FEṬRAT ZARDŪZ SAMARQANDĪ, SAYYED (also, mistakenly, Saʿīd; Miklukho-Maklaĭ, No. 2825) KAMĀL (b. about 1070/1660 in the Zardūzān quarter of Samarkand; d. after 1110/1699, probably in Bukhara), Tajik poet. Little is known about his life. Our main source on his biography is Malīḥā Samarqandī, according to whom (fol. 93b) Feṭrat was born into the family of a gold-thread embroiderer (hence his designation Zardūz). In 1098/1687 he went to Bukhara to study and got married there (Malīḥā, fol. 94a). Two years later, in 1100/1688-89, when Malīḥā approached him for biographical data, Feṭrat was already a father. There is no reliable information about Feṭrat’s life after the period covered by Malīḥā’s taḏkera. There are various expressions in Malīḥā’s taḏkera and Feṭrat’s own work which hint at his adherence to the Naqšbandīya ṭarīqa of Sufism. Malīḥa’s mention (fol. 94a) of Feṭrat’s attention to “solving the subtle essences (nokāt) of Šabestān and moʿammā” shows that the poet, while relatively young at the time he met Malīḥa, had already been regarded as an expert both in the Šabestān of Fattāḥī (q.v.), a work held in great esteem by Central Asian literati, and in usolving moʿammās (riddles), a skill highly valued by them since its cultivation in the literary circles of Herat in the 15th century.
Feṭrat owes his place in Tajik poetry to a short allegorical maṯnawī (986 distiches in the Solaymānī edition) in the hazaj-e mosaddas-e maḥḏūf or maqṣūr meter, which was written, as indicated in its chronogram, in 1109/1697-98 (ed. Solaymānī, p. 65, v.930). The poet himself entitled his work (Qeṣṣa-ye) kāḏor-pesar (Story of the washer-boy; ibid., p. 22, v. 206; for the spelling variants gāzor-pesar and gāḏor-pesar, see Mirzoev and Zand, p. 61 and the Soleymānī ed., passim). However, in the Central Asian literary tradition it is known as Ṭāleb o Maṭlūb (lit., “seeker and sought”), after the names of the two main characters—a poor washer-boy and a princess. Ṭāleb falls in love with Maṭlūb without ever seeing her. His mother brings home dresses from Maṭlūb’s palace for laundering. While washing the princess’ clothes, Ṭāleb feels that his love for her is growing more and more. Maṭlūb, too, after receiving her neatly-laundered, sweet-smelling dresses, gradually develops a longing for the person who washes them. She asks Ṭāleb’s mother who he is and also falls in love with the washer-boy. Brought by his mother into the garden of Maṭlūb’s palace, Ṭāleb is overwhelmed by passion, dies, and is buried there. Maṭlūb, who leaves the palace for a walk in the garden, disappears and is later found together with Ṭāleb, in his grave, which becomes their common grave. Thus, metaphorically, the seeker of the divine truth is united with object he seeks.
The plot of the poem has not yet been traced back to any known source; the assertion that it originated in folklore (Mirzozoda, p. 23) seems to lack any sound foundation. The lucid style of the poem, the author’s mastery in building the plot, depicting the dramatis personae, and using tropes, seem to justify Malīḥā’s remark that “his poetry is superior (momtāz) to the poetry of the rest of the poets” (fol. 94a). The language of the poem contains few lexical Tajikisms.
Feṭrat explictly states (ed. Solaymānī, p. 20, vv. 173-77) that before composing his maṯnawī he had mastered such poetical genres as the qaṣīda, ḡazal, robāʿī, and šahrāšūb (then very popular in Central Asia) as well as prose. Malīḥā gives nine specimens (one to three distiches long) of Feṭrat’s lyrical poems, all of which seem to be excerpts from ḡazals (fol. 93a-b), and a prose satire interspersed with verses (fols. 94a-95b). Various Central Asian miscellany manuscripts contain ḡazals with the pen-name Feṭrat (see, e.g., Yunusov, p. 114, no. 74/13). However, one has to be cautious in attributing to Feṭrat Zardūz ḡazals with this pen-name; some of them may belong to his contemporary, the Indian poet of Persian origin Mīr Moʿezz-al-Dīn Moḥammad Feṭrat Mūsawī (b. Qom; d. 1106/1697-98), who was quite popular in Central Asia, as attested by the presence of three copies of his dīvān in the Tashkent mss. collection (Semyonov, II, nos. 1028, 1466; VI, no. 4587), or, if the miscellanies are from the late 19th-early 20th centuries, to Mollā Qorbān Khan Feṭrat Vardānzehī Boḵārāʾī (d. 1305/1888) or Loṭf-Allāh Ḵᵛāja Feṭrat Darvāzī.
Bibliography (for cited works not given in detail, see “Short References”):
Feṭrat’s matnawī has been published in full twice: as Ṭāleb o Maṭlūb, Tashkent, 1334/1916 (lithograph in Perso-Arabic alphabet, together with ʿOrfī’s Ḵosrow o Šīrīn and the anonymous but very popular collection of riddles attributed to a certain Mollā Ḡażanfar, Az ṣad bāb-e Mollā Ḡażanfar) and as Gāḏor-pesar, ed. L. Solaymānī, Dushanbe, 1988 (with comments on the mss., pp. 5-6). It has also been published twice without the introductory 179 bayts and in the Cyrillic Tajik alphabet: by L. Solaymānī and A. Devonaqulov as “Kozurpisar,” Sadoi Šarq 10, 1966, pp. 113-35 and in Q. Kirom, ed., Gulšani adab (Golšan-e adab) IV, Dushanbe, 1977, pp. 309-37.
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J. Bečka, “Tajik Literature from the 16th Century to the Present,” in Rypka, Hist. Iran. Lit., pp. 483–605.
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Moḥammad-Badīʿ Malīḥā Samarqandī, Moḏakker al-aṣḥāb, MS Dushanbe, Tajik Academy of Sciences, no. 610, fols. 93b-98a.
N. D. Miklukho-Maklaĭ, ed., Persidskie i tadzhikskie rukopisi Instituta narodov Azii AN SSSR: kratkiĭ alfavitnyĭ katalog (Persian and Tajik manuscripts of the Institute of the Peoples of Asia, USSR Academy of Sciences: a short alphabetical catalogue), pt. 1, Moscow, 1964.
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Idem and M. I. Zand, eds., Katalog vostochnykh rukopiseĭ Akademii nauk Tadzhikskoĭ SSR (Catalogue of oriental manuscripts of the Academy of sciences of the Tajik SSR) IV, Dushanbe, 1970, no. 1233.
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A. Yunusov, Fehrasti dastnavishoi tojiki-forsii Kitobḵonai davlatii RSS Tojikiston ba nomi Abulqosimi Firdavsi (Fehrest-e dast-nevīshā-ye tājīkī-fārsī-e ketāb-kāna-ye dawlatī-e RSS Tājīkestāņ) I, Dushnabe, 1971.
Originally Published: December 15, 1999
Last Updated: January 26, 2012
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Vol. IX, Fasc. 6, pp. 567-569