ABŪ ʿALĪ MOḤAMMAD B. AḤMAD BALḴĪ, author of a Šāh-nāma, according to Bīrūnī (Āṯār al-bāqīa, pp. 99f.). Abū ʿAlī is said to have selected traditions regarding the beginning of the world from Sīar al-molūk by Ebn Moqaffaʿ and books by Moḥammad b. Jahm Barmakī, Hešām b. Qāsem, Bahrām b. Mardānšāh (mobad of the city of Šāpūr), and Bahrām b. Mehrān Eṣfahānī, and to have compared these versions with the book of Bahrām Heravī Māǰūsī. Bīrūnī also mentions the Šāh-nāma of Abū Manṣūr (q.v.), Ferdowsī’s principal source (Āṯār al-bāqīa, pp. 38, 116); and so Rosen (“Khudāi-Nāme,” pp. 190ff.) concluded that Bīrūnī was in both instances referring to the same work. This was accepted by Ṭāq-e Bostānīzāda (“Šāh-nāmahā-ye fārsī,” pp. 152ff.) and Barthold (“Geschichte,” pp. 152ff.). The arguments against this view will be given more fully s.vv. Ḵodāy-nāma and Šāh-nāma and rest mainly on the marked discrepancies between Bīrūnī’s quotations from Abū ʿAlī’s Šāh-nāma—the only clue we have to the contents of Abū Manṣūr’s Šāh-nāma—and the corresponding passages in the Ferdowsī Šāh-nāma.
Barthold suggested that Abū ʿAlī Moḥammad b. Aḥmad Balḵī was identical with Moḥammad b. Aḥmad Daqīqī (q.v.); but this theory does not explain why Bīrūnī, in writing of Abū ʿAlī, does not cite the surname Daqīqī, but does call him Balḵī. Daqīqī was almost certainly from Ṭūs (Ḵāleqī Moṭlaq, “Ṭūs”); his konya is given elsewhere as Abū Manṣūr; and according to Ferdowsī (Šāh-nāma [Moscow] VI, p. 65.11) he had versified only 1,000 bayts of the Šāh-nāma when he was killed by his servant.
A theory argued by Taqīzāda (“Abu’l-Moʾayyad Balḵī,” p. 23) and Bahār (Sabk-šenāsī II, Tehran, 1337 Š./1958, p. 30, is that Abū ʿAlī Balḵī was identical with Abu’l-Moʾayyad Balḵī (q.v.). In the 4th-5th/10th-11th centuries two prose Šāh-nāmas enjoyed special fame. One was the Šāh-nāma-ye Abū Manṣūrī, the text of which, compiled in Ṭūs, was used in Bokhara by Daqīqī, in Ṭūs by Ferdowsī, in Nīšāpūr by Ṯaʿālebī, and in Gorgān by Bīrūnī. The second, the Šāh-nāma of Abu’l-Moʾayyad Balḵī, was used in Bokhara by Baḷʿamī (Tārīḵ-e Baḷʿamī, ed. M. T. Bahār, Tehran, 1353 Š./1974, I, p. 133), in Gorgān by Amīr ʿOnṣor-al-maʿālī (Qābūs-nāma, ed. Saʿīd Nafīsī, Tehran, 1347 Š./1968, pp. 2, 201), and in Ḵᵛārazm by Ebn Esfandīār (p. 18). Bīrūnī is hardly likely to have ignored the famous Šāh-nāma of Abu’l-Moʾayyad Balḵī, and instead to have used a versified Šāh-nāma by one Abū ʿAlī Balḵī whose name only appears in Bīrūnī’s own book. It is probable therefore that this Abū ʿAlī Balḵī is the same as Abu’l-Moʾayyad Balḵī. Although Bīrūnī calls Abū ʿAlī Balḵī a poet, it does not necessarily imply that his Šāh-nāma was versified; Bīrūnī’s words and the subjects that he discusses on Abū ʿAlī’s authority suggest strongly that the book he refers to, like the Šāh-nāma of Abu’l-Moʾayyad Balḵī, who was also a poet, was compiled in prose.
Ḥ. Taqīzāda, “Abu’l-Moʾayyad Balḵī,” in Kāva 2, Berlin, 1920; idem, “Šāh-nāmahā-ye fārsī,” Kāva 3, 1921; both reprinted in Ferdowsī va šāh-nāma-ye ū, ed. Ḥ. Yaḡmāʾī, Tehran, 1349 Š./1970.
Ẕ. Ṣafā, Ḥamāsa-sarāʾī dar Īrān, Tehran, 1333 Š./1954.
E. Okada, “Naḵostīn pādešāh dar ḥamāsa-ye mellī-e Īrān,” in Ferdowsī va ādābīyāt-e ḥamāsī, Tehran, 1976, pp. 63-67.
Ḵāleqī-Moṭlaq, “Ṭūs, zādgāh-e Daqīqī ast?” in Ferdowsī va ādābīyāt-e ḥamāsī, pp. 117-28.
V. Rosen, “K voprosu ob arabskikh perevodakh Khudāi-Nāme,” Vostochnye zametki, Paris, 1895, pp. 153-91.
W. Barthold, “Zur Geschichte des persischen Epos,” ZDMG 98, 1944, pp. 121-57.
A. Christensen, Les types du premier homme et du premier roi dans l’histoire légendaire des Iraniens, Uppsala and Leiden, 1918-34, I, pp. 75-76, 84, and index.
Originally Published: December 15, 1983
Last Updated: July 19, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 3, pp. 254-255
Dj. Khaleghi-Motlagh, “ABŪ ʿALĪ BALḴĪ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/3, pp. 254-255; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abu-ali-mohammad-b-1 (accessed on 26 January 2014).