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The Barmakids ( Arabic البرامكة al-Baramika ; Persian برمكيان Barmakiyān ) were a Persian family of high state officials under the Abbasids (750-803).

They probably descended from Zoroastrians from Balkh , although a Buddhist origin cannot be excluded (derived from Sanskrit pramukha [head, administrator]). After the Arab conquest of Eastern Iran, they apparently adopted Islam . Since the Abbasids came to power in the caliphate , the Barmakids took on important functions in their tax and army administration.

Yahya ibn Chalid was able to rise to vizier under Hārūn ar-Raschīd (786-803). He tried to achieve a balance between the Arab and Persian groups of the caliphate. The cultural heyday of the Abbasid Caliphate began under Yahya. Greek philosophical and scientific works were translated, and Zoroastrians and Christians also came to court.

The reasons for the sudden fall of the family and the execution of the younger son Jafar (803) are unknown. According to a popular legend, the cause was an alleged love affair between Yahya's son Jafar and Harun's sister Abbasa . It is more likely that Harun al-Raschid the dynasty had become too influential. Her fabulous wealth, which is said to have exceeded that of the caliph, and her intrigues at court also played a role. The family was expropriated, and Yahya and the older son al-Fadl were imprisoned. These events have also found their way into the stories of the Thousand and One Nights .

The rise of the Barmakids in the time of Harun ar-Raschid was also the beginning of the rebirth of the Persian national consciousness after the fall of the powerful Sassanid Empire . Only a short time after the fall of the Barmakids, their successors, the Persian Samanids , rose to become the first independent Persian dynasty after the Arab conquest of Persia.