a Persian epic recounting the adventures of the hero Farāmarz.


FARĀMARZ-NĀMA, a Persian epic recounting the adventures of the hero Farāmarz. According to the Tārīḵ-e Sīstān (p. 7) there was an account of Farāmarz (aḵbār-e Farāmarz) in twelve volumes, but this work, presumably in prose, has been lost. Instead, two Farāmarz-nāmas, both poems composed in the motaqāreb meter (ᴗ--), are extant. One of them, which appears to be older, is by an anonymous poet who introduces himself as a villager from Pīrūzābād (possibly an orthographical error in the text for Forsābād, a town near Marv) and an admirer of Ferdowsī. He states that he composed the Farāmarz-nāma at the age of thirty-six, using as his source a book by Āzādsarv (q.v.). The author mentions no dates, but his poem was probably written between mid-5th/11th and early 6th/12th centuries. Like other Persian writers of epic poetry who came after Ferdowsī, the author of the Farāmarz-nāma was heavily influenced by the style of the Šāh-nāma.

The story deals with Farāmarz’s voyage to India on the orders of Kay Kāvūs, to lend assistance to Nowšād Shah. While there, he slays Konnās Dīv (a carrion-eating demon who had abducted the daughter of the Indian king), Karg-e Gūyā (a talking rhinoceros), Aždahā (q.v.; a dragon), and thirty thousand rhinoceroses. Then Farāmarz leaves for the land of Jaypāl. This part of the story is modeled after Ferdowsī’s account about the seven labors of Rostam (haft ḵᵛān-e Rostam). The sixth labor of Farāmarz is a debate with an Indian Brahman; upon its conclusion the Brahman abandons his belief in idols and becomes a worshipper of Yazdān. This concludes the Faṟāmarz-nāma, which finishes without an account of the hero’s seventh labor or of his journey to Jaypāl. The story mentions also other famous heroes of the Iranian epic—Bīžan, Zarasp and Gorgīn (qq.v.)—who accompany Farāmarz and participate in some of his exploits.

Among manuscripts of this work, one, dated 1173/1759-60 and comprising 1,560 distichs, is at the Bibliothèque Nationale (Cat. Bibliothèque Nationale III, p. 18, no. 1194). Another, 1,630 distichs in length, is at the British Library (MS. Or. 2946; Rieu, Persian Manuscripts, suppl., p. 132). About 1,540 distichs of this version have been included in a 13th century copy of the Šāh-nāma, which is also at the British Library (MS. Or. 2926; Rieu, Persian Manuscripts, suppl., p. 129). It was also included in the other version of Farāmarz-nāma, which will be discussed below. Since all four of these versions are incomplete at the end, the original may never have been finished.

The second Farāmarz-nāma is known from a book, in 464 pages and containing between nine and ten thousand distichs, which was printed in Bombay in 1324/1906. It was compiled by a Zoroastrian named Rostam, son of Bahrām Soruš of Taft, a contemporary of Moẓaffar-al-Dīn Shah (r. 1896-1907) who traveled to India to gather stories about Farāmarz. The book has four sections. The first section (pp. 5-31) relates one of Rostam’s adventures in India and the story of the birth of Farāmarz, whose mother was the daughter of the king of India. The second section (pp. 32-78) recounts the exploits of Gošasp Bānū (q.v.), the daughter of Rostam; here Farāmarz is cast in a secondary role. The third section (pp. 78-157) comprises the version of Farāmarz-nāma discussed above. The fourth section (pp. 157-450), about 6,000 distichs long, gives another version of Farāmarz’s adventures in India and “Qīrvān.” Since these exploits take place during the reign of Kay Ḵosrow, this part of the story should be considered a continuation of the first Farāmarz-nāma. The main episodes in the fourth section cover the battles of Farāmarz with Ṭovorg, with Rāy ,and with a demon called Tajānū; the return of Farāmarz to Iran; his second trip to India to vanquish Mahārak; his trip to the island of Kahīlā; his slaying of the Black Demon who held the daughter of the king of Kahīlā captive, and the wedding of Farāmarz with the princess; his travel to the lands of the East; his battles with the people of the island of Fīlgušān; his debate with the Indian Brahmans; the slaying of a roc and a dragon; his journey to Qīrvān and the slaying of a dragon, a wolf, and a lion; his acquisition of Garšāsp’s treasures; his travels to the lands of bāḵtar (q.v.) and his visit to the tomb of Hušang (q.v.); his falling in love with the daughter of Farṭūr-tuš, the king of the fairies, the disappearance of the girl in a spring, and his search for her. To reach the kingdom of the fairies Farāmarz has to complete seven tasks. At long last, after slaying a lion, a wolf, a rhinoceros, a dragon, and an ogre (ḡūl), and after traveling through cold and hot climes, Farāmarz reaches the land of Farṭūr-tuš and marries his daughter. A year after his return to Iran, the wives of Farāmarz give birth to two sons: Sām, whose mother is the daughter of the king of the fairies and whose exploits are the subject of Ḵᵛājū Kermānī’s Sām-nāma (8th/14th c.; see Cat. Bibliothèque Nationale, p. 19, no. 1195); and Āḏar-Borzīn, whose mother is the daughter of the king of Kahīlā and whose adventures are recounted in the last part of the Bahman-nāma (Īrānšāh, pp. 413-604, cf. Storey/de Blois V/2, pp. 562-66).

The sources of the second Farāmarz-nāma are uncertain. Since two of Farāmarz’s adventures in India were also recorded in the Nozhat-nāma-ye ʿalāʾī by Šahmardān b. Abi’l-Ḵayr (pp. 329-33), it is possible that the original source was a book which Šahmardān says was translated from Pahlavi into Persian by Pīrūzān, a teacher of Šams-al-Molūk Farāmarz b. ʿAlāʾ-al-Dawla (whose identity is uncertain; see Šāhmardān, pp. 44-50). That book contained between 1500 and 2000 folios (ibid., p. 342) and thus might correspond to the twelve-volume account of Farāmarz mentioned in the Tārīḵ-e Sīstān.


Bibliography (for cited works not given in detail, see “Short References”):

Īrānšāh b. Abi’l-Ḵayr, Bahman-nāma, ed. R. ʿAfīfī, Tehran, 1370 Š./1981.

Dj. Khaleghi-Motlagh, “Farāmarz-nāma,Īrān-nāma 1, 1982, pp. 22-45.

Idem, “Farāmarz-nāma,MDA Tabrīz 128-29, 1362 Š./1983, pp. 85-121.

Idem, “Babr-e bayān,” Īrān-nāma 3, 1988, pp. 390-94.

Šahmardān b. Abī-al-Ḵayr, Nozhat-nāma-ye ʿalāʾī, ed. F. Jahānpūr, Tehran, 1362 Š./1983.

Storey/de Blois V/2, pp. 571-74.

(Djalal Khaleghi-Motlagh)

Originally Published: December 15, 1999

Last Updated: December 15, 1999