The kanārang was a unique title in the Sassanid army, given to the commander of the Sassanid Empire's northeasternmost frontier province, Abarshahr (encompassing the cities of Tus, Nishapur and Abiward). In Byzantine sources, it is rendered as chanaranges (Greek: χαναράγγης) and often used, for instance by Procopius, in lieu of the holder's actual name.
The title was used instead of the more conventional marzbān, which was held by the rest of the Persian frontier wardens. Like the other marzbān, the position was hereditary. The family holding it (the Kanārangīyān) is first attested in the reign of Yazdegerd I (r. 399–421), but was descended from some pre-Sassanid, most likely Parthian, dynasty. They enjoyed a high prestige and great authority in the Sassanid Empire's northeastern borderlands, as reflected in their glorified description in the Shahnameh of the great Persian poet Ferdowsi.
The family was active until the very end of the Sassanid realm. A man called Kanāra in Arab sources commanded the Persian light cavalry at the decisive Battle of al-Qādisiyyah, and his son, Shahrīyār bin Kanāra, is reported to have fought valiantly before being killed. The family is later recorded as assisting the Muslim conquest of Khorasan by Abdullah ibn Aamir, and being rewarded with the right to keep the province of Tus and half of Nishapur province under their control.
Known holders of the post
- Gushnaspdad, attested 484–488
- Adurgundbad, 488–541
- Bahram, from 541
- Kanadbak, attested 628-652
- Houtsma (1983), p. 975
- Pourshariati (2008), pp. 266–267
- Pourshariati (2008), pp. 232–233, 269
- Pourshariati (2008), pp. 272, 275–276
- Pourshariati (2008), pp. 267–268
- Pourshariati (2008), pp. 268–269
- Pourshariati (2008), p. 269
- Houtsma, Martijn Theodoor, ed. (1993). E.J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam 1913-1936, Volume VIII. BRILL. ISBN 90-04-09794-5.
- Pourshariati, Parvaneh (2008). Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire: The Sasanian-Parthian Confederacy and the Arab Conquest of Iran. I.B. Tauris. ISBN 978-1-84511-645-3.