KĀKUYIDS [KAKWAYHIDS], a dynasty of Deylamite origin that ruled in western Persia, in Jebāl and Kurdistan about 1008-51 as independent princes, and thereafter locally as feudatories of the Great Saljuqs until the mid-12th century. They represent one of the hitherto submerged local powers of this region, Deylamite and Kurdish, who rose to prominence in what V. Minorsky called “the Daylamī interlude” of Persian history, when the power of the ʿAbbasid caliphs started to decline there in the second half of the 9th century.

The founder of the Kākuyid line in Isfahan, and the outstanding member of the dynasty, was Abu Jaʿfar Moḥammad b. Došmanziyār, the son of a Deylamite soldier in the service of the Buyids of Ray and Jebāl. He is often referred to in the sources as Ebn Kākuya (in Beyhaqi, as Pesar-e Kāku), with the explanation given that kākuya is a term of endearment from kāku “maternal uncle” in the Deylamite dialect; this seems quite likely (see the discussion in Bosworth, “Dailamīs in Central Iran,” p. 74 n. 3).

After the death of the forceful Faḵ-r-al-Dawla in 997, the northern Buyid emirate passed to his much less effective son Majd-al-Dawla Rostam (r. 997-1029), who was in practice dominated by the queen mother Sayyida, actually a cousin of Moḥammad b. Došmanziyār (Ebn al-Atir (Beirut) IX, pp. 131-32). The latter became governor of Isfahan for the Buyids at some point before 1007-08, and Buyid weakness enabled him to extend his power northwards and westwards into areas as yet not subdued by the Buyids and dominated by virtually independent Kurdish chiefs such as the ʿAnnāzids. He also fought off the Deylamite chiefs who were harrying the northern fringes of the Buyid emirate from the Alborz mountains. In 1020-21, ʿAlāʾ-al-Dawla (as he now was) Moḥammad intervened at Hamadān, where Majd-al-Dawla’s brother Abu Ṭāher Šams- al-Dawla had been unable to cope with a revolt of his Turkish soldiery. Šams-al-Dawla died in the next year, and Hamadān passed to his son Abu’l-Ḥasan Samāʾ-al-Dawla. An internal dispute gave Moḥammad a pretext for marching into Hamadān, ending Samāʾ- al-Dawla’s rule and adding Hamadān, Dinavar, and Šābur-Ḵᵛāst (probably the modern Ḵorramābād, q.v.) to his own dominions, whilst his nominal suzerain in Ray, Majd-al-Dawla, was unable to influence the course of events (1023). Moḥammad’s son Abu Kālijār Garšāsp now became governor of Hamadān for his father (Ebn al-Atir (Beirut) IX, pp. 320, 330-31; Bosworth, “Dailamīs,” p. 74).

Over the ensuing years, ʿAlāʾ-al-Dawla Moḥammad was occupied with consolidating his conquests and fighting off Kurdish rivals, his efforts culminating in 1028 with a great victory at Nehāvand over a grand coalition of Deylamite and Kurdish amirs, the Bāvandid Espabad of the Ṭabarestān mountains (see ĀL-E BĀVAND) and the Ziyārid ruler of Ṭabarestān and Gorgān, Manučehr b. Qābus (see ZIYARIDS; Ebn al-Atir (Beirut) IX, pp. 357-59). Moḥammad was now undoubtedly the most powerful figure of his age in western Persia. Although his coins continued to express dependence on, and deference towards, Majd-al-Dawla, in practice he behaved largely as an independent sovereign. Thus he dealt directly with the ʿAbbasid caliph Qāder, and in 1018-19 obtained an impressive array of four honorific titles, including the one by which he became best known, ʿAlāʾ-al-Dawla; similar titles were eventually gained for his son Abu Kālijār (Mojmal al-tavāriḵ-, pp. 402-03; Bosworth, “Dailamīs,” pp. 75-76).

The whole political system of northern and western Persia was transformed when in 1029 Sultan Maḥmud of Ghazna (q.v.) marched westwards, deposed Majd-al-Dawla, and incorporated Ray and Jebāl into his already vast empire. Maḥmud deputed the conquest of Jebāl, with its various petty rulers and chiefs, to his son Masʿud (q.v.). The latter drove out the Kākuyid governor from Hamadān, and ʿAlāʾ-al-Dawla Moḥammad had to evacuate Isfahan and flee to Ḵuzestān, seeking help from the Buyid amir of Iraq, Jalāl-al-Dawla (Ebn al-Atir (Beirut) IX, pp. 371-72, 395; Nāẓim, Sulṭān Maḥmūd of Ghazna, pp. 80-85). A further upheaval occurred in the following year, 1030, when Maḥmud died and Masʿud had to hurry eastwards to secure the succession in Ghazna from his brother Moḥammad. Masʿud’s departure enabled Moḥammad to return to Isfahan on the basis of an agreement brokered by the ʿAbbasid caliph, by the terms of which Moḥammad was recognized as the Sultan’s deputy (ḵ-alifat) in Isfahan in return for a tribute of twenty thousand dinars per annum plus rich presents. In Masʿud’s absence, Moḥammad’s power grew again; he extended it as far east as Yazd and even temporarily occupied Ray and Damāvand before Ghaznavid forces ejected him (Ebn al-Atir (Beirut) IX, pp, 381, 398-400, 402-03; Bosworth, “Dailamīs,” pp. 76-77).

Over the next few years, Moḥammad’s loyalty to the Ghaznavids varied according to Sultan’s Masʿud’s preoccupations away from western Persia, above all, from the middle-1030s onwards with his attempts to stem Turkmen incursions into Khorasan. Beyhaqi’s narrative shows that “Pesar-e Kāku” was always regarded as an unreliable vassal, nim-došmani žsemi-rebellious’ in that historian’s phrase, a person who would always take advantage of any situation favorable to his interests (ed, Fayyāż, pp. 504-05, cited in Bosworth, “Dailamīs,” pp. 80-81). Thus in winter 1032-33, when Masʿud had to cope with a rebellion in northern India, Moḥammad seized Hamadān and several other towns of Jebāl, renouncing his allegiance to the Ghaznavids. In 1034 a further rebellion brought a Ghaznavid army to Isfahan; this also gave them the opportunity to carry off the library of Avicenna (who had ended his days at Moḥammad’s court) to Ghazna. As was his wont, Moḥammad retreated into Buyid Ḵuzestān, and, after a failed attempt to recapture Isfahan, tried to find refuge in 1036 in Deylam (Ebn al-Atir (Beirut) IX, pp. 424-25, 435-36, 446-47; Bosworth, “Dailamīs,” pp. 77-78).

But by now time was running out for the Ghaznavids in Persia. ʿAlāʾ-al-Dawla Moḥammad’s potential for troublemaking was considerably increased during these years by the fact that, with the rich financial resources of the towns of Jebāl, he could recruit into his army, in addition to its nucleus of Deylamites and Turkish ḡolāms, Turkmen auxiliaries who had been driven westwards by the Ghaznavids (the so-called “ʿErāqi” Turkmens, i.e. those who now found themselves in western Persia, ʿErāq-e ʿAjam; see on this term, JEBĀL). Because of the depredations of the Saljuqs and other Turkmen bands, the Ghaznavid outposts of Ray and other places in northern Persia were coming under increased pressure, and by 1027 the Ghaznavid garrison of Ray was forced to abandon the city and return to Khorasan. Very soon afterwards, Moḥammad and his Turkmen auxiliaries occupied Ray, and he obtained from Sultan Masʿud a formal grant for himself of the governorship of Ray, possibly as a potential bargaining counter with the Saljuqs, the enemy of the near future. The generally unsettled condition of northern Persia at this time led Moḥammad to fortify his capital, Isfahan, with a strong ring of walls. This did, in fact, ensure that Isfahan was never sacked by the Turkmens, whereas in Hamadān, Abu Kālijār Garšāsp was twice attacked by Turkmens moving southwards from Azerbaijan, and on the second occasion, in 1038-39, the town suffered fearsome violence from them (Ebn al-Atir (Beirut) IX, pp. 379-84; Bosworth, “Dailamīs,” pp. 78-80).

ʿAlāʾ-al-Dawla Moḥammad died in 433/1041, shortly after campaigning against the ʿAnnāzids (Ebn al-Atir (Beirut) IX, pp. 495-96). He had passed some forty years in almost continuous activity, and his dominant position within western Persia at this time, maintained when surrounded by more powerful neighbors, is a tribute to his military and diplomatic skills (for fuller details of his career, see ʿALĀʾ-AL-DAWLA MOḤAMMAD).

The Kākuyids had become a significant force because disturbed and fluid political conditions, and rivalries amongst greater powers, had allowed a vigorous war leader such as Moḥammad to build up his position. After his death, Persia eventually became united under a single authority, that of the Great Saljuqs (q.v.), so that Moḥammad’s descendants had to be content with a much more limited role as the lords of various towns of central Persia, feudatories of the Saljuq sultans. However, before this happened, his sons had still a decade or so of semi-independent existence, surviving by means of something like a balancing-act between the Saljuqs of Khorasan and Ray and the last Buyids in Ḵuzestān, Fārs, and Iraq, until an exasperated Ṭoḡrïl Beg finally extinguished independent Kākuyid rule in Isfahan in 1050-51 (Ebn al-Atir (Beirut) IX, pp. 562-63; Bosworth, “Dailamīs,” p. 84).

On Moḥammad’s death, his eldest son Abu Manṣur Farāmorz secured the allegiance of the Kākuyid troops in Isfahan and succeeded to his father’s position there, whilst his brother Abu Kālijār Garšāsp remained as his subordinate in western Jebāl at Hamadān, Borujerd, and Nehāvand. Abu Manṣur nevertheless had to secure his position in Isfahan against other ambitious members of the family, notably his younger brother Abu Ḥarb, who tried to involve the Buyid amir in Fārs, Abu Kālijār ʿEmād-al-Din, but who had finally to take a lesser role as governor in Naṭanz for Abu Manṣur (Ebn al-Aṯir (Beirut) IX, pp. 495-96; Bosworth, “Dailamīs,” p. 81).

The great threat to the continued existence of the Kākuyids was that of the Saljuqs, who had seized Ray in 1041-42. In the next year, Ṭoḡrïl Beg came to Ray and made it his capital for the next nine years. As soon as he arrived there, he sent an expedition against Isfahan to secure Abu Manṣur’s allegiance as a Saljuq tributary, and the latter’s coins minted at Isfahan in 1042-43 show Ṭoḡrïl as the suzerain (Miles, “The Coinage of the Kākwayhid Dynasty,” pp. 97-99, 102), though his allegiance over the next years was to waver between that to the Saljuqs and that to the Buyid Abu Kālijār ʿEmād- al-Din. He had already had a rather mysterious connection with Ṭoḡrïl, since the Ghaznavid historian Beyhaqi records that he was present with the Saljuq chiefs on the battlefield of Dandānqān in 1040 when the Ghaznavids suffered a disastrous defeat that lost them Khorasan; Ṭoḡrïl had commended Abu Manṣur for having endured many troubles and had granted him Ray and Isfahan; the background of this event is unknown (Beyhaqi, ed. Fayyāż, pp. 842-43).

Hamadān still remained in Abu Kālijār Garšāsp’s hands, and he tried to hold on there with support from the Buyids and an alliance with the ʿAnnāzids. But the Turkmens of Ebrāhim Ināl, Ṭoḡrïl’s half-brother, were now raiding as far as Kurdistan and Lorestān, and Hamadān passed definitively under Saljuq control, with Abu Kālijār’s last fortress, Kank@@āvar, surrendering to the Saljuqs in 1047 (Ebn al-Atir (Beirut) IX, pp. 526, 537-40). Abu Kālijār spent the last years of his life in exile amongst the Buyids and, unlike his brother, was never reconciled to the Saljuqs. At one point he was in touch with the Ghaznavid Sultan Mawdud b. Masʿud, who was trying to organize an anti-Saljuq coalition in Persia, but until his death in 1052-52 he served as governor of Ḵuzestān for the Buyid Pulād Sotun (Ebn al-Atir (Beirut) IX, pp. 558, 580; Bosworth, “Dailamīs,” pp. 82-83).

Abu Manṣur Farāmorz was as restive under Saljuq supremacy as his brother, and like him, endeavored to play off the Saljuqs and Buyids against each other. When Ṭoḡrïl returned to Khorasan in 1045-46, he submitted to the now nearer ruler, Abu Kālijār ʿEmād-al-Din, and, in the face of the Turkmen threat, a general peace was arranged between the Buyids and the local rulers of Jebāl, the Kākuyids and the ʿAnnāzids. But Ṭoḡrïl re-appeared in 1046-47 and besieged Isfahan; Abu Manṣur had in the end to give in and resume his tributary status (Ebn al-Atir (Beirut) IX, p. 534). On the evidence of his coins, he seems to have remained generally faithful to this arrangement for the remaining five years of his rule (Miles, loc. cit.), but Ṭoḡrïl cannot have felt able to rely on him, and in 1050 he again besieged Isfahan. After a year, the city surrendered; its people were favorably treated by Ṭoḡrïl, who razed part of the walls and transferred his capital thither from Ray. His Turkmen troops were given land grants (eqṭā) in the region, but to compensate for the loss of his ancestral territories, Abu Manṣur was granted the two towns of Abarquh and Yazd in northern Fārs (Ebn al-Atir (Beirut) IX, pp. 562-63; Bosworth, “Dailamīs,” pp. 83-84).

The final phase of Kākuyid history now begins, with their epigoni ruling as petty lords for some ninety years. Abarquh and Yazd may have passed under Kākuyid control as part of ʿAlāʾ-al-Dawla Moḥammad’s conquests of 1030, but we have hardly any information on subsequent Kākuyid rule in Abarquh, and it may be that at some subsequent point it was quietly resumed by the Saljuqs. Somewhat more is known about Yazd at this time, thanks to the lively tradition there of composing local histories, even though none of these dates from before Timurid times. The odd items of information in them about the later Kākuyids are of value given the dearth of information in the general chronicles of the period. Even so, it is not possible to construct a reliable chronology of the governors in Yazd. The date of Abu Manṣur’s death may have been shortly after 1063, but it is unrecorded. Coins are of no help, since the last extant coin of Abu Manṣur dates from 440/1048-49, and it is probable that the later governors did not enjoy the right of minting gold and silver coinage (Miles, loc. cit.).

The Kākuyids seem to have lived in Yazd quietly and peacefully, in amity with the Saljuqs. Abu Manṣur was part of the delegation sent by Ṭoḡrïl to Baghdad to negotiate a marriage alliance for him with the caliph Qāʾem’s daughter. His son and successor in Yazd, Moʾayyed-al-Dawla or ʿAlāʾ-al-Dawla ʿAli was high in the favor of Malek Šāh. The Kākuyids’ social status, as scions of a noble Deylamite house, was clearly high at the Saljuq court, and the family regularly intermarried with the Saljuqs: ʿAlāʾ-al-Dawla ʿAli married Čaḡrï Beg’s daughter Arslān Ḵātun after her first husband, the caliph Qāʾem, died in 1075.

This last Kākuyid is one of the very few later ones whose death date, 1095, is known with any certainty; he supported the claims of Tutuš b. Alp Arslān in his revolt against Sultan Berk-Yaruq, and was killed in battle at Ray. His son ʿAlāʾ-al-Dawla ʿAzod- al-Din Abu Kālijār Garšāsp (II) married the sister of Sultans Moḥammad b. Malek Šāh and Sanjar, and fought in Moḥammad’s army against the Mazyadids of Ḥella in Iraq. He incurred the suspicion of Maḥmud b. Moḥammad and was removed from his governorship by the sultan and imprisoned. However, he escaped and sought Sanjar’s protection, and was one of the five kings said to have fought in Sanjar’s army when the latter clashed with Maḥmud near Sāva in 1119; after this he was presumably restored to Yazd. The Kākuyids disappear as such from historical mention after the death of Garšāsp II at Sanjar’s side in the battle of the Qaṭvān steppe with the Qara Ḵitay in 1141, but one of Garšāsp II’s daughters married Rokn-al-Din Sām, the Turkish Atabeg entrusted by the Saljuq sultan with their care, so that one may say that the Kākuyids were transformed into the ensuing line of Atabegs, which was to last until Il-khanid times (see ATĀBAKĀN-E YAZD, and on the last decades of the Kākuyids in Yazd, Bosworth, “Dailamīs,” pp. 84-92).

Even at the outset, the Kākuyids were by no means uncouth barbarians from the Deylam mountains. ʿAlāʾ-al-Dawla Moḥammad gave shelter to Avicenna; it was for that amir that Avicenna composed his Persian Encyclopaedia of the Sciences, the Dāneš-nāma-ye ʿalāʾi, and it was on a journey from Isfahan to Hamadān with his patron that the great scientist died (see AVICENNA. xi. Persian works). The later Kākuyids had leisure to cultivate the arts of peace, and their little court at Yazd seems to have become a lively cultural center. The historian of Kerman, Afżal-al-Din, states that ʿAlāʾ-al-Dawla ʿAli encouraged the most eminent men of Khorasan and Iraq to come to his court, and his patronage of the great Saljuq poet Moʿezzi (d. ca. 1125-27) is the subject of an anecdote in Neẓāmi ʿArużi’s Čahār maqāla; certainly, Moʿezzi’s Divān contains three odes dedicated to the amir (Bosworth, “Dailamīs,” pp. 81, 86-87). The local histories of Yazd make much mention of the buildings, irrigation works, and other charitable activities of the Kākuyids and their consorts there. Qanat≤s were dug, so that, despite the town’s proximity to the Great Desert, agriculture flourished, and mosques, madrasas, and mausoleums as well as stronger and more elaborate walls for the town, with their four gates, were constructed (ibid., pp. 89-94, citing the Tāriḵ--e jadid-e Yazd).



Primary sources.

Aḥmad b. Ḥoseyn Kāteb, Tāriḵ--e jadid-e Yazd, ed. I. Afšār, Tehran, 1345/1966.

Anon., Mojmal al-tavāriḵ-, ed. M. T. Bahār, Tehran, 1318/1939.

Mofażżal Māfarroḵ-i, Ketāb maḥāsen Eṣfahān, ed. Jalāl-al-Din Ṭehrāni, Tehran, 1312/1933; later Persian tr. Ḥoseyn Āvi, Tarjama-ye maḥāsen Eṣfahān, ed. ʿA. Eqbāl, Tehran, 1328/1949.

Jaʿfar b. Moḥammad Jaʿfari, Tāriḵ--e Yazd, ed. I. Afšār, Tehran, 1338/1960.

Moḥammad Mofid Bāfqi, Jāmeʿ-e Mofidi, ed. I. Afšar, Tehran, 1340-42/1961-63.

Neẓāmi ʿArużi Samarqandi, Čahār maqāla, ed. M. Qazvini, Leiden and London, 1910, pp. 41-43, 82-83; rev. tr. E. G. Browne, London, 1921, pp. 46-48, 92-93.

Secondary sources.

C. E. Bosworth, “Dailamīs in Central Iran: the Kākūyids of Jibāl and Yazd,” Iran 8, 1970, pp. 73-95.

Idem, art. “Kākūyids,” in EI² IV, pp. 465-66.

Idem, The New Islamic Dynasties, a Chronological and Genealogical Manual, Edinburgh, 1996, pp. 160-61 no. 78.

A.K.S. Lambton, art. “Yazd,” in EI² XI, pp. 302-09.

G.C. Miles, “The Coinage of the Kākwayhid Dynasty,” Iraq 5, 1938, pp. 89-104.

M. Nāẓim, The Life and Times of Sulṭān Maḥmūd of Ghazna, Cambridge, 1931.

March 29, 2006

(C. Edmund Bosworth)

Originally Published: December 15, 2010

Last Updated: April 19, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XV, Fasc. 4, pp. 359-362