Ghaznavid dynasty


Ghaznavid dynasty
(977–1186) Turkish dynasty that ruled in Khorāsān (northeastern Iran), Afghanistan, and northern India.

It was founded by Sebüktigin (r. 977–997), a former slave. His son Mahmūd (998–1030) enlarged the empire to its greatest extent; during his reign, Ferdowsī wrote the epic Shāh-nāmeh ("Book of Kings"). Maḥmūd's grandson Masʽūd I (1031–41) lost the western half of the empire to the Seljūq dynasty. The Ghaznavids continued to rule their eastern provinces until they were defeated by the Ghūrid dynasty in 1186. They are noted for their architecture and for their patronage of the arts and sciences. See also al-Bīrūnī.

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▪ Turkish dynasty
 (AD 977–1186), Turkish dynasty that ruled in Khorāsān (in northeastern Iran), Afghanistan, and northern India.

      The founder of the dynasty was Sebüktigin (ruled 977–997), a former Turkish slave who was recognized by the Sāmānids (Sāmānid Dynasty) (an Iranian Muslim dynasty) as governor of Ghazna (modern Ghaznī, Afg.). As the Sāmānid dynasty weakened, Sebüktigin consolidated his position and expanded his domains as far as the Indian border. His son Maḥmūd (ruled 998–1030) continued the expansionist policy, and by 1005 the Sāmānid territories had been divided. The river Oxus formed the boundary between the two successor states to the Sāmānid Empire, the Ghaznavids ruling in the west and the Qarakhanids in the east.

      Ghaznavid power reached its zenith during Maḥmūd's reign. He created an empire that stretched from the Oxus to the Indus Valley and the Indian Ocean; in the west he captured (from the Būyids) the Iranian cities of Rayy and Hamadan. A devout Muslim, Maḥmūd reshaped the Ghaznavids from their pagan Turkic origins into an Islāmic dynasty and expanded the frontiers of Islām. The Persian poet Ferdowsī (d. 1020) completed his epic Shah-nāmeh (“Book of Kings”) at the court of Maḥmūd about 1010.

      Maḥmūd's son Masʿūd I (reigned 1031–41) was unable to preserve the power or even the integrity of the Ghaznavid empire. In Khorāsān and Khwārezm, Ghaznavid power was challenged by the Seljuq Turks. Masʿūd suffered a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Dandānqān (1040), whence all the Ghaznavid territories in Iran and Central Asia were lost to the Seljuqs. The Ghaznavids were left in possession of eastern Afghanistan and northern India, where they continued to rule until 1186, when Lahore fell to the Ghūrids.

      Little survives of Ghaznavid art, but the period is important for its influence on the Seljuq Turks in Iran and on later Islāmic art in India.

      The Ghaznavids introduced the “four eyvān” ground plan in the palace at Lashkarī Bāzār near Lashkarī Gāh, on a plateau above the Helmond River, just north of Qalʾeh-ye Best, Afghanistan. An eyvān is a large vaulted hall, closed on three sides and open to a court on the fourth. The motif of a court surrounded by four eyvāns dominated Seljuq mosque architecture and was used continually through the Timurid and Ṣafavid periods in Persia. The victory tower of Masʿūd III (built 1099–1115) is a precursor of the Seljuq türbe (q.v.), or tomb-tower. Of its two original stories, the remaining one is largely covered with ornamental inscription. Excavations at the site of the palace at Lashkarī Bāzār have uncovered figurative paintings whose stylistic elements are similar to early Seljuq work.

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Universalium. 2010.

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