Samanid State

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Samanid State


a feudal state that was located primarily in Middle Asia; existed from A.D. 875 to 999. Its capital was Bukhara.

The formation of the Samanid state was linked to the collapse of the Arab Caliphate and the rise of the Samanids, who seized power in Mavera-un-Nahr and Khorasan. At its height, in the first half of the tenth century, the Samanid state included Mavera-un-Nahr, Khorasan, and the northern and eastern parts of what is now Iran. Its dependencies were Khorezm, Sis-tan, Gorgan (Giurgiyan), Rasht, Ghazni, Chaganiyan, Isfijab, Gharchistan (along the upper Murgab River), and Tabaristan (Mazanderan).

The government bodies (divans) in the Samanid state included the offices of vizier, treasurer, commander of the guards, and head of the postal service. State ownership of land and the irrigation system prevailed. The most important cities were Bukhara, Samarkand, Nishapur, Merv, Urgench, Herat, Balkh, and Ghazni; crafts guilds were formed in these cities. Feudal oppression in the Samanid state led to a number of popular uprisings, including the peasant rebellion in Tabaristan (Mazanderan) in 913, the townsmen’s movement led by Abu Bakr in Bukhara in 930, and the uprising in Khorezm in 944. The Samanid state maintained lively trade relations with Khazaria, Iran (the Buyid state), Bulgaria on the Volga, China, and Rus’.

Cultural life flourished in the Samanid state. Muslim schools (madrasas) sprang up in all the large cities. The library in Bukhara was famous. Rudaki, al-Farabi, and other Middle Asian cultural figures worked at the court of the Samanids. Architecture and construction made significant strides. Painted glazed ceramics—known as Afrasiab ceramics, after Afrasiab in Samarkand, where the best examples have been found—were widely known. A local Iranian dialect was the basis of Dari, the official language of the Samanid state.

The Samanids’ policy of centralization met with failure, and by the late tenth century, increasing feudal fragmentation led to the disintegration of the Samanid state. In 992, Turkic nomads took Bukhara; the treaty concluded in 996 gave them all the Samanid lands north of the Zeravshan River basin. In 999, Turkic tribes again seized Bukhara. The Samanid state collapsed. The Karakhanid state formed in Middle Asia, and the Ghaznavids took the lands south of the Jaihun River (Amu Darya).


Istoriia tadzhikskogo naroda, vol. 2, book 1. Moscow, 1964.
Istoriia Uzbekskoi SSR, vol 1. Tashkent, 1967.
Gafurov, B. G. Tadzhiki: Drevneishaia, drevniaia i srednevekovaia istoriia. Moscow, 1972.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
By that time, the Samanid state had won its independence from the Caliphate both in politics and economy.