ʿANBARĪĀN, a distinguished family of officials, littérateurs, ʿolamāʾ, and traditionists from Bayhaq (modern Sabzavār). Their activities in public and scholarly life from the 4th/10th to the 6th/12th centuries are known above all through Ebn Fondoq’s Tārīḵ-e Bayhaq (ed. A. Bahmanyār, Tehran, 1317 Š./1938, pp. 119-22, 182-83).

The family was probably Iranian in origin, but, according to Samʿānī, had attached itself to the Arab clan of ʿAnbar of Tamīm by a bond of welāya (Hyderabad, p. 388). Toward the end of the 4th/10th century, the ʿAnbarīs were already in the service of the rulers of Khorasan and Transoxania. Abu’l-ʿAbbās Esmāʿīl b. ʿAlī ʿAnbarī was vizier to the Qarakhanid Ilig Naṣr for several years; on returning to Khorasan, he refused a similar position under the Ghaznavid Maḥmūd b. Sebüktigin and was imprisoned and poisoned by the offended sultan (see Bosworth, Ghaznavids, p. 58). His descendants, however, began a tradition of faithful service to the Ghaznavids. Abu’l-Ḥasan Aḥmad b. Moḥammad, known as Amīrak (d. 448/1056), defended the fortress of Termeḏ on the Oxus against the incoming Saljuqs for Sultan Mawdūd b. Masʿūd and then retired to Ḡazna for a secretarial career under subsequent rulers. The branch of the ʿAnbarīs that he established continued into the next century (see Bosworth, Later Ghaznavids, pp. 10, 11). His brother Abū Naṣr was secretary to the Ghaznavid governor of Ray and then in Sultan Masʿūd’s service in Ḡazna, and a further brother, Abu’l-Qāsem, was deputy to the head of the Dīvān-e Rasāʾel, Abū Naṣr Moškān. Later members of the family such as Abū Saʿīd Moḥammad b. Šāhak (d. 543/1148-49), mostawfī or tax collector of Bayhaq, remained in Khorasan and served the Saljuq sultan there.

The ʿAnbarīs had literary interests, as witnessed by their poetry and epistles quoted by Ebn Fondoq; their contribution to the intellectual life of the Iranian East also included building madrasas, such as the ones founded by Amīrak in his home town of Bayhaq and at Ḡazna.

Bibliography: Given in the text.

(C. E. Bosworth)

Originally Published: December 15, 1985

Last Updated: August 3, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. II, Fasc. 1, pp. 6-7

Cite this entry:

C. E. Bosworth, “ANBARĪĀN FAMILY,” Encyclopædia Iranica, II/1, pp. 6-7, available online at (accessed on 30 December 2012).