FAHLAVĪYĀT (sing.: fahlavīya, Arabicized form of Persian pahlavī, in its original sense of Parthian), an appellation given especially to the quatrains and by extension to the poetry in general composed in the old dialects of the Pahla/Fahla regions. According to Ebn al-Moqaffaʿ (in Fehrest, ed. Tajaddod, p. 15, tr. Dodge, I, p. 24), Fahla consisted of five regions, namely Isfahan, Ray, Hamadān, Māh Nehāvand, and Azerbaijan, that is a region comprising Media (cf. Ḵᵛārazmī, p. 117, where the word is recorded as bahla). Ebn Ḵordāḏbeh (p. 57) describes it as a region consisting of Ray, Isfahan, Hamadān, Dīnavar, Nehāvand, Mehrajān-qaḏaq, Māsabaḏān, and Qazvīn. The use of fahla (< Mid. Pers. pahlaw) for designating Media goes back to late Arsacid times (cf. Henning, “Mitteliranisch,” p. 95). The specimens of fahlavī poems quoted in Persian texts are mostly attributed to the above-mentioned regions. Nevertheless, from the linguistic point of view the Fahla area may have extended to Gīlān. Thus fahlavīyāt include poems composed in the former dialects of western, central, and northern Persia. There is evidence to suggest that certain popular lyrical quatrains were sung by the Persian Sufis of Baghdad in the 3rd/9th century in the course of their religious musical performances (samāʿ). These quatrains could hardly have been in Arabic, but were in all probability in the local Iranian dialects (Šafīʿī Kadkanī, pp. 2335-39). The oldest extant fahlavī quatrain, apparently in the dialect of Nehāvand, is attributed to a certain Abū ʿAbbās Nehāvandī (d. 331/942-43; Faṣīḥ, II, p. 54, without the appellation fahlavī; see Rīāḥī, pp. 1928 f.). The same quatrain is also recorded by Sorūrī with some minor variant readings (I, p. 300, where the poem is said to have been sung in the mode (ṭarīq) of šarva, see below). Although this quatrain was composed in the 10th century, it has been Persianized to such an extent that in its present form it hardly possesses the archaic characteristics of a 10th-century fahlavī poem.
The fahlavīyāt were set to melodies (laḥn, malḥūnāt) called ōrāmanān and were sung (Šams-al-Dīn Rāzī, Moʿjam, p. 166; Borhān-e qāṭeʿ, ed. Moʿīn, s.v. ōrāman). This term seems to be connected with the name of the region Avroman (q.v.) in Kurdistan. A variant of it, ōrāma, is sometimes used to designate a fahlavī poem (ʿAyn-al-Qożāt,II, pp. 82, n. 7, 168, 176, 374, 411, 444). Another mode used for singing fahlavī poetry was called šarva, whose origin in not known (Sorūrī, I, pp. 76, 300: be ṭarīq-e šarva “in the mode of šarva,” III, pp. 1104, 1494-95: dar šarva “in (the mode of) šarva”; see Kīā, 1978, pp. 34-37; cf. šarvaḵᵛān “one who sings in the šarva mode” juxtaposed with pahlavīgū in a Persian verse (Loḡat-nāma, s.v.). Another similar term, also of unknown origin, is recorded in Persian dictionaries as bāhār, defined as “a mode of singing similar to (the singing of) pahlavī and rāmandī” (Kīā, 1978, pp. 33, 34, see below). The singing of fahlavīyāt could also be accompanied by instrumental music (Neẓāmī, Haft peykar, p. 127, v. 7; idem, Ḵosrow o Šīrīn, p. 98, v. 7).
Besides fahlavī some other terms were occasionally used to designate dialect poetry. For example, rāžī/rāzī, which was originally used for the poems composed in the dialect of Ray, was later so generalized. Thus it was used for the dialect poems of Azerbaijan, and also applied to the fahlavī poems of a Shirazi poet. Other terms are šahrī, lit. “relating to the city” (Adīb Ṭūsī, 1956, pp. 240-42; Reżāzāda, II, pp. 61-66; Rīāḥī, pp. 1321-25, cf. Pers. pahlav “city” in contrast to dašt o hāmūn “plain, desert”), and rāmandī “relating to Rāmand, a region of Qazvīn,” but used to designate a mode of singing dialect poetry; cf. also rāžīdān “one who knows dialect poetry” and šahrīḵᵛān “one who sings dialect poetry”).
The fahlavīyāt as a means of entertainment of the general populace and as sources of spiritual satisfaction for the elites and intellectuals enjoyed great favor and prestige. In Šams-al-Dīn Rāzī’s words (Moʿjam, p. 166), “they were embellished with uncommon ideas (maʿānī-e ḡarīb) and adjusted (pīrāsta) to subtle (moraqq) and delightful melodies.” The contents of the surviving specimens include lyrical and mystical themes as well as colorful and elegant descriptions of nature and satires. It was because of these qualities that they were often quoted by the Persian mystics. Expressions such as laḥn-e fahlavī, golbāng-e fahlavī, ḡazal-e pahlavī, bayt-e pahlavī, and sorūd-e fahlavī signify not only beautiful and elegant but also spiritual and intellectual poetry. Thus Jāmī called Rūmī’s Maṯnawī “the Koran in the pahlavī language” (Reżāzāda, p. 60).
The fahlavīyāt have the characteristics of oral literature: the simplicity and vividness of their contents, the anonymity of their poets, and the repetitions and recurrences of more or less the same themes in them. For most of the fahlavīyāt the name of the poet is not mentioned, and of those which are attributed to a poet, the attribution must be regarded with caution. In some cases they are attributed to people in general or even to a legendary figure, such as a quatrain ascribed to Adam.
The fahlavī poets continued the oral tradition of the Parthian and later minstrels following, in early Islamic times, the principles of Middle Iranian prosody. But with the adoption of the so-called Arabic prosody for Persian poetry, and under the influence of the latter, the fahlavīyāt were gradually adapted to the rules of the quantitative meters, among which the most popular was hazaj (see ʿARŪŻ), although sometimes with modifications that seemed shocking to strict prosodists such as Šams-al-Dīn Rāzī (Moʿjam, pp. 166-67). Such deviations from the standard rules of Persian prosody were felt because the fahlavīyāt still partly continued pre-Islamic prosody. These modifications were hardly noticed when the poems were sung, whereas when reading them the prosodist immediately noticed their metrical defects according to ʿarūż (Arabic-based prosody).
Although there are linguistic differences between the fahlavīyāt of different regions, their common morphological and lexical features resulted in their expansion in a vast area extending from west to center and north Persia, they being recited and sung everywhere regardless of their provenance. Thus one quatrain is quoted as being both by a native of Ray and a native of Azerbaijan, a ḡazal of Homām Tabrīzī is cited in the Dīvān of ʿObayd Zākānī, Ṣāʾen-al-Dīn Torka of Isfahan quoted a bayt by Bābā Ṭāher of Hamadān, and even the Shirazi poet Bosḥāq Aṭʿema (q.v.) has fahlavīyāt.
The fahlavīyāt, being survivals of the Median dialects, have certain linguistic affinities with Parthian, although in their existing forms they have been much influenced by Persian. It is impossible to discuss here all the common linguistic features of the fahlavīyāt and the points in which they differ. The most noticeable linguistic characteristics may, however, be mentioned: they are, the use of the ergative construction for the past transitive verbs, the existence of two forms for the first person singular pronoun, namely az “I” (direct form, cf. Parth. az) and ma/mo “me” (oblique form, cf. Parth./Mid. Pers. man), the use of jï-/cä- before the inverted determinant in the eżāfa (q.v.) construction, the existence of the possessive adjectives jäman/cäman “my,” jäta/cäta/ašta “your,” jämān/cämān “our,” the preverb hā (< fra- ), and the development of far- and xar- to har- (e.g., harsūdan “wear out,” harīdan “buy”). The following is a selective list of words deserving mention: ahnām “love,” aj/až/ja “from, of,” ālāva “flame,” asr “tear,” avā/vā “with,” az “I,” bar “door” (Parth. bar), bašn “stature,” bīš “pain, sorrow” (cf. Mid. Pers. bēš), dīl/del “heart,” dīm “face” (Mid. Pers./Parth. dēm), gēhān “world,” gyān/gān/yān “soul,” hanī “other” (Mid. Pers./Parth. any), herz- “leave, let” (Parth. hirz-), kar- “do” (Parth. kar-), kīj/kīž “anybody, somebody” (Parth. kēž), kovām “which” (interrog. adj. Parth./Mid. Pers. kadām), lāv “agitation,” māng “moon,” nād/nāḏ “beloved,” ō “to, at, in” (Parth./Mid. Pers.), rīj- “pour,” rūj/rǖ/ru “day” (Parth. rōz), sā(y) “shadow,” tahra “dark” (cf. Av. tąpµra-), vad/vaḏ/vay “bad,” vātan, vāž- “say, tell” (Parth. wāxtan, wāž-), vaz- “move” (Parth. waz-), vāžār “market” (Parth. wāžār), vel “rose, beloved,” vīn- “see,” (Mid. Pers./Parth. wēn-), xā “earth, soil, dust,” xᵛā “god,” xᵛāv “sleep,” xᵛāz- “want, wish” (Parth. wxāz-), yā “place” (Parth. wyāg), yān “soul” (cf. gyān/gān), zān- “know” (Parth. zān-), and žīvanda “living” (Parth. žīwandag).
EXTANT SPECIMENS OF FAHLAVĪYĀT
Ardabīl. Eleven quatrains attributed to Shaikh Ṣafī-al-Dīn Ardabīlī (d. 735/1334) are recorded by Pīrzāda under the title “Rājī-e Ṭālešī poems”; out of the four quatrains recorded by Ebn Bazzāz (q.v.), two are attributed to Shaikh Ṣafī-al-Dīn (p. 68 with the appellation pahlavī, and p. 135) and two to his associates (p. 191 and p. 220 with the appellation fahlavī; see Kasrawī, 1938, pp. 41-51; idem, 1973, pp. 343-52; Adīb Ṭūsī, 1955; Yarshater, 1975; Ḏokāʾ).
Ḥamadān. 1. Attributed to Bābā Ṭāher of Hamadān (5th/11th century, q.v.) are the most popular fahlavī quatrains, which have mostly been Persianized due to their popularity. There are, however, specimens quoted in Persian texts or anthologies of peoms (jong/safīna) that have more or less preserved the characteristics of the original (e.g., two qeṭʿas and eight quatrains attributed to him in an anthology of poems, copied in 848/1444-45 and now kept at the Mevlana Müze Kütüphanesi in Konya, MS. 2546; see Mīnovī, pp. 54-58; Adīb Ṭūsī, 1958, pp. 1-11; Bahār). Another jong (MS. Tehran, Majles Library, no. 900, copied in the 8th/14th century; see Kīā, 1948, pp. 19-22; Adīb Ṭūsī, loc. cit.) also contains under the title fahlavīyāt (without attributing them to any particular poet) four qeṭʿas and ten quatrains, some of which are identical with those preserved in the Konya jong. Two verses (bayts) belonging to one of these qeṭʿas are also quoted by ʿAbd-al-Qāder Marāḡī (d. 838/1434-35; II, pp. 139-42; see ʿA. Ṣādeqī). Another bayt attributed to Bābā Ṭāher is also quoted by Ṣāʾen-al–Dīn Torka (d. 835/1431-32).
2. ʿAyn al-Qożāt Hamadānī (k. 525/1131, q.v.) quoted a few verses apparently in his own dialect (I, pp. 314, 330, where it is called fahlavī; bayt-e pahlavī in a manuscript variant, p. 370; see also idem, II, pp. 168, 176, 374, 411, 444, where all specimens are called owrāma, see below).
3. An anonymous Persian Sufi text contains three quatrains and two qeṭʿas each containing three bayts, all similar to those attributed to Bābā Ṭāher. They seem to belong to the 5-6th/11-12th century, since, according to Dānešpažūh (1958), the language of the text resembles that of ʿAyn-al-Qożāt’s.
4. Two quatrains and a single bayt quoted by Moḥammad Rāvandī (pp. 45-46; see Adīb Ṭūsī, 1958, pp. 11-12).
5. A bayt by a certain Qāżī of Sajās (a town between Hamadān and Abhar), cited by Tāj-al-Dīn Ḥalāwī (p. 90) on the authority of Šams Sajāsī (d. 602/1205-06; see Mostawfī, p. 736), a poet and collector of Ẓahīr Fāryābī’s dīvān. According to Ḥalāwī, this bayt was composed before a similar verse by Ẓahīr Fāryābī (d. 598/1201-02), which makes Qāżī of Sajās florish in the 6th/12th century or earlier.
6. āgazal of six lines by Kāfī-al-Dīn Karajī (d. early 7th/13th cent.) cited by Ḥamd-Allāh Mostawfī (pp. 746-47); one of the lines is also quoted by ʿAṭā-Malek Jovaynī (p. 47). The poet was apparently from Karaj-e Abū Dolaf, a town between Hamadān and Nehāvand.
7. Some fahlavī poems by Rašīd al-Dīn Fażl-Allāh Hamadānī, the famous vizier of the Mongol Il-khans (d. 718/1318), apparently in his native dialect: a hemistich called zabān-e fahlavī (1976, I, p. 290), a quatrain with the appellation bayt-efahlavī, and another hemistich titled zabān-e pahlavī (1992, I, pp. 57-58).
8. A qeṭʿa consisting of three bayts described as pahlavī and apparently in the dialect of Hamadān (Mostawfī, pp. 739-40) by ʿEzz al-Dīn Hamadānī, a poet contemporary of Ḥamd-Allāh Mostawfī (d. after 740/1339-40).
9. A quatrain with the appellation pahlavī in an undated manuscript of Moḥammad Naḵjavānī’s Ṣeḥāḥ al-fors (p. 73). The occurrence of the name of Alvand mountain may indicate that it was composed in the dialect of Hamadān. Two other fahlavī quatrains with the same meter and radīf and somewhat similar content are preserved in a manuscript copied in 980/1572-73 in Trebizond (Afšār, 1982, p. 823; cf. ʿEmādī, pp. 140-42, who considers the two last quatrains as belonging to Deylamān). All these quatrains are in an old language similar to the specimens of 11th-12th-century fahlavī verses of Hamadān.
10. Two quatrains recorded by ʿAbd-al-Qāder Marāḡī (II, 139-42; ʿA. Ṣādeqī) and designated in the dialect of Hamadān (be zabān-e hamadānī).
Isfahan. Awḥadī Marāḡaʾī (ca. 673-738/1274-1338, q.v.) has three ḡazals in the dialect of Isfahan, arranged under the title of “in the language of Isfahan” (fī lesān al-eṣfahānīya; pp. 431-32; Adīb Ṭūsī, 1963, pp. 15, 387-400).
Kāšān. Taqī-al-Dīn Kāšī quotes a quatrain by ʿEnāyat Kāšānī in his Ḵolāṣat-al-ašʿār (MS. Tehran, Majles, no. 334, copied in 1013, p. 226; see Rāvandī, ed. Moḥaddeṯ, p. 62 n.; Rīāḥī, p. 1929). It is not called fahlavī, however.
Kenār-āb. Two ḡazals by Badr Šīrvānī (789-854/1387-1450) quoted under the title “zabān-e Kenār-āb,” probably a region in northern Azerbayjan (pp. 665-66; Ḏokāʾ, 1986, pp. 76-80).
Qazvīn. 1. The oldest specimen in the dialect of Qazvīn is a bayt attributed to the people of Qazvīn at the time of the siege of the city by the Muslims in the 7th century (cited in Mostawfī, p. 776).
2. Next is a bayt recorded by the 12th-century author ʿAbd-al-Karīm Rāfeʿī, as recited by Esfandūya (Esfandīār) Jālīzbānī (Rāfeʿī, II, p. 286; Rīāḥī, p. 1930).
3. A bayt by Jamāl-al-Dīn of Rostoq al-Qoṭn (a quarter of the city of Qazvīn), who was a contemporary of the Il-khan Abaqa (r. 663-80/1265-82), cited in Mostawfī (pp. 47, 725).
4. A quatrain by Abu’l-Mājed (or Abu’l-Majīd) of Rāyagān (a village near Qazvīn), also a contemporary of Abaqa, cited by Mostawfī (p. 720).
5. Another poet of the same period named Amīr Kā (or Kākā) of Ḵīāraj (a village in the district of Rāmand) was said to have composed poetry in the dialect of Qazvīn (Mostawfī, p. 720), but none of his poems has survived.
6. Two single fahlavī bayts in the dialect of Qazvīn are quoted in Nozhat al-qolūb (comp. 740/1339-40; ed. Le Strange, p. 195, ed. M. Malek-al-Kottāb, Bombay, 1311/1893, p. 204; for the other bayt in the Bombay edition, p. 87, see also Dānešpažūh, 1979, p. 301).
7. A single fahlavībayt by ʿObayd Zākanī (d. 771/1368-69) is in his published collected works (p. 232). Besides, seven quatrains under the title of dar bahlavīyāt (on the Pahlavīs) are preserved in some old manuscripts of his dīvān (information from the late M.-J. Maḥjūb, who was preparing a new edition of his collected works).
8. Abd-al-Qāder Marāḡī mentions a quatrain under the general title of fahlavīyāt and a single bayt with the appellation zabān-e qazāvena “the language of the Qazvinis” (II, p. 142; ʿA. Ṣādeqī, pp. 56, 63).
9. A single line by an anonymous Qazvīnī poet quoted by the 14th-century author Tāj-al-Dīn Ḥalāwī (p. 11). From the 16th-century Qazvīnī poet Ḥāfeẓ Ṣābūnī a few bayts are preserved (Ṣādeqī Ketābdār, pp. 179-80, Haft eqlīm III, p. 187; ʿA. Ṣādeqī, p. 63).
10. A quatrain by another 16th-century Qazvīnī poet, cited by Ṣādeqī Ketābdār (pp. 266-67).
Ray. 1. The oldest fahlavī specimens from Ray are attributed to Bondār (or Pendār) Rāzī, who florished in the 10th century and early years of the 11th century: a single line (ʿAyn al-Qożāt, II, p. 82), three single lines and a quatrain (Šams-al-Dīn Rāzī, Moʿjam, pp. 119, 167; Kīā, 1945, p. 14); a qeṭʿa consisting of three bayts, a quatrain, and three bayts from his poem called Čamuš-nāma (Mostawfī, pp. 723-24), a qaṣīda (Jājarmī, II, pp. 487-94; Kīā, loc. cit.); three bayts of a ḡazal, two quatrains and a qeṭʿa consisting of two bayts (Haft eqlīm III, pp. 21-23; Majmaʿ-al-foṣaḥāʾ I, p. 439; Kīā, loc. cit.); a qeṭʿa of four bayts quoted by ʿAbd-al-Qāder Marāḡī (II, p. 142; ʿA. Ṣādeqī, pp. 56, 61); a hemistich recorded by Tāj-al-Dīn Ḥalāwī (p. 89).
2. A quatrain attributed to Adam and quoted by Najm-al-Dīn Dāya Rāzī (d. 654/1256, p. 95) seems to belong to the dialect of Ray. The same quatrain, however, is found in an anthology of poems copied in 1125/1713, where it is attributed to Mehān Kašfī of Namīn (in Ardabīl), who lived in the 8th/14th century. It is also recorded in another anthology of poems found in Ṭāleš (see Rīāḥī, p. 1930 with references).
3. A bayt titled Rāzī is quoted by ʿObayd Zākānī (p. 236), but in some manuscripts it is attributed to the people of Hamadān.
4. The poems of Mollā Seḥrī Ṭehrānī, who lived in the 17th century (Naṣrābādī, pp. 409-10; see Kīā, 1945, pp. 20-21) belong to the Ray region.
Tabrīz. 1. Four quatrains titled fahlavīyāt are attributed to Ḵᵛāja Moḥammad Kojjānī (d. 677/1278-79; Kojjān or Korojān is a village near Tabrīz) by ʿAbd-al-Qāder Marāḡī (II, pp. 140-41; ʿA. Ṣādeqī, pp. 56, 59-61).
Attributed to Homām Tabrīzī (d. 714/1314-15) is a macaronic ḡazal apparently in the dialect of Tabrīz (Dīvān, pp. 62-63; Adīb Ṭūsī, 1955, pp. 460 ff.). The same ḡazal with some minor variant readings is also quoted under the name of Homām in the dīvān of ʿObayd Zākānī (p. 167). Homām has also a macaronic verse in a Persian ḡazal, in which he quoted a hemistich probably from another poet or from the popular oral tradition. It is also quoted by ʿObayd (p. 184).
2. A ḡazal and fourteen quatrains under the title of fahlavīyāt by Maḡrebī (d. 809/1406-7; Dīvān, pp. 255-63; Adīb Ṭūsī, 1956).
3. Two single fahlavī bayts by the 14th-century poet Šaraf-al-Dīn Rāmī Tabrīzī (p. 19).
4. A quatrain from Māmā ʿEṣmat (9th/15th century) titled rāžī (or šahrī according to the popular usage, see below) is cited by Ebn Karbalāʾī (II, p. 50; Adīb Ṭūsī, 1956, pp. 240-43).
5. Two qeṭʿas quoted by ʿAbd-al-Qāder Marāḡī in the dialect of Tabrīz (d. 838/1434-35; II, p. 142), where the editor reads Tarmaḏī instead of Tabrīzī (ʿA. Ṣādeqī, pp. 57, 63).
Ṭāleš. 1. A collection of quatrains is attributed to Sayyed Šaraf-al-Dīn known as Šarafšāh of Dūlāʾ or Dūlāb (i.e., Ṭāleš), who probably lived in the 13th century (1979, intro.; 1982, pp. 7-33).
2. The dialect poems of Qāsem-e Anwār (d. 837/1433-34) may belong to the fahlavī genre (Kollīyāt, pp. 342-44, 347; Browne, Lit. Hist. Persia III, pp. 473-87; Dawlatābādī, pp. 553-56).
Zanjān. 1. A qeṭʿa consisting of nine bayts by a certain 13th-century poet called Ūtāyač (var. Oyānaḥ, etc.), probably in his own dialect (Mostawfī, pp. 721-22; Adīb Ṭūsī, 1955a, pp. 255-59, who reads the name as Īnānj).
2. Four bayts with the appellation pahlavī by Jūlāha Abharī, who lived in the 13th century (Mostawfī, pp. 726-27; Adīb Ṭūsī, 1955a, pp. 253-55).
Fahlavī specimens not attributed to a particular region or date. 1. A quatrain cited by Naṣīr-al-Dīn Ṭūsī (597-672/1201-74; p. 51).
2. Three quatrains written on the margin of the manuscript of Montaḵab-e rawnaq al-majāles (fols. 100-101); they may date back to the 13th century (Afšār, 1983; see ʿEmādī, pp. 142-46, who attributed them to the Deylamān region).
3. A bayt with the appellation pahlavī quoted by Mostawfī (p. 291).
4. A bayt in a manuscript of Asadī’s Loḡat-e fors (copied in 1332; ed. Horn, p. 34).
5. Two quatrains designated as fahlavīyāt, quoted by Bosḥāq Aṭʿema (d. 827/1423 or 830/1427; Dīvān, p. 113).
Bibliography (for cited works not given in detail, see “Short References”):
ʿAbd-al-Qāder Marāḡī, Jāmeʿ-al-alḥān, ed. T. Bīneš, 2 vols., Tehran 1366-72 Š./1987-93.
“Āḏarī,” in DMBE I, Tehran, 1367 Š./1988, pp. 259-62.
M.-A. Adīb Ṭūsī, “Fahlavīyāt-e al-Moʿjam,” NDA Tabrīz 6, 1333 Š./1954, pp. 471-78.
Idem, “Nemūna-ī az fahlavīyāt-e Qazvīn o Zanjān o Tabrīz dar qarn-e haftom,” NDA Tabrīz 7, 1334 Š./1955a, pp. 251-73.
Idem, “Fahlavīyāt-e zabān-e āḏarī dar qarn-e haštom o nohom,” NDA Tabrīz 7, 1334 Š./1955b., pp. 460-82.
Idem, “Fahlavīyāt-e Maḡrebī Tabrīzī,” NDA Tabrīz 8, 1335 Š./1956, pp. 121-37.
Idem, “Fahlavīyāt-e Māmā ʿEṣmat wa Kašfī be zabān-e āḏarī: Eṣṭelāḥ-e rāžī yā šahrī,” ibid., pp. 240-57.
Idem, “Fahlavīyāt-e lorī,” NDA Tabrīz 10, 1337 Š./1958, pp. 1-16.
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Originally Published: December 15, 1999
Last Updated: January 20, 2012
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Vol. IX, Fasc. 2, pp. 158-162