ʿABDĪ BOḴĀRĀʾĪ, ʿABDALLĀH ḴᵛĀJA, (d. 1340/1921-22), Tajik taḏkeranevīs (biographer) and poet. He was born in Bokhara to the family of a modarres (madrasa instructor) in the late 1270s/early 1860s. In one of his qaṣīdas he claims to descend from the Samanids (Afżal Maḵdūm Pīrmastī, Afżal al-teḏkār fī ḏekr al-šoʿarāʾ wa’l-ašʿār, Tashkent, 1336/1917-18, p. 98), a claim neither confirmed nor refuted in contemporary sources. According to the data given in his Taḏkerat al-šoʿarāʾ-ye motaʾaḵḵerīn-e Boḵārā (MS no. 64 of the Collection of Oriental MSS of the Uzbek SSR Academy of Sciences, fols. 134b-35b), he spent his childhood and youth in various outlying regions of the Bokharan emirate, where his father was a qāżī and official for the enforcement of religious and economic regulations (raʾīs). Upon returning to Bokhara at the age of twenty, he became a mollābačča (madrasa student). In the late 1310s/early 1900s he was appointed modarres of a minor Bokharan madrasa, Kahband-ḵorsand, and held this post for two years. According to a note of Żīāʾ (q.v.) he was for some time, evidently in the late 1320s or early 1330s/early 1910s, a qāżī in an outlying region of the Čārǰōy velāyat (district) of the Bokharan emirate (Ḥāǰǰī Neʿmatallāh Moḥtaram, Taḏkera al-šoʿarāʾ, MS no. 2252/II of the Collection of Oriental MSS of the Uzbek SSR Academy of Sciences, fol. 135b, margins). He died in Bokhara in 1340/1922.

Of his main work, the above-mentioned taḏkera, only two MSS are known. One of them, mentioned above, is ʿAbdī’s autograph (See A. A. Semyonov, ed., Sobranie vostochnykh rukopiseĭ Akademii Nauk Uzbekskoĭ SSR I, Tashkent, 1952, no. 142); the second, now in the Collection of Oriental MSS of the Tajik Academy of Sciences, is a copy of the latter, written in the 1350s/1930s (see A. M. Mirzoev and A. N. Boldyrev, eds., Katalog vostochnykh rukopiseĭ Akademii Nauk Tadzhikskoĭ SSR II, Dushanbe, 1968, no. 134).

The taḏkera was compiled in 1322/1905. ʿAbdī began to compile it before Afżal ended (in 1322/1904-05) his Afżal al-teḏkār, and finished its composition in three months (see ʿAbdī, Taḏkera, fol. 184b). The introduction (moqaddema) is divided into three sections (amr). The first amr deals with the origin of poetry (šeʿr), the meaning of the term šāʿer (poet), the place of the šāʿer in the society, and the meaning of the terms qāżī, moḥtaseb, moftī, modarres, ʿālem, and motaʿallem, since all who are mentioned in the taḏkera fall under one of these titles. The second amr deals mainly with the nobility of the descendants of Moḥammad. The third amr is dedicated to the nobility of the author himself as a ḵᵛāǰa, his erudition, and his excellence as poet and man of learning.

The main body of the taḏkera contains short and sometimes rather vague biographical data on, and specimens of poetry of, 111 Tajik (mainly Bokharan) poets of the second half of the 13th/19th century to the beginning of the 14th/20th century, along with short appraisals of the quality of the poetry of each one. The poets are given in alphabetical order, so the main body of the taḏkera is divided into twenty-eight chapters (maqṣad), each dedicated to poets whose pen names (taḵalloṣ) begin with a particular letter of the Arabic/Persian alphabet. The style of the author is lofty, even bombastic, and the appraisals of poets, even of the minor ones, are usually high and flattering. The taḏkera is one of the main sources of our knowledge of the Tajik poetry (especially in Bokhara) during the period to which it is dedicated.

ʿAbdī apparently never collected his poetry into a dīvān. Some of it was collected from his taḏkera and those of Afżal and Moḥtaram in the 1960s (see A. Mirzoev and M. Zand, eds., Katalog vostochnykh rukopiseĭ Akademii Nauk Tadzhikskoĭ SSR IV, Dushanbe, 1970, no. 1473). In these poems ʿAbdī displays fair technical ability and mediocre poetical imagination.

In 1323/1905 he versified Aḥmad b. Moḥammad (or b. Maḥmūd) Moʿīn-al-foqarāʾ’s Tārīḵ-e Mollāzāda. A good autograph MS of this versification is preserved in the collection of the Uzbek Academy of Sciences (see Semyonov, Sobranie V, 1960, no. 3992).

ʿAbdī is to be distinguished from two other Tajik poets (both of them of little significance) of the 13th/19th century, who had the same taḵalloṣ: Mīrzā Ṣafar ʿAbdī (d. 1283/1866-67), one of the court poets of the Bokharan amir Moẓaffar-al-dīn (1277-1303/1860-86); and Mollā ʿAbdallāh ʿAbdī Samarqandī (precise dates not known, early 13th/19th century).


See also Ṣadr-al-dīn ʿAynī, Yāddāšthā III, Stalinabad, 1950, pp. 312-29.

R. Khadizade, Istochniki k izucheniyu tadzhikskoĭ literatury vtoroĭ poloviny XIX veka, Stalinabad, 1956, pp. 80-84.

Idem, Adabīyāt-e tāǰīk dar nīma-ye dovom-e ʿaṣr-e XIX, Dushanbe, 1968, pp. 53-55.

(M. Zand)

Originally Published: December 15, 1982

Last Updated: July 15, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 2, pp. 208-209

Cite this entry:

M. Zand, “Abdi Bokarai,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/2, pp. 208-209; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abdi-bokarai-d-1921-22-tajik-tadkeranevis-biographer-and-poet (accessed on 21 January 2014).