AZHAR B. YAḤYĀ B. ZOHAYR B. FARQAD, nicknamed AZHAR-E ḴAR “Azhar the ass,” third cousin, and military commander of the Saffarid amirs Yaʿqūb and ʿAmr b. Layṯ; like them, he was provided by the author of the Tārīḵ-e Sīstān (p. 204) with a patently spurious genealogy going back to the Sasanian king of kings Ḵosrow II Aparvēz. Neither the date of his birth nor of his death is known, but he flourished in the second half of the 3rd/9th century.

He was the confidant and aide of both Yaʿqūb (r. 253-65/867-79) and ʿAmr (r. 265-88/879-901) during their amirates, being not only described as a mighty warrior but also as highly literate, an adīb, and a dabīr or secretary (ibid., p. 269). In an anecdote in the Qābūs-nāma of Kay Kāvūs b. Eskandar (ed. Ḡ.-Ḥ. Yūsofī, 3rd ed., Tehran, 1364 Š./1985, p. 96), he is described as giving good counsel to ʿAmr about dangers of exposing himself to injury and thus harming the state. One suspects from the anecdotes given about him in the local Tārīḵ-eSīstān and from his nickname Azhar-e ḵar that he deliberately cultivated a mask of obtuseness in order to disarm and confuse potential opponents.

When the amir was outside Sīstān, he seems regularly to have been entrusted with the government of the homeland. Thus in 261/875, when Yaʿqūb b. Layṯ was absent in Fārs, Azhar acted as his deputy in Sīstān; and in the crisis of Ramażān, 276/January, 890, when ʿAmr was away in Fārs and his brother ʿAlī b. Layṯ escaped from confinement in Bam, collected an army, and threatened to march on Sīstān, Azhar and Aḥmad b. Šahfūr rallied the defense and deflected ʿAlī into Khorasan (ibid., p. 247). Before this, he had acted as Yaʿqūb’s agent in 248/862 in winning over the leaders of the Kharijites in Sīstān, thereby securing for him an accession of troops for his ambitions of external expansion (ibid., pp. 204-05); he had fought at the side of Yaʿqūb in Kermān in 254-55/868-69 when the Saffarid amir had attacked the caliphal governor there, ʿAlī b. Ḥosayn, personally capturing in battle ʿAlī’s commander Ṭawq b. Moḡalles (ibid., p. 213); and he had taken part in an expedition against the local ruler of Zamīn(-e) Dāvar in southeastern Afghanistan, the Zonbīl, distinguishing himself in battle.


See also Tārīḵ-e Sīstān, pp. 213, 225, 269-71; tr. M. Gold, pp. 162-63, 169, 178-79, 196, 214-17.

Rašīd-al-dīn Vaṭvāṭ, Ḥadāʾeq al-seḥr fī daqāʾeq al-šeʿr, ed. ʿA. Eqbāl Āštīānī, Tehran, 1308 Š./1929, pp. 105-07.


Search terms:

 ازهرخر( ازهر بن یحیی بن فرقد)  azarkhar farghand  


(L. P. Smirnova)

Originally Published: December 15, 1988

Last Updated: August 18, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. III, Fasc. 3, p. 258