FĪRŪZŠĀH-NĀMA, pre-Safavid prose romance. The hero is Fīrūzšāh, son of Dārāb of the Kayanid house. The earliest surviving version was related by the story–teller Mawlānā Shaikh Ḥājī Moḥammad b. Shaikh Aḥmad b. Mawlānā ʿAlī b. Ḥājī Moḥammad Ṭāherī (or Ṭāmerī), known as Bīḡamī (q.v.). The original text probably consisted of five volumes, of which three survive. Volumes I and II (MS Istanbul, Topkapı Saray, Revan Köşk 1517) were written down in Tabrīz in the late 9th/15th century by Maḥmūd Daftarḵᵛān. Volume IV was copied in 1201/1787 (MS Uppsala, University Library 555; Zetterstéen, no. 418). Vols. I and II have been edited by Ḏabīḥ–Allāh Ṣafā as Dārāb-nāma—the title given on the manuscripts although it would more properly be Fīrūzšāh-nāma to avoid confusion with another work of that name by Ṭarsūsī (Bīgamī, I, p. 11; see also DĀRĀB-NĀMA).
The story tells of Fīrūzšāh’s love for the Yemeni princess ʿAyn–al–Ḥayāt and of the many trials that each undergoes before their final union. Parallel to the tale of Fīrūzšāh is that of Moẓaffaršāh, a Persian hero from the Sīstān dynasty, and his beloved Tūrān-doḵt. The plot is typical of popular romances, in which the heroes and heroines suffer frequent peripeteias; undertake long sea and land journeys; survive encounters with sorcerers, dīvs, jinns, and peris; and have their physical and moral courage severely tested. Important to the progress of the plot are the ʿayyārs, friendly and hostile, who perform amazing feats of technical skill in kidnapping or rescuing important characters, infiltrating enemy fortresses, acting as spies, and the like. The heroes and heroines begin their adventures in their youth, and when they are finally united they have matured to responsible adults and are ready to assume their destined roles as rulers. Enemies represent all the opposite qualities: tyranny, deceit, cowardice, mendaciousness, cruelty, and greed. While the story is narrated in prose, it contains many sections of verse in motaqāreb meter that are not merely embellishments but actually advance the plot. This suggests that a versified version of the story existed and was known to Bīḡamī. Other verses by Ferdowsī, Neẓāmī, Saʿdī, Awḥadī Marāḡaʾī, and Ḥāfeẓ (qq.v.) give a terminus ad quem for the writing down of the text. The tale was translated into Turkish (Kašf al-ẓonūn, ed. Yaltkaya and Bilge, II, p. 768, col. 1328) in the time of Sultan Selim (r. 918-26/1512-20). A complete Arabic translation exists (Qeṣṣat Fayrūzšāh b. al-malek Dārāb, ed. N. Qalfa, 4 vols., Beirut, ca. 1904) and Ṣafā mentions a 4-volume edition printed in Egypt in 1366/1947 (vol. II, p. 765 of his edition).
Mawlānā Moḥammad Bīḡamī, Dārāb-nāma, ed. Ḏ. Ṣafā, 2 vols., Tehran, 1339–41 Š./1960–63; partial tr. W. L. Hanaway as Love and War: Adventures from the Firuz Shah Nama, Delmar, N.Y., 1974.
W. L. Hanaway, “Persian Popular Romances before the Safavid Period,” Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, New York, 1970.
M. C. Lyons, The Arabian Epic: Heroic and Oral Storytelling, 3 vols., Cambridge, 1995.
M.-J. Maḥjūb, “Aždahā koštan-e malek Bahman-e Ṣāḥeb-Qerān pesar-e Fīrūzšāh,” Īrān-šenāsī 3, 1991, pp. 286-311.
Idem., “Jeld-e sevvom-e dāstān-e Fīrūzšāh,” Īrān-šenāsī 3, 1991, pp. 41-54.
K. V. Zetterstéen, Die arabischen, persischen und türkischen Handschriften der Universitätsbibliothek zu Uppsala, 2 vols., Uppsala, 1930-35.
(William L. Hanaway)
Originally Published: December 15, 1999
Last Updated: January 26, 2012
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