AMĪRAK BALʿAMĪ, name given to ABŪ ʿALĪ MOḤAMMAD (also called Baḷʿamī-e Kūček “the lesser, younger"), son of Abu’l-Fażl Moḥammad b. ʿObaydallāh Baḷʿamī (also called Baḷʿamī-e Bozorg “the greater, elder”); both served as viziers of the Samanids. Two possible explanations of the name Baḷʿamī are given in Samʿānī’s Ketāb al-ansāb: 1. The Baḷʿamī family stemmed from the Arab tribe of the Banū Tamīm and Baḷʿam was a place in Asia Minor conquered by them during the campaigns of Maslama (d. between 120/738 and 123/741, son of the Omayyad caliph ʿAbd-al-Malek). 2. The family were from Baḷʿamān, near the village of Lāsǰerd (i.e., Balāšǰerd, see Yāqūt, I, p. 708) in the district of Marv. Abū ʿAlī became vizier towards the end of the reign of ʿAbd-al-Malek b. Nūḥ (343-50/954-61) and retained the office under his successor, Manṣūr b. Nūḥ (350-65/961-76). According to Gardīzī (ed. Ḥabībī, p. 163), Abū ʿAlī died in Jomādā II, 363/between 27 February-27 March 974) while still employed as vizier; but according to ʿOtbī (al-Taʾrīḵ al-yamīnī, ed. Manīnī, Cairo, 1287/1870, I, p. 170) he was reappointed vizier by Nūḥ b. Manṣūr (365-87/976-97) in 382/992 and retired in the same year. ʿOtbī does not give the date of Abū ʿAlī’s death; since there is no mention of him after Manṣūr b. Nūḥ’s reign, he must have died between 382/992 and 387/997.

Baḷʿamī is best known for his Persian translation of Ṭabarī, which was done for Manṣūr b. Nūḥ. Because he adds supplementary material, some of which is not found elsewhere, the work is called Tārīḵ-eBaḷʿamī. According to Moǰmal al-tawārīḵ (p. 180) Abū ʿAlī began his translation in 352/963; it is therefore the oldest new-Persian prose work, after the preface (all that has been preserved) of the prose Šāh-nāma of Abū Manṣūr. The Tārīḵ-e Baḷʿamī was translated into Eastern Turkish by Waḥīdī of Balḵ in 928/1522, into Ottoman Turkish by order of Aḥmad Pāšā, and into Arabic in 935/1528. Numerous manuscripts exist, and there is a French translation by M. H. Zotenberg.

Neẓāmī ʿArūżī mentions (Čahār maqāla, ed. M. Qazvīnī, London, 1927, p. 15) a book by Baḷʿamī called Tawqīʿāt, and in the Farhang-e Jahāngīrī two verses by Baḷʿamī are quoted; but in neither case is it made clear whether the author was the elder Baḷʿamī or his son.


See under Baḷʿamī in the list of short references (p. 9).

New edition of the Tārīḵ, ed.

M. T. Bahār and M. P. Gonābādī, Tehran, 1353 Š./1974.

See also Kᵛāndmīr, Dostūr al-wozarāʾ, ed.

S. Nafīsī, Tehran, 1317 Š./1938, pp. 113-14.

Browne, Lit. Hist. Persia I, pp. 368-69.

M. T. Bahār, Sabk-šenāsī, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1337 Š./1958, I, index.

Ṣafā, Adabīyāt, 2nd ed., I, pp. 353, 618-19.

(Dj. Khaleghi-Motlagh)

Originally Published: December 15, 1989

Last Updated: August 3, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 9, pp. 971-972

Cite this entry:

Dj. Khaleghi-Motlagh, “AMĪRAK BALʿAMĪ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/9, pp. 971-972, available online at (accessed on 30 December 2012).