ʿAMʿAQ BOḴARĀʾĪ, AMĪR-AL-ŠOʿARĀʾ ABU’L-NAJĪB ŠEHĀB-AL-DĪN, Persian poet of the 5th-6th/11th-12th centuries. The date of his birth is unknown but he panegyrized the Qarakhanid Šams-al-molk Naṣr b. Ebrāhīm (r. 460-72/1068-80), so he was probably born before 440/1048-49. Having attained a degree of literary prowess in his home of Bokhara he went to the Qarakhanid court in Samarkand in 460/1068. Neẓāmī ʿArūżī refers to him as Amīr-al-šoʿarāʾ and Amīr ʿAmʿaq. His laqab has been given by ʿAwfī (Lobāb II, p. 181) as Šehāb-al-dīn and by Blochet (on the basis of a collection of qaṣīdas by ʿAmʿaq, Sūzanī, Vaṭvāṭ, and Falakī; Cat. Bib. Nat. III, p. 49) as Naǰīb-al-dīn. Although ʿAmʿaq is a meaningless word, his own contemporaries, such as Anwarī, referred to him thus in their poetry. The sobriquets ʿAmīq and ʿAmīqī are used instead of ʿAmʿaq in the introduction to his dīvān (Tabrīz, 1307 Š./1928), but for metrical reasons neither of these can be correct. The word ʿAqʿaq (magpie) occurs in a manuscript of the dīvān of Sūzanī in place of ʿAmʿaq (Ṣafā, Adabīyāt II, p. 535). The date of his death is uncertain; some taḏkeras refer to a life of over one hundred years, so 542/1147-48 and 543/1148-49 are the most probable of the death dates given. Of his family, mention is made of his son Ḥamīdī (or Ḥamīd or Ḥamīd-al-dīn), who engaged in mutual lampooning with Sūzanī. It seems that ʿAmʿaq would send this son to gatherings at court during the latter years of his life when he preferred to live in seclusion.

ʿAmʿaq was conversant with philosophy, the sciences, and literary currents. He wrote some highly elaborate qaṣīdas, employing a variety of rhetorical devices; in one he mentions the words mūy (hair) and mūr (ant) in each meṣrāʿ. But his sound taste meant that the rhetorical craftsmanship of his verses did not detract from the fluency of his language (Ṣafā, Adabīyāt II, pp. 539-40). Hence ʿAwfī writes that those parts of his verse that are artfully crafted have astonished the masters (Lobāb II, p. 181). ʿAmʿaq was particularly proficient in the use of simile (tašbīh); his language is largely free from abstruseness and emphasizes subtle feelings, especially those concerned with sadness. His dīvān, which contains qaṣīdas, robāʿīs, and qeṭʿas, consists of 614 bayts, although one thousand verses have been attributed to him. A version of Yūsof and Zolayḵā which could be read in two meters has been attributed to him but is no longer extant. Among his contemporaries Anwarī called him a master of language, while Rašīdī Samarqandī quarreled with him. He was the object of the special attention of the Qarakhanid kings, so that other poets were compelled to serve him (Neẓāmī ʿArūżī Samarqandī, Čahār maqāla, ed. M. Qazvīnī and M. Moʿīn, Tehran, 1341 Š./1962, p. 46). It is related in the taḏkeras that when Sanǰar’s daughter, Māh Malek Ḵātūn, died in 524/1130, he asked ʿAmʿaq to come from Transoxania in order to compose her elegy.


See also Dawlatšāh, ed. Browne, pp. 64-67.

Ātaškada, p. 322.

Maǰmaʿ al-foṣaḥāʾ II, p. 879.

Ṣafā, Adabīyāt II, pp. 535-47.

Browne, Lit. Hist. Persia II, pp. 303, 335-36.

Rypka, Hist. Iran. Lit., p. 158.

(J. Matīnī)

Originally Published: December 15, 1989

Last Updated: August 2, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 9, p. 924

Cite this entry:

J. Matīnī, “ʿAMʿAQ BOḴARĀʾĪ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/9, p. 924, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/amaq-bokarai-amir-al-soara-abul-najib-sehab-al-din-persian-poet-of-the-5th-6th-11th-12th-centuries (accessed on 30 December 2012).