ABŪ AḤMAD B. ABĪ BAKR B. ḤĀMED AL-KĀTEB, poet and official of the Samanids, fl. first half of the 4th/10th century; his exact dates are unknown. His father, Abū Bakr, had been secretary to Amir Esmāʿīl b. Aḥmad (279-95/892-907) and vizier to Aḥmad Esmāʿīl (295-301/907-14) before the vizierate of Abū ʿAbdallāh Jayhānī. Abū Aḥmad thought that the family traditions of official service plus his own accomplishments as a poet and stylist gave him a claim to the vizierate superior to Jayhānī’s and Baḷʿamī’s. He accordingly emulated the ʿAbbasid poet Ebn Bassām ʿAbartāʾī in satirizing all and sundry, including his own relations, but especially the two above-mentioned viziers. Bokhara accordingly became too hot for him, and he had to leave for Baghdad; but he subsequently returned and built up a circle of boon companions and literary men, including such well-known figures as the poets Abu’l-Ṭayyeb Ṭāherī and Abu’l-Ṭayyeb Moṣʿabī. He served as ʿāmel or local governor and tax collector of Herat, Pūšang, Bādḡīs, and then of Nīšāpūr before returning to Bokhara, where he apparently fell into straitened circumstances. He presumably died there. Ṯaʿālebī gives several specimens of his Arabic poetry; he states that he was a strong partisan of the modernist school of ʿAbbasid poets (al-šoʿarāʾ al-moḥdaṯūn), with a particularly strong partisanship for the poetry of the early 3rd/9th century ʿAbbasid poet Moḥammad b. ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān ʿAṭawī, to the point that Abū Aḥmad was given the nickname of ʿAṭawānī (“devotee of ʿAṭawī”).


Ṯaʿālebī, Yatīma (Cairo) IV, pp. 64-69.

Idem,, Laṭāʾef al-maʿāref, ed. I. Abyārī and H. K. Ṣayrafī, Cairo, 1960, pp. 50-53; tr. C. E. Bosworth, The Book of Curious and Entertaining Information, Edinburgh, 1968, pp. 65-66.

C. Barbier de Meynard, “Tableau littéraires du Khorassan et de la Transoxiane au IVe siècle de l’hégire,” JA Ser. V, I, 1853, pp. 176-77.

(C. E. Bosworth)

Originally Published: December 15, 1983

Last Updated: July 19, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 3, p. 251

Cite this entry:

C. E. Bosworth, “Abu Ahmad B. Abi Bakr Kateb,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/3, p. 251; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abu-ahmad-b (accessed on 26 January 2014).