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(d. 433/1041), Daylamī military leader and founder of the shortlived but significant Kakuyid dynasty.

A version of this article is available in print

Volume I, Fascicle 7, pp. 773-774

ʿALĀʾ-AL-DAWLA ABŪ JAʿFAR MOḤAMMAD B. ROSTAM DOŠMANZĪĀR B. MARZOBĀN (d. 433/1041), Daylamī military leader and founder of the shortlived but significant Kakuyid dynasty, which existed independently in Jebāl and then survived subsequently, under Saljuq aegis, in Abarqūh and Yazd. The sources frequently accord him the name of Ebn Kākūya or Pesar-e Kākū, and usually explain the second term as a hypocoristic from a dialect word kākū (“maternal uncle,” cf. Kurdish kāk(a) and Lorī and New Persian kākā, “brother, uncle,” used in a jocular, bantering sense like “old fellow”). ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla Moḥammad’s father, Rostam, had been a soldier of fortune in the service of the Buyids; he had been granted lands in the Alborz mountains with the duty of protecting the Buyid position in Ray and northern Jebāl against the local rulers of Ṭabarestān. He was the uncle of Sayyeda, mother of the Buyid ruler of Ray, Maǰd-al-dawla Rostam, and the real power behind his throne until her death in 419/1028. Thus ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla Moḥammad was Sayyeda’s cousin.

Given these connections, it is not surprising that by 398/1007-8 ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla Moḥammad was governor of Isfahan on behalf of the Buyids; but it seems from information in the local historian of Isfahan, Mofażżal b. Saʿd Māfarroḵī, that he was there as early as 393/1003 or before. In this fashion began the Kakuyid control of Isfahan which was to endure for nearly half a century till the Saljuq Ṭoḡrïl Beg’s capture of the town in 443/1051. The weakness of Maǰd-al-dawla’s rule in Ray enabled ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla Moḥammad to extend his own virtually uncontrolled power north and west into the mountain areas (then held by independent Kurdish chiefs, such as the ʿAnnazids of Ḥolwān). Possession of Hamadān was a particularly coveted prize; and this was achieved in 414/1023, when scions of the Buyids were dislodged from Hamadān, and Dīnavar and Šābūr Ḵᵛāst were seized from Kurdish chiefs. The next few years were taken up in defending these conquests against the Kurds and other Daylamī princes like the Bavandids of Ṭabarestān; in 418/1027 ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla Moḥammad succeeded in winning a great victory over his rivals at Nehāvand, consolidating his position as the strongest single power in Jebāl at this time, even though Maǰd-al-dawla of Ray was his nominal suzerain. Coins of ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla Moḥammad were minted in at least thirteen centers, from Kermānšāh in the west to Yazd in the east; and he obtained directly from the ʿAbbasid caliph in Baghdad, without the intermediacy of the Buyids, a resplendent string of alqāb or honorific titles, including that of Ḥosām Amīr-al-moʾmenīn, “Sword of the Commander of the Faithful.”

The Ghaznavid conquest of Ray from Maǰd-al-dawla in 420/1029 and the ensuing operations against the rulers of northwestern Persia by Sultan Masʿūd of Ḡazna brought a new and menacing element into the tortuous politics of the region. As Masʿūd pushed farther west, with the expressed design of liberating the ʿAbbasids from the tutelage of the Buyids and other schismatics, ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla Moḥammad temporarily relinquished Isfahan and Hamadān, fleeing to the Buyids in Ahwāz. But he soon made his peace and returned as the tributary of the Ghaznavids; it seems to be at this time that his authority was extended as far as Yazd. Yet he paid over the stipulated tribute of 200,000 dinars only sporadically, for the Ghaznavids were not able to hold their conquests in western Persia, so distant from Ḡazna, without difficulty; ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla Moḥammad even managed to occupy Ray itself for a while in 421/1030. Alternate bursts of rebellion and submissiveness to Masʿūd of Ḡazna now followed, with the Kakuyid ruler in 426/1035 again driven out to his kinsmen in Ahwāz. He was now recruiting auxiliary forces from the so-called “ʿErāqī” Turkmans or Oghuz, who had swept across northern Persia after 419/1028; and when the Ghaznavids were finally forced, under Turkman pressure, to evacuate Ray in 429/1037-38, ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla Moḥammad and his Turkman auxiliaries once more occupied Ray for some time. With the chronic insecurity then prevailing in Jebāl, ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla Moḥammad in this year constructed defensive walls around Isfahan; these had a circumference of 15,000 paces and were provided with iron gates. Thanks to this protection, Isfahan was spared the type of savage sacking that befell Hamadān at the hands of the Turkmans in 430/1038-39.

ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla Moḥammad died in Moḥarram, 433/September, 1041 while campaigning in Kurdistan against the ʿAnnazid Abu’l-Šawk Fāres, after a reign of over forty years, a period of almost ceaseless activity. That he had preserved his principality so long between pressures from neighboring powers like the Buyids, the Ghaznavids, and the Saljuqs, demonstrates that his military and diplomatic skills were of no mean order; his sons, Abū Manṣūr Farāmarz and Abū Kālīǰār Garšāsp, had the difficult tasks of attempting to preserve the Kakuyid heritage against the expanding power of the Saljuqs. Nor was ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla Moḥammad an uncultured barbarian, like some of the earlier Daylamī commanders. He sheltered at his court Ebn Sīnā, after the latter had left the Buyid court at Hamadān; and the great philosopher and scientist died in his service in 428/1037, having dedicated to the amir his encyclopedia of the sciences, the Dāneš-nāma-ye ʿAlāʾī; Ebn Sīnā’s library was plundered by the Ghaznavids at Isfahan and carried off to Ḡazna, where it later perished at the hands of the Ghurids.


The principal primary source is Ebn al-Aṯīr. Occasional references occur in the sources for the Caspian lands, such as Ebn Esfandīār’s Tārīḵ-eṬabarestān and Māfarroḵī’s local history, the Ketāb Maḥāsen Eṣfahān, in its Arabic original (ed. J. Tehrānī, Tehran, 1312 Š./1933) and its Persian tr. by Ḥosayn b. Moḥammad Āvī (ed. ʿA. Eqbāl, Tehran, 1328 Š./1949; information is given on Kakuyid rule within the town).

For the later part of his reign, the detailed information on Ghaznavid-Kakuyid relations in Bayhaqī is especially important.

All these sources are utilized in the detailed study on the whole dynasty by C. E. Bosworth, “Dailamīs in Central Iran: The Kākūyids of Jibāl and Yazd,” Iran 8, 1970, pp. 73-81. Idem in Camb. Hist. Iran V, pp. 37-38.

For ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla’s coins, see G. C. Miles, “The Coinage of the Kākwayhid Dynasty,” Iraq 5, 1938, pp. 89-104.

Idem, “Notes on Kākwayhid Coins,” The American Numismatic Society Museum Notes 9, 1960, pp. 231-36.

Idem, “A Hoard of Kākwayhid Dirhams,” ibid., 12, 1966, pp. 165-93.

Cite this page
C. Edmund Bosworth, “ʿALĀʾ-AL-DAWLA MOḤAMMAD”, in: Encyclopaedia Iranica Online, © Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York. Consulted online on 24 July 2024 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2330-4804_EIRO_COM_5079>
First published online: 2020
First print edition: 19841215

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