ABRĀZ, Middle Persian “high, superior, height,” old Iranian *uparyānk- “above, high.” For the literal sense of the word, cf. Bundahišn, p. 188.11-12; pad abrāz paydāg, “visible on high” (i.e., in the heavens). The figurative sense, familiar in New Persian afrāz and the military title sar-afrāz, was already common in Old Iranian (Avestan uparatāt- “superiority;” see AirWb., col. 393). In Sasanian usage, abrāz apparently came to serve as an honorific title, although it has not yet been attested as such on stamp seals. The name of the margrave (marzbān) of Marv at the time of King Yazdegerd III’s murder (31/651) is accompanied by this epithet, as well as by that of “Sūrī.” (The latter has led to the suggestion that he was of the noted Sūrēn family; see, e.g., Camb. Hist. Iran IV, p. 25). Thus Ṭabarī names him as Māhōē, Abrāz, Māhōē Abū Barāz, and Barāz with the titles of marzbān or dehqān of Marv (series i, pp. 2873.8, 2888.8 and 3249.5 and 9, 2877.16-17); Ebn al-Aṯīr gives Abrāz (III, p. 272.18; variant: Abrāz b. Marzbān). The form Barāz shows interference by a much more common honorific, that of warāz “boar” (one of the shapes taken by the god Wahrām). Whatever Māhōē’s role in the death of Yazdegerd, he promptly submitted to the Arabs, commanded by ʿAbdallāh b. ʿĀmer; Ṭabarī’s later reference to him is for the year 36/656-57. Māhōē’s honorific was perhaps especially associated with offices in the eastern part of the Sasanian kingdom or on the northeastern frontier. Ebn Ḵordāḏbeh (p. 39.12), in giving a list of “titles of kings of Khorasan and the east,” names “the king of Nesā: abrāz.”


See also: Ṭabarī, series iii, pp. 815.7, 816.1 (for the form Abrāz-banda, emended in a note to the cited passage of Ebn Ḵordāḏbeh).

Justi, Namenbuch, p. 2. Christensen, Iran Sass., pp. 507-08.

J. Wellhausen, The Arab Kingdom and it Fall, London, 1927, p. 414.

(C. J. Brunner)

Originally Published: December 15, 1983

Last Updated: July 19, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 3, pp. 228-229

Cite this entry:

C. J. Brunner, “Abraz,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/3, pp. 228-229; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abraz-middle-persian-high-superior-height-old-iranian-uparyank-above-high (accessed on 25 January 2014).