ASĪR EṢFAHĀNĪ (or ŠAHRESTĀNĪ), MĪRZĀ JALĀL B. MĪRZĀ MOʾMEN, a poet of the 11th/17th century (d. 1049/1639). He was a leading sayyed of Šahrestān (a quarter of Isfahan) and was married to one of the shah’s daughters, Malek-al-nesāʾ Bīgom. He enjoyed the high esteem of the shah as well as the respect of the poets and literary men of his time. He appears to have been well versed in current branches of learning.
Several anthologists and biographers ascribed to Asīr the invention of the so-called Indian (more appropriately Eṣfahānī) style of poetry-writing (see Ṣāʾeb, Dīvān, ed. Amīrī Fīrūzkūhī, Tehran, 1345 Š./1966 editor’s preface). The notion appears to have arisen because Sāʾeb Tabrīzī, the greatest master of the “Indian” style, paid a compliment to Asīr by declaring himself to be an imitator of Asīr’s poetry.
Despite Asīr’s role as an innovative poet, and as a grandee and son-in-law of Shah ʿAbbās, scarcely anything about his life is known. The taḏkera-writers have very little to say about him. Āḏar Bīgdelī (Ātaškada, ed. M. J. Šahīdī, Tehran, 1337 Š./1958, p. 199) has only one short sentence without a word of biographical information. Moḥammad-Ṭāher Naṣrābādī (Tadkera, ed. Waḥīd Dastgerdī, Tehran, 1317 Š./1938, pp. 95-96), a contemporary and, to judge by some of his remarks, a frequent guest of Asīr, says only that Asīr was kindhearted, affable, and fond of the company of poets, but died young from overindulgence in wine (cf. H. Ethé, in Geiger and Kuhn, Grundr. Ir. Phil. II, pp. 311-14; Pers. tr. R. Šafaq, Tārīḵ-e adabīyāt-e fārsī, Tehran, 1337 Š./1958, p. 199). He mentions Asīr’s dīvān of qaṣīdas, ḡazals, and maṯnawīs amounting to almost 20,000 verses of varying quality.
According to Moḥammad-ʿAlī Tarbīat (“Yak ṣafḥa-ye moḵtaṣar az resāla-ye qarn-e ḥādī-ʿašar,” Armaḡān 13, 1311 Š./1933, pp. 322-23), Mīrzā Jalāl was imprisoned by Shah Ṣafī, along with some of the royal kinsfolk in 1042/1633, and thus he adopted the penname Asīr (Prisoner). No evidence has been produced for this. Moreover, no change of pen-name has been found in any of his writings. His pen-name was certainly Asīr throughout his career, and his purported imprisonment is probably a myth based on the meaning of the word asīr.
Part of Asīr’s dīvān, consisting of qaṣīdas, qeṭʿas, maṯnawīs, ḡazals, and miscellaneous poems, and running to some 500 pages, was printed at Lucknow in 1297/1880 and reprinted at Kanpur in 1314/1897. He was a student of Faṣīḥī Heravī and among his stylistic followers are mentioned Moḥammad Moqīm Khan Masīḥ, Mīrzā Loṭfallāh Neṯār, and ʿAbd-al-Laṭīf Khan Tanhā, 1378/1959.
See also Āzād Belgrāmī, Sarv-e āzād, Hyderabad, Deccan, 1331/1913, p. 53.
Ḵayyāmpūr, Soḵanvarān, p. 41.
Goḷčīn-e Maʿānī, Taḏkerahā, pp. 655-56.
Bendarāban Dās Ḵᵛošgū, Safīnā-ye Ḵᵛošgū, Patna, 1378/1959, pp. 214, 249.
Ṣafā, Adabīyāt V/1, Tehran, 1362 Š./1983, p. 533.
(K. Amīrī Fīrūzkūhī)
Originally Published: December 15, 1987
Last Updated: August 16, 2011
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Vol. II, Fasc. 7, pp. 765-766