MOZAFFARIDS (Āl-e Moẓaffar), family of governors of Yazd under the Il-Khanids, who expanded their domain after the collapse of the Il-Khanid power and established the Mozaffarid dynasty in Yazd, Kerman, Fars, and ʿErāq-e ʿAjam (see ʿAJAM) (713-95/1314-93; Figure 1), which endured until its destruction by Timur (Tamerlane) in 795/1393. 

Origins and early history.  The rise to power of the Mozaffarid dynasty is best understood within the context of two political spheres in Iran in the 13th and 14th centuries, namely the rule of the Mongol Il-khans and that of the local Iranian elite.  The Mozaffarids traced their origins to a certain Ḡiāṯ-al-Din Ḥāji from Ḵᵛāf in Khorasan, who made his way to Yazd at the time of the Mongol invasion of Iran (Moʿin-al-Din Yazdi, p. 27; Kotobi, p. 3; new ed., pp. 30-31; Ḥāfeẓ-Abru, 2001, I, p. 94).  Here his descendants carved out local influence through patronage and support of both the Mongols and the provincial authorities, the atābegs of Yazd [see ATĀBAKĀN-E YAZD] (Kotobi, p. 3; new ed., pp. 30-31).  While Khorasan and Azerbaijan absorbed the direct impact of the Mongol invasions, provinces to the south, such as Yazd, Kerman, and Fars retained some degree of autonomy.  Ruling families, such as the Qara-Khitayids in Kerman and Salghurids in Fars maintained local influence while acknowledging the nominal supremacy of the Il-khanids in Tabriz.  This dual layer of political authority provided opportunities for the advancement of local grandees, such as the descendants of Ḡiāṯ-al-Din.  His grandson, Amir Šaraf-al-Din Moẓaffar, served the Atābeg Yusofšāh in the area around his family’s hometown of Meybod (Moʿin-al-Din Yazdi, pp. 31-32; Kotobi, p. 4; new ed., pp. 30-31; Ḵᵛāndamir, III, pp. 273-74).  Amir Moẓaffar also won favor from the Il-khan Arḡun for his efforts in keeping the roads safe from bandits.  Recognition from the khan raised his profile in Yazd, and tied him to the court in Tabriz (Naṭanzi, pp. 180-81), an important factor in the rise of other contenders, such as the Chobanids and Jalayerids, for power in Iran after the collapse of the Il-khanids.  Arḡun Khan (r. 1284-91), the fourth il-khan, appointed him yasāvol (Kotobi, p. 5; new ed., p. 31; Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, 2001, I, p. 96; Ḵᵛāndamir, III, p. 274), and he continued to be recognized as a loyal servant of the dynasty by the new Il-khan, Gayḵātu Khan (r. 1291-95), and by Ḡāzān Khan (r. 1295-1304), who appointed him commander of one thousand (hazāra; Moʿin-al-Din Yazdi, p. 36 [does not mention Gayḵātu]; Kotobi, p. 6, new ed., p. 32).  He was subsequently appointed governor of Meybod under Il-khan Öljeytü (Oljāytu; r. 1304-16; Kotobi, p. 6, new ed., p. 32). 

After Amir Moẓaffar’s death in 713/1314, his thirteen-year-old son Mobārez-al-Din Moḥammad inherited his position, and he remained in attendance at the court of Öljeytü until the ruler’s death in 716/1316 (Moʿin-al-Din Yazdi, pp. 48-49; Kotobi, p. 8; new ed., pp. 34-35; Aḥmad Kāteb, pp. 80-81).  Abu Saʿid Bahādor Khan (r. 1316-35), the next Il-khan, continued to reward him and his family, and in 718/1318 he appointed Mobārez-al-Din Moḥammad governor of Yazd (Moʿin-al-Din Yazdi, p. 58; Kotobi, p. 9, new ed., p. 36; Ḵᵛāndamir, III, p. 274).  He earned continued esteem from the sultan by defeating the Negudari tribe, which had been conducting attacks on Yazd (Kotobi, p. 10; new ed., pp. 36-37; Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, 2001, I, pp. 101-3).  Mobārez-al-Din also forged links with the ruling family in Kerman by his marriage in 729/1328-29 to Maḵdumšāh, the daughter of Qoṭb-al-Din Jahānšāh Nikruz (Faṣiḥ Aḥmad Ḵᵛāfi, III, p. 41). Thus, from 718/1318 until 736/1335, Mobārez-al-Din Moḥammad served as the Il-khanid governor of Yazd, occasionally making journeys to present himself, as well as his son, at the court of Abu Saʿid Bahādor Khan (Faṣiḥ Aḥmad Ḵᵛāfi, III, p. 44).

The Moẓaffarids and the post-Il-khanid political order.  The death of Abu Saʿid, who had no sons to sucseed him, threw the Il-khanid kingdon (ulus) into disarray.  Without a clear successor to the throne, several factions attempted to seize power themselves, both at the royal center in Azerbaijan and in the provinces.  The battles for control of the throne in Tabriz had significant repercussions for the fortunes of provincial elites like Mobārez-al-Din Moḥammad.  The Soldus Mongol family known as the Chobanids took control of Azerbaijan in 738/1338.   Amir Čobān had been the virtual ruler of the Il-khanid domain during the early years of Abu Saʿid’s reign until his downfall in 727/1327 (Melville, p. 6).  Amir Čobān’s descendants re-emerged after 736/1335, with his grandson Shaikh Ḥasan(-e) Kuček successfully taking Tabriz.  Although Shaikh Ḥasan raised a Chinggisid pretender to the throne, Chobanid power was not accepted everywhere in the Il-khanid realm.  In Khorasan, the Chinggisid Ṭaḡāy Temür (Ṭaḡā [Ṭoḡā] Timur) Khan claimed sovereignty (Ahari, p. 64), while in Baghdad the Jalayerid Amir Shaikh Ḥasan(-e) Bozorg enthroned his own Chinggisid pretender (Ahari, p. 63). 

At first, Mobārez-al-Din Moḥammad seems to have leaned toward his ancestral homeland in Khorasan, for he struck coins in 739/1338-1339 in the name of Ṭaḡāy Temör Khan (Album, p. 161).  However, he soon found the opportunity to improve his fortunes by allying with the Chobanids.  Shaikh Ḥasan Čobāni’s brother, Pir-Ḥosayn, set out in 740/1339-40 to conquer Shiraz, which had been the domain of the Inju dynasty since the time of Öljeytü (Šabānkāraʾi, p. 296; Boyle, p. 1208).  Pir-Ḥosayn sought military support from Mobārez-al-Din Moḥammad, and when Masʿudšāh Inju fled Shiraz for Baghdad, Pir-Ḥosayn rewarded Mobārez-al-Din with the governorship of Kerman.  Mobārez-al-Din’s father-in-law, Qoṭb-al-Din Nikruzi, fled the city (Moʿin-al-Din Naṭanzi, p. 181; Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, 2001, I, pp. 110-12; Faṣiḥ Aḥmad Ḵᵛāfi, III, p. 58), and the Mozaffarid began striking coins in 741/1340-1341 in Kerman in the name of Solayman Khan, the Chinggisid puppet of the Chobanids in Tabriz (Album, p. 161).

The expansion of Mozaffarid power into Kerman brought Mobārez-al-Din Moḥammad into greater contact and conflict with two groups: the non-Muslim Mongol tribes of Kerman, mainly the Avḡāni and Jormāʾi, as well as the Inju rulers in Fars.  The tribes had been granted autonomy in a region around Kerman by Abaqa (Abāqā) Khan (Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, 1996-99, III, p. 129).  The Avḡāni and Jormāʾi represented important additional military manpower for Mobārez-al-Din, and he employed various methods to win them over and keep them loyal to himself.  He arranged for his son Shah Šojāʿ to marry a daughter of one of the tribal chiefs.  This union produced three Moẓaffarid princes, as well as the princess Pādšāh Solṭān, who married Shah Šojāʿ’s nephew, Šāh Yaḥyā (Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, 1996-99, III, p. 129; Ḵᵛāndamir, tr., p. 173).  The Avḡāni and Jormāʾi were valuable allies and helped to repel an Inju invasion in 745/1344-45.  However, the tribes maintained their own internal social and political structures, and could not always be counted on to remain loyal (Aigle, p. 188). 

A greater rival than the tribes was the Inju ruler Amir Shaikh Abu Esḥāq b. Maḥmudšāh. He had retaken Shiraz in 743/1342-43 from the Chobanids by allying himself with Pir-Ḥosayn’s cousin and rival, Malek Ašraf, and was the first post-Il-khanid ruler to strike coins in his own name in that year (Album, p. 159).  Abu Esḥāq and Mobārez-al-Din Moḥammad would clash for the next ten years for control of Fars, a province far wealthier than Kerman. In 754/1353 Mobārez al-Din conquered Shiraz, and Abu Esḥāq fled, eventually to Isfahan. Shiraz would remain the Moẓaffarid capital until Timur executed most members of the dynasty in 795/1393.

Mobārez-al-Din Moḥammad and Islam.  Throughout the period of his independent rule, Mobārez-al-Din Moḥammad cultivated his public image as defender and enforcer of Sunni Islam.  He had a reputation for strict personal piety.  The contemporary poet Ḥāfeẓ refers to him as moḥtaseb, the official enforcer of public morality, after he shut down the taverns of Shiraz, which had been lively under Abu Esḥāq (Khorramshahi and EIr., p. 467; Ḵᵛāndamir, III, p. 289, tr., p. 166; Yaḥyā Qazvini, pp. 192-93; Browne, III, pp. 163-64; Zarkub Širāzi, pp. 122-23).  According to Faṣiḥ Aḥmad Ḵᵛāfi (III, p. 58), in 740/1339-40 Mobārez-al-Din began going to the mosque every Friday on foot.  He also built a congregational mosque (751-52/1350-52) as well as a dār al-siāda hall for it (754/1353-1354) in Kerman.  Moʿin-al-Din Yazdi, the author of the Mozaffarid dynastic history Mawaheb-i elāhi, was appointed as the first teacher (modarres) at this latter institution (Faṣiḥ Aḥmad Ḵᵛāfi, pp. 79-80).  After conquering Tabriz in 760/1359, Mobārez-al-Din personally gave the Friday sermon (ḵoṭba) from the pulpit (menbar) on the Friday after the conquest (Ahari, p. 82; Kotobi, p. 59; new ed., pp. 76-78; Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, 2001, I, p. 305; Jaʿfari, p. 53; Šabānkāraʾi, p. 318).  Mobārez-al-Din would also make religious overtures in order to achieve his political goals.  In his conflicts with the Avḡāni and Jormāʾi tribes, he secured a ruling (fatwā) from the ulema declaring them infidels, and war against them a religious one (ḡazā; Kotobi, p. 28; new ed., p. 53).  A public projection of religious piety and righteousness may have also helped cultivate ties with the urban populations of Shiraz and Isfahan, the support of whom was vital for any ruler to maintain control over the cities (Aigle, p. 199).  After the conquest of Shiraz, Mobārez-al-Din sent an envoy to Egypt, requesting a patent from the ʿAbbasid caliph in Cairo, al-Moʿtażed Be’llāh, naming Mobārez-al-Din wāli amir al-moʾmenin (Moʿin-al-Din Naṭanzi, p. 185; Jaʿfari, p. 53).  Thus, Mobārez al-Din would base his claims to legitimate sovereignty on his role as a representative of the ʿAbbasid caliph and upholder of Sunni Islam in Iran.  In 755/1354 he swore an oath of allegiance to al-Moʿtażed, and began striking coins in his own name, alongside that of the caliph (Album, p. 168).  Maḥmud Kotobi attributed to him the role of mojadded, or renewer of the religion, since his formal recognition of ʿAbbasid authority came one hundred years after the destruction of the ʿAbbasids in Baghdad by the Mongols (Kotobi, p. 45).  The political ideology of Mobārez-al-Din Moḥammad can thus be summarized as a claim to legitimate his authority based on his roles as defender and enforcer of right religion and renewer of the Sunni Muslim relationship of caliphal religious authority legitimizing the political authority of the military elite. 

The recognition of ʿAbbasid authority by the Mozaffarids is significant also in the wider context of post-Il-khanid Iran. Early claimants to power had ruled in the name of the Chinggisids, but this practice had begun to wane by mid-century.  In Baghdad, Shaikh Ḥasan Jalāyer (r. 736-57/1336-57), also known as Ḥasan(-e) Bozorg, had dispensed with any Chinggisid puppet, while in Tabriz Malek Ašraf Čobāni seems to have looked to the traditions of pre-Islamic Iranian kingship to legitimate his rule (Zayn-al-Din Qazvini, p. 35).  In Khorasan, the Sarbedārān had challenged the rule of Ṭaḡāy Timur Khan by establishing a state at Sabzavār that looked to Sufi and Shiʿite religious ideology (Smith).  Thus, in the post-Il-khanid world, the symbols and rhetoric of legitimate power were being contested in Iran.  Mozaffarid recognition of the ʿAbbasids was not an effort to forge an alliance with the Mamluk protectors of the caliph in Egypt, but rather to proclaim an ideological context for the Mozaffarid family’s newly expanded realm, and their emergence as one of the handful of ruling dynasties in Iran in the 14th century.

The Moẓaffarid realm at its height: conquests of Isfahan and Tabriz.  Isfahan fell to Mobārez-al-Din Moḥammad in 757/1356, after the castellan (kutvāl) of the citadel of Ṭabrak in the city submitted to the Mozaffarid army led by Shah Solṭān, Mobārez-al-Din Moḥammad’s cousin.  Abu Esḥāq was captured and sent to Shiraz, where he was executed; thus Mobārez-al-Din’s longstanding political rival was eliminated (Kotobi, pp. 53-54; new ed., pp. 74-75; Moʿin-al-Din Naṭanzi, pp. 184-85; ŠabānkāraʾI, pp. 317-18; Ḵᵛāndamir, III, p. 291; Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, 1996-99, II, pp. 215-17; idem, 2001, I, pp. 287-88).  The Mozaffarid conquest of Isfahan came on the eve of a major political change in Azerbaijan, which hitherto had been under the rule of Malek Ašraf Čobāni.  In 758/1357 the Jochid Jāni Beg Khan invaded from the lands of the Golden Horde (Dašt-e Qefpāq) and conquered Tabriz.  He installed his son Berdi Beg and returned to the steppe.  However, Jāni Beg died soon afterward, and Berdi Beg was obliged to return to the Jochid lands.  The consequence was a power vacuum in Azerbaijan.  In these circumstances, Mobārez-al-Din Moḥammad led his armies to Azerbaijan and conquered the seat of Il-khanid authority, a significant symbolic achievement.  The Mozaffarid rule in Tabriz was short-lived, however, since Mobārez-al-Din soon abandoned the city when he received word that the Jalayerid Shaikh Oways (r. 1356-74), who had recently succeeded his father in Baghdad, was on his way with an army to Tabriz.  According to some sources, Mobārez-al-Din considered Shaikh Oways’s advance as a fulfillment of an omen he had received from his astrologers, foretelling his demise by a young Turk (Moʿin-al-Din Qazvini, p. 69; Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, 1939, p. 190; new ed., p. 238; idem, 2001, I, pp. 292-96, 302-5; Moʿin-al-Din Naṭanzi, pp. 181-82, 186; Kotobi, new ed., pp. 76-78).  Soon after returning to Isfahan in 760/1359, Mobārez-al-Din Moḥammad was seized and blinded by a coalition of his sons, Shah Šojāʿ and Shah Maḥmud, and his cousin, Shah Solṭān.  The brothers’ actions seem to have been prompted by fears that Mobārez-al-Din was favoring his grandson, Shah Yaḥyā b. Shah Moẓaffar, and the resentment felt by the brothers after their father treated them harshly after they had indulged in frivolity during the Azerbaijan campaign.  They blinded and imprisoned Mobārez-al-Din Ramażān (760/1359) at Ṭabarak fortress, and divided the realm among themselves (Kotobi, p. 59, new ed., pp. 77-80; Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, 1996-99, II, pp. 219-20; idem, 2001, I, pp. 309-12; Ḵᵛāndamir, III, p. 292-94; Šabānkāraʾi, pp. 318-19; Jaʿfari, p. 53). 

With the head of the family gone, conflict arose among the different branches of the Mozaffarid house, particularly between the brothers Shah Šojāʿ and Shah Maḥmud.  In the period between 760/1359 and 776/1374, the Jalayerids served as valuable allies to Shah Maḥmud, helping him capture Shiraz from his brother in 765/1363-64 (Kotobi, new ed., pp. 86-90; Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, 1939, new ed., p. 243; idem, 2001, I, pp. 357 ff., 372 ff.).  Shah Maḥmud acknowledged Jalayerid supremacy by striking coins in the name of Sultan Shaikh Oways in Shiraz 766/1364-65 (Soudavar, p. 45).  However, the notables of Shiraz invited Shah Šojāʿ back in 767/1366 (Kotobi, p. 81; Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, 2001, I, pp. 382-83), demonstrating the importance of support from the urban elite, particularly in Shiraz and Isfahan, for the success of any Mozaffarid prince (for the role of the Iranian urban elite in the Timurid period, see Manz, 2007, pp. 117-19).  Shah Šojāʿ’s return to Shiraz was the occasion for his composition of a maṯnawi, Ruḥ al-ʿāšeqin, in which the fraternal conflict is presented in the style of a quarrel between two lovers (Arberry, 1962, pp. 28-30).  Shah Maḥmud appealed to Shaikh Oways again in 770/1368-69, this time in a request to marry his daughter.  The marriage ensured Shah Maḥmud important Jalayerid military support to use against Shah Šojāʿ (Zayn-al-Din Qazvini, p. 85; Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, 1939, p. 195; new ed., p. 243; idem, 2001, I, p. 431).

The conflict between the brothers only ended in 776/1375, with the death of Shah Maḥmud, just a few months after the death of Shaikh Oways (Kotobi, p. 91; new ed., p. 103; Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, 1939, new ed., p. 247; idem, 2001, I, pp. 490-91).  Shah Šojāʿ took advantage of this opportunity to invade Azerbaijan and conquer Tabriz.  Yet, like his father, Shah Šojāʿ’s stay in Tabriz was short-lived.  His army had dispersed after the conquest, and he was unable to mount a defense against the oncoming army of Solṭān Ḥosayn Jalāyer.  He returned to Isfahan after just a few months (Kotobi, pp. 92-93; new ed., pp. 103-5; Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, 1939, p. 200, new ed., pp. 246-50; idem, 2001, I, pp. 503-11).

The Mozaffarids after Shah Šojāʿ.  Prior to his death in 786/1384, Shah Šojāʿ designated his son, Zayn-al-ʿĀbedin, to succeed him in Shiraz. (Kotobi, p. 109; new ed., p. 119; Ḥāfez-e Abru, 2001, II, pp. 606-9, 614-15).  Hostility between Zayn-al-ʿĀbedin and his cousins Shah Yaḥyā and Shah Manṣur characterized the remaining years of the Mozaffarid dynasty.  Shah Yaḥyā was driven out of Isfahan by the inhabitants of the city following Shah Šojāʿ’s death.  Zayn-al-ʿĀbedin then assigned his maternal uncle, Amir Moẓaffar Kāši, to govern Isfahan (Kotobi, p. 109; new ed., p. 119).  Shah Šojāʿ’s brother, Solṭān Aḥmad, ruled Kerman, where he assumed the responsibility of managing the tribes there.  He favored Amir Moḥammad of the Jormāʾi, while imprisoning the Avḡāni chief Tākur.  The Avḡāni allied with the amir Soyurḡatmeš, who led them in battle against the forces of Sultan Aḥmad and the Jormāʾi in 787/1385.  Soyurḡatmeš was killed, and Sultan Aḥmad installed his loyal commander Pahlavān ʿAli Qurči as leader of the Avḡāni (Kotobi, pp. 110-12; new ed., pp. 120-22; Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, 2001, II, pp. 639-41). 

In the midst of this conflict, the first emissaries of Timur arrived in Kerman (Kotobi, p. 111, new ed., p. 121).  Unlike the Jalayerids and Mozaffarids, Timur was not a product of the political culture of the Il-khanate.  His roots were in the Ulus Čaḡatāy, yet the Il-khanate was vital to his project of reconstituting the Mongol empire (Manz, 2000, pp. 139-40).  Timur initially allowed the Mozaffarid princes to maintain their local authority, as long as they acknowledged Timur’s supremacy and the right to collect taxes.  Sultan Aḥmad readily struck coins and gave the ḵoṭba in Timur’s name in Kerman (Kotobi, p. 111; new ed., p. 121).  When Timur’s armies came to ʿErāq-e ʿAjam in 789/1387, Zayn-al-ʿĀbedin’s uncle and governor of Isfahan, Amir Moẓaffar Kāši, also submitted, along with the elites.  However, an uprising among some of the Isfahanis against Timur’s tax collectors led to Timur’s order of a general massacre of the inhabitants (Kotobi, pp. 113-14; new ed., p. 123; Neẓām-al-Din Šāmi, I, pp. 104-5; Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, 2001, II, pp. 666-67). Although the Isfahanis proved typically defiant against the military rulers, the Mozaffarids themselves were eager to show that they were friendly to Timur.  During the first Timurid campaign, they were rewarded, as Timur assigned provinces to the princes: Shiraz to Shah Yaḥyā, Sirjān to Abu Esḥāq b. Oways b. Zayn-al-ʿĀbedin, and Kerman to Sultan Aḥmad.  Zayn-al-ʿĀbedin was left out of this territorial distribution, because he had been imprisoned in Šuštar by his cousin, Shah Manṣur, on his way to submit to Timur in Baghdad (Kotobi, new ed., pp. 123-24, 126; Ḥāfez-e Abru, 2001, II, pp. 668-69, 685).  Shah Manṣur then proceeded to drive his brother Shah Yaḥyā out of Shiraz.  Despite warnings in 792/1390 from a representative of Timur to desist from fighting each other and creating turmoil in Iran (Kotobi, p. 117), the Mozaffarid princes continued to battle.  In 793/1391 Zayn-al-ʿĀbedin was released from prison in Šuštar by sympathetic elements there.  He joined a coalition of Shah Yaḥyā and Sultan Aḥmad against Shah Manṣur.  However, Shah Manṣur was victorious in the ensuing battles.  Zayn-al-ʿĀbedin was soon driven out of Isfahan and sought refuge in Ray.  Here he was seized by the local governor and turned over to Shah Manṣur, who promptly blinded him (Kotobi, p. 120; new ed., pp. 128, 129-32; Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, 1996-99, II, pp. 297-98; idem, 2001, II, pp. 722-25).

Thus, by 793/1391, Shah Manṣur was the most powerful Mozaffarid prince, having repelled the coalition against him and having taken both Shiraz and Isfahan.  The civil war between the princes, however, represented seditious movements against the command of Timur, who had entrusted Fars, Kerman, and ʿErāq-e ʿAjam to the Mozaffarids during his first Iranian campaign.  When Timur returned to Iran in 795/1393, Shah Manṣur fled Shiraz with his army once the news reached him that Timur’s forces had already captured the fortress of Qalʿa-ye Safid on their way to Shiraz. He, however, turned back to confront the Timurid army after learning that the Shirazis regarded him as a coward for fleeing, and he was killed in battle (Kotobi, p. 124; new ed., pp. 134-36; Ḵᵛāndamir, tr., p. 187; Neẓām-al-Din Šāmi, I, pp. 131-34; Ḥāfez-e Abru, 2001, II, pp. 756-60).  Although the other Mozaffarid princes rushed to Timur’s court to show their obedience, he turned the government of the Mozaffarid provinces over to more trustworthy individuals.  Timur appointed the amir Edigü Bārlās as governor of Kermān, and his own son ʿOmar Šayḵ Bahādor as governor of Fars and ʿErāq-e ʿAjam.  On 11 Rajab 795/23 May 1393 the entire Mozaffarid house was executed, with the exception of Zayn-al-ʿĀbedin and his brother, Sultan Šebli, who had been blinded by Shah Šojāʿ; they were both sent to Timur’s capital at Samarqand (Kotobi, p. 136; Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, 2001, II, pp. 761-62; Ḵᵛāndamir, tr., p. 187).

Architectural legacy.  The architectural legacy of the Mozaffarids is characterized less by examples of the dynasty’s direct patronage than by the conditions that existed for local patrons to commission religious and monumental buildings under Mozaffarid rule.  Yazd in particular enjoyed a period of prosperity in the 14th century that led to a flourishing of architectural production.  According to one assessment, twelve mosques, one hundred madrasas, and two hundred tombs were built in Yazd in the 14th century (Ayāti, p. 138).  Donald Wilber has identified a distinct Yazdi school, or style, of architecture in the period, characterized by an appliqué plaster and paint technique on building surfaces originating likely with the mausoleum of Öljeytü at Solṭāniya.  Artists and craftsmen who had worked at Solṭāniya were subsequently drawn to Yazd by reports of prosperity and robust building activity (Wilber, p. 92).

The major patron of architecture in Yazd in the early 14th century was Sayyed Rokn-al-Din Moḥammad b. Neẓām Ḥosayni (d. 732/1331-32), judge (qāżi) of Yazd, and the city’s most prominent members of the local grandees.   In 724/1324 Sayyed Rokn-al-Din acquired land adjacent to the city’s old Friday (jāmeʿ) mosque (Masjed-e ʿAtiq), which had been built in 513/1119 by the Atābeg ʿAlāʿ-al-Dawla Garšāsp (Aḥmad Kāteb, p. 114; Lockhart, p. 59).  He commissioned a new structure, including a veranda (ayvān), dome, compartment (maqṣura), and upper galleries (Golombek and Wilber, I, p. 414).  A new phase of construction occurred later under the Mozaffarid Shah Yaḥyā, who commissioned a portal (dargāh) and community hall (jamāʿat-ḵāna), added in 777/1375-76.  In addition, a prayer niche (meḥrāb) was installed, and decoration was  added to the dome chamber at this time (Aḥmad Kāteb, pp. 114-16; Golombek and Wilber, I, pp. 416-17; Wilber, p. 160). 

Sayyid Rokn-al-Din’s tomb is located near the Friday mosque of Yazd.  It is the sole surviving structure from a larger complex, which was known as Madrasa-ye Rokniya, built by him in 725/1325.  The original complex included a mosque, domed mausoleum, madrasa, library, and an observatory called Raṣad-e Waqt o Sāʿāt, which was the most distinguished feature of the whole complex (Aḥmad Kāteb, pp. 122-25; Pope, pp. 1089-90; Wilber, pp. 160-61; Jaʿfari, pp. 103-5; Lockhart, p. 60; Afšār, II, pp. 558-70).  The name “Waqt-o Sāʿāt” derives from an elaborate automaton that sat atop the veranda on the north side of a central courtyard.  It consisted of a system of turning wheels indicating the days of the Turkish, Arabic, Persian, and Western months (Aḥmad Kāteb, pp. 124-25; Jaʿfari, p. 103; Wilber, pp. 160-61).  No physical traces are left of the observatory,  The only current reminiscent of the once distinguished observatory is the name “Waqt-sāʿat,” given to a square (meydān) and a quarter (maḥalla) of Yazd city (Afšār, II, p. 561). 

The tomb of Sayyid Rokn al-Din’s son, Šams-al-Din Moḥammad, built around the year 767/1365, is also located in Yazd.  Šams-al-Din died in Tabriz in 733/1332-33, and his wife, daughter of Rašid-al-Din Fażl-Allāh, arranged for his coffin and two slabs of Tabrizi marble to be sent to Yazd for his tomb in the Šamsiya Madrasa that he had built (Aḥmad Kāteb, p. 129-30, 131; Jaʿfari, pp. 110-11; Wilber, p. 186; Pope, pp. 1090-91; Lockhart, p. 64). Other 14th-century buildings in Yazd included the Ḥosayniya Madrasa and tomb complex, built in 726/1325 under the patronage of the Mozaffarid Šaraf-al-Din Ḥosayn, and the mosque of Ḵᵛāja Ḥāji Abu’l-Maʿāli, built in 787/1385-86, originally as part of a complex that included a madrasa, bath, tomb, and jamāʿat-ḵāna (Aḥmad Kāteb, p. 135; Jaʿfari, pp. 124-26; Golombek and Wilber, 1, pp. 418-19).

Traces of direct dynastic patronage of buildings are evident in Kerman.  The earliest surviving example of Mozaffarid architecture is the Friday mosque of Kerman, built in 750/1349 under the patronage of Mobārez-al-Din Moḥammad.  An inscription over the entrance gives the name of Moḥammad-al-Moẓaffar, Mobārez-al-Din’s father, and mentions his descent from Ḥāji Ḵorāsāni (i.e., Ḡiyāṯ-al-Din Ḥāji Ḵᵛāfi; Hutt, p. 255; Pope, pp. 1099-100; Waziri Kermāni, p. 192, n. 3). The building is situated around a rectangular central courtyard, with four verandas on each side, and is distinctive for its large portal one. It also features a fine tile mosaic.  The qebla wall and two side walls date from the original 14th-century construction, while the prayer niche (meḥrāb) dates from the 16th century.  Kerman’s importance as a center of trade led to the development of a large bazaar, one end of which begins on the southwest side of the Mozaffarid mosque.  A few hundred meters to the northwest of the Friday mosque is the Pāmenār mosque.  The date 790/1393 is given on a portal inscription, in the name of ʿEmād-al-Din Sultan Aḥmad, son of Mobārez-al-Din Moḥammad (Golombek and Wilber, I, p. 393; Wilber, p. 188; Pope, 1102; Lockhart, p. 68; Waziri Kermāni, p. 227).

Fewer examples of a Mozaffarid architectural legacy exist in Isfahan and Shiraz, apart from the madrasa addition to the Friday mosque of Isfahan, which has two date inscriptions, one for 768/1366-67 and one for 778/1376-77, as well as three portals, from the period between 759-68/1358-75 (Wilber, p. 187).  Also dating from Mozaffarid-era Isfahan are the mausoleum of Ḵᵛāja Saʿd on the east side of the city, and the Gonbad mosque at Āzādān outside Isfahan, with inscriptions for 766/1364 and 767/1365 (Pope, pp. 1011-13; Wilber, p. 185).

Cultural patronage under the Mozaffarids.  Despite the conflict among the Mozaffarid princes, Shiraz remained an important center of literary and artistic production under their rule, and as a consequence of their patronage.  Shiraz had first become a center for artistic patronage under the Mongols, a tradition that continued under Inju rule (Soucek, p. 610).  In the visual arts, Shiraz had begun to develop its own style of book illustration under the Inju rulers.  The Šāh-nāma of Ferdowsi was a popular work for book illustration in Shiraz in the period of Amir Shaikh Abu Esḥāq, contemporaneous with the production of the so-called Great Mongol Šāh-nāma in Tabriz in the 1330s (Carboni, pp. 217-19).  The Topkapı Palace Museum houses another Šāh-nāma, produced in Shiraz in 772/1370 (Kühnel, p. 1841).  What is more, Shiraz was also the most important center for inlaid metalwork (Carboni, p. 221), such as a bronze mirror produced for Shah Šojāʿ in 777/1375-76, featuring elaborate astrological and numerical formulas (Soudavar, p. 47).  Shiraz was also a center of patronage for poetry, and it was during Mozaffarid rule that Ḥāfeẓ matured and refined his art.  The austerity of Mobārez-al-Din Moḥammad was a disappointment to the city’s devotees of wine and song under Abu Esḥāq (see Khorramshahi and EIr).  Yet, Ḥāfeẓ reached out to the political elite of the day with his lyrics (ḡazal), praising their power, wisdom, and magnificence.  Shah Šojā‘ was the paramount member of the dynasty for most of Ḥāfeẓ’s career in Mozaffarid Shiraz, and Ḥāfeẓ dedicated a number of ḡazals to him, as well as to Zayn-al-ʿĀbedin, Shah Yaḥyā, and Shah Manṣur (Ḡāni, I, pp. 355-63, 367-70; 371-75; 400-6).  In addition to the princes, Ḥāfeẓ also sought favor from administrators such as Mobārez-al-Din Moḥammad’s vizier Borhān-al-Din Faṭḥ-Allāh, and Shah Šojāʿ’s viziers Qewām-al-Din Moḥammad Ṣāḥeb-ʿayār and Jalāl-al-Din Turānšāh (Khorramshahi and EIr., p. 468).  It is noteworthy that the frequent warfare and apparent political disorder that characterized the period of Mozaffarid rule, and the post-Il-khanid period in general, occurred alongside such extraordinary cultural achievements such as the poetry of Ḥāfeẓ.

The history of the Mozaffarids is illustrative of the ways in which Mongol rule in Iran helped to shape the political order, as well as the significant role played by local, non-Chinggisid elites in the years after the collapse of the Il-khanid power.  Mobārez-al-Din Moḥammed and his progeny combined local status, imperial recognition and favor, Sunni religious ideology, and control of provincial and tribal military resources in an expansive, if internally turbulent, commonwealth in the years before the Timurid period.



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(Patrick Wing)

Originally Published: November 11, 2014

Last Updated: November 11, 2014

Cite this entry:

Patrick Wing,"MOZAFFARIDS," Encyclopædia Iranicaonline edition, 2014, available at (accessed on 11 November 2014).