The Lost Origins of the Daylamites

The construction of a new ethnic legacy for the Buyids

Authored by: Christine D. Baker

The Routledge Handbook of Identity and the Environment in the Classical and Medieval Worlds

Print publication date:  December  2015
Online publication date:  January  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415738057
eBook ISBN: 9781315686622
Adobe ISBN: 9781317415701

10.4324/9781315686622.ch16

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Abstract

The Buyid ruler ʿAdud al-Dawla (d. 983 ce), a Persian Shi i commander whose father and uncles, the founders of the Buyid dynasty, had conquered much of Iran and Iraq in the mid-tenth century, entered Baghdad in 979 ce. The Sunni Abbasid caliph al-Taʿi (r. 974–91 ce), whose capital was Baghdad, named him the Amir al-Umara, prince of princes. 1 ʿAdud al-Dawla arose from the Daylamites, a Persianate people from the isolated mountains of northern Iran, who were considered barely Persian, Muslim haters. Within Persian myth and Zoroastrian cosmogony, the cold, mountainous Daylam produced warlike, uncivilized peoples who would not be fit to rule over the more temperate peoples of the Iranian plateau. Thus, during ʿAdud al-Dawla’s short rule in Baghdad, he had to rewrite the ethnic and geographic legacy of the Daylamites. To do this, he moved the center of Daylamite power down from the mountains into the central Iranian plateau and blended Persian, Arab, Muslim, and Zoroastrian markers of cultural identity in order to claim authority to rule over an increasingly heterogeneous population. ʿAdud al-Dawla’s active reconstruction of his own heritage reveals the flexible nature of medieval identity and how conversion to Islam affected these constructions of ethnicity.

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