ĀL-E AFRĀSĪĀB, a minor Iranian Shiʿite dynasty of Māzandarān in the Caspian coastlands that flourished in the late mediaeval, pre-Safavid period; it is also called (e.g. by Rabino) the Kīā dynasty of Čalāb or Čalāv (after the district [bolūk] of that name in Āmol, Māzandarān). In the tortuous politics and military maneuverings of the petty princes of the Caspian region, the Kīās or Āl-e Afrāsīāb rose to prominence as the ancient line of the Baduspanid Espahbads came towards its end in the 8th/14th century. The eponymous founder of the family, Kīā Afrāsīāb b. Kīā Ḥasan, was a commander in the service of his brother-in-law Faḵr-al-dawla Ḥasan b. Kayḵosrow. The occasion of Faḵr-al-dawla’s execution of his vizier Kīā Jalāl-al-dīn Aḥmad b. Jalāl, a member of an influential Māzandarān family, the Kīā-ye Jalālīs, who were ancient rivals of the Āl-e Afrāsīāb, aroused such resentment that Faḵr-al-dawla was obliged vainly to try and conciliate the Āl-e Afrāsīāb in order to secure support; but in fact Kīā Afrāsīāb’s two sons ʿAlī and Moḥammad murdered Faḵr-al-dawla in 750/1349, thus bringing to an end a dynasty whose antecedents went back to pre-Islamic times.
Kīa Afrāsīāb now assumed power in Āmol and possibly in Sārī also. Lacking support amongst the local military leaders, he sought a rapprochement with a local ʿAlid shaikh, Qewām-al-dīn b. ʿAbdallāh Maṛʿašī, called Mīr-e Bozorg, but was unable to achieve stable power; after ten years’ rule, he and his three sons were killed by a coalition of military and religious elements under Qewām-al-dīn at Jalālakmār-paṛčīn near Āmol in 760/1359. Qewām-al-dīn now established the line of Maṛʿašī Sayyeds (q.v.), of Husaynid descent, which was to rule in Māzandarān for over two centuries.
The Āl-e Afrāsīāb attempted a revanche in this same year 760/1359, when one of its members, Kīā Faḵr-al-dīn Čalāvī, murdered Qewām-al-dīn’s son Kamāl-al-dīn ʿAbdallāh, but this provoked a retaliatory bloodbath of the Afrāsīābīs and of surviving members of the Bavandid family (see Āl-e Bāvand). The Āl-e Afrāsīāb only re-emerged as a force in the Caspian region with the eighth son of Kīā Afrāsīāb, Eskandar-e Šayḵī, who had fled to Herat and taken service under Tīmūr. When Tīmūr led an expedition into Māzandarān in 795/1393, he sacked Āmol and Sārī, deposed the Maṛʿašī Sayyeds, and appointed Eskandar as his governor; Eskandar then proceeded to demolish the tomb at Sārī of Qewām-al-dīn Maṛʿašī. However, during Tīmūr’s campaign of 802/1399-1400 westwards into Iraq, Azerbaijan and Anatolia, Eskandar rebelled at Āmol against his master; Tīmūr marched into Māzandarān in 805/1402-03 and killed the rebel, but pardoned his two sons Kīā Ḥosayn and Kīā ʿAlī.
The former son was left by Tīmūr as governor of the Alborz mountain fortress of Fīrūzkūh, and his son in turn, Lohrāsp, is mentioned as ruling over Ṭālaqān in western Māzandarān in 880/1475-76. A grandson (?) of Lohrāsp b. Ḥosayn, Kīā Ḥosayn or Ḥasan b. ʿAlī, ruled over part of Rostamdār (i.e. western Māzandarān) and the inland mountain districts of Fīrūzkūh, Damāvand, and Harī-rūd. During the period of the disintegration of the Āq Qoyunlū confederation, Kīā Ḥosayn expanded southwards, seized Semnān and Ray, and defeated the Timurid governor of Astarābād, Moḥammad Ḥosayn Mīrzā. He opposed the rising power of Esmāʿīl Ṣafawī, and it may be that he saw himself as Esmāʿīl’s rival for leadership of the Shiʿites in Iran. Esmāʿīl invaded Māzandarān in 909/1504, captured the fortresses of Gol-e Ḵandān and Fīrūzkūh, and besieged Kīā Ḥosayn in Ostā and then captured him. The latter managed to commit suicide, but his body was burned publicly at Isfahan and his supporters in Māzandarān were massacred (see G. Sarwar, History of Shāh Ismāʿīl Ṣafawī, Aligarh, 1939, pp. 45-49; R. M. Savory, “The Consolidation of Ṣafavid Power in Persia,” Islam 41, 1965, pp. 73-74). In this way, the century-and-a-half rule of the Āl-e Afrāsīāb in the Caspian provinces came to an end.
Finally, there is mention in the sources of a last member of the family, one Sohrāb Čalāvī, who entered the service of the Safavids and was commander of the fortress of Ardahan in the district of Sāvaǰ Bolāḡ in southern Azerbaijan under Shah Esmāʿīl.
The chief primary source for the period up to the last years of the 9th/15th century is Ẓahīr-al-dīn Maṛʿašī’s Tārīḵ-eṬabarestān o Rūyān o Māzandarān, text in B. Dorn, Muhammedanische Quellen zur Geschichte der südlichen Küstenländer des Kaspischen Meeres. i. Sehir-eddin’s Geschichte . . . , St. Petersburg, 1850, and editions Tehran, 1333 Š./1954 and 1345 Š./1966 (see Storey-Bregel, II, 1073-74), and thereafter, the sources for early Safavid history.
For secondary sources, see H. L. Rabino di Borgomale, “Les dynasties alaouides du Mazandéran,” JA 210, 1927, pp. 266-68.
Idem, Māzandarān and Astarābād, London, 1928, pp. 141-02.
Idem, “L’histoire du Māzandarān,” JA 234, 1943-45, pp. 236-40, with a genealogical table, p. 237.
For chronology, see Zambaur, p. 188; E. Sachau, “Ein Verzeichnis Muhammedanische Dynastien,” APAW, Phil.-Hist. Kl., 1923, no. 1, p. 7, based on Münejjim-bashï, Turkish tr., II, 407.
(C. E. Bosworth)
Originally Published: December 15, 1984
Last Updated: July 29, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 7, pp. 742-743
C. E. Bosworth, “Al-E Afrasiab (1),” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/7, pp. 742-743; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/al-e-afrasiab-a-minor-iranian-shiite-dynasty-of-mazandaran-in-the-caspian-coastlands-that-flourished-in-the-late-medi (accessed on 14 May 2014).