BABAN (or Bavan), a small town in the medieval Islamic province of Bāḏḡīs, to the north and west of Herat, more particularly, in the district of Ganj Rostāq (q.v.), which formed the eastern part of Bāḏḡīs. It must have been within the Herat welāyat of modern Afghanistan, just south of the border with the Turkmenistan S.S.R. and near the modern Afghan town of Košk.
The 4th/10th-century geographers link it with Kīf and Baḡšūr as the three main settlements in Ganj Rostāq. Baban was two stages from Herat, Kīf and Baḡšūr being respectively a stage and a day’s journey further onwards. It was the most populous of the three and, as the qaṣaba or capital, the seat of the governor. The whole district is described as being agriculturally highly prosperous, obtaining its water from running streams from the hills and from wells, with grapes being a specialty; the Ḥodūd al-ʿālam mentions grape-syrup (došāb) from Baban. The place was still apparently prosperous in the later 6th/12th and early 7th/13th centuries, for both Samʿānī and Yāqūt visited it, the former hearing ḥadīṯ there from the local cadi (qāżī); both mention a prominent faqīh from the town, one Abū ʿAbd-Allāh Moḥammad b. Bešr Bavanī. After the Mongol invasions, however, it drops out of mention.
Eṣṭaḵrī, p. 269.
Ebn Ḥawqal, pp. 441, 457; tr. Kramers, pp. 426, 441.
Maqdesī, pp. 298, 308.
Ḥodūd al-ʿālam, tr. Minorsky, p. 104, sec. 23.31.
Samʿānī (Hyderabad), II, pp. 363-64.
Yāqūt (Beirut) I, p. 512.
Le Strange, Lands, p. 413.
A description of the district as it was a century ago is given by C. E. Yate, Northern Afghanistan or Letters from the Afghan Boundary Commission, Edinburgh and London, 1888, pp. 67-68.
(C. E. Bosworth)
Originally Published: December 15, 1988
Last Updated: August 18, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. III, Fasc. 3, pp. 306-307
C. E. Bosworth, “BABAN,” Encyclopædia Iranica, III/3, pp. 306-307, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/baban-1 (accessed on 30 December 2012).