ḤĀTEM-NĀMA, a popular prose romance by an unknown author, consisting of the imaginary adventures of Ḥātem (coll. Ḥātam) Ṭāʾi, the pre-Islamic Arab noble, renowned for his   boundless generosity and graceful hospitality.  Being very popular during the 17th and 18th centuries in the Indian subcontinent, numerous manuscripts of this narration have remained to the present time, of which the oldest one, named Haft sayr-e ḥātemi, dating back to the 16th century, is kept at the Karachi National Museum Library.

A lithographed edition of Qeṣṣa-ye Ḥātem Ṭāʾi was first published in Calcutta in 1818 under the supervision of James A. Atkinson and republished later several times in India.  The latest edition of Ḥātem-nāma in Iran, edited by Ḥosayn Esmāʿili, was published in 2008 in two versions: Haft sayr (Seven journeys) and Haft enṣāf (Seven judgements).  In Haft sayr, Ḥātem, prince of Yemen, meets Monir, prince of Šām, who has fallen in love with a merchant’s daughter called Ḥosn Bānu, known for her beauty and intelligence.  In order to examine her suitors, Ḥosn Bānu asks them to solve seven mysteries.  Ḥātem accepts to travel in Monir’s place to help him discover the secrets.  Eventually, he succeeds in his adventures and convinces Ḥosn Bānu to marry Prince Monir.  Hātem himself rejoins his own beloved, princess Zarrinpuš, the daughter of Sām Aḥmar Jādu.  In Haft enṣāf, a sequel to the seven journeys, Ḥātem’s wife dies.  The nobles at his court encourage him to remarry Māria Dāhia, a smart, sage lady with her own specific seven mysteries as well as seven judgements for the suitors.  Ḥātem sets out on a long series of adventures, this time to reach his own beloved.  Semnāna, a talented monkey, accompanies him in his journeys. He succeeds eventually against all difficulties and marries Māria.

The story is also entitled Siāḥat-nāma, Mohemmāt-e Ḥātem Ṭāʾi, Sayr-e Ḥātem, Ḥātem wa Ḥosn Bānu, Ḥosn Bānu wa Monir Šāmi.  Oral versions are called Qeṣṣa-ye Ḥātem Ṭāʾi (Qeṣṣahā-ye Mašadi Galin Ḵānom, p. 119), Ḥātem berāh (Raḥmāniān, ed., pp. 21-27), Ḥātem wa Ṭāʾi (Ḵandān and Darvišiān, IV, p. 17), Ṭayy-e Lab-ṭelā (ibid., pp. 29-40).  Oral versions vary partially from the written.  For instance, in Ḥātem wa Ṭāʾi and Ṭayy-e Lab-ṭelā, Ḥātem’s beloved, for whom he ventures around the world, is called Ṭāʾi or Ṭayy.

Ḥātem-nāma has been translated into Urdu, Turkish, Tatar, Puthi (Bangla), Qazaq, Russian, and English.  Duncan Forbes, the translator of the text into English in 1830, recommended it for teaching Persian.

The dominating atmosphere in Ḥātem-nāma marked by respect towards nature, pacific tendencies, and Indian customs, as well as the narrative’s linguistic characteristics and prose style point to its formation in India.  It demonstrates a variety of structural forms borrowed from the Indian story-telling tradition, where a series of tales are narrated within the framework of a principal story.  The influence of other fictions, religious sources, and hagiographies is ostensible in Ḥātem-nāma, while the story itself has probably affected other narratives such as Amir Arslān (q.v.) and Čahār Darviš.




Edgar Blochet, Catalogue des Manuscrits Persans, Bibliothèque nationale, 4 vols., Paris, 1905-34, IV, p. 45, no. 2072. 

Edward G. Browne, A Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the Library of the University of Cambridge, Cambridge, 1896 p. 399, no. 319.  Idem, A Handlist of the Muhammadan Manuscripts in the Library of the University of Cambridge, Cambridge, 1900 p. 151, nos. 848, 849.  Idem, A Supplementary Handlist of the Muhammadan Manuscripts Preserved in the Libraries of the University and Colleges of Cambridge, Cambridge, 1922, no. 467

Hermann Ethé, Catalogue of Persian Manuscripts in the Library of the India Office, 2 vols., Oxford, 1903-37, I, pp. 518-19, nos. 780, 781, 782, 783.

Abul Barakat Muhammad Habibullah et. al., Descriptive Catalogue of the Persian, Urdu and Arabic Manuscripts in the Dacca University Library, 3 vols., Decca, 1966 I, pp. 45-46, nos. 54, 55.

Wladimir Ivanow, Concise Descriptive Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the Collection of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta, 1924, p. 133, nos. 308-9.  Idem, Concise Descriptive Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the Collection of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta, 1926, p. 108, no. 114.

Aḥmad Monzawi, Fehrest-e nosḵahā-ye ḵaṭṭi-e fārsi, 6 vols., Tehran, 1969-74, V, pp. 3674-75. 

Idem, Fehrest-e moštarak-e nosḵahā-ye ḵaṭṭi-e fārsi-e Pākestān, 13 vols., Islamabad, 1983-99, VI, pp. 1088-99.

Wilhelm Pertsch, Verzeichniss der persischen Handschriften Der Königlicllen Bibliothek zu Berlin, Berlin, 1888, p. 991, nos. 1037-38.

Charles Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 3 vols. and Supplement, London, 1876-95, II, p. 764, Add. 18,805.

Editions in chronological order.

Qeṣṣa-ye Ḥātem Ṭāʾi, ed. Diānat Allāh, Calcutta, 1818 (Lithographed).

Siāḥat-e Ḥātem, Bombay, 1879 (Lithographed), repr., Bombay, 1886, 1889.

Dāstān-e Širin-e Ḥātem Ṭāʾi wa doḵtar-e Barzaḵ-e Bāzargān, Tehran, n.d.

Kolliyāt-e Ḥātem Ṭāʾi, Tehran, n.d.

Siāḥat-e Ḥātem, ed. ʿAli Bahāʾi and Šaraf-ʿAli, Bombay, 1906, repr., 1970.

Ḥātem-nāma, ed. Ḥosayn Esmāʿili,  2 vols, Tehran, 2008.

Translations and studies.

Arthur Christensen, Les types du premier homme et du premier roi dans l’histoire légendaire des Iraniens, 2 vols, Leiden, 1934.

Dāstān-e Ḥātem Ṭāʾi, Istanbul, 1856 (Turk. tr.).

Dorothy Ensor, tr., The Adventures of Hatim Tai, New York, 1962.

Duncan Forbes, tr., The Adventures of Hatim Taï: A Romance, 1830.

Garcin De Tassy, “The Adventures of Hatim Taï, etc. translated by Duncan Forbes, A. M., In. 4° de xi, 214, printed for Fonds des traductions orientales, Londres, 1830,” Bulletin des sciences historiques, antiquités, philologie 14, Paris, 1830, pp. 402-5.

Gulchin, “The Adventures of Hatim Taï,” The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British India and Its Dependencies,” N.S. 2, London, 1830, London, pp. 66-69.

Jean Chrétien Ferdinand Hoefer, Nouvelle biographie générale depuis les temps les plus reculés jusqu’à nos jours, avec les renseignements bibliographiques et l’indication des sources à consulter, Paris, 1860.

Reżā Ḵandān and ʿAli-Ašraf Darvišiān, Farhang-e afsānahā-ye mardom-e Irān IV, Tehran, 2000.

Moḥammad-Jaʾfar Maḥjub, Adabiyāt-e ʿāmiāna-ye Irān: majmuʿa-ye maqālāt dar bāra-ye afsānahā wa adab wa rosum-e mardom-i Irān, Tehran, 2003.

Qeṣṣahā-ye Mašadi Galin Ḵānum, Tehran, 1995.

Dāryuš Raḥmāniān, Afsānahā-ye lori, Tehran, 2000.

Charles Henry A. Scheffer, ed., Chrestomathie persane a l'usage des élèves de l'École spéciale des langues orientales vivantes, 2 vols., Paris, 1883-85.

Pegah Shahbaz, “Des éléments naratifs dans Hâtam-Nâma (The narrative elements in Ḥātem-nāma),” MA thesis, University of Strasbourg, 2008.

(Pegah Shahbaz)

Originally Published: January 1, 2000

Last Updated: September 16, 2011