Finding Iran in the Panegyrics of the Ghaznavid Court

Roy P. Mottahedeh

Persian panegyric poetry is both painful and revealing. It is painful to the modern reader who fears its exaggerated and far-fetched nature and who is embarrassed by its extravagant style. In 1909 Richard Gottheil, a professor at Columbia University, after praising Firdawsī, explained his unfavourable view of classical Persian literary style as follows:

We feel grateful that the battle of Salamis [in 480 B.C.] stopped the Persian invasion of Europe, which would doubtless have resulted in changing the current of literature from that orderly and stately course which it had taken from its fountain in a Greek Parnassus, and diverted it into the thousand brawling rills of Persian fancy and exaggeration.1

To its original patrons, however, for whom feasting and fighting were central activities that had to be memorialised, Persian panegyric poetry must have been exhilarating. To its modern readers, this panegyric poetry is revealing in its portrayals of the aspirations of these patrons to a world just beyond their grasp.

The panegyrists who served the Ghaznavid Sultans Maḥmūd (reg. 387/997 – 421/1030) and Mas‘ūd (reg. 421/1030 – 432/1040) give new insights into the ideologies and the courts of both rulers. In this essay I discuss how these poets understood the word ‘Iran’, and also how they themselves viewed the role of the panegyrist. I conclude with some general considerations about Persian panegyric poetry.

We should always keep in mind how central Persian poetry was and is to Iranian culture. Most Russians at some time in their life try to play chess. Similarly, most literate Persian speakers at some time in their lives try to compose poetry. A repeated subject of illustration in Persian miniatures and other illustrations of the Shāhnāma from the thirteenth century onward shows Firdawsī, soon to be admired as Iran’s greatest epic poet for his Shāhnāma, being introduced by three court poets, ‘Unṣurī, ‘Asjadī and Farrukhī, to the mighty Sultan Maḥmūd. From this time onward no great Persian court was complete without its poets.2

The four poets shown in the miniatures of the Shāhnāma,3 the three court panegyrists and the poet of epic, Firdawsī, are the principal subjects of this essay. They are all figures of the first half of the fifth/eleventh century. The senior figure among them is ‘Unṣurī, who lived at least until 422/1031. A fifth poet, Manūchihrī, of a somewhat younger generation, who entered the court after the reign of Sultan Maḥmūd, acknowledges the primacy of ‘Unṣurī, whom he calls ‘the master of the masters of the present time.’4 Farrukhī, perhaps the most talented of the court panegyrists, wrote an elegy on the death in 432/1040 of Mas‘ūd, the son and successor of Maḥmūd, which gives a terminus post quem for his death date. As for ‘Asjadī, very little remains of his poetry, but he seems to have survived into the reign of a later Ghaznavid ruler, Mawdūd (reg. 432/1041 to 440/1048).5 Some of these poets composed panegyrics in praise of Mas‘ūd’s half-brother, Muḥammad, who ruled briefly in 421/1030 and then again in 432/1040–1.

Firdawsī’s traditional death date is 411/1020. It is said that Firdawsī presented himself to ‘Unṣurī, ‘Asjadī and Farrukhī when just arrived in Ghazna, Maḥmūd’s capital. ‘Unṣurī said: ‘O brother, we are the king’s poets, and none but poets may enter our company.’ Each poet produced a poem of three lines, and Firdawsī capped each of them with a perfectly metrical and rhyming fourth line.6

The younger Manūchihrī attached himself to Mas‘ūd in the early 420’s/1030’s and stayed with him until Mas‘ūd’s death, at which time he moved to the new court of the Seljuqs. Except for Firdawsī,7 he is the best preserved of the five poets discussed here. He is a skillful poet, much admired in the Persian tradition.

Muḥammad ‘Awfī, the celebrated anthologist of the early seventh/thirteenth century, presents a stunning portrait of ‘Unṣurī’s first patron, Sultan Maḥmūd (here given according to A.J. Arberry’s robust translation):

He was such a king, that his name stands as a frontispiece to the scroll of world-empire by reason of his noble qualities and proud exploits; the robe of glory and grandeur was richly embroidered by his virtues and triumphs. From the centre of his kingdom, like a circle’s circumference he encompassed all the climes of earth; his bidding and forbidding embraced in absolute authority every land and sea. Omnipotent as heaven straddling the earth, the whole world shone in reflected splendor of his sun … [D]espite all [his] preoccupations he did not neglect for a moment to care for the learned and the eminent. For their conversation he entertained a sincere passion, and he always sought every occasion to associate with them. He lavished noble gifts and splendid prizes upon poets, so that inevitably every one according to the limits of his capacity strove to immortalize his fair fame and goodly name, filling many volumes of Arabic and Persian verse and prose with the record of his laudable attributes and mighty achievements.8

As this passage suggests it was wise for panegyrists to depict the ruler as a universal ruler. In this vein, Farrukhī writes:


Maḥmūd, auspicious in Fortune, [a play on Maḥmūd’s title ‘Right Hand of the Caliph’], the ruler of the world, is one with abundant rulership, generosity and kingliness (khusrayī).

In his presence Heaven is always smiling and obedient, just as a mother who adores her daughter behaves towards the bridegroom.9

Nevertheless, these poems make it absolutely clear that the specific area that Maḥmūd ruled and defended was Iran. Farrukhī calls Maḥmūd’s highest official ‘the vizier of the Irānshāh.’10 In a poem of apology to Maḥmūd he calls this sultan ‘Khusraw of Iran’, a more historically specific title for an Iranian king.11 ‘Unṣurī calls Maḥmūd ‘the mighty Lord of Persian speakers’ (khudāyigān-i ‘Ajam).12 Farrukhī in a poem to a boon companion of the king says:


He continuously finds reward from the Shahanshāh for his abundant friendship and service,

The great men of Iran are at his [the Shahanshāh’s] service from mid-day till night.13

Iran is frequently mentioned as the country of the King of Kings in contrast with Tūrān, the area to the north and east of the Oxus, very approximately the area we associate with Turkish Inner Asia. ‘Unṣurī, in a poem of praise for Sultan Maḥmūd, says that when the banner of the non-Iranian ruler, the Qarakhanid Īlak Naṣr, moves toward ‘the clime (kishwar) of Iran and consequently comes to do battle with the Shāh, he [the Īlak] flees with his neck lacerated [back] towards Turkestan.’14

This understanding of Iran and Tūrān is mentioned as well in the very laudatory Arabic prose description of Maḥmūd’s rule by al-‘Utbī. This historian writes that a certain religious figure ‘carried a priceless pearl from the Sea of the Turks to the land (’arḍ) of Iran.’15 Farrukhī makes it clear that the people of the two regions are named after their respective ‘climes’:


How will the Tūrānī be happy with the Īrānī

After so much calamity has been visited on Tūrān by Īrānshahr?16

Manūchihrī is even more fulsome on the subject of the conflict of Iran and Turan, perhaps reflecting Sultan Mas‘ūd’s struggle with the invasion of the Ghuzz Turks under the Seljuq leadership. In rather wild exaggeration he writes:


He will seize the kingdom of the Tūrānians in its entirety;

He will set up a representative in outer China;

He will cause the border land of Khurasan to stretch to the border land of Byzantium;

He will cause the army of the East to pass onward from Iraq.17

‘Unṣurī echoes this sentiment in another poem written in praise of Maḥmūd:


From China and outer China continuously up to the Oxus,

[The invaders] consist of Turks and Persian-speakers (Tājīk) and of Turkomans and Ghuzz and Khazars.18

The first passage clarifies the ambition of the Ghaznavids to expand to the borders of the Byzantines, which would create a kingdom that would approximately correspond with the fifth/eleventh century understanding of the land of Iran. The second passage, by mentioning Persian-speakers among the Central Asians, makes clear that for ‘Unṣurī Iran was primarily a territorial concept that ends at the Oxus.19

Farrukhī in his poetry frequently invokes another well-known instance of contrastive pairs, ‘Arab and ‘Ajam, the latter of which in this context means Persian speakers. In a poem in praise of Muḥammad, the younger son of Maḥmūd, Farrukhī offers an interesting reflection on royal legitimacy using this contrast:


A king (khusraw) of kingly lineage;

Muḥammad, born of a ruler (pādshāh-zāda) and king (khusraw) with the good fortune to reach victory;

The one exalted among the Persian bearers of crowns as well among those of the Arabs.20

The Ghaznavid desire to forget that they are descended from a Turkish slave soldier comes through very strongly in this verse. In one case Farrukhī lays out this contrast with the somewhat rarer word, Pārsīyān, which seems to mean Persian speakers:


He opened by speaking in Arabic amongst the Arabs

Then spoke on to the Pārsīyān in court Persian (darī).21

How comfortable these claims to Iranian kingship sat with the religious claims of Maḥmūd and his sons Muḥammad and Mas‘ūd is shown in verses by ‘Unṣurī. In a poem in praise of the Maḥmūd, a very zealous Sunnī ruler, he writes:


God has asked for obedience to Himself, the Prophet and the Sultan,

Having never made any distinction in these three [matters] in the Qur’an (Furqān),

The salvation of humankind lies in praising [the Prophet] Muḥammad and [the Sultan] Maḥmūd,

The chief Prophet and the most exalted of the Lords of [this] world.

Since the former [i.e., Prophethood] occurred in the Ḥijāz and the latter in Irānshahr,

Ḥijāz is the qibla for religion and Iran is the qibla for kingship.22

Farrukhī expresses somewhat similar sentiments. In his poem praising Sultan Muḥammad mentioned above, he writes:


King of the world, Muḥammad son of Maḥmūd, who has received from the Lord

Every excellence in the world except Prophethood.23

The qibla-like nature of the ruler is attested everywhere in these poets. Farrukhī writes: ‘Your house has become the qibla for humankind.’24 A poem by Bū Hanīfa Iskāfī addressed to the Ghaznavids flatly states that their capital, Ghazna, is: ‘The Ka‘ba of the world’s kingship.’25

All of these references point to a strong belief on the part of Iranians that traditions of kingship are most perfectly preserved and still fully flourishing in Iran. As ‘Unṣurī tells Maḥmūd, ‘While you have the eloquence of the Arabs (muḍar), you have the governmental skills of the Iranians (siyāsat-i ‘Ajamī).’26

Readers may well ask whether this approach is partly or entirely exclusive to Eastern Iran. A good way to consider this question is to study the almost contemporary dīvān of the poetry of Qaṭrān, who was born near Tabriz in Azerbaijan, the northwest province of Iran. He wrote for local rulers in this area, chiefly for the rulers of Tabriz and Ganja (now in the Republic of Azerbaijan). He was active as a poet before 438/1046, when he met Nāṣir-i Khusraw, and afterwards at least until 462/1070, a date mentioned in his poetry.27

Qaṭrān repeatedly mentions Iran and Tūrān together although Tabriz is about a thousand miles from the Oxus.28 He also repeatedly calls the minor rulers he praises the Shāhanshāhs of Iran. As he tells Abū Khalīl Ja‘far, a Shaddādid ruler, a king so obscure that his dates remain uncertain:


You are the courageous leader [or, commander of the brave],

You are the Iranian Shāhanshāh

Both in respect to your heart your excellence is without fault,

And in respect to your body your honour is without blemish.29

In a panegyric addressed to Abū Naṣr Justān (or Jastān), an equally obscure member of a ruling family, Qaṭrān says:


May Iran never be empty of you since you are the qibla of Iran,

For if Iran for one second were without your existence it would be ruined.30

For another ruler, the slightly more important Abū l-Ḥasan ‘Alī Lashkarī of Ganja, he writes:


There is no qibla for Shahs except for the place where Lashkarī is.31

In short, even minor rulers of this period in Iran, who lived in the east or the west of that ‘clime,’ wanted to be remembered in the canon of the kingly tradition that was established in the first half of the fifth/eleventh century.

What did these poets understand themselves to be doing in writing these panegyrics? The ever observant and ever perceptive Bayhaqī, who served as historian to Sultan Mas‘ūd, devotes a long aside to this question. He holds that the best panegyric tells the truth:

Such honest and blunt advice must be proffered repeatedly to exalted and blessed monarchs so that it may be written down. Mighty rulers must be impelled to construct an edifice of noble deeds, for although the intention itself is engrained in their natures, it will be awakened and aroused by external prodding and wise counsel. Truly indomitable and resolute monarchs always made a treasury out of wise words.32

In this passage we get hints as to some uses of panegyrics. First, it is speech ‘that may be written down’—that is, the kind of speech, namely poetry, which is most memorable and worth recording in the canons of this culture. Furthermore, panegyric not only memorialises the ‘good deeds’ shown by rulers, but it also holds rulers up to a standard ‘by external prodding.’ Memorialisation is one of the reasons that great kings ‘have always made a treasury out of wise words.’ In another passage Bayhaqī declares that, ‘As long as the world continues to exist, monarchs will do mighty deeds and poets will relate them in verse.’33

However, Bayhaqī gives us an ambiguous message as to what would be appropriate or inappropriate in panegyric poetry. On the subject of a panegyric poem in Arabic, he says, ‘Had he not possessed these virtues [described in the poem], how would [the poet] … ever have had the courage to describe him thus, since great men cannot stomach ridicule (ṭanz)?’ Yet on the very same page Bayhaqī writes of his later patron, Sultan Ibrāhīm, grandson of Maḥmūd, that ‘people will see exploits like those of Sultan Maḥmūd from this great Sultan Ibrāhīm, so that cavaliers of poetry and prose will enter the arena of eloquence and display such virtuoso performance that they will put preceding generations in the shade.’34 Clearly, for all his pious condemnation of undue praise, Bayhaqī could not restrain himself from offering such praise to a comparatively minor ruler. Of course, Bayhaqī’s claim to be a reluctant panegyrist may well have been intended to reinforce the strength of his panegyric.

Farrukhī directly addresses the issue of panegyrics and his role in composing them, as in this poem addressed to a high official:


I am the praiser (thanā-gū) of the great and the panegyrist of kings (maddāḥ-i mulūk),

In particular the panegyric-maker (midḥat-gar) for that happy, generous, noble person.”35

In another poem, this time directed to Muḥammad, son of Sultan Maḥmūd, Farrukhī says:


Every day several people from among the visitors, petitioners, servitors and panegyrists come to that court;

The panegyrist (mādiḥ) seeks after him because in praising him mere words become subtle conceits and their ideas become points of brilliancy.

Since I always bring praise for him in brevity,

Let you so bring it since the best speech is that which is brief.36

Of course, reward remains a very strong and openly acknowledged motive for panegyric. Farrukhī writes:


From the quantity of gold that he continually weighs out for panegyrists (mādiḥān)

The tongue of the balance/steelyard is detached and the pan breaks off from the beam.37

Bayhaqī actually records the distribution of gifts by Sultan Mas‘ūd at the festival for the end of the Fast in 422/1031: ‘The Amīr (Mas‘ūd) ordered that the less well-known poets should receive 20,000 dirhams. Fifty thousand dirhams were conveyed to the house of [the poet] ‘Alawi Zaynabī on an elephant. ‘Unṣurī was given one thousand dinars.’38

A poem in Arabic by Abū l-Fatḥ al-Bustī (d. circa 400/1009), a sometime panegyrist for Sultan Maḥmūd, addresses rulers in general:


I advise you, kings of the earth, do not let go acquisition of noble characteristics through generosity and good deeds.

Spend your white and red [silver and gold] for the sake of honour (sharaf)

That will not cease with the alternation of black and white [night and day].

These are the treasures of Maḥmūd that have come to an end.

Was there not plunder for us in the mention of one praiseworthy?39

In this passage the ‘cash and carry’ exchange between patron and panegyrist is combined with the offer of eternal human remembrance through the poetry purchased.

Another aspect of panegyrics in this tradition is that it uses a self-replenishing repertoire of images. Not only are these images shared by ‘Asjadī, ‘Unṣurī, Farrukhī and Manūchihrī but many of them come out of the Arabic tradition of panegyric. Farrukhī mentions the relation of the much admired Arabic poet, Mutanabbī, with one of his patrons, Kāfūr, the ruler of Egypt, and mentions Buḥturī (d. 284/897), the great panegyrist of the Abbasids, with high praise.40

One theme, the renewal of the land and its people through the good king, is continuous from the ancient Near Eastern kings to our Iranian kings of the fifth/ eleventh century. Farrukhī addresses Maḥmūd as:


Our Lord king who grasps whole regions through whom Zāvulistān [which is the province around Ghazna] became famous,

Chief of the kings of the land of Iran (Irānzamīn), Iran through him has again become young.41

Firdawsī in a similar vein writes in his panegyric to Maḥmūd at the beginning of the Shāhnāma:


From his kingly glory the world has become like a spring garden;

The air is full of rain clouds, the earth is full of beauty.42

Panegyric is, therefore, highly valued memorialisation since good poetry (and with it the events and settings it describes) survives ordinary speech. Niẓāmī ‘Arūḍī, writing almost exactly a century after these poets, says:

A king cannot dispense with a good poet, who shall provide for the immortality of his name, and shall record his fame in dīwāns and books. For when the king receives that command which none can escapee, no traces will remain of his army, his treasure, and his store; but his name will endure forever by reason of the poet’s verse.43

It was the mark of a great ruler to have great panegyrists. Panegyrics involve exchange between the poet and the recipient. The lavish size of some of the rewards paid to the panegyrists indicates the ruler’s appreciation or judgment of their worth to him and his reign.

Niẓāmī ‘Arūḍī reports that the panegyrist Rashīdī, who wrote Persian lyrics for the Īlak Khān, was generously rewarded by that ruler:

On this day he ordered Rashīdī to receive all four trays [made of gold and silver], so he obtained the highest honour, and became famous. For just as a patron becomes famous by the verse of a good poet, so do poets likewise achieve renown by receiving a great reward from the King, these two things being interdependent.44

Dishonouring the poet might also hurt the ruler’s chances for ‘fair fame.’ Niẓāmī ‘Arūḍī tells us of the negative consequences of the decision of a slightly later Ghaznavid ruler to imprison another prominent panegyrist, Mas‘ūd Sa‘d Salmān: ‘The ill repute of this deed remained on this noble house [of the Ghaznavids].’45

The performance of the panegyric is an important part of its meaning. It is a ritual that can only have its full impact in a court setting. Since the practice of writing panegyrics was already several centuries old in the Islamic Middle East, a self-renewing repertoire existed for panegyrists that made these poems instantly recognisable to ruler and audience alike as an essential ritual for affirming kingship.

One way to reconstruct the eleventh-century Iranian world in which these panegyrists worked is to see it as a network of mutual expectations. The ruler expects his ceremonial occasions and significant deeds to be memorialised in the most highly wrought and indelible speech, poetry. The ruler also expects this speech to resonate with the speech offered to other rulers so that the ruler is seen as, at least, their equal and, preferably, their superior. He expects, moreover, to be portrayed as the ideal king as understood in this tradition, in which justice and protection of the weak were so highly prized. His reign is supposed to make the world young again and to renew the land. Rulers surely wanted such portrayals both for their own self-esteem and for the esteem it would engender among their subjects. Their portrayal as fonts of true generosity would be reinforced by the lavish rewards given to their chosen poets—rewards that, in turn, conveyed the immensity of resources at the rulers’ disposal.

The public inside the ruler’s kingdom might find in the panegyrics hope that the ruler was an approximation to the ideal king. They might also hope that the ruler would be encouraged toward the ideal because the poet had portrayed him as upholding it. The subjects of the ruler would certainly see him in the spiritual lineage of kings because this ritual was performed for him. The public outside the kingdom would know that this ruler wanted to be considered a proper king and a possible source of both patronage and protection.

The poet would of course understand that his poem and its performance was the basis of his livelihood. He probably wished to inculcate the traits of the ideal king in the real king by recounting them in his poem and ascribing them to the subject of his poem. He would certainly hope that his skill as a panegyrist would make him a desirable commodity in competing courts. (Manūchihrī left the Ghaznavids as the Seljuqs emerged as richer and more powerful patrons.) He would probably hope to be remembered for his contribution to both the genre of panegyric and to the memory of great events.

These poems also greatly clarify the geographic boundaries of the land designated by the word ‘Iran’ in the eyes of early fifth/eleventh century Iranians. More than that, they tell us that in Persian-speaking lands kingly glory in the eyes of the poet, patron and public alike was intimately associated with Iran. To be the Shah of Iran was to be a proper king. However much Maḥmūd and Mas‘ūd’s ancestor may have begun life as a Turkish slave, his descendants bravely shouldered their duty as Iranian rulers and defended Iran against outsiders, particularly the people of Tūrān.


1Richard Gottheil, Persian Literature (New York, 1909). I would like to thank several scholars who helped me in my research: Mohsen Ashtiany, Hossein Kamaly, Justine Landau and above all Tajmah Asefi-Shīrāzī who complemented my search through two readings of Farrukhī by a yet more serious search. Unfortunately, I did not have access to the Persian poetry database ‘Dorj’.

2Julie Scott Meisami, Medieval Persian Court Poetry, (Princeton, 1987) is a good general reference. Meisami has written several articles on panegyrics of which ‘Ghaznavid panegyrics: Some political implications’, Iran xxviii (1990), pp. 31–44 and ‘The poet and his patrons’, Persica xvii (2001), pp. 91–105 are particularly relevant. G. E. Tetley’s The Ghaznavid and Seljuk Turks: Poetry as a Source for Iranian History (London, 2009) is an extremely helpful book on the subject. C. E. Bosworth’s ‘Farrukhī’s elegy on Maḥmūd of Ghazna’, Iran xxix (1992), pp. 43–9 is an exemplary study of a specific panegyric. See also the valuable article of Franklin Lewis, ‘Sincerely flattering panegyrics: The shrinking Ghaznavid qasida’ in F. Lewis and S. Sharma (eds), The Necklace of the Pleiades: 24 Essays on Persian Literature, Culture and Religion (Leiden, 2010), pp. 209–50. Among the many excellent books on Arabic panegyric I have found Andras Hamori, The Composition of Mutanabbī’s Panegyrics to Sayf al-Daula (Leiden, 1992) particularly helpful.

3See, for example, The Houghton Shahnameh, edited by M. B. Dickson, S. C. Welch (Cambridge MA, 1981), ii, plate 2 (folio 7 recto).

4François de Blois, Persian Literature: a Bio-Bibliographic Survey, Vol. V: Poetry of the Pre-Mongol Period, (London, 2004), p. 201.

5‘Asjadī, Dīwān, ed. Ṭāhirī Shihāb, (Tehran, 1334); de Blois, Persian Literature, V, pp. 97–8.

6Edward G. Browne, A Literary History of Persia: Vol II: From Firdawsī to Sa‘dī (London, 1906), p. 129. Browne summarizes Dawlatshāh, Tadhkirat al-Shu‘arā’, ed. Fāṭima ‘Alāqa, (Tehran, 1385), p. 92.

7I do not discuss the meaning of ‘Iran’ in Firdawsī because this subject has been thoroughly covered by Dr. Ḥasan Anwarī in his article, ‘Īrān dar Shāhnāma’, Namīram az īn pas, (Tehran, 1374), pp. 719–29.

8‘Awfī, Lubāb al-Albāb, ed. Sa‘īd Nafīsī, (Tehran, 1333), pp. 24–25, tr. A. J. Arberrry, Classical Persian Literature, (London, 1958), p. 53 (slightly abbreviated).

9Farrukhī, Dīwān, ed. Dabīr-Siyāqī Muḥammad, (Tehran, 1333), pp. 35–6. I use Shāhanshāh instead of the Parthian and later Persian usage of Shāhinshāh because the coins of the Ghaznavid period often write out this title as Shāhānshāh, based on a mistaken etymology of the word as ‘of the King’s King’. From this mistake the shortened form becomes Shāhanshāh.

10Farrukhī, Dīwān, p. 356; see also p. 355 in the panegyric for Yūsuf, son of Sebüktegin; again, on p. 138.

11Ibid, p. 267.

12‘Unṣurī, Dīwān, ed. Muḥammad Dabīr-Siyāqī, (Tehran, 1342), p. 195.

13Farrukhī, Dīwān, p. 323; Manūchihrī calls Mas‘ūd ‘the commander of the commanders’, which the editor of his poems understands to mean ‘king of kings of Iran’: Manūchihrī, Dīwān, ed. Bar’āt Zanjānī, (Tehran, 1387), p. 282.

14‘Unṣurī, Dīwān, p. 197; presumably the reference is to the Īlak/Ilig Naṣr b. ‘Alī, who invaded Khurāsān in 396/1006.

15Abū Naṣr al-‘Utbī, al-Yamīnī, ed. Iḥsān al-Thāmirī, (Beirut, 2004), p. 257.

16Farrukhī, Dīwān, p. 256. See a similar verse in Manūchihrī, Dīwān, p. 74, l. 26.

17Manūchihrī, Dīwān, p. 282. In reading these lines it is important to remember that Mas‘ūd had conquered Isfahan which was considered part of ‘ ‘Ajami Iraq.’ Compare Farrukhī, Dīwān, p. 81, where the younger son of Maḥmūd is called ‘Shah of the East’, perhaps because Maḥmūd left him (Muḥammad) the eastern half of his kingdom. In a letter of 421/1030 to the Turkish ruler Qādir Khān, Sultan Mas‘ūd announces his intention to assume control of Iraq (and raid Byzantium); see Bayhaqī, The History of Beyhaqi, tr. C. E. Bosworth and Mohsen Ashtiyani, (Boston, 2011), i, pp. 159–66.

18‘Unṣurī, Dīwān, p. 122.

19See Roy P. Mottahedeh, ‘The idea of Iran in the Buyid dominions’, in E. Herzig and S. Stewart (eds), The Idea of Iran, Vol V: Early Islamic Iran (London, 2012), pp. 153–60.

20Farrukhī, Dīwān, p. 5; on Arab and ‘Ajam, see also pp. 14, 139 (books of Arabs and ‘Ajam), 242, 245; see also Unṣurī, Dīwān, p. 195: ‘Those who were in opposition to [Maḥmūd] the Lord of the ‘Ajam became nothing.’ Compare n. 17.

21Farrukhī, Dīwān, p. 381; see the author’s discussion of ‘Pārsīyān’ in ‘The eastern travels of Solomon: Reimagining Persepolis and the Iranian past’, in M. Cook, N. Haider, I. Rabb and A. Sayeed (eds), Law and Tradition in Classical Islamic Thought (New York, 2013), p. 263.

22‘Unṣurī, Dīwān, p. 201.

23Farrukhī, Dīwān, p. 381.

24Ibid, p. 41

25Bayhaqī, The History of Beyhaqi, tr. by C. E. Bosworth and Mohsen Ashtiyani, (Boston, 2011), i, p. 390.

26‘Unṣurī, Dīwān, p. 280.

27De Blois, Persian Literature, Vol V, pp. 186–9. De Blois conveys a rumor that the single manuscript of this dīwān, no longer extant, is a fake, an issue on which I am not qualified to judge. If so, the forger has offered false information on Azerbaijani history not available elsewhere. I. Dehgan, ‘Ḳaṭran’, EI2, iv, p. 773, says that one reference in his poems can be dated to 481/1088.

28Qaṭrān-i Tabrīzī, Dīwān, ed. Muḥammad Nakhjawānī, (Tehran, 1362), pp. 64, 359, 452.

29Ibid, p. 391; see also pp. 381, 432, 448.

30Ibid, p. 271.

31Ibid, p. 432.

32The History of Beyhaqi, ii, p. 31.

33Ibid, ii, p. 33.

34Ibid, ii, p. 33; see ‘Awfī, Lubāb, p. 25.

35Farrukhī, Dīwān, p. 244.

36Ibid, p. 40. The last line is a reference to a famous Arabic proverb. See parallels: p. 153 (shā‘irān-i thanā-gū’ī) and p. 381 (midḥat-garān).

37Ibid, p. 350 and Jan Rypka and Milos Borecky, ‘Farrukhī’, Archiv Orientalni xvi (1947–49), p. 68.

38The History of Beyhaqi, i, p. 383. Zaynabī is often counted as one of the poets of the early Ghaznavid court. Of the few poems that survive one can be dated to 422/1031. See De Blois, Persian Literature, Vol V, pp. 207–08.

39Dawlatshāh, Tadhkira, p. 47; cited in Browne, Literary History, ii, p. 99, with his different translation.

40Farrukhī, Dīwān, p. 196 (Mutanabbī), p. 381 (Buḥturī).

41Ibid, p. 248. See the outstanding essay on this subject by Stefan Sperl, ‘Islamic kingship and Arabic panegyric poetry in the early 9th century’, Journal of Arabic Literature viii (1977), pp. 20–35.

42Firdawsī, Le livre des rois, ed. Jules Mohl, (Paris, 1876), i, pp. 24, l. 218.

43Niẓāmī ‘Arūḍī Samarqandī, Chahār Maqāla, ed. Muhammad Mu‘in (Tehran 1336/1952), p. 29.

44Ibid, p. 53.

45Ibid, p. 51.


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