AṮĪR AḴSĪKATĪ, a poet of the 6th/12th century with a distinctive style. According to late sources such as Majmaʿ al-foṣaḥāʾ (I, p. 269), Aṯīr-al-dīn was his personal name. His nesba indicates that he came from Aḵsīkat, then the chief town of Farḡāna in Central Asia. He began his poetic career in the east, but on account of the troubles in Khorasan following the collapse of Sanjar’s régime and the sultan’s death in 552/1157, he moved to the west and entered the service of Moʿezz-al-dīn Arslān b. Ṭoḡrel; he has left an ode congratulating Arslān on his accession to the Saljuq sultanate of ʿErāq in 556/1161. Thereafter Aṯīr resided in ʿErāq-e ʿAjamī, Jebāl, and Azerbaijan, and won some fame in that region. In addition to the Saljuq sultan of ʿErāq, Arslān (556/1161-571/1176), the atābaks of Azerbaijan, Šams-al-dīn Ildegiz (531/1137-571/1175), Moḥammad Jahān-pahlavān (571/1175-581/1186), and Qezel Arslān ʿOṯmān (581/1186-587/1191) were recipients of his eulogies. He found particular favor with Ildegiz and Qezel Arslān, and is said to have replaced Mojīr-al-dīn Baylaqānī as Qezel Arslān’s court poet (ʿAwfī, Lobāb II, p. 223). Aṯīr was in touch with a number of leading local poets such as Ḵāqānī, Mojīr-al-dīn Baylaqānī, and Asharī Nīšāpūrī. His claim to parity of talent with Ḵāqānī led to exchanges of abuse and sarcasm between the two. It has even been stated (Dawlatšāh, ed. Browne, p. 80) that Aṯīr traveled from Khorasan to Šervān for the purpose of challenging Ḵāqānī. Nor did Aṯīr hesitate to decry Mojīr-al-dīn for “plundering loot from the caravan of his poetry.” This remark by Aṯīr is reprehended by the historian Rāvandī (Rāḥat al-ṣodūr, p. 327).

The date of Aṯīr’s death is given as 577/1181 by Moḥammad Ṣādeq b. Ṣāleḥ, the compiler of the Šāhed-e ṣādeq, as 579/1183 (Yādgār 2/6, 1324 Š./1946, p. 29) by Āḏar Bīgdelī (Āteškada, p. 318), and as 563/1167 by Hedāyat (Majmaʿ al-foṣaḥā, loc. cit.); either 577/1181 or 579/1183 is likely to be correct, because Aṯīr wrote odes in praise of the atābak Moḥammad Jahān-pahlavān whose reign began in 571/1175.

The old literary critics placed Aṯīr in the top rank of qasīda-writers. His skills in producing rhymes with a radīf (appended refrain word or words) or other clever but unnecessary artifices, in handling difficult ideas, and in overcoming various snags which face poets, immediately strike the eye. He certainly did not attain parity with Ḵāqānī, whom he abused unjustifiably; but he was sometimes able to conceive lofty thoughts, make novel combinations of ideas, and use his wide learning in the creation of new themes, and in these respects he sometimes fell not far short of the great poet of Šervān. Although his work, like that of many contemporary poets, is predominantly erudite, there are some pleasing verses in his dīvān, particularly in his graceful ḡazals. ʿAwfī (Lobāb II, p. 224) wrote that Aṯīr’s poetry “is embellished and pleasant, and has a wealth of ideas.” His dīvān, with a biographical introduction, has been published (ed. R. Homāyūn Farroḵ, Tehran, 1337 Š./1958).



See also Šams al-dīn Rāzī, Moʿjam, pp. 228, 236.

Majmaʿ al-foṣaḥāʾ I, pp. 269ff.

Dawlatšāh, ed. Browne, pp. 121-25.

Loṭf-ʿAlī Beg Āḏar, Āteškada, Bombay, 1299/1882, pp. 318-19.

B. Forūzānfar, Soḵan wa soḵanvarān, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1350 Š./1971, pp. 532-47.

M. ʿA. Rāvandī, Rāḥat al-ṣodūr, ed. M. Eqbāl, Leiden, 1921, pp. 327-30.

Ṣafā, Adabīyāt II, pp. 707-15.

Ḵayyāmpūr, Soḵanvarān, p. 26.

Rypka, Hist. Iran. Lit., p. 209.

Nafīsī, Naẓm o naṯr I, p. 107.

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(Z. Safa)

Originally Published: December 15, 1987

Last Updated: August 17, 2011

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