ĀẔAR (ĀḎAR) BĪGDELĪ, ḤĀJJ LOṬF-ʿALĪ BĪG B. ĀQĀ KHAN BĪGDELĪ ŠĀMLŪ (fl. 1134/1721-1195/1781), poet and author of a taḏkera (biographical anthology) of about 850 Persian poets, complied in 1174/1760 and dedicated to Karīm Khan Zand (r. 1163/1750-1193/1779).
Āẕar belonged to the Syrian (Šāmlū) branch of the Bīgdelī (Begdīllū) tribe, which had moved to Iran in Tīmūr’s time. Some of his relatives were men of distinction: Three were sent on embassies to the Ottoman empire during his lifetime, and several held important offices. He was born in Isfahan, where his family had lived since the early Safavid period. His birth almost coincided with the Afghan invasion of Iran and the fall of Isfahan, which prompted his whole family to flee to Qom, where he stayed fourteen years. Later in about 1148/1736, his father was appointed governor of Lār and the coasts of Fārs by Nāder Shah. After his father’s death, Āẕar made a pilgrimage to Mecca, visited the holy places in Iraq, and later on went to Mašhad, where his arrival coincided with Nāder’s return from India. He accompanied Nāder’s troops to Māzandarān, Azerbaijan, and ʿErāq-e ʿAjam, and finally settled at Isfahan. After the assassination of Nāder, he joined the services of the Afsharid ʿĀdel Shah (q.v.) and Ebrāhīm Shah and the Safavid Esmāʿīl III and Solaymān III, and eventually retired to his small estate near Qom and turned his attention to poetry. He reportedly lost 7,000 verses of his poetry during the sack of Isfahan by ʿAlī-Mardān Khan Baḵtīārī, but a dīvān comprising qaṣīdas, ḡazals, and qeṭʿas, and a maṯnawī, Yūsof o Zolayḵā, have reached us. He was much influenced by his paternal uncle Walī (Walīy) Moḥammad Khan Bīgdelī (killed 1177/1763) and Mīr Sayyed ʿAlī Moštāq Eṣfahānī (d. 1192/1778) who was his master in the art of poetry.
Āẕar is known mainly because of his taḏkera, the Ātaškada-ye Āḏar (Āẕar’s fire temple). Using terms relevant to fire he divided it into two main chapters which he called majmeras (censers). The first majmera is further divided into a šoʿla (flame) on the poetry of kings, princes, and amirs; three aḵgars (embers) on the poets of Iran, Tūrān (Central Asia), and India; and a forūḡ (light) on poetesses. The three aḵgars are further divided, in terms of geographical divisions, into five, three, and three šarāras (sparks) respectively, each one opening with a brief description of the region involved. The second majmera comprises two partows (beams); the first partow treats poets contemporary with the author and the second one contains the author’s biography and a selection of his poetry. Poets are represented under their pen-names, not their personal names, and the book is generally arranged in alphabetical order. The cited verses of each poet are ordered according to the rhyme.
Āẕar’s prose in the Ātaškada, despite containing certain weaknesses common to Persian writings of the 12th/18th century, is generally simple and fluent. In the preface, he uses rhymed prose, into which he fits words having some connection with “fire;” his theme is the defense of poetry. The long introduction to the account of contemporary poets contains some fine passages of poetic prose. For contemporary poetry, his principle was to give first choice to verses which he had heard directly from the poets themselves, but his claims that, in his selection from earlier poets, he had carefully studied their dīvāns is discredited by careful examination of earlier taḏkeras available to him (see Goḷčīn-e Maʿānī, Taḏkerahā I, p. 4).
Āẕar was one of the pioneers of the revulsion against the so-called sabk-e hendī, Indian style (see BĀZGAŠT-E ADABĪ), and as such is frankly censorious of the poetry of Ṣāʾeb and his followers; but for those such as Moštāq, who rejected the Indian style and sought to revive the idiom of the early poets, he has nothing but praise. For some poets, he gives detailed biographies, but for most he finds two or three lines sufficient; he is equally sparing in the selections from their work.
Āẕar Bīgdelī, Ātaškada, lithog. ed., Bombay, 1277/1860; ed. Ḥ. Sādāt Nāṣerī, 3 vols., Tehran, 1337 Š./1958-1341 Š./1962.
M. T. Bahār (Malek-al-šoʿarā), Sabkšenāsī III, Tehran 1337 Š./1958, p. 318.
M. Dabīrsīāqī, in Dāneš-nāma I/1, Tehran, 1355 Š./1976, p. 15.
Browne, Lit. Hist. Persia IV, pp. 282-84.
Ḵayyāmpūr, Soḵanvarān, p. 2.
Goḷčīn-e Maʿānī, Taḏkerahā I, pp. 14-17.
Originally Published: December 15, 1987
Last Updated: August 18, 2011
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