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Samanid Dynasty (819–999)

After the Taherids, a variety of dynastic principalities began to develop within the Iranian world that were clearly more autonomous both politically and culturally. The most important of these were the Saffarids, the Buyids, and the Samanids.

The Samanids, who claimed descent from Bahram Choubin, were a family of dehqans in east of Iran, probably originating in the Balkh area. The earliest known ancestor, Saman-khoda, converted to Islam just before the Abbasid revolution. His four grandsons distinguished themselves in support of Mamoun and the Taherids and were rewarded by being entrusted with strategic territories on the periphery of Khorasan, mostly beyond the Oxus.

With the fall of the Taherids to the Saffarids, the Abbasids in 875 recognized a Samanid, Nasr b. Ahmad, as their legal representative in Transoxiana, followed in 892 by his brother, Ismail. Ismail carried out raids deep into central Asia against the Turkish nomads and won a great victory over them at Talas in 893. The capture of so many Turks was important since it enabled the Samanids to supplement their military forces with Turkish slave troops and to derive considerable revenue from the sale of Turkish slaves to other areas. Ismail also vigorously contested the Saffarids for control of Khorasan, defeating their forces there around 900. The Samanid rulers were widely and justly celebrated for the prosperity of their realm, their effective and judicious administration, and their lavish patronage of all forms of arts and scholarships. As a centre of learning and commerce, their capital, Bokhara, was a rival to Baghdad itself.

In many ways, the Samanids were of much more importance than either the Saffarids or the Buyids in the development of Perso-Islamic civilization. Their achievements in this regard are often overlooked on the grounds that they were essentially a Central Asian power that controlled a relatively small part of the Iranian plateau, were Sunni and pro-Abbasid, and presided over a transfer of military power from Iranian dehqans to Turkish slave soldiers. In fact, the Samanids followed quite independent policies.

In a religious decree authorizing the use of Persian, the Samanid authorities explicitly stated that “here, in this region, the language is Persian, and the kings of this realm are Persian kings.’’ They continued to patronize Arabic scholarship, but they also experimented with the use of Persian for keeping state records, sponsored the translation of important works from Arabic into Persian, promoted a host of famous Persian poets such as Roudaki and Daqiqi, and stimulated interest in the recovery of the Iranian national epic that would find its greatest expression in Ferdowsi’s Shah-Nameh.

Refrence(s):

- Elton L. Daniel (2001). The History of Iran Greenwood Histories of the Modern. U.K. London. Greenwood Publishing Group. P. 68-80

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