ʿAJĀʾEB AL-DONYĀ or ʿAJĀʾEB AL-AŠYĀʾ (“Wonders of the world” or “Wonderful things”), title of a Persian geography of the ʿaǰaʾeb al-maḵlūqāt type, extant in three MSS, at the Leningrad Oriental Institute (probably 11th/17th cent.), Cambridge University (modern), and the Maǰles Library in Tehran (apparently late 10th/16th-early 11th/17th cent.). The spurious brief introduction (see Storey, II, pt. 1, p. 123) found in the Tehran and Cambridge MSS (the Leningrad MS is defective at the beginning) mentions Abu’l-Moʾayyad Balḵī as the author and says that the work was composed for the Samanid amir Abu’l-Qāsem Nūḥ b. Manṣūr (r. 365-87/976-97). This led some scholars (e.g., M. T. Bahār, S. Nafīsī, Ḏ. Ṣafā) to consider this book a later recension of a geography by the 4th/10th century author Abu’l-Moʾayyad Balḵī, a work that is already mentioned in Tārīḵ-eSīstān (pp. 13, 16, 17). But according to the more plausible conclusion of Miklukho-Maklaĭ (“Geografischeskoe,” p. 185), it was written no earlier than 617/1220 by an Azerbaijani who flourished under the Eldigüzid Atabegs of Azerbaijan (r. 531-622/1136-1225) and who had traveled extensively.
The work consists of two parts: The first (complete in the Cambridge MS and fragmentary in the Tehran MS) consists of short anecdotes of the type traditionally popular with the genre. The Leningrad MS contains an alphabetically arranged second part containing short accounts of cities, regions, and lands, some of which are mentioned in the first part.
Much of ʿAǰāʾeb al-donyā is compiled from earlier sources, especially ʿAǰāʾeb al-maḵlūqāt of Naǰīb Hamadānī (6th/12th cent.), but it also contains valuable original information, particularly about Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia, which is not found elsewhere (see, e.g., accounts of Aḵlāt, Abhar, Erzerum, Tabrīz, Naḵǰavān). The book also describes events of the early 6th-7th/12th-13th cents. relating to Armenia and Georgia.
N. D. Miklukho-Maklaĭ, “Geograficheskoe sochinenie xiii v. na persidskom yazyke,” Uchenye Zapiski Instituta Vostokovedeniya 9, 1954, pp. 175-210, 214-19, with facsimile excerpts and Russian tr. R. Kiknadze, Eṭṭelāʿāt-ī dar bāra-ye Gorǰestān va Qafqāz az ketāb-e ʿAǰāʾeb al-donyā, Tbilisi, 1978 (a partial ed. with tr. in Georgian).
An edition of the text with Russian translation and notes by L. P. Smirnova is forthcoming.
M. T. Bahār, Sabk-šenāsī II, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1337 Š./1958, pp. 18-20.
R. N. Nicholson, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Oriental MSS, Belonging to the Late E. G. Browne, Cambridge, 1932, pp. 93-94.
N. D. Miklukho-Maklaĭ, Opisaniye tadzhikskikh i persidskikh rukopiseĭ, Moscow and Leningrad, 1955. Storey, II, pt. 1, pp. 123-24.
Ṣafā, Adabīyāt2 I, p. 618.
Nafīsī, Naẓm o naṯr I, p. 28.
(L. P. Smirnova)
Originally Published: December 15, 1984
Last Updated: July 29, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 7, p. 696
L. P. Smirnova, “ʿAJĀʾEB AL-DONYĀ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/7, p. 696; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ajaeb-al-donya (accessed on 25 April 2014).