KAYĀNIĀN (Kayanids), in the early Persian epic tradition a dynasty that ruled Iran before the Achaemenids, all of whom bore names prefixed by Kay from Avestan kauui (see below, i). They are preceded by the dynasty of the Pišdādiān (Pishdadids), which begins with Kayumarṯ (see GAYŌMART, HŌŠANG, JAMŠID).
The Kayanids are included by all the early Muslim historians, from Abu Ḥanifa Dinavari (d. between 281 and 290/ 894-903), Ṭabari (224-310/ 839-923), Abu ʿAli Amirak Balʿami (d. between 382 and 387/ 992-97), and others down to Mirḵᵛānd (836-903/ 1433-98; see IRAN iii. TRADITIONAL HISTORY).
The principal modern descriptions of the Kayanids are those of Ḏabiḥ-Allāh Ṣafā (pp. 484-544) and Ehsan Yarshater. On the Persian epic in general, see Theodor Nöldeke, 1904, 1920; Arthur Christensen, 1936; Ḏabiḥ- Allāh Ṣafā; see also EPICS. On the Kayanids in modern storytelling, see Enjavi Širāzi. For the Avestan names, see Mayrhofer, s.vv., as well as Schmitt (see indexes). (For source references, see bibliography at end of KAYĀNIĀN XIV. THE KAYANIDS IN WESTERN HISTORIOGRAPHY.)
[Note: A proper name that begins with the element "Kay,” when cited here in the context of a specific source, is hyphenated if it is written as a single word in the source.]
(Prods Oktor Skjærvø)
Originally Published: January 1, 2000
Last Updated: May 8, 2013