AFUŠTAʾI NAṬANZI, MAḤMUD b. Hedāyat-Allāh (b. ca. 1539; d. after 1599), Persian poet and historian whose chronicle, Noqāwat al-āṯār fi ḏekr al-aḵyār (or al-aḵbār; Bayżāʾi, p. 62; Storey-Bregel, II, p. 866) deals with Safavid history from the death of Shah Ṭahmāsp I in 984/1576 up until the early years of the reign of Shah ʿAbbās I.
Life. Little is known of Afuštaʾi Naṭanzi’s life and bureaucratic career. From his own remarks that at the time of writing the preface to his chronicle he was about sixty years old (Afuštaʾi, p. 6), his date of birth can be assigned to the year 946/1539-40. His father, Hedāyat-Allāh, a bureaucrat from Afušta, a village outside Naṭanz, worked for the Safavid prince Ebrāhim Mirzā (d. 985/1577). During Ebrāhim Mirzā’s tenure as governor of Mashhad (962-78/1555-71), Hedāyat-Allāh took up residence in Khorasan. When Ebrāhim Mirzā was demoted to governor of Sabzevār in 978/1571, Afuštaʾi's father moved there along with his family and was granted a house outside the city walls (Afuštaʾi Naṭanzi, p. 50; Ḥosayni Qomi, pp. 381, 567, 588).
Afuštaʾi states that he completed his elementary studies under his father’s guidance. Later on, he became interested in studying history (qeṣaṣ o ḥekāyāt … wa naql-e aḵbār) as well as Persian poetry. Afuštaʾi makes a reference to his diwān, which consisted of five separate works of poetry titled Majāziya, Ḡāyat al-majāz, Ḥāṣel al-ḥayāt, Eẓṭerāriya, and Barāʾat al-qalam (Afuštaʾi Naṭanzi, pp. 6-7). This diwān is yet to be found. Years later, he decided to devote his time to “the practice of history writing.” He started composing his chronicle in the spring of 998/1590, shortly after the downfall of Yaʿqub Khan Ḏu’l-Qadr, the unruly governor of Shiraz, and Shah ʿAbbās’ capture of Eṣṭaḵr Castle, some 35 miles northeast of Shiraz (Afuštaʾi Naṭanzi, p. 7). Under Shah ʿAbbās, Afuštaʾi seems to have settled into a bureaucratic career of some standing, a post that enabled him to have access to and reproduce the contents of a number of government documents and royal correspondence in his chronicle (McChesney, pp. 104-5).
Works. Afuštaʾi wrote the Noqāwat al-āṯār in the name of Shah ʿAbbās. It is structured into two “volumes.” The first volume (pp. 1-245) covers the period spanning between the death of Shah Ṭahmāsp in the spring of 984/1576 and Shah ʿAbbās’ ascent to the throne in the summer of 995/1587, while the second volume chronicles the first twelve years of the reign of Shah ʿAbbās. All the verses reproduced in Afuštaʾi’s chronicle were from his own pen (Afuštaʾi Naṭanzi, pp. 8-11). In composing the Noqāwat al-āṯār, Afuštaʾi relied heavily on his own reminiscences and observations. As mentioned above, he also reproduced the full-text of a dozen government documents and royal correspondence in his chronicle.
The opening part of Afuštaʾi’s narrative in volume one revolves around the outbreak of factional feuds in Qazvin in the wake of Shah Ṭahmāsp’s demise as well as Shah Esmāʿil II’s rise to power and the bloody purges that claimed the lives of almost all male members of the Safavid royal household. Then, he focuses on an anti-Safavid uprising in Šarvān during the months leading up to Esmāʿil II’s assassination in Qazvin, which took place on the night of 13 Ramażān 985/4 December 1577. Next, he deals with Moḥammad Ḵodābanda’s enthronement in the winter of 985/1578 and the subsequent rise to power of his wife, Maryam Begum Marʿaši (pp. 44-73). In the section dealing with the reign of Moḥammad Ḵodābanda, the fall of Tabriz to the Ottomans, the Ottoman invasion of Qarābāḡ with military help from Crimean Tatars, the uprising of a false claimant to the Safavid throne in Kuhgiluya, and the outbreak of administrative chaos in Herat, Qandahar, and Mashhad have been dealt with closely. Afuštaʾi’s account of the reign of Moḥammad Ḵodābanda closes with a section on the civil war that preceded the assassination of the crown prince Ḥamza Mirzā and the subsequent enthronement of his younger brother, ʿAbbās Mirzā, as Moḥammad Ḵodābanda’s successor. His account of the civil wars is mainly focused on the events in ʿErāq-e ʿAjam, with special reference to Kashan and Isfahan.
The last "volume" of Afuštaʾi’s chronicle is about the opening decade of the reign of Shah ʿAbbās. His account of these years permits a detailed understanding of bloody purges in Qazvin in 995-96/1587-88, shortly after ʿAbbās’ ascent to the throne; the Uzbek invasion of Khorasan; Bektāš Khan Afšār’s rebellion in Kerman and Yazd; Yaʿqub Khan Ḏu’l-Qadr’s uprising in Fars; and the fall of the Kār Kiā ruler of Lāhijān, Aḥmad Khan (d. 1001/1593). The Noqāwat al-āṯār also contains a relatively long and detailed account of Shah ʿAbbās’ crackdown on the Noqṭawi demagogues in Qazvin and Isfahan. The closing chapters of the chronicle are of special historical value for Shah ʿAbbās’ transfer of the Safavid capital from Qazvin to Isfahan. Parts of his description of Shah ʿAbbās’ construction of royal buildings in Isfahan as well as his winter journeys to Isfahan are translated and published in English (McChesney, p. 106).
Maḥmud Afuštaʾi Naṭanzi, Noqāwat al-āṯār fi ḏekr al-aḵyār, ed. Eḥsān Ešrāqi, Tehran, 1971.
P. Bayżāʾi, “Ketāb-e Noqāwat al-āṯār fi ḏekr al-aḵbār taʾlif-e Maḥmud b. Hedāyat-Allāh Naṭanzi,” Yādgār 5/4-5, 1948, pp. 62-78.
Aḥmad Ḥosayni Qomi, Ḵolāṣat al-tawāriḵ, ed. E. Ešrāqi, 2 vols., Tehran, 2004.
R. D. McChesney, “Four Sources on Shah ʿAbbas’s Building of Isfahan,” Muqarnas 5, 1988, pp. 103-34.
Saʿid Nafisi, Tāriḵ-e naẓm va naṯr dar Irān va dar zabān-e fārsi, 2 vols., Tehran, 1965.
Ḏabih-Allāh Ṣafā, Tāriḵ-e adabiyāt dar Irān, 5 vols. in 8, Tehran, 1990.
C. A. Storey and Yu. E. Bregel, Persidskaya literatura: Bio-bibliograficheskiĭ obzor, 3 vols., Moscow, 1972.
Originally Published: January 1, 2000
Last Updated: August 7, 2017Cite this entry:
Kioumars Ghereghlou, “AFUŠTAʾI NAṬANZI, MAḤMUD,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2017, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/afustai-natanzi-mahmud (accessed on 08 August 2017).