ABU’L-ʿAMAYṮAL ʿABDALLĀH B. ḴOLAYD (or ḴĀLED or ḴOWAYLED) B. SAʿD, Tahirid court poet. Abu’l-ʿAmayṯal boasted of being a client of the Hashimites; raised as a true Beduin in the tribe of Banu’l-Qayn b. Jasr, he fully mastered Arabic. He moved to Khorasan, probably about 193-202/808-17, when Maʾmūn was still there. The excellence of his poetry must have attracted the attention of that ʿAbbasid prince and of his vizier, Fażl b. Sahl. Maʾmūn suggested to ʿAbdallāh b. Ṭāher (himself a poet) that he take Abu’l-ʿAmayṯal into his retinue. Two parallel traditions exist regarding the poet, one associating him with Ṭāher, the other connecting the same incidents with ʿAbdallāh instead. It is likely that Abu’l-ʿAmayṯal came to know Ṭāher during the latter’s rule in Khorasan (205-07/821-22) and continued in ʿAbdallāh’s service after Ṭāher’s death. He accompanied ʿAbdallāh during the Egyptian campaign (213/828). In imitation of Abū Nowās, he composed a poem describing the stages of the road from Iraq to Egypt. When ʿAbdallāh (213-30/828-45) succeeded his brother Ṭalḥa as governor of Khorasan, Abu’l-ʿAmayṯal became poet-laureate and tutor to his sons.

Abu’l-ʿAmayṯal was a prolific writer; his dīvān covered “1,000 parchments” (alf ǰeld). The surviving fragments of his poetry reveal a vigorous Beduin style. They show an outstanding philologist who, even in casual conversation used only the purest Arabic. Abu’l-ʿAmayṯal’s linguistic ability is well displayed in his book al-Maʾṯūr (ed. Krenkow, London and Beirut, 1925). The other three works attributed to him by Ebn al-Nadīm (Fehrest, p. 48) are no longer extant.



Ebn Abī Ṭāher, Ketāb Baḡdād, Cairo, 1949, p. 164.

Ebn al-Moʿtazz, Ṭabaqāt al-šoʿarāʾ, Cairo, 1968, p. 287.

Ebn Ḵallekān (Beirut) III, p. 89.

Ṣūlī, Aḵbār Abī Tammām, Cairo, 1937, pp. 223, 225.

Yāfeʿī, Merʾāt al-ǰenān, Hyderabad, 1337-39/1918-21, II, p. 130.

Brockelmann, GAL S. I, p. 195.

(I. Abbas)

Originally Published: December 15, 1983

Last Updated: July 21, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 3, pp. 258-259

Cite this entry:

I. Abbas, “Abu'l-Amaytal,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/3, pp. 258-259; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abul-amayal-abdallah-b (accessed on 31 January 2014).