The Info List - Kushanshahs

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The Kushano-Sassanids (also called Kushanshas or Indo-Sassanians) were a branch of the Sassanid Persians who established their rule in Bactria and in northwestern Pakistan during the 3rd and 4th centuries at the expense of the declining Kushans. They captured the provinces of Sogdiana, Bactria and Gandhara from the Kushans, following the fall of the Kushan dynasty in 225 CE.[2] The Sasanians established governors for the Sasanian Empire, who minted their own coinage and took the title of Kushanshas, i.e. "Kings of the Kushans".[2] They are sometimes considered as forming a "sub-kingdom" inside the Sasanian Empire.[3] This administration continued until 360-370 CE,[2] when the Kushano-Sasanians lost their territories to the invading Kidarites Huns.[3] Thereafter the limit of Sasanian territory was near Merv.[3] Later, the Kidarites were in turn displaced by the Hephthalites.[4] The Sasanians were able to re-establish some authority after they destroyed the Hephthalites with the help of the Turks in 565, but their rule collapsed under Arab attacks in the mid 7th century. The Kushanshas are mainly known through their coins. Their coins were minted at Kabul, Balkh, Herat, and Merv, attesting the extent of their realm.[1] A rebellion of Hormizd I Kushanshah (277-286 CE), who issued coins with the title Kushanshahanshah ("King of kings of the Kushans"), seems to have occurred against contemporary emperor Bahram II (276-293 CE) of the Sasanian Empire, but failed.[2]


1 History

1.1 First Kushano-Sassanid period 1.2 Second Indo-Sassanid period

2 Religious influences 3 Artistic influences 4 Main Indo-Sassanid rulers 5 Coinage 6 See also 7 References 8 Sources 9 External links

History[edit] First Kushano-Sassanid period[edit] The Sassanids, shortly after victory over the Parthians, extended their dominion into Bactria during the reign of Ardashir I around 230 CE, then further to the eastern parts of their empire in western Pakistan during the reign of his son Shapur I (240–270). Thus the Kushans lost their western territory (including Bactria and Gandhara) to the rule of Sassanid nobles named Kushanshahs or "Kings of the Kushans".

Hormizd I Kushanshah on the Naqsh-e Rustam Bahram II panel.

The Kushano-Sasanians under Hormizd I Kushanshah seem to have led a rebellion against contemporary emperor Bahram II (276-293 CE) of the Sasanian Empire, but failed.[2] According to the Panegyrici Latini (3rd-4th century CE), there was a rebellion of a certain Ormis (Ormisdas) against his brother Bahram II, and Ormis was supported the people of Saccis (Sakastan).[1] Hormizd I Kushanshah issued coins with the title Kushanshahanshah ("King of kings of the Kushans"),[5] probably in defiance of imperial Sasanian rule.[2] Around 325, Shapur II was directly in charge of the southern part of the territory, while in the north the Kushanshahs maintained their rule until the rise of the Kidarites. The decline of the Kushans and their defeat by the Kushano-Sassanids led to the rise of the Kidarites and then the Hephthalites who conquered Bactria and Gandhara, thus replacing the Kushano-Sassanids, until the arrival of Islam to Pakistan. Second Indo-Sassanid period[edit] The Hephthalites dominated the area until they were defeated in 565 AD by an alliance between the Gokturks and Sassanids, and some Indo-Sassanid authority was re-established. The Kushano-Hephthalites were able to set up rival states in Kapisa, Bamiyan, and Kabul. The 2nd Indo-Sassanid period ended with the collapse of Sassanids to the Rashidun Caliphate in the mid 7th century. Sind remained independent until the Arab invasions of India in the early 8th century. The Kushano-Hephthalites or Turkshahis were replaced by the Shahi in the mid 8th century. Religious influences[edit]

Coin of the last Kushano-Sasanian ruler Bahram Kushanshah (circa 350-365 CE) in Kushan style. Obv: King Varhran I with characteristic head-dress. Rev: Shiva with bull Nandi, in Kushan style.

Coins depicting Shiva and the Nandi bull have been discovered, indicating a strong influence of Shaivite Hinduism.[6] The prophet Mani (210–276 CE), founder of Manichaeism, followed the Sassanids' expansion to the east, which exposed him to the thriving Buddhist culture of Gandhara. He is said to have visited Bamiyan, where several religious painting are attributed to him, and is believed to have lived and taught for some time. He is also related to have sailed to the Indus valley area now in modern-day Pakistan in 240 or 241 CE, and to have converted a Buddhist King, the Turan Shah of India.[7] On that occasion, various Buddhist influences seem to have permeated Manichaeism: "Buddhist influences were significant in the formation of Mani's religious thought. The transmigration of souls became a Manichaean belief, and the quadripartite structure of the Manichaean community, divided between male and female monks (the 'elect') and lay follower (the 'hearers') who supported them, appears to be based on that of the Buddhist sangha"[7] Artistic influences[edit] The Indo-Sassanids traded goods such as silverware and textiles depicting the Sassanid emperors engaged in hunting or administering justice. The example of Sassanid art was influential on Kushan art, and this influence remained active for several centuries in the northwest South Asia. Main Indo-Sassanid rulers[edit]

Kushano-Sasanian ruler Ardashir I Kushanshah, circa 230-250 CE. Merv mint.

Based on coinage, a list of the Kushanshah rulers can be established:[8][9]

Ardashir I Kushanshah (230-?) Ardashir II Kushanshah (?-245) Peroz I Kushanshah (245-270) Hormizd I Kushanshah (270-295), rebelled against Bahram II of Iran.[2] Hormizd II Kushanshah (295-300) Peroz II Kushanshah (300-325) Bahram Kushanshah (325-350), also named Varahran


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kushano-Sasanian Kingdom.

The Indo-Sassanids created an extensive coinage with legend in Brahmi, Pahlavi or Bactrian, sometimes inspired from Kushan coinage, and sometimes more clearly Sassanid. The obverse of the coin usually depicts the ruler with elaborate headdress and on the reverse either a Zoroastrian fire altar, or Shiva with the bull Nandi.

Ardashir I Kushanshah in the name of Kushan ruler Vasudeva I, circa 230-245 CE.[10]

Indo-Sassanid coin.

A gold Indo-Sassanid coin.

Hormizd I Kushanshah with mention of Mazda and Anahita. Merv mint.[5]

See also[edit]

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^ a b c Encyclopedia Iranica ^ a b c d e f g The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 3, E. Yarshater p.209 ff ^ a b c The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Attila, Michael Maas, Cambridge University Press, 2014 p.284 ff ^ Sasanian Seals and Sealings, Rika Gyselen, Peeters Publishers, 2007, p.1 ^ a b CNG Coins ^ The ancient & classical world, 600 B.C.-A.D. 650 by Michael Mitchiner ^ a b Richard Foltz, Religions of the Silk Road, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010 ^ History of Civilizations of Central Asia, Ahmad Hasan Dani, B. A. Litvinsky, Unesco p.105 ^ Numismatic Evidence for Kushano-Sasanian Chronology Joe Cribb 1990 p.171 ^ CNG Coins


Vaissière, Étienne de La (2016). "Kushanshahs i. History". Encyclopaedia Iranica.  Kia, Mehrdad (2016). The Persian Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia [2 volumes]: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1610693912. 

External links[edit]

Coins of the Kushano-Sassanids

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Middle kingdoms of India

Timeline and cultural period

Northwestern India (Punjab-Sapta Sindhu)

Indo-Gangetic Plain Central India Southern India

Upper Gangetic Plain (Kuru-Panchala)

Middle Gangetic Plain Lower Gangetic Plain


Culture Late Vedic Period Late Vedic Period (Brahmin ideology)[a] Painted Grey Ware culture

Late Vedic Period (Kshatriya/Shramanic culture)[b] Northern Black Polished Ware


 6th century BC Gandhara Kuru-Panchala Magadha

Adivasi (tribes)

Culture Persian-Greek influences "Second Urbanisation" Rise of Shramana movements Jainism - Buddhism - Ājīvika - Yoga


 5th century BC (Persian rule)

Shishunaga dynasty

Adivasi (tribes)

 4th century BC (Greek conquests) Nanda empire


Culture Spread of Buddhism Pre-history Sangam period (300 BC – 200 AD)

 3rd century BC Maurya Empire Early Cholas Early Pandyan Kingdom Satavahana dynasty Cheras 46 other small kingdoms in Ancient Thamizhagam

Culture Preclassical Hinduism[c] - "Hindu Synthesis"[d] (ca. 200 BC - 300 AD)[e][f] Epics - Puranas - Ramayana - Mahabharata - Bhagavad Gita - Brahma Sutras - Smarta Tradition Mahayana Buddhism Sangam period (continued) (300 BC – 200 AD)

 2nd century BC Indo-Greek Kingdom Shunga Empire Maha-Meghavahana Dynasty

Early Cholas Early Pandyan Kingdom Satavahana dynasty Cheras 46 other small kingdoms in Ancient Thamizhagam

 1st century BC

 1st century AD

Indo-Scythians Indo-Parthians

Kuninda Kingdom

 2nd century Kushan Empire

 3rd century Kushano-Sasanian Kingdom Kushan Empire Western Satraps Kamarupa kingdom Kalabhra dynasty Pandyan Kingdom(Under Kalabhras)

Culture "Golden Age of Hinduism"(ca. AD 320-650)[g] Puranas Co-existence of Hinduism and Buddhism

 4th century Kidarites Gupta Empire Varman dynasty

Kalabhra dynasty Pandyan Kingdom(Under Kalabhras) Kadamba Dynasty Western Ganga Dynasty

 5th century Hephthalite Empire Alchon Huns Kalabhra dynasty Pandyan Kingdom(Under Kalabhras) Vishnukundina

 6th century Nezak Huns Kabul Shahi


Adivasi (tribes) Badami Chalukyas Kalabhra dynasty Pandyan Kingdom(Under Kalabhras)

Culture Late-Classical Hinduism (ca. AD 650-1100)[h] Advaita Vedanta - Tantra Decline of Buddhism in India

 7th century Indo-Sassanids

Vakataka dynasty Empire of Harsha Mlechchha dynasty Adivasi (tribes) Pandyan Kingdom(Under Kalabhras) Pandyan Kingdom(Revival) Pallava

 8th century Kabul Shahi

Pala Empire Pandyan Kingdom Kalachuri

 9th century


Rashtrakuta dynasty Pandyan Kingdom Medieval Cholas Pandyan Kingdom(Under Cholas) Chera Perumals of Makkotai

10th century Ghaznavids

Pala dynasty Kamboja-Pala dynasty

Kalyani Chalukyas Medieval Cholas Pandyan Kingdom(Under Cholas) Chera Perumals of Makkotai Rashtrakuta

References and sources for table


^ Samuel ^ Samuel ^ Michaels (2004) p.39 ^ Hiltebeitel (2002) ^ Michaels (2004) p.39 ^ Hiltebeitel (2002) ^ Micheals (2004) p.40 ^ Michaels (2004) p.41


Flood, Gavin D. (1996), An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press  Hiltebeitel, Alf (2002), Hinduism. In: Joseph Kitagawa, "The Religious Traditions of Asia: Religion, History, and Culture", Routledge  Michaels, Axel (2004), Hinduism. Past and present, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press  Samuel, Geoffrey (2010), The Origins of Yoga and Tantra. Indic Religions to the Thirteenth Century, Cambridge University Press 

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Provinces of the Sasanian Empire

Abarshahr Adurbadagan Albania Arbayistan Armenia Asoristan Balasagan Dihistan Egypt* Eran-Khwarrah-Yazdegerd* Garamig Garamig ud Nodardashiragan Gurgan Harev Iberia India Khuzestan Kirman Kushanshahr Khwarazm Lazica Machelonia Makuran Marw Mazun Media Meshan Nodardashiragan Paradan Padishkhwargar Pars Sakastan Sogdia Spahan Turgistan

* indicates shor