ABĪVARDĪ, ABUʾL-MOẒAFFAR MOḤAMMAD B. ABU’L-ʿABBĀS AḤMAD B. MOḤAMMAD AL-MOʿĀWĪ AL-KŪFANĪ, poet, historian, and writer on genealogy, died from poison at Isfahan, 507/1113. Abīvardī, as he was usually known, was born into a distinguished family of Kūfan, a small town near Abīvard in Khorasan (not “Kawfan” as in EI2 I, s.v. Abīwardī; see Yāqūt (Beirut) IV, pp. 321-22, s.v. Kūfan, where the vowels are spelled). Abīvardī was a descendant of ʿAnbasa b. Abū Sofyān through the line of Moʿāvīa II. From the preface to one of his qaṣīdas we learn that an uncle in Kūfan was the ḵaṭīb of the mosque, with all the implied status, and that one of their forefathers erected the third menbar there (see Dīvān al-Abīwardī, ed. ʿOmar al-Asʿad, Damascus, 1394/1974, I, pp. 12, 545).

In his youth Abīvardī left for Baghdad, where he succeeded in meeting some of the most powerful or prominent persons of the time and gained their patronage with his gifts as a poet. Among them were the caliph al-Moqtadī (r. 467-87/1075-94), his son the caliph al-Mostaẓher (r. 487-512/1094-1118), the Saljuq vizier Neẓām-al-molk (408-85/1018-92), his sons the viziers ʿObaydallāh and Aḥmad, and the Saljuq sultans Malekšāh and his son Moḥammad. He became quite wealthy in the service of the vizier Moʾayyed-al-molk b. Neẓām-al-molk. After an incident which caused him to flee the capital to Hamadān, in danger for his life, he returned in favor to the capital. There he was appointed to succeed Qāżī Abū Yūsof Yaʿqūb Esfarāyenī (d. 498/1104-05) as head of the Neẓāmīya Library at Baghdad. Near the end of his life he settled in Isfahan, where he was vālī al-ešrāf. Sultan Moḥammad b. Malekšāh, for what motives it is not known, poisoned him in Isfahan as he stood in his presence, according to Yāqūt (Odabāʾ VII, Cairo, 1936, p. 238), who derived the information from ʿEmād Eṣfahānī. Evidence dating his earliest poems leads to the conclusion that he had been born about 457/1064-65 and therefore was only about fifty when he died on 20 Rabīʿ I 507/9 May 1113 (Dīvān al-Abīwardī I, pp. 12-14).

The published editions of Ebn Ḵallekān give his death date as 557/1161-62. Since this is the death date of another Abīvardī whose name is similar in several of its components, Abu’l-Moẓaffar Ṣadr-al-dīn Moḥammad b. Aḥmad b. Esḥāq al-Omavī, a Shafeʿite faqīh, modern bibliographers remarked that Ebn Ḵallekān had confused them. Now there is evidence that the date 557 in Ebn Ḵallekān was a copyist’s error and not original, since Ebn al-ʿEmād (Šaḏarāt al-ḏahab IV, Cairo, 1350-51, p. 20), whose information comes from Ebn Ḵallekān, gives the year as 507. In addition, brief biographical notices on Abīvardī found in British Museum and Leiden MSS of Abīvardī’s ʿErāqīyāt poems, said also to derive from Ebn Ḵallekān, give his death date as 507 (Dīvān al-Abīvardī I, pp. 20-21).

The statement in Ebn Ḵallekān, repeated by others, which asserts that “he divided the dīvān of his poetry into several parts, among which are the Naǰdīyāt, the ʿErāqīyāt, the Waǰdīyāt, and others” has been accepted at face value (as in EI2, loc. cit.). However, a study and comparison of numerous manuscripts of his poetry found in Cairo, Istanbul, Paris, the Escurial, London, Leiden, Oxford, Tübingen, and Hyderabad made during the preparation of an edition of his dīvān by ʿOmar al-Asʿad (2 vols., Damascus, 1394-95/1974-75, published with extensive introduction, apparatus criticus, and voweled text) reveals that the entirety of Abīvardī’s poetry is encompassed by the collections entitled al-ʿErāqīyāt and al-Naǰdīyāt. A dīvān arranged according to the alphabetical order of the rhyming letter was published in Lebanon in 1317/1899-1900; it erroneously included poems by al Ḡazzī. These have been eliminated in the al-Asʿad edition which is intended to be definitive.

Among the philological and historical-genealogical work attributed to Abīvardī is a Taʾrīḵ Abīward wa Nesā and three treatises on genealogy which may be one and the same work, al-Moḵtalef wa’l-moʾtalef, Mā eḵtalaf wa eʾtalaf men ansāb al-ʿarab, and al-Ansāb. All were thought to be lost (see EI2), but a work said to be by Abīvardī entitled al-Moḵtalef wa’l-moʾtalef has been published together with a book of the same title by Ebn al-Ṣābūnī, both edited by Moṣṭafā Javād, Baghdad, 1957. The work Zād al-refaq fi’l-moḥāżarāt has been attributed to the other Abīvardī (see above) by Baḡdatlī Ismail Paşa (Īżāḥ al-maknūn [Keşf-el-zunun zeyli] I, Istanbul, 1945, p. 606) but may be the work of this Abīvardī. Within this work its author mentions two otherwise unknown works of his, Tolūw al-ḥamāsa and Boḡyat al-šādī men ʿelal al-ʿarūż (Dīvān al-Abīwardī I, pp. 16, n. 5; 17, ns. 3, 4).


Samʿānī, Ansāb (Leiden), “al-Moʿāwī,” p. 535.

Ebn al-Jawzī, Montaẓam IX, Hyderabad, 1359/1940, pp. 176-77.

ʿEmād Eṣfahānī, Ḵarīdat al-qaṣr I, Baghdad, 1955, pp. 106-07.

Yāqūt, Odabāʾ VI, pp. 341-58.

Ebn Aṯīr, X, Beirut, 1386/1966, pp. 284-85, 500.

Idem, Lobāb III, Cairo, 1357-69/1938-49, pp. 154-55.

Qefṭī, Enbāh al-rowāt III, Cairo, 1950-55, pp. 49-52.

Idem, Aḵbār al-Moḥammadīn men al-šoʿarāʾ, Riyadh, 1390/1970, pp. 46-48.

Sebṭ b. al-Jawzī, Merʾāt al-zamān VII, Hyderabad, 1951, p. 47 (not seen).

Ebn al-Sāʿī Baḡdādī, Moḵtaṣar aḵbār al-ḵolafāʾ, Cairo, 1309/1891-92, pp. 93-94 (not seen).

Ebn Ḵallekān (Beirut), IV, pp. 444-49, no. 674.

Abu’l-Fedāʾ, Moḵtaṣar II, Cairo, 1905, repr. Baghdad, 1968(?), p. 227.

Ḏahabī, ʿEbar IV, Kuwait, 1963, p. 14.

Ebn al-Vardī, Taʾrīḵ II, Naǰaf, 1389/1969, p. 31.

Ṣafadī, Wāfī II, Istanbul, 1949, pp. 91-93, no. 409.

Yāfeʿī, Merʾāt al-Jenān III, Hyderabad, 1338/1919-20, repr. Beirut, 1390/1970, p. 196 (cited by al-Asʿad, Dīvān I, p. 8).

Sobkī, Ṭabaqāt2 IV, pp. 62-63. Ebn Kaṯīr, Bedāya XII, Cairo, 1932-39, p. 176.

Ebn Taḡrīberdī, V, pp. 206-07. Soyūṭī, Taʾrīḵ al-ḵolafāʾ, Cairo, 1964, pp. 427-28.

Idem, Boḡya I, Cairo, 1964-65, pp. 40-41, no. 65.

Ebn al-ʿEmād, Šaḏarāt al-ḏahab IV, Cairo, 1350-51, pp. 18-20.

Ḵᵛānsārī, Rawżat al-ǰannāt, lith., Tehran, 1947, pp. 694-95.

Bağdatli Ismail Paşa, Hadīyat al-ʿārefīn II, Istanbul, 1955, pp. 81-82.

ʿĀmelī, Aʿyān al-šīʿa XLIII, Damascus, 1938, pp. 261-62 (cited by al-Asʿad, Dīvān I, p. 9).

Āḡā Bozorg Tehrānī, Moṣaffaʾ l-maqāl, Tehran(?), 1959, pp. 389-90.

ʿAbd-al-Vahhāb ʿAẓẓām, Maǰallat al-resālāt, Cairo, IX, pp. 859-61, 888-90 (cited by al-Asʿad, Dīvān I, p. 9).

Brockelmann, GAL I, p. 253; S. I, p. 447.

Ali Al Tahir, “La Poésie sous les Seljoukides,” Sorbonne thesis, 1953 (contains a critical study of Abīvardī’s poetry).

(L. A. Giffen)

Originally Published: December 15, 1982

Last Updated: July 15, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 2, pp. 219-221

Cite this entry:

L. A. Giffen, “ABĪVARDĪ, ABU’L-MOẒAFFAR,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/2, pp. 219-221; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abivardi-abul-mozaffar-poet-historian-and-writer-on-genealogy-d-1113 (accessed on 25 January 2014).