ABU’L-ʿALĀʾ ʿAṬĀʾ, called NĀKŪK, secretary and poet of the Ghaznavid period, d. 491/1098. Little is known of his life, but ʿAwfī, in a biographical notice in his Lobāb al-albāb, gives him the title of ʿamīd and kāteb. It seems that he filled high office under the Ghaznavid sultan Ebrāhīm b. Masʿūd (450-92/1059-99). It is probable that he had some connection with the chief secretary, Abū Sahl Zūzanī (a contemporary of the historian Abu’l-Fażl Bayhaqī and successor in office of Bayhaqī’s master, Abū Naṣr Moškān); the literary biographer Bāḵarzī quotes from a poem of Nākūk written in answer to one by Abū Sahl Zūzanī. Nākūk was in fact a distinguished poet, composing dīvāns in both Arabic and Persian. There is attributed to him an epic, one of the many poems cast in the mold of Ferdowsī’s Šāh-nāma, called Barzū-nāma; but, apart from a few quotations of Arabic and Persian verses in the biographical works, nothing is now known of his literary works. Much of his official career was spent in India, but he seems to have fallen into disfavor, being deprived of his office by Ebrāhīm and imprisoned at Lahore for eight years. A common bond of suffering doubtless contributed to his friendship with another great Ghaznavid poet of the time, Masʿūd-e Saʿd-e Salmān, who wrote an elegy on Nākūk’s death, which occurred, according to ʿAwfī, in 491/1098, but according to the Maǰmaʿ al-foṣaḥāʾ, in 471/1078-79 (I, pt. 2, p. 873)
Bāḵarzī, Domyat al-qaṣr wa ʿosrat ahl al-ʿaṣr, ed. ʿA. M. Ḥelū, Cairo, 1388/1968, II, pp. 363-64, no. 350.
ʿAwfī, Lobāb (Tehran), pp. 70-74.
Masʿūd-e Saʿd-e Salmān, Dīvān, ed. R. Yāsemī, Tehran, 1318 Š./1939, pp. 367, 603-04.
M. Qazvīnī, “Masʿúd-i-Saʿd-i-Salmán,” JRAS, 1906, pp. 42-44.
ʿOṯmān Moḵtārī, Dīvān, ed. J. Homāʾī, Tehran, 1341 Š./1962, pp. 749, 762, 789.
(C. E. Bosworth)
Originally Published: December 15, 1983
Last Updated: July 21, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 3, p. 252
C. E. Bosworth, “ABU’L-ʿALĀʾ ʿAṬĀʾ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/3, p. 252; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abul-ala-ata-called-nakuk-secretary-and-poet-of-the-ghaznavid-period-d (accessed on 31 January 2014).