BAYŻĀ, a town of medieval Islamic Fārs, the modern village of Tall-e Bayżā. The name stems from Arabic bayżā “white,” the name of several places in the medieval Islamic world (Yāqūt, Moʿjam al-boldān, Beirut, I, pp. 529-31, names no fewer than 16) from Sind and Iran to Sicily and the Maghrib, a noun like “town” or “fortress” being understood. The Bayżā of Fārs acquired its name, so the geographers state, from the white soil of the area.
Bayżā is situated 25 miles north of Shiraz, 8 farsaḵs according to the medieval geographers and one stage to the east of the Sasanian and early Islamic town of Eṣṭaḵr. It was the main center of a district called Kāmfīrūz lying along the right bank of the Kor river, which flows southeastward into the Baḵtagān lake, and noted for its fertility. Surrounded as this plain is by chains of the Zagros, Bayżā was accounted by the geographers as coming within the sardsīr or cool regions of Fārs.
It is probable that there was a settlement at Bayżā in pre-Islamic times; the Arabic geographical sources state that its ancient name was Nesā or Nesāyak, a term still current in the 4th/10th century and which I. Gershevitch has derived from Parthian nsʾyk “bright, shining,” i.e., semantically equivalent to Arabic bayżāʾ (Iran 10,1972, p. 125). The Bayżā plain is certainly an area of ancient settlement, and the Elamite city of Anshan may have been situated there, according to J. Hansman (“Elamites, Achaemenians and Anshan,” Iran 10, 1972, pp. 111-23; see anshan). Legend attributed its foundation to Goštāsp.
In the period of the Arab conquests of Fārs, Bayżā served as a military encampment during the operations of Zīād b. Abīhi against Eṣṭaḵr in 39/659-60 (cf. Ṭabarī, I, p. 3450); in the next century, operations in the Bayżā area were conducted by the Omayyad caliph Marwān II’s general ʿĀmer b. Żobāra against the ʿAlid rebel ʿAbd-Allāh b. Moʿāwīa (in 129/746-47; Ṭabarī, II, p. 1947). Over the next centuries, we find sporadic mentions only in the chronicles of Bayżā, in particular, in accounts of internecine Buyid struggles (Ebn al-Aṯīr, Kāmel, repr., IX, p. 339, year 415/1024-25) and of the raids of Ṭoḡrel Beg’s Oghuz from Isfahan into the Bayżā area of Fārs (ibid., IX, pp. 562, 585, years 442/1050-51 and 444/1052-53), while the citadel of Bayżā was still in a defensible condition in 533/1138-39 when the governor of Fārs Bozaba shut himself up in it against the atabeg Qarasonqor (ibid., XI, p. 70).
The 4th/10th-century geographers mention Bayżā as a neat, clean, and flourishing town with a Friday mosque, walls, a citadel (ḥeṣn), and a suburb (rabaż), and at this time it was the main town of the district (kūra) of Eṣṭaḵr. Its rich agricultural hinterland supplied grain and fruit to Shiraz. It was the hometown of the mystic Ḥosayn b. Manṣūr Ḥallāj (executed in 309/922; q.v.), whose grandfather was allegedly a Magian (cf. Ebn al-Jawzī, cited in ʿArīb, Ṣelat Taʾrīḵ al-Ṭabarī, ed. M. J. de Goeje, Leiden, 1897, p. 102 n.); it is likely that Zoroastrians were still numerous in the Bayżā area till at least the 4th/10th century. However, numerous Muslim scholars, traditionists, etc., came from the town (cf. those listed in Samʿānī, Ansāb, Hyderabad, II, pp. 397-99; Yāqūt, op. cit., I, p. 529), the most noted being the 7th/13th-century Koran commentator ʿAbd-Allāh b. ʿOmar Bayżāwī.
Over the succeeding centuries, Bayżā must have declined to village status, and is little mentioned; one mention is that military operations took place in its vicinity at the end of the 18th century between the Zands and Qajars (H. Busse, tr., History of Persia under Qajar Rule, New York, 1972, p. 52). At the present time, the village of Tall-e Bayżā is in the dehestān of Bayżā in the baḵš of Ardakān in the šahrestān of Shiraz, and about 1950 had a population of 521.
Given in the text. See also Eṣṭaḵrī, pp. 126, 148.
Ebn Ḥawqal, ed. Kramers, pp. 266, 272, 288, 301, tr. Kramers and Wiet, pp. 263, 268, 282, 295-96.
Maqdesī [Moqaddasī], pp. 24, 30, 432, 448.
Ḥodūd al-ʿālam, tr. Minorsky, p. 128.
Ebn al-Balḵī, Fārs-nāma, pp. 128-29, tr. Le Strange, Description of the Province of Fars in Persia, London, 1912, pp. 29-30.
Mostawfī, Nozhat al-qolūb, pp. 113, 121, tr. pp. 114, 122-23.
Ḥasan Fasāʾī, Fārs-nāma-ye nāṣerī II, p. 185.
Le Strange, Lands, p. 280.
Schwarz, Iran, pp. 16-17, 151, 169, 171, 182.
Razmārā, Farhang VII, p. 51.
(C. E. Bosworth)
Originally Published: December 15, 1989
Last Updated: December 15, 1989
This article is available in print.
Vol. IV, Fasc. 1, pp. 14-15