Ispahbadh of Tabaristan
Reign 817–839
Predecessor Qarin ibn Vindadhhurmuzd
Successor Qarin I
Born Tabaristan
Died 839
House House of Karen
Dynasty Qarinvand dynasty
Father Qarin ibn Vindadhhurmuzd
Religion Zoroastrianism

Mazyar (Middle Persian: Māh-Izād; Persian: مازیار‎‎ Mazyār), was an Iranian prince from the Qarinvand dynasty and feudal ruler of the mountainous region of Tabaristan. For his resistance to the Abbasid Caliphate, Maziyar is considered one of the national heroes of Iran by twentieth-century Iranian nationalist historiography. His name means "protected by the yazata of the moon".


  • Rise to power 1
  • Rebellion 2
  • References 3
  • Sources 4

Rise to power

Map of northern Iran

Mazyar succeeded his father Qarin ibn Vindadhhurmuzd in ca. 817. However, his territories were shortly invaded by the Bavandid ruler Shahriyar I, whom Mazyar fought against, but was defeated and was forced to flee. Mazyar then took refuge with his cousin Vinda-Umid. He, was, however, betrayed by Vinda-Umid and was handed over to Shahriyar. Mazyar managed to escape and reach the court of al-Ma'mun, where he met one of his astrologers named Yahya ibn al-Munajjim, a Persian who recently converted to Islam and belonged to the Banu Munajjim family. Mazyar shortly embraced Islam, and al-Ma'mun gave him the title of Mawla Amiri'l-Muminin and the Muslim name of Abu'l Hasan Muhammad. Mazyar was also granted two towns in Tabaristan as his fief, and in 822/823 returned to Tabaristan with its governor Musa ibn Hafs. Mazyar now began to take revenge against the Bavand dynasty: Vinda-Umid, including Shahriyar's son and successor, Shapur, were defeated and killed,[1] and Mazyar united the highlands under his own rule.[2] Mazyar now began constructing mosques in several towns, and successfully plundered the territories of the Justanids.[2]

In 826/827, Musa ibn Hafs died and was succeeded by his son Muhammad ibn Musa as the governor of Tabaristan. Mazyar continued to expand his influence and his policies made the Muslims of Tabaristan oppressed. The Muslims of Tabaristan and the Bavandid prince Qarin I now began complaining to al-Ma'mun about Mazyar's behavior, but did not manage to turn al-Ma'mun against Mazyar. Al-Ma'mun was shortly involved with war against the Byzantine Empire, which gave Mazyar the opportunity to imprison Muhammad ibn Musa in charge of being secretly involved with the Alids. Al-Ma'mun shortly acknowledged Mazyar's rule over Tabaristan and its surrounding regions.[2] Al-Ma'mun later died in 833, and was succeeded by his half-brother al-Mu'tasim, who also acknowledged Mazyar as the ruler of Tabaristan.

However, the Tahirid ruler Abdallah ibn Tahir al-Khurasani, demanded land tax from Mazyar, but the latter refused. Abdallah, claiming Tabaristan as his own fief, demanded that Mazyar should release Muhammad ibn Musa. Mazyar, however, once again refused to obey Abdallah, which made him accuse Mazyar of infidelity and tyranny in front of al-Mu'tasim.


Feeling threatened, Mazyar rebelled against the Abbasid Caliphate, an act which was widely supported by the native Zoroastrians, who began plundering the Muslim villages[3] and Abbasid borders. Mazyar now began ensuring the loyalty of the noblemen of Tabaristan and imprisoned anyone he did not trust. According to the medieval historian Ibn Isfandiyar in his Tarikh-e-Tabaristan, Mazyar is said to have proclaimed:

Abdallah and al-Mu'tasim shortly sent five corps that entered Tabaristan from all sides. Mazyar made his brother Quhyar as the defender of the Qarinvand mountains, and the Bavandid Qarin I as the defender of eastern Tabaristan. However, the fall of Tabaristan went quickly: several cities were caught by surprise, while Qarin I betrayed Mazyar and agreed to aid the Abbasids in exchange for being restored as the ruler of the Bavand dynasty. The people of Sari shortly revolted against Mazyar, and Mazyar was betrayed by his brother Quhyar, who captured him and gave him to al-Mu'tasim.[2]

Mazyar was shortly brought to Samarra, where he was executed. His body later became gibbeted with the body of Babak Khorramdin. Mazyar's brother Quhyar was shortly killed by his own Dailamite soldiers because of his betrayal against Mazyar. This marked the end of the Qarivand dynasty, and the Tahirids were now the rulers of Tabaristan, while Qarin I was restored as the ruler of the Bavand dynasty as an Tahirid vassal.[5][6]


  1. ^ Madelung 1984, pp. 747-753.
  2. ^ a b c d Madelung 1975, pp. 204–205.
  3. ^ Mottahedeh 1975, p. 76.
  4. ^ Said Nafisi, Babak Khorramdin Delawar-e-Azerbaijan (Babak Khorramdin, the brave heat of Azerbaijan), Tabesh Publishers, Tehran 1955, pg 57, actual quote from Ibn Esfandiyar من (مازیار) و افشين خيدر بن کاوس و بابک هر سه از دير باز عهد و بيعت کرده ايم و قرار داده بر آن که دولت از عرب بازستانيم و ملک و جهانداري با خاندان کسرويان نقل کنيم»
  5. ^ Madelung 1984, pp. 747–753.
  6. ^ Madelung 1975, pp. 205–206.


  • Rekaya, M. (1997). "Ḳārinids". The Encyclopedia of Islam, New Edition, Volume IV: Iran–Kha. Leiden and New York: BRILL. pp. 644–647.  
Iranian royalty
Preceded by
Qarin ibn Vindadhhurmuzd
as Ispahbadh of Lafur
Ispahbadh of the Qarivand dynasty
Succeeded by
Shahriyar I
as Ispahbadh of Lafur
Preceded by
Ispahbadh of Tabaristan
Succeeded by
Quhyar and Qarin I