Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sayyida of Rayy - period of the Buyyid rule - early Islamic rider

I found this image on the Internet - when looking for the images of 800-1000 A.D., especially from the Tahirids ( /wiki/Tahirid_Dynasty ) Nishapur ( I wan to tackle the mural painting of a horseman from there) and eastern Iran and Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan , a period of independent Islamic Iranian rulers eg Samanids ( wiki/Samanid ),  Buyids ( etc, when at the Samanid court the ''Shahnameh'' was written by Ferdowsi  , and Iranians experienced a renaissance of sorts after a 'century of darkness' -  , and this image in fact appears on page 60  of my copy of a book by Kaveh Farrokh's 'Sassanian Elie Cavalry,' Osprey Pub. 2005, with a statement - that is was post-Sassanian Banu of Rayy (modern Teheran), and that ''women continued to appear in the military leadership roles in Persia long after the Sassanians collpased in the 7th century AdD''.
The image itself comes from an Iranian book on arts etc (info by Dr Farrokh), and the name given there is 'BiBi Shahrbanu of Rayy' and curiously enough this is the very name for a Sh'ia shrine in Ray, now a suburb of Teheran - perhaps I should just quote the entire paragraph from
[...]The legend attached to it is that Šahrbānū, a daughter of the last Sasanian king, Yazdegerd III (632-51), was cap­tured by Arabs and taken to Medina, where she became the wife of Ḥosayn, son of ʿAlī. To him she bore a son, ʿAlī Zayn-al-ʿĀbedīn, who was the fourth Shiʿite imam. After the battle of Karbalāʾ (61/680) she fled back to Persia, pursued by her dead husband’s enemies. They were close to her when she reached Ray, and in desperation she tried to call on God; but instead of Yāllāhu her weary tongue uttered Yā kūh “O mountain!”, and the mountain opened miraculously, and she passed living into its rocks. In due course a shrine was built at the place, which may be visited only by women and male descendants of Moḥammad. The legend of Šahrbānū as “Mother of the Nine Imams,” which goes back to at least the ninth century a.d., has some importance in Shiʿite tradition, but no historical basis, and no version of it associates this putative daughter of Yazdegerd III with Ray. Its association with that town, it has been suggested, was due to the existence there of a place that had formerly been holy to a Zoroastrian divinity, namely Anāhīd (q.v.), whose local veneration was thus continued in
Moslem guise. Anāhīd had the cult-title of Bānū “Lady,” and her shrine at Ray may well have been devoted to her as Šahrbānū “Lady of the land” (i.e., Iran). In the shrine’s zīārat-nāma she is also called Šāh-­Jahān “King of the world,” Šāh-e zanān “King of women,” and Jahān-Bānū “Lady of the world.” The oldest part of the existing shrine buildings is assigned to the tenth century, with extensions in Safavid and Qajar times. In the inner sanctuary is a fifteenth-century “tomb,” purporting to contain the princess’s body, in the manner of an ordinary emām-zāda. That the shrine was originally a Zoroastrian holy place is supported by the fact that a similar legend attaches to the Zoroastrian sanctuary of Bānū-Pārs (q.v.). The link with Anāhīd is strengthened by there being a sacred pool at the foot of the hill, where pilgrims make petitions before ascending to the shrine itself.[...]

I am  curious why this rider is/was named a Banu/Bibi/lady? and why she was a ruler of Ray ( the line of emirs of Ray are neatly described here, starting with  wiki/Rukn_al-Daula ) , where I have found no trace of an official woman ruler in the Buyid or any other Iranian Islamic dynasties. As per 'women of royal descent participating in rule' in Sassanid Iran we got this article by Haleh Emrani  on princes Boran raise to the Persian throne, an exceptional event in the Persian history  sasanika/pdf/e-sasanika9-emrani.pdf .
True, Ray  Buyyids had one known  de facto woman ruler - Queen Mother or Dowager ''Sayyida,'' emir or shah Fakhr al-Daula's wife, who allegedly run the Buyid state until her death even when her older son  assumed Ray trone (perhaps the  reason why Maḥmūd-e Ġaznawī did not invade the Buyid realm without an adult male ruler is that for he feared no action on the part of Dowager Sayyida, who it is said even had written a letter to him imploring him not to attack for there was no glory in an attack on a woman; a clever rouse one must admit, so no wonder she was a de facto queen, but when she died Mahmud did and deposed the last Buyid ruler Majd al-Daula,son of Fakr al-Daula and Sayida), but no official queens, governors or other rulers  of Ray of this period are known to history. Authors Lois Beck and Guity Nasht wrote about Majd al-Daula and his exceptional mother Sayyida in their book Women in Iran on pages 83-84.  
 So perhaps this is Dowager Sayyida hawking ?
 Now turning to the image itself as per horse harness, we can clearly see a full bridle with some strong bit forcing the horse to open his mouth ( it is a stallion),in a pose somewhat recalling the Sassanid imagery, with breastplate and crouper, richly ornamented and with hanging pendants, attached to the saddle,  his tail tied or gathered in the middle in the ancient Iranian fashion, and with a full mane (unlike the pre-Islamic rulers of Persia). Rider uses one hand to guide the horse (animal is collected and nicely or lively stepping) though neck reining, while seated in a richly carpeted saddle (perhaps a shabraque of  then already famous Iranian textile work), uses two cinches to secure the saddle and feet in boots firmly in the stirrups. (well, one foot and one stirrup, the image doe snot show the other leg)
Interestingly enough this rider's coat, 'helmet' and hairstyle are similar to the senior officer and junior ''ghulam'' (read more on them at  )  reconstruction 'of ghulam cavalry mid-9th to 11th centuries'' , figure 1 in plate D by Graham Turner, in Dr Nicolle Armies of the Caliphates 862-1098 AD, Osprey 1998.
ps I have just obtained a book by Dr David Nicolle, ''Early Islamic Arms and Armour,'' and had already other images of the early Islamic warriors and their mounts so more to follow on the early Islamic knights, including some on the pre-Islamic Arab poetry and mounted warriors.

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