ABŪ BAKR QOHESTĀNĪ, ʿAMĪD-AL-MOLK ʿALĪ B. ḤASAN, fl. 5th/11th century, a courtier and man of letters under the Ghaznavids and Saljuqs; himself a poet, he patronized poetry generously. He is said to have been originally from Roḵḵaǰ. He was still a young man when he gained the attention of Sultan Maḥmūd by explaining a vague, threatening allusion in the caliph’s letter which all secretaries had failed to understand. Thereupon he was granted the honor of sitting in the royal presence. Later he became the paymaster (ʿārez-e laškar) of Maḥmūd’s army, but the story of his missions to Byzantium, related by Sanāʾī, is probably unfounded. When the prince Moḥammad was appointed governor of Gūzgānān, Abū Bakr accompanied the latter as his adjutant (kadḵodā, 401/1010-11). Later he became the head of his chancery.
Amīr Moḥammad succeeded his father upon his death in 421/1030, only to be dethroned and put in prison in the same year by the partisans of his brother Masʿūd, who had marched in triumph from Ray. Abū Bakr, who according to Bāḵarzī had made unfavorable remarks about Masʿūd in his poetry, escaped through Kermān to Iraq. A remark by Amīr Moḥammad suggests that the then powerful Abū Sahl Zūzanī, the former adjutant of Masʿūd in Herat, bore an old grudge against Abū Bakr.
Abū Bakr reached Baghdad in the late 420s/1030th where he panegyrized Caliph al-Qāder beʾllāh and some of his court nobles. He left Baghdad and entered the service of the Saljuqs. He prospered under the new masters and in 435/1043-44, according to Bāḵarzī, was the inspector general (mošref) of Khorasan.
Abū Bakr’s reputation for learning, generosity and good nature attracted many poets to his circle. Farroḵī Sīstānī, who was associated with Moḥammad’s court, praised him lavishly in four qaṣīdas; perhaps they were briefly associated. Abū Bakr is referred to as a master of Arabic poetry and prose. Bāḵarzī, another panegyrist of Abū Bakr, compares his poetry with that of Emroʾ al-Qays. Fragments of his poetry are preserved in Tatemmat al-yatīma, Domyat al-qaṣr, Maǰmaʿ al-odabāʾ, and Tārīḵ-e ǰahāngošā. They include satire, panegyrics, love poetry, and wisdom. His epistolary writings, apparently now lost, had been collected in a volume. Aphorisms attributed to him are quoted by Ṯaʿālebī. Specimens of his poetry in Persian, if he wrote any at all, are yet to be found. Two line attributed to him in Maǰmaʿ al-foṣaḥāʾ are in fact by Daqīqī. Yāqūt reports that Abū Bakr’s interest in the philosophy and science of the ancients made him a subject of hostile remarks. He is also referred to as an easygoing man who liked humor, fun, and young boys.
Ṯaʿālebī, Tatemmat al-yatīma, ed. ʿA. Eqbāl, Tehran, 1353/1934-35, II, pp. 73-75.
Bāḵarzī, Domyat al-qaṣr, ed. M. Rāḡeb al-Ṭabbāḵ, Aleppo, 1930, pp. 134-38.
Yāqūt, Odabāʾ V, pp. 116-21.
Vaṭvāṭ, Ḥadāʾeq, pp. 10, 15, 93-96.
Gardīzī, ed. Ḥabībī, p. 182.
Bayhaqī, p. 80.
ʿOnṣor al-Maʿālī Kaykāvūs, Qābūs-nāma, ed. Ḡ. Ḥ. Yūsofī, Tehran, 1345 Š./1966, pp. 209-10, 447.
Maydānī, Maǰmaʿ al-amṯāl, Tehran, 1290/1873-74, p. 172.
Jovaynī, I, p. 194.
Sanāʾī, Ḥadīqat al-ḥadīqa, ed. Modarres Rażawī, Tehran, 1329 Š./1950, pp. 563-64.
Dīvān-e Sūzanī Samarqandī, ed. N. Šāh-Ḥosaynī, Tehran, 1338 Š./1959, p. 266.
M. H. Āyatī, Bahārestān, Tehran, 1327 Š./1948, pp. 177-81.
Maǰmaʿ al-foṣaḥāʾ I, p. 207.
Ḡ. Ḥ. Yūsofī, Farroḵī Sīstānī, Mašhad, 1341 Š./1962, pp. 113-16.
(Ḡ. Ḥ. Yūsofī)
Originally Published: December 15, 1983
Last Updated: July 19, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 3, p. 264
Ḡ. Ḥ. Yūsofī, “ABŪ BAKR QOHESTĀNĪ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/3, p. 264; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abu-bakr-qohestani-amid-al-molk-ali-b (accessed on 30 January 2014).