Tag Archives: Classical Persian

Essays on Persian Poetry in Honor of Dick Davis

Seyed-Ghorab, Ali-Asghar (ed.). 2018. The Layered Heart: Essays on Persian Poetry, A Celebration in Honor of Dick Davis. Washington, D.C: Mage Publishers.
The Layered Heart : Essays on Persian Poetry is published in celebration of the poet and scholar Dick Davis, dubbed “our pre-eminent translator from Persian” by The Washington Post. Edited by Ali-Asghar Seyed-Ghorab, Associate Professor of Persian at Leiden University, the volume includes twenty-one essays about Persian culture and literature, ranging from classical Persian poetry to modern literary topics. Written by foremost scholars in the field, each of the essays is original and ground-breaking either in content or in methodology, while together they encompass a broad sweep of Iranian history, from pre-Islamic times to the present. They offer a fascinating, multi-faceted view of the Persian classics – from poetry in praise of wine, and the portrayal of love in Persian-European medieval romances, to an examination of Ferdowsi’s monumental epic, the Shahnameh, its connection with the Persian oral tradition and its later reception in Iran, Afghanistan, India, and Europe. Modern topics include an analysis of Lahuti’s letter poem to Joseph Stalin, published for the first time in Persian and English, the celebrated novel My Uncle Napoleon, and trends in poetry before and after the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
Table of Contents
  • Ehsan Yarshater: “Voyages in Literature”
  • Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak: “Continuity and Creativity: Models of Change in Persian Poetry, Classical and Modern”
  • Saeed Honarmand: “Between the Water and the Wall: The Power of Love in Medieval Persian Romance”
  • Christine van Ruymbeke: “Wretched King Mobad Loses the War of Love”
  • Asghar Seyed-Ghorab: “Of Love and Loyalty: The Middle English Floris and Blancheflour and the Persian Warqa and Golshāh”
  • Kamran Talattof: “What Kind of Wine Did Rudaki Desire? Samanids’ Search for Cultural and National Identity”
  • Paul Losensky: “Song of the Cupbearer by Mohammad Sūfī Māzandarānī”
  • Saghi Gazerani: “Zahhak’s Story and History”
  • H.E. Chehabi: “Wrestling in the Shahnameh and Later Persian Epics”
  • Sunil Sharma: “Heroes, Husbands, and Rhino Hunters: Sekandar and Bahram Gur in the Shahnameh”
  • Abbas Amanat: “Shahnameh-ye Naderi and the Revival of Epic Poetry in Post-Safavid Iran”
  • Reza Shaghaghi Zarghamee: “From Scythia to Sistan: Reconciling the Shahnameh and Herodotus to Discover the Origins of the Rostam Legend”
  • Olga M. Davidson: “On the Sources of the Shahnameh”
  • Franklin Lewis: “Shifting Allegiances: Primordial Relationships and How They Change in the Shahnameh”
  • Charles Melville: “The Shahnameh in India: Tārīkh-i Dilgushā-yi Shamshīr Khānī”
  • Margaret A. Mills:  “Kok Kohzad in Afghanistan: Local Knowledge and Shahnameh Characters”
  • Firuza Melville: “Side-Saddle Tazmin, or, the Post-Shahnameh for Victorian Children”
  • Natalia Chalisova: “Poet and Ruler: The Case of Dāstān-e gol, Lahuti’s Poem for Stalin”
  • Fatemeh Shams: “From Revolution to Silence: The Political and Literary Life of Qaysar Aminpur”
  • Saeedeh Shahnahpur: “Literature Beyond Borders: Modern Persian Novels in English Translation, The Case of Pezeshkzād’s My Uncle Napoleon”
  • John Walbridge: “Astrolabe Hunting in the Punjab”

The Qalandar in the Persianate World

Portrait of a Qalandar wearing a primitive fur. Inscription in Persian. First quarter of the 17th century, Deccan. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Dahlén, Ashk P. 2018. The Qalandar in the Persianate world: The case of Fakhrod-din ʿAraqi. In Albrecht Berger & Sergey Ivanov (eds.), Holy fools and divine madmen: Sacred insanity through ages and cultures (Münchener Arbeiten zur Byzantinstik 2), 125–153. Neuried: Ars Una.

The mystical poetry of Fakhrod-din ʿAraqi (d. 1289) has been considered to be unparalleled and he has been celebrated as the most eloquent spokesman of divine love in the history of Persian literature. His literary production is above all distinguished by the depth and audacity of its unbridled esoteric speculations and the intensity and brilliant color of its religious expression. The aim the present article is to examine the Qalandari phenomenon, its spiritual doctrine and practice, in the context of medieval Persia with specific reference to ‛Araqi’s lyrical poetry.

On the evidence of his biography and religious teachings, there can be no doubt about the importance of the Qalandari doctrine for ‛Araqi himself. Reliable information concerning his life reveals that he considered social respect as one of the most dangerous pitfalls on the spiritual path. The quintessence of his notion of piety is man’s absolute nothingness before God and ultimate annihilation in the divine attributes. ‛Araqi’s criticism of conventional piety and excuse of scandalous behavior constitute the central tenet of antinomian Qalandari mysticism: outwardly he behaved in a foolish manner according to the conventional standards of society, but inwardly he pursued a religious ideal, inspired by experience of God’s beauty and majesty. In fact, he is probably the most outspoken poet of the qalandariyāt genre and his poetry is traversed through and through by its paradoxes. Marked by a unique blend of antinomian thematic features and a rich symbolic imagery, his poems preserve a subtle harmony between the possibilities of transcendental and profane allusions. In this respect, he became a perfect model for Persian literature, influencing Hāfez and Sa‛di, undisputed masters of the ghazal, and inspiring many other writers of the following centuries.

The Persian Dictionary Sorme-ye Soleymānī

Shavarebi, Ehsan. 2018. The Persian Dictionary Sorme-ye Soleymānī (Early 11th/17th Century) and its manuscript in the library of the Oriental faculty of St. Petersburg State University (MS.O 174). Manuscripta Orientalia 24 (1). 61–67.

This article aims to study the manuscript of the Persian dictionary Sorme-ye Soleymānī (“The Kohl of Soleymān”) from the collection of the library of St. Petersburg State University (MS.O 174), which is the only known manuscript containing the full text of dictionary. In other available manuscripts of this dictionary, the prologue and epilogue of the text are missing. The importance of this manuscript is inclusion of the date of the dictionary’s composition as a chronogram in the epilogue. In addition to an analysis of the beginning and ending pages of the text, a critical edition of the prologue and epilogue of this manuscript is provided in the appendices.

Seven Epic Poems

Ghafouri, Reza. 2015. Haft Manẓūmeh-ye Ḥamāsī (Seven Epic Poems). Bīzhan Nāmeh, Kuk Kūhzād Nāmeh, Babr-e Bayān, Patyāreh, Tahmīneh Nāmeh-ye Kūtāh, Tahmīneh Nāmeh-ye Boland, and Razm Nāmeh-ye Shakāvandkūh. Tehran: Miras-e Maktoob.

The present volume is a collection of seven epic poems, including Bīzhan Nāmeh, Kuk Kūhzād Nāmeh, Dāstān-e Babr-e Bayān, Dāstān-e Patyāreh, Tahmīneh Nāmeh-ye Kūtāh, Tahmīneh Nāmeh-ye Boland, and Razm Nāmeh-ye Shakāvandkūh.

No biographical data have survived on the composers of the above poems in literary or historical sources. The late Zabihullah Safa and Jalal Khaleghi attribute the Kuk Kūhzād Nāmeh, Dāstān-e Babr-e Bayān, Dāstān-e Patyāreh and Razm Nāmeh-ye Shakāvandkūh to the 5th/6th centuries Hijrī. The Bīzhan Nāmeh was composed by ‘Atā’ī, who most probably lived in 10th century Hijrī. Linguistic features indicate that the Tahmīneh Nāmeh-ye Kūtāh and Tahmīneh Nāmeh-ye Boland could have not been composed earlier than the 9th/10th centuries Hijrī.

A Persian report on this volume is available here.

In Original:

هفت منظومۀ حماسی (بیژن‌نامه، کک کوه‌زادنامه، ببر بیان، پتیاره، تهمینه نامۀ کوتاه، تهمینه نامۀ بلند، رزم نامۀ شکاوند کوه)، تصحیح و تحقیق رضا غفوری، ۱۳۹۴، تهران: میراث مکتوب.

From Old to New Persian

Utas, Bo. 2013. From Old to New Persian: Collected essays (Beiträge Zur Iranistik 38). Edited by Carina Jahani & Mehrdad Fallahzadeh. Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag.

In a long series of essays, written during almost half a century, Bo Utas analyses the development of West Iranian languages, particularly Old, Middle, and New Persian, from various perspectives. The focus is placed on the transition from Middle to New Persian and the final essays (hitherto partly unpublished) especially elucidate this process in the light of an interaction between oral and written language.
This book is the second volume of collected articles by Bo Utas. The first volume, Manuscript, Text and Literature. Collected Essays on Middle and New Persian Texts, was published on the occasion of his 70th birthday as no. 29 in the series Beiträge zur Iranistik in 2008.
The seventeen articles in the present volume cover a time span of about 2,500 years and encompass all the stages of Persian. It also contains two entirely new articles, “The Grammatical Transition from Middle to New Persian” and “Between Spoken and Written: The Formation of New Persian”, which sum up much of Bo Utas’ philological research.

For more information, see the preface to this volume and the ToC.
Continue reading From Old to New Persian

Studies on classical Persian poetry

Bürgel, Johann Christoph. 2013. Nachtigallen an Gottes Thron: Studien zur persischen Dichtung. Edited by Mehr Ali Newid and Peter-Arnold Mumm. Wiesbaden: Reichert.
To date, only a few pioneers have made classical Persian poetry and philosophy accessible to the occidental eye. During the 17th and 18th centuries, influential travellers brought goods, travelogues and translations back from Persia. Around 1800, enthusiasm for the oriental brought about more translations as well as more systematic research. In 1812, Joseph v. Hammer(-Purgstall) translated the Dīvān of Ḥāfeẓ. It is with him that Friedrich Rückert studied Persian and went on to set new standards in oriental philology and translation. Despite the tremendous contributions of the chairs in Iranian Studies which were subsequently founded in Europe, the wealth of Persian literature has hardly been exhausted.

Johann Christoph Bürgel was born in Silesia in 1931, received his doctorate in Göttingen in 1960 and was director of the Institute of Islamic Studies in Bern from 1970 to 1995. With his research method, characterised by scientific accuracy and a creative gift for language, he continued the tradition of Rückert and laid cornerstones for today’s Iranian Studies. He received numerous awards for his research as well as his translations.

This volume combines selected papers by distinguished orientalists from 1978 to 2008, dealing with Neẓāmī, ʿAṭṭār, Ḥāfeẓ, Rūmī, Sanāʾī and other Persian mystics and poets, as well as their European reception.

Continue reading Studies on classical Persian poetry

Wine culture in Iran and neighbouring countries

Fragner, Bert G., Ralph Kauz & Florian Schwarz (eds.). 2014. Wine culture in Iran and beyond (Sitzungsberichte der phil.-hist. Klasse. Veröffentlichungen zur Iranistik 75). Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.
Starting from important new archaeological findings and insights that have led to a rethinking of the history of viticulture in Iran and its wider Asian context, this volume explores various aspects of the cultural, social and political significance of grape wine in the Iranian cultural sphere. It assembles specialized studies and interpretative essays ranging from the question of the origins of viticulture and winemaking and the trade of wine between the Iranian plateau and China to viticulture and wine consumption in 20th-century Kafiristan, from the place of intoxicating beverages in hadith to the nature and function of wine in classical Persian poetry and Iranian architecture, from the ambiguities of alcohol in pre-modern Persia to the challenges of modernity and colonial encounters.
Table of Contents (ToC):
Continue reading Wine culture in Iran and neighbouring countries

A grammar of early Judaeo-Persian

Paul, Ludwig. 2013. A grammar of early Judaeo-Persian. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag.
Early Judaeo-Persian (EJP) is the form of Persian that was spoken by Jews, and written in Hebrew script, in ca. the 8th-12th centuries C.E. Most EJP manuscripts have been found in the Cairo Geniza from the late 19th century onwards. Since the dialectal basis of EJP is different from the Early New Persian (written in Arabic script) that was spoken in north-east Iran at the same time, the study of EJP is essential for an understanding of the development of New Persian. So far, only isolated grammatical features of EJP have been studied. The present work is the first attempt at a comprehensive description of EJP grammar in its own right, based on the study of the most important EJP texts, published and unpublished.
For more information, see the ToC and the preface to this vollume. You can also download and read a sample chapter of this book.
 About the Editor:
Ludwig Paul is professor of Iranian Studies at the Asien-Afrika-Institut, Universität Hamburg. He is a scholar of Iranian Linguistic, dialektology as well as Iranian modern history.