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ABŪ NAṢR ŠARAF-AL-DĪN, high official who served the Great Saljuq sultans and the ʿAbbasid caliph during the first half of the 6th/12th century.

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Volume II, Fascicle 2, pp. 139

ANŪŠERVĀN B. ḴĀLED B. MOḤAMMAD KĀŠĀNĪ, ABŪ NAṢR ŠARAF-AL-DĪN, high official who served the Great Saljuq sultans and the ʿAbbasid caliph during the first half of the 6th/12th century. He was born at Ray in 459/1066-67; the date of his death at Baghdad is variously given as 532/1137-38 and 533/1138-39.

After secretarial training, he rose to prominence in the service of the strongly Sunni Saljuqs, even though he was a Shiʿite. He was present in 488/1095 at the battle of Dāšīlū near Ray between Sultan Berkyaruq (Barkīāroq) and his uncle Totoš, and seems to have become a protégé of Moʾayyed-al-molk ʿObaydallāh b. Neẓām-al-molk during Berkyaruq’s reign. He became ʿāreż, or head of military affairs, and treasurer for the next sultan, Moḥammad b. Malekšāh, during the vizierate of Żīāʾ-al-molk Aḥmad b. Neẓām-al-molk (vizier 500-504/1107-11). When he was replaced as ʿāreż by Šams-al-molk ʿOṯmān b. Neẓām-al-molk, who allegedly paid his brother Żīāʾ-al-molk 2,000 dinars for the office, Anūšervān left for Baghdad. He had a spell as deputy vizier of Ḵaṭīr-al-molk Moḥammad Maybodī (vizier 504-11/1111-17), but aroused powerful opposition within the Saljuq administration and was driven to resign. Nevertheless, he is again found as ʿāreż, and then as actual vizier to Sultan Maḥmūd b. Moḥammad b. Malekšāh (521-22/1127-28). Again he came up against hostility from other officials, including the mostawfī, or chief accountant, Ṣafī-al-dīn Abu’l-Qāsem and the ṭoḡrāʾī, or official who drew the sultan’s official emblem (ṭoḡrā), Šehāb-al-dīn Asʿad resolving never again to accept office, he resigned in disillusionment. Even so, he acted as vizier (526-28/1132-34) for the ʿAbbasid caliph Mostaršed in Baghdad, and then for the new Saljuq sultan Masʿūd b. Moḥammad (529-30/1135-36). Dismissed by the sultan because of his inability to find a speedy solution to the deep-seated disorders in the state, Anūšervān was replaced by his old rival and enemy ʿEmād-al-dīn Dargazīnī, and died shortly afterward. He was given a magnificent funeral in Baghdad, and his body was then taken to Kūfa for eventual interment near the shrine of ʿAlī.

Anūšervān wrote in Persian an autobiographical account of contemporary events from the standpoint of a dīvān official, the Fotūr zamān al-ṣodūr wa ṣodūr zamān al-fotūr, which must have been as revealing as Abu’l-Fażl Bayhaqī’s account of official life under the early Ghaznavid sultans. It was later translated into Arabic (completed in 579/1183) by another prominent official, ʿEmād-al-dīn Kāteb Eṣfahānī (519-97/1125-1201), who added additional subject matter and much Arabic stylistic embellishment and entitled it Noṣrat al-fatra; it survives only in the simplified abridgment of Bondārī (completed 633/1226), the Zobdat al-noṣra (ed. M. T. Houtsma, in Recueil de textes relatifs à l’histoire des Seldjoucides II, Leiden, 1889; Cairo, 1318/1900; see Brockelmann, GAL I2, pp. 391-92, Suppl. I, p. 544). Anūšervān was highly praised by contemporaries for his own learning and for his patronage of scholars; in particular, he encouraged the Iraqi scholar Ḥarīrī to compose his famous maqāmāt. His memoirs clearly provided a highly critical view of the working of the dīvāns, the shortcomings and corruptness of many of their officials, and the vacillations and inadequacies of a sultan like Maḥmūd b. Moḥammad (see Bosworth, in Camb. Hist. Iran V, pp. 109, 123-24).


See also Ebn al-Aṯīr (repr.), X, pp. 547, 549-50, 642, 682; XI, pp. 17, 20, 45.

Sebṭ b. al-Jawzī, Merʾat al-zamān, Hyderabad (Deccan), 1951.

Moḥammad Rāvandī, Rāḥat al-ṣodūr wa āyat al-sorūr, ed. M. Eqbāl, London, 1921, pp. 165, 203, 224.

Nāṣer-al-dīn Monšī Kermānī, Nasāʾem al-asḥār, ed.

J. Moḥaddeṯ Ormavī, Tehran, 1337 Š./1959, p. 33.

Sayf al-dīn Ḥāǰǰī ʿOqaylī, Āṯār al-wozarāʾ, ed.

J. Moḥaddeṯ Ormavī, Tehran, 1337 Š./1959, p. 144.

Houtsma, Introd. to his ed. of Bondārī. Browne, Lit. Hist. Persia II, pp. 191-92, 354, 360-62, 472-73.

Bosworth and A. K. S. Lambton, in Camb. Hist. Iran V, index.

ʿA. Eqbāl, Wezārat dar ʿahd-e salāṭīn-e bozorg-e Salǰūqī, Tehran, 1338 Š./1959, p. 183 and index.

C. L. Klausner, The Seljuq Vezirate, a Study of Civil Administration 1055-1194, Cambridge, Mass., 1973, pp. 49, 52, 55, 71, 74, 78, 93. 106-8.

Cite this page
C. Edmund Bosworth, “ANŪŠERVĀN KĀŠĀNĪ”, in: Encyclopaedia Iranica Online, © Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York. Consulted online on 22 July 2024 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2330-4804_EIRO_COM_5514>
First published online: 2020
First print edition: 19861215

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