FĀŻEL KHAN GARRŪSĪ, MOḤAMMAD (b. 14 Ḏu’l-ḥejja 1198/29 October 1784; d. 1259/1843), poet, litterateur, and secretary during the reigns of Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah (1212-50/1797-1834) and Moḥammad Shah Qājār (1250-64/1834-48). His family belonged to the Turkmen Bāyandor tribe and resided at Bījār, the administrative center of Garrūs. Fāżel Khan was the title bestowed upon him by Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah (Āryanpūr, I, pp. 54-55; Bāmdād, Rejāl III, p. 50).
After his father’s death in 1214/1799-80, he left Garrūs to pursue his studies, eventually going to Tehran to seek justice for the wrongs done by the governor of Garrūs. In Tehran his literary talent, beautiful calligraphy, and particularly his retentive memory attracted the attention of Fatḥ-ʿAlī Khan Ṣabā, the court’s poet laureate (malek-al-šoʿaraʾ), who presented him to the court. There he was employed as a royal page and was assigned to Ṣabā to supervise his education. He was eventually appointed the official reciter (rāwī) of panegyrics (hence his pen name rāwī) as well as in charge of the army review (amīr-e ʿarż-e sepāh; Maḥmūd Mīrzā Qājār, p. 464; Reżwānī, 1976, p. 214).
In 1235/1819-20 he was made the chief herald (jārčī-bāšī) at court. In the same year he was sent to Hamadān to collect two thousand tomans in fines from two leading Neʿmat-Allāhī Sufis, Moḥammad-Jaʿfar Qarāgūzlū and Āqā Sayyed Ḥasan Hamadānī (instead of relying on prince Moḥammad-Reżā Mīrzā, the governor of Gīlān, whowas suspected of having Sufi tendencies; Hedāyat, Rawżat al-ṣafā IX, p. 582; Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, pp. 1545-46; Sepehr, p. 188).
In summer 1829 Fāżel Khan was sent in the entourage of Prince Ḵosrow Qājār’s mission to Russia for the purpose of offering official apologies for the murder of Alexander S. Griboïedov (q.v.), Russian minister at Tehran. During this trip he met Alexander Pushkin, who accompanied the Russian army under General Paskovich in the Caucasus on its way to war with the Ottomans. Pushkin, who had requested to meet the Persian poet, recorded in his travelogue the account of this encounter with Fāżel Khan and composed a poem in the memory of their meeting (Nafīsī, pp. 494-95; Āryanpūr, I, p. 55). The claim that Pushkin had met with the poet Mollā Fatḥ-Allāh known as Fāżel Khan, who had been director of two schools in Tbilisi (Āryanpūr, I, pp. 54-55), cannot be corroborated by Pushkin’s notes. That it was Garrūsī whom Pushkin met is corroborated by Ḵosrow Mīrzā’s travelogue, who records Ḏu’l-ḥejja 1244/1829 as the date of passage through Qāżī Beg, which corresponds to the date and place of the meeting (Afšār, p. 165).
Garrūsī was a poet, but his style in prose and correspondence was distinguished in his time and had as many admirers as the famous Monšaʾāt of Qāʾem-Maqām Farahānī, who considered him a fine stylist (Qāʾem-Maqām, letters nos. 5 and 131). One of the excellent examples of his writings is the letter he wrote to Āqā Khan Maḥallātī (q.v.), soliciting his help to pay a debt (Bahār, III, pp. 333-39; Yaḡmā 6, 1332 Š./1953, pp. 295-97).
Garrūsī’s extant works include the collection of his letters (preserved at the Tabrīz Public Library; Reżwānī, 1976, p. 216) and Taḏkara-ye anjoman-e Ḵāqān (comp. 1234/1818-19), comprising an introduction, four chapters (anjoman) on the biographies of Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah, Qajar princes, and panegyrists at the court of Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah, with samples of their poetry. It also has an epilogue on the author’s own biography. A very fine manuscript copied in 1236/1820-21 belongs to the library of Madrasa-ye ʿālī-e Sepahsālār in Tehran (Golčīn-e Maʿānī, pp. 60-67). A poet himself, Fāżel Khan adulated Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah by not only praising the panegyrists at his court, but also preferring Ṣabā’s Šāhanšāh-nāma to Ferdowsī’s Šāh-nāma, a poor exaggeration of its merits that earned sarcastic remarks from ʿAlīqolī Mīrzā Eʿteżād-al-Salṭana (p. 253).
Bibliography (for cited works not given in detail, see “Short References”):
Moṣṭafā Khan Afšār, Safar-nāma-ye Ḵosrow Mīrzā, ed. M. Golbon, Tehran, 1349 Š./1970, p. 165.
Y. Āryanpūr, “Fāżel Khan wa Pūškīn,” Yaḡmā 19, 1345 Š./1966, pp. 108-9.
Idem, Az Ṣabā tā Nīmā I, pp. 54-58.
Bahār, Sabk-šenāsī, 3 vols., Tehran, 1337 Š./1958.
ʿA. Eqbāl Āštīānī, “Anjoman-e Ḵāqān, nosḵa-ye Ketāb-ḵāna-ye salṭanatī,” Našrīya-ye nosḵahā-ye ḵaṭṭī-e Ketāb-ḵāna-ye markazī I, Tehran, 1340 Š./1961, p. 159.
ʿEtemād-al-Salṭana, Montaẓam-e nāṣerī, ed. Reżwānī, p. 1672.
ʿAlīqolī Mīrzā Eʿteżād-al-Salṭana, Eksīr al-tāwārīkò, ed. J. Kayānfar, Tehran, 1370 Š./1991.
Hedāyat, Rawżat al-ṣafā IX, p. 582; X, pp. 131-32, 369.
Idem, Majmaʿ al-foṣaḥā, ed. M. Moṣaffā, Tehran, 1339 Š./1960, IV, p. 319.
M.-R. Kalhor, ed., Maḵzan al-enšāʾ, Tehran, 1285/1868, pp. 431-37.
Mīrzā Maḥmūd Qājār, Safīnat al-Maḥmūd, ed. ʿA.-R. Ḵayyāmpūr, Tabrīz, 1346 Š./1967, pp. 463-65.
S. Nafīsī, “Pūškīn wa Fāżel Ḵān Garrūsī,” Yaḡmā 11, 1337 Š./1958, pp. 494-98.
Abu’l-Qāsem Qāʾem-maqām Farahānī, Monšaʾāt-e Qāʾm-Maqām, ed. B. Yaḡmāʾī, Tehran, 1366 Š./1987.
M.-E. Reżwānī, “Qāʾem-Maqām wa Fāżel Khan Garrūsī,” Barrasīhā-ye tārīḵī 11/4, 1355 Š./1976, pp. 205-20.
Idem, ed., “Nemūna-ye ḵaṭṭ-e Fāżel Khan Garrūsī,” Barrasīhā-ye tārīḵī 3/5, 1347 Š./1968, pp. 309-13.
E. Ṣafāʾī, “Fāżel Ḵān Garrūsī,” Armaḡān 26, 1336 Š./1957, pp. 273-78.
Moḥammad-Taqī Sepehr, Nāseḵ al-tawārīkò, ed. J. Qāʾem-maqāmī, Tehran, 1337 Š./1958, pp. 188-89.
Storey, I, pp. 886-87, 1337.
Originally Published: December 15, 1999
Last Updated: January 24, 2012
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