BANĀʾĪ HERAVĪ, KAMĀL-AL-DĪN ŠĪR-ʿALĪ, son of Ostād Moḥammad Sabz Meʿmār, poet and musicologist (857-918/1453-1512). The son of an architect and master builder (meʿmār), he chose the pen name Banāʾī; the frequently given reading Bannāʾī (e.g., Browne, Lit. Hist. Persia III, p. 457; Cat. Bib. Nat. III, p. 318) is incorrect, because in each verse where the poet’s name occurs the meter requires that it should be read Banāʾī. Although he changed his pen name to Ḥālī in his later years, he is best known under his original pen name. Banāʾī was born and educated in Herat, where he acquired a wide knowledge of literature, science, calligraphy, and music, and a reputation for proficiency in all. He then turned his attention to Sufism and began to lead an ascetic life. After traveling to central Iran in search of a spiritual guide, he made his way to Fārs and there became a disciple of Shaikh Šams-al-Dīn Moḥammad Lāhījī, the head of the Nūrbakšī order of Shiraz (Ṣafā, Adabīyāt IV, pp. 397-98), whom he praises in some of his odes (qaṣīdas). He stayed in Shiraz until, at the invitation of the Āq Qoyunlū sultan Yaʿqūb (r. 883-96/1478-90), he moved to Tabrīz, where he rose to high rank in the sultan’s service. He dedicated his narrative, didactic poem Bahrām o Behrūz (or Bāḡ-e eram) to Yaʿqūb and also composed qaṣīdas for him and for the Šervānšāh Farroḵyasār. He stayed in Azerbaijan until Yaʿqūb’s death (896/1490) and then returned to Herat, but discord with Amir ʿAlī-Šīr Navāʾī again forced him to leave his native Herat and go to Samarkand. For some time he was a eulogist of Solṭān ʿAlī Mīrzā, a grandson of the Timurid sultan Abū Saʿīd, and of Badīʿ-al-Zamān Mīrzā, the son and successor of Ḥosayn Bāyqarā, the sultan of Herat. Later he gained admittance, with the rank of poet laureate (malek-al-šoʿarāʾ) to the court of the Uzbek ruler, Moḥammad Šaybānī (Šaybak) Khan. During the Uzbek invasion of Khorasan, he accompanied Šaybānī Khan when the latter entered Herat. Thereafter he remained in Khorasan until Šaybānī Khan’s defeat and death at the hands of Shah Esmāʿīl Ṣafawī in 916/1510, when he returned to Transoxiana in the retinue of Tīmūr Solṭān, a son of Šaybānī Khan. He met his death in the massacre of the Sunnis at Qaršī (918/1512) carried out by Shah Esmāʿīl’s general and chief minister, Amir Najm Yār Aḥmad Eṣfahānī, known as Ṯānī.
Banāʾī is generally judged to be one of the most accomplished and eloquent poets of the Timurid period. Like earlier masters of the craft, he began to write poetry after he had acquired a solid grounding in prose composition and conventional sciences. He thus combined breadth of knowledge with sharpness of mind and flair for eloquence. His fidelity to the poetic traditions of the old masters is apparent throughout his work and has left a strong imprint on his language, which is notable for its precision and clarity. He liked the poetry of the earlier periods better than that of his own; his study of the dīvāns of other poets prompted him to quote from and reply to their best-known qaṣīdas and ḡazals. Thus he compiled two dīvāns, one of the qaṣīdas, ḡazals, qeṭʿas, and robāʿīs written under the pen name Banāʾī, the other of the replies to ḡazals of Saʿdī and Ḥāfeẓ, written under the pen name Ḥālī. Taqī-al-Dīn Kāšī, the author of the taḏkeraḴolāṣat al-ašʿār, estimates the number of verses in the first dīvān at 6,000 and in the second dīvān at 3,000. It is significant that, following Banāʾī, several poets of the Safavid period composed whole divans in reply to Saʿdī, Ḥāfeẓ, Feḡānī, and others. Banāʾī is also the author of Šaybānī-nāma, an account of the important events in central Asia from the rise of Šaybānī Khan to the disintegration of the Timurid sultanates (Storey, I, p. 372).
There is a manuscript of the dīvān of Banāʾī in the Bibliothèque Nationale (Cat. Bib. Nat. III, p. 318), and a large number of his poems under both pen names are quoted in Taqī-al-Dīn Kāšī’s Ḵolāṣat al-ašʿār.
Banāʾī is not to be confused with another user of the pen name Ḥālī, Dūst Moḥammad, known as Qaṣīdagū, who died in 939/1532. The latter is also mentioned, and some examples of his qaṣīdas are quoted, in the Ḵolāṣat al-ašʿār.
Moḥammad Qodrat-Allāh Gōpāmavī Hendī, Taḏkera-ye natāʾej al-afkār, Bombay, 1336/1918, pp. 99-100.
Mīr ʿAbd-al-Razzāq Ḵᵛāfī, Bahārestān-e soḵan, Madras, 1958, pp. 383-85.
ʿAlī-Ebrāhīm Khan Ḵalīl, Ṣoḥof-e ebrāhīmī, ms. 663 (W. Pertsch, Verzeichniss der persischen Handschriften der königlichen Bibliothek zu Berlin, Berlin, 1888; a photostatic copy, no. 2976, is in the Central Library of the University of Tehran).
Ḵᵛāndamīr, Ḥabīb al-sīar IV, pp. 348-49.
Mīr Taqī-al-Dīn Kāšī, Ḵolāṣat al-ašʿār wa zobdat al-afkār, ms. Ḵayyāmpūr, Soḵanvarān, p. 89.
Ḥājj Moḥammad Maʿṣūm Šīrāzī, Ṭarāʾeq al-ḥaqāʾeq, Tehran, 1316-19/1898-1901, III, pp. 50, 59.
S. Nafīsī, Naẓm o naṯr, pp. 310-11.
ʿAlī-Šīr Navāʾī, Majāles al-nafāʾes, pp. 60, 232.
M. A. Rāzī, Haft eqlīm II, pp. 152-54. Ṣafā, Adabīyāt IV, pp. 393-411.
Sām Mīrzā Ṣafawī, Toḥfa-ye sāmī, Tehran, 1314 Š./1935, pp. 95-100.
Nūr-Allāh Šūštarī, Majāles al-moʾmenīn, Tehran, n.d., p. 307.
Storey, I/1, pp. 301-03.
Originally Published: December 15, 1988
Last Updated: December 15, 1988