Kings/Queens of the Kayanian Dynasty
The word kayan means “kingly, royal, regal.” The dynasty got its name from the Avesta title kavi of the first king Kobad of this dynasty.
After the last king of the Peshdad dynasty, there was no ruling monarch in Iran. Zal and Rustam went to the Alburz mountains to look for Kae Kobad, a saintly person from royal lineage of Minocher, living in a secluded place. They persuaded him to come to Iran and occupy the throne.
On hearing this invitation, Kay Kobad narrated his dream in which he saw two white hawks approaching from Iran, bringing a crown and setting it upon his head. When Rustam heard about this prophetic dream he realised that he had come to the right person. Thereafter both of them proceeded towards Iran.
In Iran, Kae Kobad ascended the throne in the capital city of Istakhr. He was a peace loving king, but yet had to engage in a war with king Afrasiyab of Turan. He ruled wisely for a hundred years. At the end of his life, he admonished his son Kae Kaus and handed over the throne to him.
He was the son of Kae Kobad. He was a brave, illustrious but impulsive king who loved adventures. He attempted to fly attaching his throne to birds, made an unsuccessful attempt to capture Mazandaran which was ruled by magicians, and then rescued by Rustom. He went to Hamavaran to win the hand of princess Sodabeh, where he was imprisoned and later rescued by Rustom.
He waged 5 wars with Afrasiyab and won them with the help of Rustom. The duel of Rustom & Sohrab, and the tragic death of Sohrab, took place in his reign.
His son, prince Siyavakhsh was accused by queen Sodabeh of misbehaviour. Siyavakhsh proved his innocence by passing the Fire ordeal. He then took refuge in Turan and later married the Turanian princess Ferangez. Siyavakhsh was later treacherously killed by Afrasiyab, which gave rise to fresh enmity between Iran and Turan.
He was the son of prince Siyavaksh born in Turan to Firangiz. He was brought to Iran by Giv. He won the throne in a contest with Fariburz, his paternal uncle, in which he was helped by the fire Adar Gushnasp.
The romantic episode of Bizan-Manizeh enfolded in his reign. He killed the Turanian king Afrasiyab, who happened to his own maternal grandfather, near lake Chaechist.
It is believed that he is still living as he had voluntarily left the palace and went into wilderness to devote his time in seclusion and prayers. He was never traced.
Unusual events have been recorded regarding his last days and mysterious disappearance. In his later life he became introspective and turned his mind away from the world. often went into seclusion for days. After several such seclusions, he chose a devout courtier by the name Lohrasp to succeed him and then decided to leave the throne. Zal and Rustam tried their best to dissuade the king, but all their entreaties were of no avail.
In his final journey, he was accompanied by Lohrasp, Zal, Rustam, Gudarz, Giv, Bizhan Gastaham, Fariburz, Tus and thousands of Iranians. On approaching a mountain, Kae Khushru requested his people to return. Most turned back but Giv, Bizhan Gastaham, Fariburz and Tus continued to follow the king. After some time, they had food and rested awhile. The king then bade them farewell and told them to return the next morning, for he will be gone by then. True enough, the king disappeared before sunrise. They searched for him far and wide but could find any trace of their king. Finally, with a heavy heart they returned back.
Kae Lohrasp was the great grandson of Kae Kobad. His predecessor Kae Khushru, before going into seclusion, selected him as his successor, surpassing his own sons, and entrusted the throne to him in his life-time. His reign, though spread over an extensive period, was uneventful.
He had two sons Vishtasp and Zarir. His son Vishtasp rebelled against him and went to India and Rome, from where his brother Zarir brought him back. King Kae Lohrasp made his Vishtasp the king and retired to lead a life of prayers in Navbahar Atash Behram with prophet Zarathushtra.
Prophet Zarathushtra emerged and was accepted as a prophet during his reign. This was the event of supreme importance in the history of the Iranian people. He also established the fire Adar Burzin Meher gifted to him by the prophet.
His brother Zarir, princes Asfandyar and Peshotan and Queen Hutaos / Katayun too accepted Zarathushtra as prophet. His wise minister Jamasp and his brother Frashaoshtra were among the first followers of the prophet.
The Turanian king Arjasp attacked him Gushtasp as he refused to pay taxes on advise of prophet Zarathushtra. In the war Kae Lohrasp and prince Zarir were killed. Arjasp abducted two princesses and Asfandyar was asked to free them in return of the throne. Ultimately Arjasp was slain by Aspandyar, and the Turanians were defeated.
Prince Asfandyar lost his life at the hands of the mighty Rustam when king Vishtasp was alive, and hence Asfandyar’s son Bahman succeeded him to the throne.
He was the son of prince Asfandyar. He avenged his father’s death at the hands of Rustom by devastating Zabulistan. As he had no issue, he named his wife Homai as the Queen.
After becoming the queen she delivered Bahman’s child but abandoned it in a river in the fear that she may have to abdicate the throne when the child grew up. The child was found and brought up by a washer-man. It was called Darab. Decades later when Darab became an army commander he was reunited with his mother, who repented for her deeds and abdicated the thrown in his favour.
Immediately after resuming the throne he was embroiled in a war with the Greeks. He married the Greek princess Nahid as part of the truce. A pregnant Nahid was insulted sent back due to an illness. She gave birth to Eskandar (Alexander).
He had to bear the brunt of the Greeks’ ire over king Darab. Eskandar attacked Iran and defeated king Dara who was killed in the battle.
The history of the last four Kayanian rulers after Kae Vishtasp is based only on the Shahnameh. The Avesta does not mention any persons after Kae Vishtasp. In later traditions recorded in Pahlavi, Persian, and Arabic books, there is serious confusion about the last rulers of the Kayanian dynasty. Later Achaemenian rulers are wrongly mentioned as Kayanian rulers after Kae Vishtasp, which is reflected in the Shahnameh.