BŪSTĀNĪ, MĪRZĀ MOḤAMMAD ʿABD-AL-ʿAẒĪM SĀMĪ (commonly known as Mīrzā ʿAẓīm Sāmī), poet and historian of Bukhara, born ca. 1256/1840 in the village of Būstān about 25 miles northeast of Bukhara. He studied in a madrasa in Bukhara and continued his education with the learned qāżī and poet Mollā Saʿd-al-Dīn Māher, who gave him the pen name (taḵalloṣ) Sāmī. After finishing his studies Mīrzā ʿAbd-al-ʿAẓīm served as secretary (monšī) to various provincial governors and was eventually appointed secretary to the Mangït amir of Bukhara Moẓaffar-al-Dīn b. Naṣr-Allāh (1277-1302/1860-85) at the beginning of his reign. He accompanied the army of Bukhara as official historian (nevīsanda) during the amir’s war with the Uzbek rulers of Šahr-e Sabz (1280/1863-64), and as chronicler (waqāʾeʿnegār) during the war with Russia (1283-85/1866-68). In 1302/1884-85 he accompanied the heir apparent, ʿAbd-al-Aḥad b. Moẓaffar-al-Dīn, on an embassy to St. Petersburg to congratulate Emperor Alexander III upon his accession to the throne; this journey is the only one Mīrzā ʿAbd-al-ʿAẓīm himself mentions, but, according to one Bukharan taḏkera (see Epifanova, 1962, introd.), he later accompanied Bukharan embassies to Russia on several occasions. When ʿAbd-al-Aḥad succeeded his father as amir (r. 1302-28/1885-1910), Mīrzā ʿAbd-al-ʿAẓīm continued to serve as monšī, but in the mid-1890s he was dismissed. Although the exact reason for his disgrace is unknown, it was probably connected with his critical attitude toward the amir and his court, which he expressed quite openly, even in his poems. From that time on he lived in poverty, supporting himself and his large family by copying manuscripts of his own and others’ works. According to ʿAynī (p. 398), he became totally blind near the end of his life. It is not known exactly when he died, but he was still alive in 1332/1914, the date of a manuscript of his Resāla transcribed by himself (see Epifanova, 1962, introd., p. 14).
Mīrzā ʿAbd-al-ʿAẓīm left three historical works. The earliest is Toḥfa-ye šāhī, written in 1317-19/1899-1901, a history of the khanate of Bukhara from the reign of the Janid amir ʿObayd-Allāh Khan II (1114-23/1702-11) until his own day. It is most important for its eyewitness account of the reign of Moẓaffar-al-Dīn. The work was written in an attempt to regain the favor of ʿAbd-al-Aḥad and therefore glorifies the rulers of the Mangït dynasty, but it contains much valuable information, especially relating to the Russian conquest of the khanate. In 1324/1906-07 Mīrzā ʿAbd-al-ʿAẓīm wrote Tārīḵ-e salāṭīn-e manḡīṭīya-ye dār al-salṭana-ye Boḵārā-ye šarīf, which is by contrast very critical of Naṣr-Allāh, Moẓaffar-al-Dīn, and ʿAbd-al-Aḥad. This work was circulated only among a very few liberal Bukharans and is often called the “unofficial version” of the history of Bukhara. Aside from its criticism of the khanate and its rulers, the work contains many facts not included in Toḥfa-ye šāhī. A facsimile of a manuscript in Dushanbe has been published with a Russian translation by L. M. Epifanova (1962). The third historical work was a continuation of Daḵma-ye šāhān, a short satirical history in verse of the Janid dynasty written in 1200/1785 by Moḥammad-Ṣādeq Monšī Jāndārī; Mīrzā ʿAbd-al-ʿAẓīm added to it a section on the Mangïts to Moẓaffar-al-Dīn.
Among the author’s other works were Merʾāt al-ḵayāl, a collection of poems mostly about contemporary events and individuals; an anthology of the works of the ten best poets of Bukhara in the second half of the 13th/19th century; and a manual for secretaries entitled Resāla-ye enšāʾ (also called Tanzīh al-enšāʾ and Manāẓer al-enšāʾ), written in 1300/1882-83. (For information about manuscripts of Būstānī’s works, see Storey-Bregel, II, pp. 1157, 1171-74 no. 1032).
Ṣ. ʿAynī, Namūna-ye adabīyāt-e tājīk, Moscow, 1926, pp. 325-39.
Idem, Vospominaniya, Moscow and Leningrad, 1960, pp. 397-98.
L. M. Epifanova, ed., Tārīḵ-esalāṭīn-e manḡīṭīya (Istoriya mangytskikh gosudareĭ), Pamyatniki literatury narodov Vostoka. Teksty. Malaya seriya 14, Moscow, 1962.
Idem, Rukopisnye istochniki Instituta vostokovedeniya Akademii nauk UzSSR po istorii Sredneĭ Azii perioda prisoedineniya k Rossii (Bukhara), Tashkent, 1965, pp. 22-43 (with references to other biographical sources).
Originally Published: December 15, 1990
Last Updated: December 15, 1990
This article is available in print.
Vol. IV, Fasc. 6, pp. 574-575