ʿABD-AL-NABĪ QAZVĪNĪ, storyteller and poet (pen name FAḴR-AL-ZAMĀNĪ), b. about 998/1590 at Qazvīn. His father, Ḵalaf Beg, was a merchant who, after performing the pilgrimage, became a dervish and died in 1001/1593-94 from the plague. ʿAbd-al-Nabī’s maternal grandfather, Faḵr-al-zamān, of whom he was very fond, was qāżī (judge) of Qazvīn and a direct descendant of Ḵᵛāǰa ʿAbdallāh Anṣārī.
In his youth, ʿAbd-al-Nabī had sufficient poetical talent and memory to learn by heart Qeṣṣa-ye Amīr Ḥamza. He originally used the taḵalloṣ ʿEzzatī, later that of Nabī. His early verses (see Storey, I/2, p. 813) are not extant. On making the pilgrimage to Mašhad at age 19, he met merchants and travelers who spoke to him of India and inspired him with a desire to see that country (Storey, I/2, p. 812). He traveled to Lahore in 1017/1608-09 and, in poor health, to Agra in 1018/1609-10. His relative Mīrzā Neẓāmī Qazvīnī, who served as vāqeʿ anevīs (“chronicler”) at the Mughal court, gave him employment as a research assistant with the title qeṣṣaḵᵛān (“story teller”). In 1022/1613 Mīrzā Amānallāh b. Mahābat Khan, a noble favored by both Jahāngīr and Shah Jahān, appointed ʿAbd-al-Nabī as his librarian at Ajmer. On account of this association with Amānallāh, which included the privilege of using his extensive library, ʿAbd-al-Nabī drew up a plan to write three books, but afflicted with venereal disease and fearing disgrace, he took his leave and traveled to Lahore in 1025/1616, at a time when a plague was raging in the city. Immediately, he left for Kashmir, where Mīrzā Neẓāmī, another relative, was employed as baḵšī and dīvān. There he completed Dostūr al-foṣaḥāʾ, no longer extant, on the art of reciting Qeṣṣa-ye Amīr Ḥamza. Two years later, in 1026/1617, he accompanied Mīrzā Neẓāmī to Mando, where he stayed for a month. From Mando, Mīrzā was sent to Bihar as dīvān, and in 1027/1618 ʿAbd-al-Nabī traveled with him to Patna, where they both resided for some time. In 1028/1619 he met Navvāb Sardār Khan Ḵᵛāǰa Yādgār, the brother of ʿAbdallāh Khan Fīrōz Jang, at Patna. The Navvāb became his patron, and in gratitude ʿAbd-al-Nabī dedicated to him the Mayḵāna, which was completed in that year. In 1029/1620, while still in Patna, his house caught fire and many of his papers were burnt. He paid a visit to Agra the same year. He was still alive in 1041/1631-32, when he wrote the preface to his collection of anecdotes, Nawāder al-ḥekāyāt.
His extant works are: 1. Mayḵāna, a collection of sāqīnāmas (“books of the cupbearer”), wine poetry, with biographies of the authors. Begun in Ajmer in 1022-23/1613-14, it was completed in Patna in 1028/1619. In it ʿAbd-al-Nabī describes past, present, and prospective writers of sāqīnāmas; the contemporary poets discussed were mostly known to him personally. 2. Nawāder al-ḥekāyāt wa ḡarāʾeb al-rewāyāt, a collection of anecdotes. Only the first of five volumes has been preserved in manuscript form at the British Museum (Rieu, Pers. Man. III, p. 1004b). A similar version is listed in the catalogue of the Tehran University Law School (no. 55b). 3. Ṭarāz al-aḥrār, an encyclopedic anthology of poetry and prose. It is divided into four parts and an epilogue, each with several submissions (ṭarāz). An incomplete copy is in Tehran University’s Central Library (no. 3295).
ʿAbd-al-Nabī, Mayḵāna, ed. M. Shafi, Lahore, 1926; ed. A. Goḷčīn-e Maʿānī, Tehran, 1340 Š./1961.
Naḏīr Aḥmad, “Taḏkera-ye Mayḵāna,” Oriental College Magazine, November, 1956, May/August, 1957.
Originally Published: December 15, 1982
Last Updated: July 14, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 2, p. 131