(d. 1430), author of many historical and historico-geographical works in Persian, which were commissioned by Šāhroḵ, the Timurid ruler of Herat during the first decades of the 15th century.


ḤĀFEẒ-E ABRU, Timurid historian known by this laqab, whose full name was ʿAbd-Allāh (or Nur-Allāh) b. Loṭf-Allāh b. ʿAbd-al-Rašid Behdādini (also Ḵᵛāfi or Haravi; d. Šawwāl 833/June 1430). He was the author of many historical and historico-geographical works in Persian, which were commissioned by Šāhroḵ, the Timurid ruler of Herat during the first decades of the 15th century, and he remains the earliest Timurid historian from eastern Persia whose works have survived. Born in Khorasan but educated in Hamadān, Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru became a member of Timur’s retinue in the 1380s and regularly attended court gatherings of learned men and literati, where he became renowned as a chess player. He accompanied Timur on several of his campaigns, and after the latter’s death entered the service of his son Šāhroḵ, to whose court he was attached for the remainder of his life. His role at court, at least under Timur, seems to have been as a boon companion (nadim) rather than a functionary, though he apparently did serve for a short time as a government official in Ḥawiza (Lambton, p. 1, n. 2). He was buried in Zanjān (Faṣiḥ-e Ḵᵛāfi, III, p. 266; Samarqandi, pp. 576-77; Ḵᵛāndamir, IV, p. 8; Tauer, 1971, p. 57; Woods, p. 96).

The complex chronology of the known works of Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, as established by Felix Tauer, is as follows:

1. Ḏayl-e Jāmeʿ al-tawāriḵ, an anonymous continuation of Rašid-al-Din’s famous universal history, from 703/1304 up to 736/1335 (the reigns of Öljeitü and Abu Saʿid), commissioned by Šāhroḵ (Tauer, 1971, p. 57; Woods, p. 96; Storey-Bregel, I, pp. 342-44). This work follows the pattern of its model, treating each ruler in three sections. It is based on Jamāl-al-Din Kāšāni’s history of Öljeitü, relying on Ḥamd-Allāh Mostawfi’s Ẓafar-nāma for events in western Persia and Sayf b. Moḥammad Haravi’s Tāriḵ-nāma-ye Herāt for Khorasan, but it also contains a considerable amount of information not found elsewhere and not included in his later and longer continuation of Rašid-al-Din’s work (see no. 5 below). Baron Constantin D’Ohsson made use of this work in his four-volume Histoire des Mongols (The Hague, 1834-35; Melville, pp. 7-8). The text itself has not been edited.

2. Ḏayl-e Ẓafar-nāma-ye Šāmi, a continuation of Neẓām-al-Din Šāmi’s biography of Timur from 806/1404 up until Timur’s death in 807/1405, which was completed in 814/1412 on the order of Šāhroḵ (Tauer, 1971, p. 57; Woods, p. 96; Storey-Bregel, I, pp. 344-45). Editions: Felix Tauer, “Continuation du Ẓafarnāma de Niẓāmuddin Šāmī par Ḥāfiẓ-i Abrū. Editée d’après les manuscrits de Stamboul,” Archiv Orientální 6, 1934, pp. 429-65; repr. with a preface by B. Karimi, Tehran, 1328 Š./1949.

3. Tāriḵ-e Šāhroḵ(i), a history of the reign of Šāhroḵ to the year 816/1413-14 which was incorporated into Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru’s later compilations, the Majmuʿa and Zobdat al-tawāriḵ-e Bāysonḡori (Woods, p. 96; Tauer, 1971, p. 57; Storey-Bregel, I, p. 344).

4. Tāriḵ-e Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru (more commonly referred to as Joḡrāfiā-ye Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru), a universal historico-geographical work commissioned by Šāhroḵ in 817/1414 (ed. Sajjādi, p. 52; see below). It was originally intended as a translation of an Arabic geography, the precise identification of which is disputed, supplemented by other written sources, of which Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru himself names Ebn Ḵordāḏbeh’s (q.v.) Masālek al-mamālek (almost certainly intending the work of that name by Estaḵri, q.v.) and the Ṣowar al-aqālim of a certain Moḥammad b. Yaḥyā (see ed. Sajjādi, intro., pp. 22-33; text, pp. 49-50). Significantly, he does not name the Nozhat al-qolub of Ḥamd-Allāh Mostawfi (q.v.) among his sources, either for the text or for his world map. Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru’s map, which is found in the British Library manuscript of the Joḡrāfiā (Ms. 1577), represents the Balḵi school of cartography, and has a longitude-latitude grid of five-degree squares, one of the earliest extant examples (see Harley and Woodward, eds., esp. pp. 149-50, 170, 390). His Joḡrāfiā represents a departure from its Arabic (and Persian) models, as it contains long excurses on the history of such regions of Persia as Fars, Kerman, and Khorasan, and is thus an important source of historical as well as geographical information (hence its alternative title; Krawulsky, I, pp. 13-17; Tauer, 1971, p. 57; Bartol’d, pp. 76-77; Storey, II/2, pp. 132-33, no. 192). It is not entirely clear to what extent it remained a separate project, for in another of the numerous introductory sections (ed. Sajjādi, p. 71) the author gives the year 820/1417-18 as the date of commission, which he refers to in the same terms as in his introduction to the Majmuʿa (see no. 5 below), informing of Šāhroḵ’s desire for a historical work that builds on the earlier chronicles of Balʿami (see AMĪRAK BALʿAMĪ) and Rašid-al-Din. The two proj-ects must anyway have been undertaken at the same time, the first volume (containing a physical geography and description of the lands from Fars in the West to Kerman in the East) being written in 820-21/1417-19, and the second (containing a description and history of Khorasan and Transoxiana) continuing until approximately 823/1420. Other introductory sections reveal the author’s views on history (published separately in Tauer, 1963) and on kingship (see Lambton, esp. pp. 3-8). His own interest in geography lay in identifying the characteristics and locations of the different countries of the world (p. 47), and significantly he states the importance of dating his descriptions in order to make it possible to identify subsequent changes (p. 52). Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru’s extensive travels, which encompass virtually the whole eastern Islamic world (pp. 49-50), made him particularly well qualified to prepare this work. Editions and translations: Joḡrāfiā-ye Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, qesmat-e robʿ-e Ḵorā-sān: Herāt, ed. R. Māyel Heravi, Tehran, 1349 Š./1970 (incomplete edition of the geographical section on Khorasan). D. Krawulsky, ed. and tr., Ḫorāsān zur Timuridenzeit nach dem Tārīḫ-e Ḥāfeẓ-e Abrū (verf. 817-823 h.), 2 vols., Wiesbaden, 1982-84 (complete critical edition and German translation of the section on Khorasan). Joḡrāfiā-ye Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru I, ed. S. Sajjādi, Tehran, 1375 Š./1997 (critical edition of the first part of volume one, including Arabia, the Maghreb, Spain, Egypt, and Syria). Translations of excerpts from the section on Transoxiana as far as 795/1393 are found in Bartol’d, pp. 83-93 (see Melville, p. 4).

5. Majmuʿa-ye Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, a compiled universal history commissioned by Šāhroḵ in 820/1417-18, incorporating the following earlier works: (a) Balʿami’s translation of Ṭabari’s Taʾriḵ, with a continuation by Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru as far as the year 656/1258; unedited. (b) Rašid-al-Din’s Jāmeʿ al-tawāriḵ and its continuation by Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru (see no. 1 above), extended as far as the year 795/1393. The latter is based on various sources: Mostawfi’s Ẓafar-nāma for a shortened account of the reigns of Ḡāzān’s two successors up until 735/1334, Mostawfi’s prose continuation of his Ẓafar-nāma for the period until 744/1343, the continuation of the latter work by Mostawfi’s son Zayn-al-Din for the period extend-ing until the death of Shaikh Oways in 766/1374, and thereafter on this and other works until 795/1392 (see Melville, p. 4). His use of these sources remains to be analyzed critically. Editions and translations: Ḏayl-e Jāmeʿ al-tawāriḵ-e rašidi, pt. 1, ed. Ḵ. Bayāni, Tehran, 1317 Š./1938 (see also Felix Tauer’s extensive corrections to this edition: Tauer, 1952, 1953, 1954, and 1955; 2nd rev. ed., Ḵ. Bayāni, Tehran, 1350 Š./1972; Chronique des rois Mongols en Iran, pt. 2, tr. Ḵ. Bayāni, Paris, 1936 (partial French translation). (c) A history of the Kart dynasty of Herat (based mainly on Sayf b. Moḥammad Haravi’s Tāriḵ-nāma-ye Herāt), and four excurses on Ṭaḡāy Timur, Amir Wali, the Sarbadars, and Amir Arḡunšāh (ed. F. Tauer, 1959). (d) A history of the Mozaffarid dynasty, based mainly on Moʿin-al-Din Yazdi’s Mawāheb-e elāhi. (e) Neẓām-al-Din Šāmi’s Ẓa-far-nāma and its continuation by Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, Ḏayl-e Ẓafar-nāma-ye Šāmi (on which see no. 2 above). (f) A history of the reign of Šāhroḵ as far as the year 819/1416 (a second redaction of the Tāriḵ-e Šāhroḵ mentioned above; Storey-Bregel, I, pp. 344-45; Tauer, 1971, p. 57; Woods, p. 97).

6. Majmaʿ al-tawāriḵ [al-solṭāni(ya)], a universal history to the year 830/1426, written for Šāhroḵ’s son Bāysonḡor. The first three sections concern, respectively, the pre-Islamic prophets, Moḥammad and the caliphate and the dynasties contemporaneous with the Abbasids and the Mongols up to the death of Abu Saʿid (for a description of the contents, see Rieu, pp. 16-17, no. 27; ed. Zanjāni, pp. 9-11). This suggests that there is much duplication of the material already assembled in no. 5 above, and also probably of the introductory matter in the Joḡrāfiā. Edition: Majmaʿ al-tawāriḵ al-solṭānia: qesmat-e ḵolafā-ye ʿalawiya-ye Maḡreb wa Meṣr wa Nezāriān wa rafiqān, ed. M. M. Zanjāni, Tehran, 1364 Š./1985 (partial edition of the section on the Ismaʿilis with parallel texts of the corresponding sections of Jamāl-al-Din Kāšāni’s Zobdat al-tawāriḵ and Rašid-al-Din’s Jāmeʿ al-tawāriḵ). The fourth part, entitled Zobdat al-tawāriḵ-e Bāysonḡori, is the most valuable as an historical source. It contains a continuation of the history of Timur in the form of what is primarily a revised, expanded and chronologically-arranged version of the Ẓa-far-nāma-ye Šāmi, followed by Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru’s Ḏayl-e Ẓafar-nāma-ye Šāmi (supplemented with information from Naṭanzi’s Montaḵab al-tawāriḵ-e moʿini, as well as, probably, the lost Fotuḥāt-e mirānšāhi by Saʿd-Allāh Kermāni) and a continuation of the Tāriḵ-e Šāhroḵ(i) as far as the year 830/1427 (thus representing a third redaction of this work). The Majmaʿ is a source of major importance for the reign of Timur and the first half of the reign of Šāhroḵ. The Zobdat al-tawārikò served as a primary source for many later works, starting with ʿAbd-al-Razzāq Samarqandi’s Maṭlaʿ-e saʿdayn (Tauer, 1956; Tauer, 1971, p. 58; Woods, pp. 97-99; Storey-Bregel, I, pp. 346-49). Editions and translations: Histoire des con-quêtes de Tamerlan intitulée Ẓafarnāma, avec des additions empruntées au Zubdatu-t-tawārīḫ-i Bāysunġurī de Ḥāfiẓ-i Abrū, ed. Felix Tauer, 2 vols., Prague, 1937-56.

Zobdat al-tawārik, ed. S. K. Ḥājj Sayyed Jawādi, 2 vols., Tehran, 1372 Š./1993.

K. M. Maitra, tr., A Persian Embassy to China, Being an Extract from Zubdatu’t Tawarikh of Hafiz Abru, Lahore, 1934; repr., New York, 1970.

Despite the pioneering work of Felix Tauer, much remains to be studied regarding Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru’s use of sources, the full extent of his own contribution to the compilations he produced (cf. Zanjāni’s partial edition of the Majmaʿ, and Daftary, p. 96) and the evolution of the texts through their various recensions. His wide-ranging and voluminous corpus of works influenced considerably the compilations of later historians of the Timurid period.


Bibliography (editions and translations of Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru’s own works are included in the text):

V. V. Bartol’d, “Khafiz-i Abru i ego sochineniia,” in his Sochineniia, 10 vols., Moscow, 1963-77, VIII, pp. 74-97.

Farhad Daftary, “Persian Historiography of the Early Nizāri Ismāʿīlīs,” Iran 30, 1992, pp. 91-97.

Baron Constantin D’Ohsson, ed. and tr., Histoire des Mongols depuis Tchinguiz-Khan jusqu’à Timour Bey ou Tamerlan, 4 vols., The Hague, 1834-35.

J. B. Harley and D. Woodward, eds., The History of Cartography II/1: Cartography in the Traditional Islamic and South Asian Societies, Chicago and London, 1992.

Faṣiḥ-e Ḵᵛāfi, Mojmal-e faṣiḥi, ed. M. Farroḵ, Mašhad, 1339-41 Š./1961-63, III, p. 266.

Ḵᵛāndamir, Ḥabib al-siār, Tehran, 1954, IV, p. 8.

A. K. S. Lambton, “Early Timurid Theories of State: Ḥāfiẓ Abrū and Niẓām-al-Dīn Šāmī,” Bulletin d’Études Orientales 30, 1978, pp. 1-9.

Charles Melville, “Ḥamd Allāh Mustawfī’s Ẓafar-nāmah and the Historiography of the Late Ilkhanid Period,” in Kambiz Eslami, ed., Iran and Iranian Studies: Essays in Honor of Iraj Afshar, Princeton, 1998, pp. 1-12.

Rieu, Persian manuscripts, Supplement, pp. 16-17, no. 27.

Rypka, Hist. Iran. Lit., pp. 440 and 460-61.

ʿAbd-al-Razzāq Samarqandi, Maṭlaʿ-e saʿdayn, ed. M. Šafiʿ, Lahore, 1360-68/1941-49, pp. 576-77.

Storey, I/1, pp. 86-89, I/2, pp. 1235-36.

Storey-Bregel, I, pp. 341-49.

Felix Tauer, “Vorbericht über die Edition des Ẓafarnāma von Niẓām Šāmī und der wichtigsten Teile der Geschichtswerke Ḥāfiẓ-i Abrū’s,” Archiv Orientální 4, 1932, pp. 250-56.

Idem, “Continuation du Ẓafarnāma de Niẓāmuddin Šāmī par Ḥāfiẓ-i Abrū. Editée d’après les manuscrits de Stamboul,” Archiv Orientální 6, 1934, pp. 429-65; repr. with a preface by B. Karimi, Tehran, 1328 Š./1949.

Idem, “Le Ẕail-i Ğāmiʿu-t-Tawāriḫ-i Rašidi de Ḥāfiẓ-i Abru et son édition par K. Bayani,” Archiv Orientální 20, 1952, pp. 39-52; 21, 1953, pp. 206-17; 22, 1954, pp. 88-98, 531-43; and 23, 1955, pp. 99-108.

Idem, “Analyse des matières de la première moitié du Zubdatu-t-tawārīḫ de Ḥāfiẓ-i Abrū,” in idem et al., eds., Charisteria Orientalia, Prague, 1956, pp. 345-73.

Idem, “Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Geschichtswerke Ḥāfiẓ-i Abrūs,” Bibliotheca Orientalis 15, 1958, pp. 146-48.

Idem, ed., Cinq opuscules de Ḥāfiẓ-i Abrū concernant l’histoire de l’Iran au temps de Tamerlan, Prague, 1959.

Idem, “Ḥâfiẓi Abrû sur l’historiographie,” in Mélanges d’orientalisme offerts à Henri Massé, Tehran, 1963, pp. 10-25.

Idem, “Timurlar devrinde tarihçilik,” Belleten 29, 1965, pp. 49-69.

Idem, “Ḥāfiẓ-i Abrū,” EI2 III, pp. 57-58.

J. E. Woods, “The Rise of Tīmūrid Historiography,” JNES 46/2, 1987, pp. 81-108.

(Maria Eva Subtelny and Charles Melville)

Originally Published: December 15, 2002

Last Updated: March 1, 2012

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Vol. XI, Fasc. 5, pp. 507-509