Iranian Intermezzo.

View of the Alamut Castle.

Siege of Alamut 1213-1214, depicted in the Jami' al-tawarikh
Jami' al-tawarikh
by Rashid-al-Din Hamadani. Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Division Orientale.

The Daylamites
managed to resist the Arab invasion of their own mountainous homeland for several centuries under their own local rulers.[4][9] Warfare in the region was endemic, with raids and counter-raids by both sides. Under the Arabs, the old Iranian fortress-city of Qazvin
continued in its Sasanian-era role as a bulwark against Daylamite raids. According to the historian al-Tabari, Daylamites
and Turkic peoples
Turkic peoples
were considered the worst enemies of the Arab Muslims.[4] The Abbasid Caliphate
Abbasid Caliphate
penetrated the region and occupied parts of it, but their control was never very effective. During the reign of Harun al-Rashid, several Shi'i Muslims fled to the Daylamites, most of whom remained pagan, with a few Zoroastrians and Christians, to escape persecution. Among these refugees were some Alids, who began the gradual conversion of the Daylamites
to Shia Islam.[4][10] Nevertheless, a strong Iranian identity remained ingrained in the peoples of the region, along with an anti-Arab mentality. Local rulers such as the Buyids and the Ziyarids, made a point of celebrating old Iranian and Zoroastrian festivals.[9] The Daylamite expansion[edit] In the mid ninth-century, need increased in the Abbasid Caliphate
Abbasid Caliphate
for mercenary soldiers in the Royal Guard
Royal Guard
and the army, thus they began recruiting Daylamites, who although during this period were not as strong in numbers as the Turks, Khorasanis, the Farghanis, and the Egyptian Arab tribesmen of the Maghariba. From 912/3 to 916/7, a Daylamite soldier, Ali ibn Wahsudhan, was chief of police (ṣāḥib al-shurṭa) in Isfahan
during the reign of al-Muqtadir (r. 908–929). For many decades, "it remained customary for the Caliph's personal guards to include the Daylamites
as well as the ubiquitous Turks".[11] Culture[edit] Names[edit] The name of the king Muta sounds uncommon, but when in the 9th and 10th centuries Daylamite chieftains appear in the spotlight in massive numbers, their names are undoubtedly pagan Iranian, not of the south-western “Persian” type, but of the north-western type: thus Gōrāngēj (not Kūrānkīj, as originally interpreted) corresponds to Persian gōr-angēz “chaser of wild asses”, Shēr-zil to Shēr-dil “lion’s heart”, etc. The medieval Persian geographer Estakhri
differentiates between Persian and Daylami and comments that in the highlands of Daylam
there was a tribe that spoke a language different from that of Daylam
and Gilan, perhaps a surviving non-Iranian language. Religion[edit] The Daylamites
were most likely adherents of some form of Iranian paganism, while a minority of them were Zoroastrian and Christian. According to al-Biruni, the Daylamites
and Gilites "lived by the rule laid down by the mythical Afridun."[6] The Church of the East
Church of the East
had spread among them due to the activities of John of Dailam, and bishoprics are reported in the remote area as late as the 790s, while it is possible that some remnants survived there until the 14th century.[4] Customs, equipment and appearance[edit]

Artistic rendering of a Daylamite Buyid infantryman.

Picture of a rainforest in Daylam.

Many habits and customs of the Daylamites
have been recorded in historical records. Their men were strikingly tough and capable of lasting terrible privations. They were armed with javelins and battle axes, and had tall shields painted in gray colours. In battle, they would usually form a wall with their shields against the attackers. Some Daylamites
would use javelins with burning naphtha. A poetic portrayal of Daylamite armed combat is present in Fakhruddin As'ad Gurgani's Vis and Rāmin. A major disadvantage of the Daylamites
was the low amount of cavalry that they had, which compelled them to work with Turkic mercenaries. The Daylamites
exaggeratedly mourned over their dead, and even over themselves in failure. In 963, the Buyid ruler of Iraq, Mu'izz al-Dawla, popularized Mourning of Muharram
Mourning of Muharram
in Baghdad, which may have played a part in the evolution of the ta'zieh. Estakhri
describes the Daylamites
as a bold but inconsiderate people, being thin in appearance and having fluffy hair. They practised agriculture and had herds, but only a few horses. They also grew rice, fished, and produced silk textiles. According to al-Muqaddasi, the Daylamites
were handsome and had beards. According to the author of the Hudud al-'Alam, the Daylamite women took part in agriculture like men. According to Rudhrawari, they were "equals of men in strength of mind, force of character, and participation in the management of affairs."[citation needed] Furthermore, the Daylamites
also strictly practised endogamy. References[edit]

^ Fishbein, Michael (1990). The History of al-Tabari Vol. 21: The Victory of the Marwanids A.D. 685-693/A.H. 66-73. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-0222-1. , page 90, note 336 ^ Dadagi, Farnbagh. Bahar, Mehrdad. "Bundahishn." Tus, 1991 ^ Extra, Guus; Gorter, Durk (2001). The Other Languages of Europe: Demographic, Sociolinguistic, and Educational Perspectives. Multilingual Matters. ISBN 978-1-85359-509-7.  ^ a b c d e f g Daylamites
at Encyclopædia Iranica ^ Frrokh (2007), pp. 201, 224, 231 ^ a b c d Madelung & Felix 1995, pp. 342-347. ^ Potts 2014, p. 165. ^ Farrokh (2007), p. 269 ^ a b Price (2005), p. 42 ^ Farrokh (2007), pp. 274-275 ^ Bosworth


Madelung, W. (1975). "The Minor Dynasties of Northern Iran". In Frye, R.N. The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 4: From the Arab Invasion to the Saljuqs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 198–249. ISBN 978-0-521-20093-6.  Bosworth, C. E. (1975). " Iran
under the Buyids". In Frye, R. N. The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 4: From the Arab Invasion to the Saljuqs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 250–305. ISBN 0-521-20093-8.  Nagel, Tilman (1990). "BUYIDS". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. IV, Fasc. 6. London u.a.: Routledge & Kegan Paul. pp. 578–586.  Amedroz, Henry F.; Margoliouth, David S., eds. (1921). The Eclipse of the ‘Abbasid Caliphate. Original Chronicles of the Fourth Islamic Century, Vol. V: The concluding portion of The Experiences of Nations by Miskawaihi, Vol. II: Reigns of Muttaqi, Mustakfi, Muti and Ta'i. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.  Wilferd Madelung, Wolfgang Felix, (1995). "DEYLAMITES". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. BII, Fasc. 4. pp. 342–347.  Donohue, John J. (2003). The Buwayhid Dynasty in Iraq
334h., 945 to 403h., 1012: Shaping Institutions for the Future. ISBN 9789004128606. Retrieved 3 February 2014.  Kabir, Mafizullah (1964). The Buwayhid Dynasty of Baghdad, 334/946-447/1055. Retrieved 3 February 2014.  Price, Massoume (2005). Iran's diverse peoples. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-57607-993-5.  Potts, Daniel T. (2014). Nomadism in Iran: From Antiquity to the Modern Era. London and New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 1–558. ISBN 9780199330799.  Al-Tabari, Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Jarir (1985–2007). Ehsan Yar-Shater, ed. The History of Al-Ṭabarī. 40 vols. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.  Potts, Daniel T. (2012). "ARABIA ii. The Sasanians and Arabia". Encyclopaedia Iranica.  Kennedy, Hugh N. (2007). The Great Arab Conquests: How the Spread of Islam
Changed the World We Live In. Philadelphia, PA: Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-81740-3.  Zakeri, Mohsen (1995). Sasanid Soldiers in Early Muslim Society: The Origins of 'Ayyārān and Futuwwa. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 1–391. ISBN 34470