ABARKĀVĀN, late Sasanian name of Qešm (q.v.) island in the Straits of Hormoz. It occurs in this form (Balaḏorī, Fotūḥ, p. 386) and as Abarkāfān (Nozhat al-qolūb, p. 186), Barkāvān (Ebn Ḥawqal, p. 183; Ebn al-Aṯīr, III, p. 41), Banū Kāvān (Masʿūdī, Morūǰ I, p. 240; Ebn al-Balḵī, pp. 113-14), etc. (For a more ancient name of the island, see Broḵt; see also Lāft.) The form of the name may be compared with those of Abarqobāḏ, Abar Šahrīār (Ebn Ḥawqal, p. 300), and Bar Bābak (Ebn Ḵordāḏbeh, p. 197). “Kāvān” indeed occurs as a personal name (Yāqūt, II, p. 80) and would mean in Middle Persian “of the lineage of Kāva.” Perhaps the name survives in the form Dargāhān/Dargavān, which designates a village on the island’s north shore, thirteen miles west of Qešm city (Kayhān, Joḡrafīā I, p. 105; J. G. Lorimer, Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, ʿOmān and Central Arabia II B, Calcutta, 1908, p.1552).

According to Eṣṭaḵrī and, following him, Ebn Ḥawqal (loc. cit.), Abarkāvān fell within the kūra of Ardašīr Ḵorra in Fārs province. In 23/643-44 the Arab governor of Baḥrayn and ʿOmān, ʿOṯmān b. Abu’l-ʿAsī Ṯaqafī, sent an army to invade the island; it was largely made up of the Abd-al-qays tribe (Balaḏorī, Fotūḥ, pp. 386, 391). There the marzbān of Kermān put up a defense with a small force but was killed. The Muslims then proceeded to invade southern Iran, landing at Tavvāǰ.

Abarkāvān was prosperous during the early Islamic period; it had a thriving town and many villages with productive fields, date palms, and other fruit trees. The town was an active maritime-trade center (and a source of sweet water for ships). The mosque built by the Arab conquerors was still standing in 333/944-45 (Ḥodūd al-ʿālam, p.20; tr. Minorsky, pp. 57-58; Masʿūdī, loc. cit.; cf. The Travels of Pedro Teixeira, tr. W. F. Sinclair, London, 1902, pp. 19-20). Toward the end of the Omayyad period the island was a Kharejite stronghold. By Yāqūt’s time (d. A.D. 1229) much of the island’s former glory had departed; no one could tell him its exact location (Yāqūt, IV, p. 432).


See also Ṭabarī, II, pp. 1949, 1979.

Ebn Ḵordāḏbeh, p. 62. Ebn al-Aṯīr, III, pp. 355, 451-45.

Schwarz, Iran, p. 84.

(M. Kasheff)

Originally Published: December 15, 1982

Last Updated: July 13, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 1, pp. 63-64

Cite this entry:

M. Kasheff, “Abarkavan,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/1, p. 63-64; available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abarkavan (accessed on 10 January 2014).