Osrūshana (Persian: اسروشنه‎) or Oshrūsana (Persian اُشروسنه - Ošrūsana), also known as Istaravshan (present day Tajikistan) Sudujshana, Usrushana, Ustrushana, Eastern Cao, was a former Iranian region[1] in Transoxiana. The Oshrusana lay to the south of the great, southernmost bend of the Syr Darya and extended roughly from Samarkand to Khujand. The capital city of Oshrusana was Banjikat. The exact form of the Iranian name Osrušana is not clear from the sources, but the forms given in Hudud al-'alam, indicate an original *Sorušna.[1]


The rulers of the Oshrusana or Ustrushana (Istarawshan) went by the title of "Afshin", and the most famous of whom was Khedār (Arabicised Haydar) b. Kāvūs. Our early knowledge of the ruling family of Oshrusana is derived from the accounts by the Islamic historians (Tabari, Baladhuri, and Ya'qubi) of the final subjugation of that region by the 'Abbasid caliphs and the submission of its rulers to Islam.

During the time when the first Arab invasion of the country took place under Qutayba b. Muslim (94-5/712-14), Ushrusana was inhabited by an Iranian[1] population, ruled by its own princes who bore the traditional title of Akhshid or Afshin.[2] The first invasion by the Arabs did not result in them controlling the area.[2]

According to the Encyclopedia of Islam:[2]

In 119 AH/737 AD the Turkic enemies of the governor Asad b. Abdallāh al-Ghasrī fell back on Usrūshana (al-Tabarī, ii, 1613). Nasr b. Sayyār subdued the country incompletely in 121/739 (al-Balādhurī, 429; al-Tabarī, ii, 1694), and the Afshin again made a nominal submission to Mahdī (al-Yaqūbī, Tarīkh , ii, 479).

Under Mamūn, the country had to be conquered again and a new expedition was necessary in 207/822. On this last occasion, the Muslim army was guided by Haydar (Khedar), the son of the Afshīn Kāwūs, who on account of dynastic troubles had sought refuge in Baghdād. This time the submission was complete; Kāwūs abdicated and Haydar succeeded him, later to become one of the great nobles of the court of Baghdād under al-Mutasim, where he was known as al-Afshīn. His dynasty continued to reign until 280/893 (coin of the last ruler Sayr b. Abdallāh of 279 [892] in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg); after this date, the country became a province of the Sāmānids and ceased to have an independent existence, while the Iranian element was eventually almost entirely replaced by the Turkic.

However, during the reign of the caliph al-Mahdi (775-85) the Afshin of Oshrusana is mentioned among several Iranian and Turkic rulers of Transoxania and the Central Asian steppes who submitted nominally to him.[3] But it was not until Harun al-Rashid's reign in 794-95 that Fadl ibn Yahya of the Barmakids led an expedition into Transoxania and received the submission of the ruling Akin,[4] this Kharākana had never previously humbled himself before any other potentate. Further expeditions were nevertheless sent to Oshrusana by Ma'mūn when he was governor in Marv and after he had become Caliph. Afshin Kavus, son of the Afshin Karākana who had submitted to Fadl ibn Yahya, withdrew his allegiance from the Arabs; but shortly after Ma'mun arrived in Baghdad from the east (817-18 or 819-20), a power struggle and dissensions broke out among the reigning family of Oshrusana.

Kawus' son Khaydar, known by his royal title of Afshin, became a general in the Abbasid army and fought against Khurramite rebels and their leader Babak Khoramdin in Azerbaijan (816-837). In 841 Afshin was arrested in Samarra on suspicion of plotting against the Caliphate. A single location was used for the crucifixion of Afshin, Maziyar, and Babak's corpses.[5] After his death Ustrushana was Islamified wheareas before he preserved temples from ruin.[6]

There are indications that semi-autonomous Afshins continued to rule over the Ustrushana after control of the region was wrested from the Abbasids by the Saffarids and, soon after, the Samanids.

See also

References & notes

  1. ^ a b c C. Edmund Bosworth (2005), "Osrušana", in Encyclopaedia Iranica. Online Accessed November 2010 [1] Quote 1: "The region was little urbanized, and it long preserved its ancient Iranian feudal and patriarchal society". Quote 2: "At the time of the Arab incursions into Transoxania, Osrušana had its own line of Iranian princes, the Afšins (Ebn Ḵordāḏbeh, p. 40), of whom the most famous was the general of the caliph Moʿtaṣem (q.v. 833-42), the Afšin Ḵayḏar or Ḥaydar b. Kāvus (d. 841; see Afšin)", "The region was little urbanized, and it long preserved its ancient Iranian feudal and patriarchal society."
  2. ^ a b c Kramers, J.H. "Usrūshana". Encyclopaedia of Islam. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2007
  3. ^ Yaqubi, II, p.479.
  4. ^ whose name, by inference from Tabari, III, p. 1066, was something like Kharākana; according to Gardīzī led. Habibi, p. 130
  5. ^ Donné Raffat; Buzurg ʻAlavī (1985). The Prison Papers of Bozorg Alavi: A Literary Odyssey. Syracuse University Press. pp. 85–. ISBN 978-0-8156-0195-1.
  6. ^ Guitty Azarpay (January 1981). Sogdian Painting: The Pictorial Epic in Oriental Art. University of California Press. pp. 19–. ISBN 978-0-520-03765-6.

External links


Afshin (Persian: افشین‎ / Afšīn; Turkish: Afşın or Afşin) is a common Persian, Turkish and Urdu "Afsheen" given name, which is a modern Persian word derived from Avestan. Afshin was used by the Sogdians. Historically, it was the princely title of the rulers of Osrushana at the time of the Muslim conquest. The Afshins of Osrushana were an Iranian principality in Central Asia of whom the later Abbasid general Khaydhar ibn Kawus al-Afshin is the most famous.


Isfana (Kyrgyz: Исфана; Uzbek: Isfana / Исфана; Russian: Исфана) is a small town in the extreme western end of Batken Region in southern Kyrgyzstan. Isfana is on the southern fringe of the Fergana Valley in a region surrounded on three sides by Tajikistan.

The word "isfana" is believed to have come from the Sogdian word "asbanikat", "asbanikent" or "aspanakent" which means "the land of horses". Isfana has been inhabited since at least the 9th century. It underwent significant changes during the Soviet period. The selsoviet (rural council) of Isfana was established in 1937. The selsoviet was transformed into a village administration in 1996. In 2001, Askar Akayev issued a presidential decree to make Isfana into a town.

Isfana is the administrative center of Leilek District. The villages Myrza-Patcha, Samat, Chimgen, Taylan, Ak-Bulak, and Golbo are also governed by the Isfana mayor's office. According to data published on the town's official website, the population of Isfana and the subordinated villages is about 28,085. The population of Isfana itself is about 18,200.


Istaravshan (Tajik: Истаравшан; Persian: استروشن‎) is a city in Sughd Province in Tajikistan. Located in the northern foothills of the Turkistan mountain range, 78 kilometers southwest of Khujand, Istaravshan is one of the oldest cities in today's Tajikistan, having existed for more than 2500 years. Before 2000, it was known as Ура́-Тюбе (Ura-Tyube) in Russian, Ӯротеппа (Ūroteppa) in Tajik and O‘ratepa in Uzbek, the native language of the locals. In 2000, the Tajik authorities decided to delete Uzbek names in country's map and renamed the Uzbek name of the city from O‘ratepa into Istaravshan, the process called as forced "Tajikization" or "Persification" by many.

Bordered by Uzbekistan in the north and west, and Kyrgyzstan in the east, the territorial area of Istaravshan stretches 1,830 square kilometers, and with an administrative population of 199,000 people, the majority of its citizens live in the outlying countryside.

The city lies on the main road connecting Tajikistan's two largest cities, Khujand and Dushanbe.


Jizzakh (Uzbek: Jizzax/Жиззах, جىززﻩخ; Russian: Джизак, Dzhizak/Džizak) is a city (population 923,570 in 2014) and the center of Jizzakh Region in Uzbekistan, northeast of Samarkand. The population of Jizzakh on April 24, 2014, was approximately 324,136.Jizzakh was an important Silk Road junction on the road connecting Samarkand with Fergana Valley. It is at the edge of Golodnaya Steppe, and next to the strategic Pass of Jilanuti (Timur's Gate) in the Turkestan Mountains, controlling the approach to the Zeravshan Valley, Samarkand and Bukhara.

The name Jizzakh derives from the Sogdian word for "small fort" and the present city is built of the site of the town which belonged to Osrushana. After the Arab conquest of Sogdiana, Jizzakh served as a market town between the nomadic raiders and settled farmers. The Arabs built a series of rabats (blockhouses) at Jizzakh, housing ghazis to protect the people. By the 19th century, these blockhouses had evolved into a major fortress for the Emirate of Bukhara. Russian General Mikhail Chernyayev, the “Lion of Tashkent” failed in his first attempt to take Jizzakh, but succeed in his second try, with a loss of 6 men, against 6000 dead for the defenders. The old town was mostly destroyed, its remaining inhabitants evicted, and Russian settlers brought in.In 1916, Jizzakh was the center of an anti-Russian uprising, which was quickly suppressed. In 1917, Jizzakh's most famous native son, Sharof Rashidov, future secretary of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan, was born.

Modern Jizzakh is quietly tree-lined European, with almost nothing remaining of the pre-Rashidov era. The city has two universities, with a total of approximately 7,000 students, and is home to a football team, Sogdiana Jizzakh, which plays in the Uzbek League (Super Liga).

Kawus ibn Kharakhuruh

Kawus ibn Kharakhuruh was the ruler (Sogdian: afshin) of the Principality of Ushrusana during the 9th-century. He was the son and successor of Kharakhuruh.

Khaydhar ibn Kawus al-Afshin

Ḥaydar ibn Kāwūs (Arabic: حيدر بن كاوس‎), better known by his hereditary title of al-Afshīn (الأفشين), was a senior general of Iranian descent at the court of the Abbasid caliphs and a vassal prince of Oshrusana. He played a leading role in the campaigns of Caliph al-Mu'tasim, and was responsible for the suppression of the rebellion of Babak Khorramdin and for his battlefield victory over the Byzantine emperor Theophilos during the Amorium campaign. Eventually he was suspected of disloyalty and was arrested, tried and then executed in June 841.

Principality of Ushrusana

The Principality of Ushrusana (also spelled Usrushana and Osrushana) was a local Iranian dynasty of Sogdian origin, which ruled the Ushrusana region from an unknown date to 892. The rulers of the principality were known by their title of Afshin.


Sogdia () or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian civilization that at different times included territory located in present-day Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan such as: Samarkand, Bukhara, Khujand, Panjikent, and Shahrisabz. Sogdiana was also a province of the Achaemenid Empire, eighteenth in the list on the Behistun Inscription of Darius the Great (i. 16). In the Avesta, Sogdiana is listed as the second best land that the supreme deity Ahura Mazda had created. It comes second, after Airyanem Vaejah, "homeland of the Aryans", in the Zoroastrian book of Vendidad, indicating the importance of this region from ancient times. Sogdiana was first conquered by Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. The region would then be annexed by the Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great in 328 BC. The region would continue to change hands under the Seleucid Empire, Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, Kushan Empire, Hephthalite Empire, and Sasanian Empire.

The Sogdian states, although never politically united, were centred on the main city of Samarkand. Sogdiana lay north of Bactria, east of Khwarezm, and southeast of Kangju between the Oxus (Amu Darya) and the Jaxartes (Syr Darya), embracing the fertile valley of the Zeravshan (ancient Polytimetus). Sogdian territory corresponds to the modern provinces of Samarkand and Bokhara in modern Uzbekistan as well as the Sughd province of modern Tajikistan. During the High Middle Ages, Sogdian cities included sites stretching towards Issyk Kul such as that at the archeological site of Suyab. Sogdian, an Eastern Iranian language, is no longer a spoken language, but its direct descendant, Yaghnobi, is still spoken by the Yaghnobis of Tajikistan. It was widely spoken in Central Asia as a lingua franca and even served as one of the Turkic Khaganate's court languages for writing documents.

Sogdians also lived in Imperial China and rose to special prominence in the military and government of the Chinese Tang dynasty (618–907 AD). Sogdian merchants and diplomats traveled as far west as the Byzantine Empire. They played an important part as middlemen in the trade route of the Silk Road. While originally following the faiths of Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Buddhism, and to a lesser extent, Nestorian Christianity from West Asia, the gradual conversion to Islam among the Sogdians and their descendants began with the Muslim conquest of Transoxiana in the 8th century. The Sogdian conversion to Islam was virtually complete by the end of the Samanid Empire in 999, coinciding with the decline of the Sogdian language, as it was largely supplanted by Persian.

Sogdian language

The Sogdian language was an Eastern Iranian language spoken in the Central Asian region of Sogdia, located in modern-day Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan (capital: Samarkand; other chief cities: Panjakent, Fergana, Khujand, and Bukhara), as well as some Sogdian immigrant communities in ancient China. Sogdian is one of the most important Middle Iranian languages, along with Bactrian, Khotanese Saka, Middle Persian, and Parthian. It possesses a large literary corpus.

The Sogdian language is usually assigned to a Northeastern group of the Iranian languages. No direct evidence of an earlier version of the language ("Old Sogdian") has been found, although mention of the area in the Old Persian inscriptions means that a separate and recognisable Sogdia existed at least since the Achaemenid Empire (559–323 BCE).

Like Khotanese, Sogdian possesses a more conservative grammar and morphology than Middle Persian. The modern Eastern Iranian language Yaghnobi is the descendant of a dialect of Sogdian spoken around the 8th century in Osrushana, a region to the south of Sogdia.

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