AḤMAD B. JAʿFAR B. MŪSĀ B. YAḤYĀ B. ḴĀLED B. BARMAK, ABU’L-ḤASAN, poet, man of letters, musician, wit, and bon vivant at the court of several ʿAbbasid caliphs, hence sometimes called al-Nadīm (“the boon-companion”); born in 224/839, he lived to a great age and died in Šaʿbān 324 or 326/July, 936, or June, 938. The laqab or nickname Jaḥẓa by which he was usually known was given to him by Ebn al-Moʿtazz with reference to his bulging eyes (cf. al-Jāḥeẓ). His connection with the caliphs Moʿtamed (256-79/870-92) and Moqtader (295-320/908-32) is especially mentioned. To his unprepossessing appearance, perhaps also to the realization sometimes expressed in his poetry that the great days of the caliphate were over, may be due the astringent, even perverse character attributed to him by, among others, Abu’l-Faraǰ Eṣfahānī, who knew him well (Aḡānī1 V, pp. 32, 161). But he was regarded by good judges as an exceptionally talented musician and poet, and he is frequently referred to or quoted by writers of his own time and later, notably Yāqūt, from whose notice and citations a considerable part of Jaḥẓa’s dīvān could be recovered (Odabāʾ I, pp. 383-405; Moʿǰam al- boldān, index).


See also Fehrest, pp. 145-46; tr. Dodge, pp. 318-19.

Ebn Ḵallekān, tr. de Slane, I, pp. 118-19.

Taʾrīḵ Baḡdād IV, pp. 65-69.

Ebn al-Aṯīr, s.a. 324.

Ṯaʿālebī, Ṯemār al-qolūb, ed. M. A. Ebrāhīm, Cairo, 1384/1965, index.

Idem, Laṭāʾef al-maʿāref, tr. C. E. Bosworth as The Book of Curious and Entertaining Information, Edinburgh, 1968, pp. 64-65.

Rh. Guest, Life and Works of Ibn er Rûmî, London, 1944, pp. 18, 83.

C. Pellat, “Djaḥẓa,” EI2 II, p. 389.

(D. M. Dunlop)

Originally Published: December 15, 1984

Last Updated: July 28, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 6, p. 641

Cite this entry:

D. M. Dunlop, “AḤMAD B. JAʿFAR,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/6, p. 641; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ahmad-b-7 (accessed on 16 March 2014).