Bānbishn was a Middle Persian title meaning "queen", and was held by royal women in Sasanian Iran who were the king's daughters and sisters, and also by the consorts of the Sasanian princes that ruled parts of the country as governors. The full version of the title was bānbishnān bānbishn ("Queen of Queens").

Iranian - Plate - Walters 57709
6th-7th century Sasanian plate of a queen and king seated on a throne, possibly at a wedding.


Although the Old Persian form of bānbishn is not found in any source, it was most likely spelled māna-pashnī, matching the Avestan dəmąnō.paθnī ("mistress"), which is from Old Iranian dmāna-paθnī. The word was later absorbed into the Armenian language, where it was spelled bambishn. The Sogdian version of the word is bāmbusht.[1]


In the Sasanian inscriptions, banbishn is the female equivalent of shah (king). The title is first attested in 262/3 in Shapur I's inscription at the Ka'ba-ye Zartosht, being held by a certain Denak. Shapur I's daughter Adur-Anahid held the title of bānbishnān bānbishn ("Queen of Queens"), which matched the title of shahanshah ("King of Kings"). Other titles related to banbishn were; shahr banbishn ("Queen of the empire"), held by Shapur I's wife Khwarranzem; sagan banbishn ("Queen of the Sakas") held by Shapurdukhtak, the wife of Narseh; and Meshan banbishn ("Queen of Meshan"), held by another Denak, the wife of Shapur Meshanshah.[1] The wife of Yazdegerd II (r. 438–457), Denag, temporarily ruled as regent of the empire from its capital, Ctesiphon during the dynastic struggle for the throne between her sons Hormizd III (r. 457–459) and Peroz I (r. 459–484),[2] which displays that royal women could occupy political offices in the management of the country.[3] Marriage was not restricted to Iranian women only−Bahram V Gor (r. 420–438) reportedly married an Indian princess named Sapinud, whilst Khosrow II (r. 591–628) married two Christian women, Shirin and Maria. During the Sasanian civil war of 628–632, two Sasanian queens, Boran (r. 629–630, 631–632) and Azarmidokht (r. 630–631), both daughters of Khosrow II, ruled the empire for a brief period.


  1. ^ a b Sundermann 1988, pp. 678–679.
  2. ^ Kia 2016, p. 248.
  3. ^ Brosius.


  • Sundermann, W. (1988). "BĀNBIŠN". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. III, Fasc. 7. London et al. pp. 678–679.
  • Brosius, Maria. "WOMEN i. In Pre-Islamic Persia". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. London et al.
  • Kia, Mehrdad (2016). The Persian Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia [2 volumes]: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1610693912.

Boran (Middle Persian: ; Persian: پوراندخت, Pūrāndokht) was queen (banbishn) of the Sasanian Empire. She was the daughter of emperor Khosrow II, and the first of only two women to rule the Sasanian Empire; the other was her sister and successor, Azarmidokht. Various authors place her reign between one year and four months to two years.Her name appears as Bōrān (or Burān) on her coinage. The Persian poet Ferdowsi refers to her as Purandokht in his epic poem, the Shahnameh. She was committed to revive the memory and prestige of her father, during whose reign the Sasanian Empire had grown to its largest territorial extent.


Denag was a 5th-century Sasanian queen (banbishn). She was the wife of the king (shah) Yazdegerd II (r. 438–457).

When Yazdegerd I died in 457, Hormizd III ascended the throne at Ray. His younger brother Peroz I, with the support of the powerful Mihranid magnate Raham Mihran, fled to the northeastern part of the empire and began raising an army in order to claim the throne for himself. The empire thus fell into a dynastic struggle and became divided; the mother of the two brothers, Denag temporarily ruled as regent of the empire from its capital, Ctesiphon.Peroz eventually emerged victorious during the struggle, and became the new king of the Sasanian Empire. Hormizd, and three members of his family were killed.

Denag (sister of Ardashir I)

Denag (Middle Persian: Dēnag) was a 3rd-century Sasanian queen (banbishn), who was the wife and sister of the Sasanian king (shah) Ardashir I (r. 224–242).


Khwarranzem (Middle Persian: Xwar(r)ānzēm) was a 3rd-century Sasanian queen (banbishn), who became a high-ranking figure within the Sasanian family.

Sasanian Empire

The Sasanian Empire (), also known as the Sassanian, Sasanid, Sassanid or Neo-Persian Empire (known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr, or Iran, in Middle Persian), was the last kingdom of the Persian Empire before the rise of Islam. Named after the House of Sasan, it ruled from 224 to 651 AD. The Sasanian Empire succeeded the Parthian Empire and was recognised as one of the leading world powers alongside its neighbouring arch-rival the Roman-Byzantine Empire for a period of more than 400 years.The Sasanian Empire was founded by Ardashir I, after the fall of the Parthian Empire and the defeat of the last Arsacid king, Artabanus V. At its greatest extent, the Sasanian Empire encompassed all of today's Iran, Iraq, Eastern Arabia (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatif, Qatar, UAE), the Levant (Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan), the Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Dagestan), Egypt, large parts of Turkey, much of Central Asia (Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan), Yemen and Pakistan. According to a legend, the vexilloid of the Sasanian Empire was the Derafsh Kaviani.The Sasanian Empire during Late Antiquity is considered to have been one of Iran's most important, and influential historical periods and constituted the last great Iranian empire before the Muslim conquest and the adoption of Islam. In many ways, the Sasanian period witnessed the peak of ancient Iranian civilisation. The Sasanians' cultural influence extended far beyond the empire's territorial borders, reaching as far as Western Europe, Africa, China and India. It played a prominent role in the formation of both European and Asian medieval art. Much of what later became known as Islamic culture in art, architecture, music and other subject matter was transferred from the Sasanians throughout the Muslim world.


Shapurdukhtak (Middle Persian: Šābuhrduxtag, literally "daughter of Shapur") was a 3rd-century Sasanian queen (banbishn). She was the wife of her cousin, king Bahram II (r. 274–293).

Shapurdukhtak of Sakastan

Shapurdukhtak (Middle Persian: Šābuhrduxtag, literally "daughter of Shapur") was a Sasanian queen (banbishn) in the late 3rd and early 4th-centuries, who was the sister and wife of the Sasanian king (shah) Narseh (r. 293–302).

She was the daughter of shah Shapur I (r. 240–270), and is mentioned in his inscription at Ka'ba-ye Zartosht written in c. 262. She held the title of sagan banbishn ("Queen of the Sakas"), due to her husband Narseh serving as governor of Sakastan at that time. When Narseh ascended the throne in 293, he had an investiture relief made in Naqsh-e Rustam, where he is depicted as receiving the ring of kingship from a female figure that is frequently assumed to be the goddess Anahita. However, some scholars have suggested that this may be his queen, Shapurdukhtak.

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