A literary history of persia

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A LITERARY


HISTORY OF PERSIA
Volume IV
Modern Times

(1500-1924)


BY

EDWARD G. BROWNE


Cambridge

At the University Press

1959


I DEDICATE THIS VOLUME TO MY MOTHER

IN TOKEN OF A GREAT DEBT OF GRATITUDE AND LOVE





Firdawsí, Yúsuf u Zulaykhá (ed. Ethé, p. 240, ll. 2431-2 and 2426).


Íraj Mírzá Jalálu’l-Mamálik.

PREFACE

THIS volume concludes the task which I undertook more than twenty-two years ago, and which represents the labour of a life-time, for ever since I began the study of Persian in the summer of 1880, being then only eighteen years of age, the desire to write a complete Literary History of Persia has increasingly possessed me. The first instalment, “from the earliest times until Firdawsí,” carried the history down to the early days of the eleventh century of the Christian era, and was published in 1902; and the continuation, down to the Mongol Invasion in the middle of the thirteenth century, in 1906, both these volumes being published by Mr. Fisher Unwin. Fourteen years elapsed ere the third volume, entitled A History of Persian Literature under Tartar Dominion (A.D. 1265-1502), saw the light. The reasons which led me to issue it in a form and under a title differing somewhat from its predecessors are explained on p. viii of the Preface, but essentially it constitutes the third volume of the Literary History of Persia, just as this, which deals with the last four centuries (A.D. 1500-1924), and is entitled, as foreshadowed in the same Preface (p. ix), A History of Persian Literature in Modern Times, is to be regarded as the fourth and last volume of the work.

Although I cannot regard this present volume as superior to its three predecessors in form or interest, and am fully aware of its defects, I think that it contains more new matter and represents more original research than the others. Owing to the opinion prevalent not only in Europe, but to a considerable extent in Turkey and India also, that poetry is the only department of Persian literature which merits much attention, and that little poetry worth reading has been produced since the time of Jámí, the literature of the last four centuries has been very much neglected, and


[page viii]
the sources of which I have made use are almost exclusively Persian, and, until the nineteenth century is reached, when printing and lithography were gradually introduced into Persia, chiefly manuscript. In the formation of my Persian library I have always had regard to the requirements of my work rather than to mere beauty of illumination, illustration, or hand-writing, and I have been singularly fortunate in acquiring the very interesting collection of the late Sir Albert Houtum Schindler and a number of the rare and precious manuscripts collected by the late Ḥájji ‘Abdu’l-Majíd Belshah. To Mr. A. G. Ellis I am indebted for the generous loan, often for a period of several years, of many rare books to which I could not otherwise have obtained access; while for constant and ungrudging help I am under the deepest obligations to his successor in the Oriental Book Department of the British Museum, Mr. E. Edwards, as well as to Dr. L. Barnett, the Head of that Department.

I wish that I could have profited more by the counsel of my Persian friends, especially Mírzá Muḥammad Khán of Qazwín and Ḥájji Mírzá Yaḥyá of Dawlatábád, during the progress of this work, but to my old acquaintance Ḥusayn Dánish Bey of the Ottoman Public Debt, a notable man of letters both in Persian and Turkish, I am indebted for many valuable and illuminating observations. Another old friend, Sayyid Ḥasan Taqí-záda, fortunately chanced to visit this country after an absence of some fourteen years while the last sheets of this book were passing through the Press, and he most kindly read through the proofs and favoured me with numerous observations and corrections which will be noticed under the Errata and Addenda. From well-read and intelligent Persians the European student of their language can learn many things not to be found in books, at any rate in books to which he has access, while their taste and judgement, even if at times he cannot wholly agree with them, are almost always suggestive and deserving of consideration. Only a few days ago I received

[page ix]
a visit from the learned Shaykh Káẓim ad-Dujaylí, an Arabic-speaking Shí‘a of ‘Iráq who has recently joined the teaching staff of the London School of Oriental Studies, and I enquired of him what, in his opinion, were the best Arabic books on Shí‘a doctrine. He at once named the five following works, none of which I had previously heard of, much less seen, though all have been printed or lithographed in Persia:

(1) Kashfu’l-Ghiṭá fí Akhbárí Áli’l-Muṣṭafá, by Shaykh Ja‘far al-Kabír.

(2) Kitábu’l Qawánín, by al-Qummí.

(3) Kitábu Rasá’ili’sh-Shaykh Murtaḍá al-Anṣárí.

(4) Jawáhiru’l-Kalám, by Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥasan.

(5) Kitábu’l-Wasá’il, by Ḥájji Mírzá Ḥusayn an-Núrí


I will not attempt to thank individually all those who by their sympathy and interest have encouraged me in my book, or who by their skilful craftsmanship have given it form and substance. The writing of it has been a pleasure, and the completing of it is a source of thankfulness and satisfaction. Even its errors and imperfections will, I trust, by provoking criticism and stimulating research, serve to advance and extend our knowledge of the subject, and if, as I hope, I have been single-minded in this aim, I shall prefer the reasoned criticism of competent scholars to the undiscriminating praise of over-zealous friends, even as Sa‘dí says: —

“Thou who recountest my virtues, thou dost me harm in sooth:

Such is my outward seeming, but thou hast not known the truth.”


EDWARD G. BROWNE.
June 12, 1924

TABLE OF CONTENTS







PAGE

PREFACE




vii










PART I

AN OUTLINE OF PERSIAN HISTORY

DURING THE LAST FOUR CENTURIES


CHAP.







I.

Some general considerations on the Ṣafawí Dynasty

3

II.

The Creation of the Ṣafawí Power to 930/1524. Sháh Isma‘íl and his Ancestors

32

III.

Culmination and Decline of the Ṣafawí Power, from Sháh Ṭahmásp (A.D. 1524-1576) to Sháh Ḥusayn (A.D. 1694-1722)

84

IV.

An Outline of the history of Persia during the last two centuries (A.D. 1722-1922)

121








PART II

PERSIAN VERSE DURING THE LAST FOUR CENTURIES



V.

Some general considerations on the later and especially the Religious Poetry of the Persians

161

VI.

Poets of the Classical Tradition. Pre-Qájár period (A.D. 1500-1800)

224

VII.

Poets of the Qájár period

298










PART III

PERSIAN PROSE DURING THE LAST FOUR CENTURIES



VIII.

The orthodox Shí‘a Faith and its exponents, the Mujtahids and Mullás

353

IX.

Prose writers until A.D. 1850

412

X

The most modern developments (A.D. 1850 onwards)

458








INDEX





491



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


I.

Sháh ‘Abbás I (“the Great”)

Frontispiece

II.

Shaykh Abdál Pír-záda presenting the Uzbek leader’s horse to Sháh ‘Abbás

To face page 42

III.

Sháh ‘Abbás II

112

IV.

Karím Khán-i-Zand’s Court

140

V.

Karím Khán-i-Zand alone

142

VI.

Áqá Muḥammad Khán and Ḥájji Ibráhím

144

VII.

Shifá’í, poet and physician

256

VIII.

Autograph of the poet Ṣá’ib

266

IX.

Autograph of the poet Wiṣál


300

X

Ḥájji Mírzá Áqásí

328

XI.

Autograph of the poet Yaghmá

338

XII.

Muẓaffaru’d-Dín Mírzá with his tutor Riḍá-qulí Khán “Hidáyat”

344

XIII.

Autograph of Mullá Muḥammad Báqir-i-Majlisí

404

XIV.

Autograph of Mullá Ṣadrá

408

XV.

Autograph of Shaykh Bahá’u’d-Dín-i-‘Ámilí

428

XVI.

Autograph of Mullá Muḥsin-i-Fayḍ

432



ERRATA AND ADDENDA
(The letters T.z. in brackets at the end of a note indicate

that the correction was suggested by Taqí-záda.)

p. 170, l. 14. “Read (‘ways,’ ‘passages’) for (‘Tombs’), which gives no good sense.” [T.z.] The washing of the feet before praying is a Sunní practice; the Shí‘a confine themselves to mere stroking of the foot (masḥ) with the damp hand. The clasping of the hands mentioned in the succeeding miṣrá‘ is also characteristic of the Sunnís; the Shí‘a let them hang down by their sides.

p. 187, l. 14. “For read . No Shí‘a could have written this verse without exposing himself to the charge of blasphemy.” [T.z.]
p. 188, last three lines. “The Asrár-i-Shahádat1 is commonly ascribed to Mullá Áqá-yi-Darbandí, entitled ‘the Promoter of mourning for the Holy Family’ (Murawwij-i-‘Azá-dárí-yi-Ahl-i-Bayt).” [T.z.]
p. 220, last paragraph. “Mention should be made of the poems of Ṣafí-‘Alí Sháh, and of his versified Persian commentary on the Qur’án.” [T.z.] (I can find no mention of him in the Majma‘u’l-Fuṣaḥá, the Riyáḍu’l-‘Árifín, the Bustánu’s-Siyáḥat, or any of the Catalogues at my disposal.)
p. 221, “Rúdagí,” and p. 299, “Rúdakí” should be identical in spelling, and I believe that the latter form is the more correct.
p. 222. “Mention should be made of V. Zhukovski’s collection of Persian Taṣnífs, with Russian translations, published at St Petersburg in 1902. Berezine also published nine Taṣnífs with English
[page xiv]
translations set to music and adapted to the piano.” [T.z.] (I find that I possess the former work, which is entitled ОЬАЗЦЋІ ПЕРСПДСАГО НАРОДНАГО ТВОРЧЕСТВА, but I cannot identify the latter.)
p. 338 “Two half-verses (miṣrá‘) have been accidentally omitted after l. 7. The two verses should run thus” [T.z.]: —

p. 355, l. 1. There is some difference of opinion as to the proper vocalization of the place-name which I have written “Tanukábun.” Taqí-záda thinks it should be “Tunukábun,” while Riḍá-qulí Khán in his Anjuman-árá-yi-Náṣirí gives it as “Tanakábun.”
pp. 369-370. “The titles ‘Muḥaqqiq-i-Ardabílí’ and ‘Muqaddas-i-Ardabílí’ both belong to Mullá Aḥmad, so that the first line on p. 370 should read “The same mujtahid of Ardabíl, also entitled Muḥaqqiq,” etc.
p. 370, last line. “Ḥájji Mírzá Ḥasan-i-Shírází and Ḥájji Mírzá Ḥasan-i-Ashtiyání are not to be mentioned in the same breath. The former was to the latter as a king is to a petty local governor.” [T.z.]
p. 373. “Áqá Jamál-i-Khwánsárí was the author of the well-known book on the superstitions of Persian women entitled Kitáb-i-Kulthúm Nana. His father, Áqá Ḥusayn-i-Khwánsárí, was called Ustádu’l-Kull fí’l-Kull (‘the Master of All in All’), and, besides many facetiae, wrote glosses on the Shahíd-i-thání’s commentary on the Lum‘a.” [T.z.]
p. 378, ll. 19 et seqq. “Many similar catechisms (with such titles as Risála-i-‘amaliyya, Mas’ila, Nukhba, and the like) have been composed in the last century, and as many as a hundred may have been printed. One of the best known is the Jámi‘u’sh-Shattát of Mírzá Abu’l-Qásim ibnu’l-Ḥusayn ar-Riḍawí al-Qummí, author of the Kitáb-i-Qawánín.”[T.z.] Concerning the last-named writer, see Edwards’s Catalogue of Persian printed books, cols. 60 and 61.

p. 393, ll. 8-9. “‘Alí Awsaṭ succeeded his father Ḥusayn as Imám, not ‘Alí Akbar, who, together with the infant ‘Alí Aṣghar, perished at Karbalá.” [T.z.]

[page xv]
p. 407, l. 14. “The Jámí‘-i-‘Abbásí was completed in 20 chapters, and has been printed repeatedly, but the first five chapters are often published separately for the instruction of children in elementary religious duties.” [T.z.] According to Edwards (op. cit., cols. 407-8) chapters vi-xx were subsequently added to Shaykh-i-Bahá'í’s unfinished work by Niẓám b. Ḥusayn-i-Sáwají.
p. 407, fourth line from the end, and p. 435, l. 5. “The Abwábu’l-Janán was not by Mullá Muḥsin-i-Fayḍ, but, so far as I remember, by Mullá Ḥusayn Wá‘iẓ-i-Káshifí, the author of the well-known Anwár-i-Suhaylí.” [T.z.] The real author appears to have been Muḥammad b. Fatḥu’lláh Rafí‘u’d-Dín, called ‘Wá‘iẓ-i-Qazwíní’ (‘the Preacher of Qazwín’). See Edwards, op. cit., cols. 405-6.
p. 410. “Sayyid Muḥammad Báqir of Rasht was only a third- or fourth-rate theologian, and Mullá Aḥmad-i-Niráqí (p. 411) only of the second class. Much more important, though omitted here, are: —

(i) Áqá-yi-Bihbihání, the founder of the Uṣúlí and Mujtahidí School, who flourished at the end of twelfth century of the hijra.

(ii) Shaykh Ja‘far-i-‘Arab (also called al-Kabír, ‘the Great’), who was contemporary with Fatḥ-‘Alí Sháh.

(iii) Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥasan, author of the Jawáhiru’l-Kalám, a large work in six volumes on Shí‘a Jurisprudence (see p. ix supra).

(iv) Shaykh Murtaḍá al-Anṣárí, founder of present-day Shí‘a Law, and the Master of all the mujtahids of the last seventy years with the exception of —

(v) Shaykh Hádí of Ṭihrán, who was also of the first class.”

p. 430. “Shaykh Aḥmad al-Aḥsá’í was not an admirer and follower but a great enemy of Mullá Ṣadrá. Of modern Persian philosophers mention should have been made of Mírzá Abu’l-Ḥasan-i-Jilwa, who died only some twenty years ago.” [T.z.] I met him in Ṭihrán in the winter of 1887-8. See my Year amongst the Persians, p. 149.

p. 435. “One of the best of Mullá Muḥsin’s works is the Kalimát-i-Maknúna (‘Hidden Words’), of which mention should have been made here.” [T.z.]
p. 441. “Dr Muḥammad of Kirmánsháh, called Kufwí, who died in 1326/1908, specialized in cardiac diseases, and first called attention
[page xvi]
to a peculiar murmur (called in French ‘empiolement’) characteristic of embolism, on which he published a monograph in French2. He also wrote several medical treatises on the Diseases of Women and Children in Persian.” [T.z.]
p. 454, l. 1. “For I‘timádu’d-Dawla read I‘timádu’s-Salṭana.” [T.z.]
p. 468. “Newspapers existed in Persia before A.D. 1851, in the reign of Muḥammad Sháh (A.D.1835-1848) and even in the later days of his predecessor Fatḥ-‘Alí Sháh. See the Káwa newspaper passim, especially No. 6 of the New Series (Dawra-i-Jadid).” [T.z.] The article in question appeared in the issue of June 8, 1921, pp. 14-16. It mentions a rather vague report of a Persian newspaper published at Dihlí in A.D. 1798, and a much more definite report of one published in Ṭihrán in 1253/1837-8.
p. 486, end. “The articles to which reference is here made were not by Mírzá Muḥammad Khán but by myself, writing under the pen-name of Muḥaṣṣil (‘Student’).” [T.z.]3

p. 488. “To say ‘Mírzá Káẓim-záda,’ ‘Sayyid Jamál-záda,’ ‘Taqí-záda Khán’ and the like is as contrary to Persian usage as to say in English ‘Sir Grey’ for ‘Sir Edward Grey’ and the like. Such titles as ‘Mírzá,’ ‘Sayyid’ and Ḥájji can only be prefixed, as ‘Khan,’ ‘Beg’ and the like can only be suffixed, to personal names, such as Ḥasan, ‘Alí and Muḥammad, not to patronymics.” [T.z.]4


PART I.

AN OUTLINE OF PERSIAN HISTORY

DURING THE LAST FOUR CENTURIES

CHAPTER I.

SOME GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS ON

THE ṢAFAWÍ DYNASTY.
The rise of the Ṣafawí dynasty in Persia at the beginning of the sixteenth century of the Christian era was an event of the greatest historical importance, not only to Persia herself and her immediate neighbours, but to Europe generally. It marks not only the restoration of the Persian Empire and the re-creation of the Persian nationality after an eclipse of more than eight centuries and a half, but the entrance of Persia into the comity of nations and the genesis of political relations which still to a considerable extent hold good. Mr. R. G. Watson in the brief retrospect with which he opens his excellent History of Persia from the beginning of the Nineteenth Century to the year 18585 shows a true appreciation of the facts when he takes this period as his starting-point, for in truth it marks the transition from mediaeval to comparatively modern times. The Arab conquest in the middle of the seventh century after Christ overthrew the Zoroastrian religion and the Sásánian Empire, and reduced Persia to the position of a mere province of the Caliphate, until the Caliphate itself was destroyed by the Mongols or Tartars in the middle of the thirteenth century. Both before and after this momentous event there were, it is true, independent or quasi-independent dynasties ruling in Persia, but these were generally of Turkish or Tartar origin, like the Ghaznawís, Saljúqs, Khwárazmsháhs, and Houses of Chingíz and Tímúr; or, if Persian like the Buwayhids, exercised control over a portion only of the old Persian Empire. To the

[page 4]
Ṣafawí dynasty belongs the credit of making Persia “a nation once again,” self-contained, centripetal, powerful and respected, within borders practically identical in the time of Sháh ‘Abbás the Great (A.D. 1587-1628) with those of the Sásánian Empire. It was then that Iṣfahán, whither he transferred the seat of government from Qazwín, became, as the Persian saying runs, “Half the world” (Niṣf-i-Jahán), or “Medio mundo” as Don Juan of Persia has it, abounding in splendid buildings and skilful craftsmen, frequented by merchants from distant lands, and visited by diplomatic missions, not only from India, Transoxiana and Turkey, but from almost every European state from Russia to Spain and Portugal.

Yet, in spite of its importance and the abundant materials available, no good complete history6 of the Ṣafawí dynasty has yet been written. The outlines given by Sir John Malcolm and Sir Clements Markham in their histories of Persia are inadequate in scope and inaccurate in detail, and are based on very limited materials, and those not by any means the most authentic. The abundance and variety of the materials, the inaccessibility of many important sources of information, and the polyglot character of the documents concerned constitute serious obstacles to one who aspires to treat adequately of this period. The four most important contemporary Persian records of its earlier portion, down to the death of Sháh ‘Abbás the Great, are the Ṣafwatu’ṣ-Ṣafá, containing the biography of Shaykh Ṣafiyyu’d-Dín, that celebrated saint of the thirteenth century from whom the dynasty derives its name; the Nasab-náma-i-Silsila-i-Ṣafawiyya on the genealogy of the family, with valuable biographical details of its earlier representatives not to be found elsewhere; the


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