FŪŠANJ (arabicizedform Būšanj; Mid. Pers. Pūšang [Markwart, Provincial Capitals, p. 11], also reflected in the Būšang of the Ḥodūd al-ʿālam, tr. Minorsky, pp. 64, 104), a town of medieval eastern Khorasan, situated just to the south of the Harīrūd River, and variously described in the sources as being between six and ten farsaḵs to the west-southwest of Herat.
The town existed in pre-Islamic times, and was reputedly founded by Šāpūr I, who is also said to have constructed a bridge there; subsequently, however, control of the Herat and Bāḏḡīs region, in which Fūšanj was situated, oscillated between the Sasanians and the Hephthalites. In 588 C.E., a suffragan bishopric at Fūšanj, dependent on the Nestorian metropolitan of Herat, is mentioned (Markwart, Ērānšahr, pp. 49, 64, 77 n. 1). At the time of the Arab conquest of Khorasan, Herat and Bāḏḡīs were under Hephthalite control, and these districts and Fūšanj were under what Balāḏorī (Fotūḥ, p. 405) calls “a powerful prince” (ʿaẓīm). Fūšanj formed part of the conquests of Moʿāwīa’s governor of Khorasan, ʿAbd-Allāh b. ʿĀmer (q.v.), who appointed as his deputy over Herat, Bāḏḡīs and Fūšanj Qays b. Hayṯam Solamī, and then Zīād b. Abīhi appointed Nāfeʿ b. Ḵāled Ṭāḥī over these same districts (Balāḏorī, Fotūḥ, p. 409; Ṭabarī, II, p. 79, year 45/665-66). After the ʿAbbasid revolution, Fūšanj was governed by Abū Moslem’s associate Moṣʿab b. Rozayq, and it was at Fūšanj that Muṣʿab’s grandson, Ṭāher Ḏu’l-Yamīnayn was born around 770 (Kaabi, p. 65). Possession of the town was wrested from the Taherids a century later by the Saffarid Yaʿqūb b. Layṯò, on the first occasion probably in 253/867 and then definitively in 259/873, when Yaʿqūb took over Khorasan from them (Bosworth, pp. 112-13). With the shrinkage of the Saffarid dominions in the early 10th century, Fūšanj passed first to the Samanids, then to the Ghaznavids and then, in the mid-11th century, to the Great Saljuqs.
The geographers of the 10th century describe Fūšanj as a town half the size of Herat, with a citadel protected by a ditch and rampart, and as having three gates, leading to Nīšāpūr, Qohestān, and Herat respectively; the town did in fact enjoy a strategic position along the east-west routes. As well as being in a fertile, well-watered plain which favored agriculture, local timber resources were exploited, including juniper trees (ʿarʿar; see Ebn Ḥawqal, p. 440, tr. p. 425; Ḥodūd al-ʿālam, tr. Minorsky, p. 104).
Whether Fūšanj was attacked by the Mongols is unrecorded, though Herat was devastated in 618/1221 (Jovaynī, tr. Boyle, I, pp. 151-52). In the next century Ḥamd-Allāh Mostawfī described its agriculture as flourishing (Nozhat al-qolūb, ed. and tr. Le Strange, text, pp. 152-53, tr., p. 151). Tīmūr destroyed the town in 782/1381 after reducing the last Kart ruler of Herat, Ḡīāṯ-al-Dīn Pīr-ʿAlī, to submission. It nevertheless revived, and is often mentioned in the Timurid period by Ḥāfeẓ-e Abrū, who again mentions trade in its juniper wood and also a remarkable rebāṭ there, whose building was attributed to Abraham (Ḥāfeẓ-e Abrū, text, pp. 22, 31, 39-40, tr., pp. 24, 29, 35-36, comm., p. 85). Later, Fūšanj drops out of mention, and was probably destroyed in the frontier disputes between Safavids, Uzbeks and then Afghans; according to Wilhelm Tomaschek (“Zur historische Topographie von Persien,” Sitzungsberichte der Wiener Akademie der Wissenschaften, phil.-hist. classe 102, 1883, p. 223), the modern town of Ḡūrīān, just to the south of the Harīrūd (34° 20´ N, 61° 26´ E), now in the Afghan province of Herat, marks the site.
C.E. Bosworth, The History of the Saffarids of Sistan and the Maliks of Nimruz, Costa Mesa, Calif., 1994.
Ḥāfeẓ-e Abrū, Tāriḵ-e Ḥāfeẓ-e Abrū, ed. and tr. D. Krawulsky as Ḫurâsân zur Timuridenzeit nach dem Târîḫ-e Ḥâfeẓ-e Abrû, 2 vols., Wiesbaden, 1982-84.
M. Kaabi, Les Ṭāhirides au Ḫurāsān et en Iraq, Tunis, 1983.
Le Strange, Lands, p. 431.
Gazetteer of Afghanistan III, pp. 142-43.
Yāqūt, Boldān (Beirut) I, pp. 508-9.
(C. Edmund Bosworth)
Originally Published: December 15, 2000
Last Updated: January 31, 2012
This article is available in print.
Vol. X, Fasc. 3, pp. 229-230