BADR-AL-DĪN EBRĀHĪM, author of the Persian dictionary Farhang-e zafāngūyā wa jahānpūyā (The eloquent and world-seeking dictionary) composed in India in the late 8th/14th or early 9th/15th century. There is no information about his life and other works. The work is divided into seven parts (baḵš), each of which is a separate dictionary individually titled by the author and divided into alphabetically arranged chapters (gūna). Each chapter contains explanations of words beginning with the same letter and is divided into sections (bahr) according to the last letter of the word explained. The Zafāngūyā is one of the first Persian dictionaries to cover a comparatively large lexicographical field (5,170 words), the first to use the principle of alphabetization, and the earliest attempt in Persian lexicography at compiling a multilingual dictionary. In it we have a consistent, explicit statistic of the foreign loanwords in Persian and the first attempt at classifying them.

The first three parts are devoted to the Persian lexicon and are arranged according to the formation of the words: simple words (part 1), complex words (part 2), and Persian, mostly old, infinitives (part 3; infinitives are seldom found in earlier dictionaries). In an appendix to the dictionary, the author has gathered Persian expressions and compounds with strange meanings. The Arabic lexicon constitutes part 4; the “mixed lexicon” (i.e., Arabic-Nabatean-Persian) part 5; the “Roman” lexicon (i.e., words of Greek, Latin, or Syriac provenience) part 6; the Turkic lexicon part 7. For some of the words Badr-al-Dīn quotes Indian equivalents (hendovī).

Badr-al-Dīn was the first to list phraseological elements separately. In the preface to the dictionary he explains the tasks of his lexicographical work and the principles for the presentation of the material. He introduces an innovation into the very composition of a lexical article. He gives a descriptive characterization of the reading of the word to be explained, sometimes noting variant readings, and marking maʿrūf and majhūl vowels. To a greater extent than his predecessors he quotes dialectal vocabulary, mentioning words from Shiraz, Gīlān, Bukhara, Farḡāna, and Transoxiana. He also strives to adapt his dictionary to the reading of a variety of written texts, and to a certain degree for direct dealings with the foreign-speaking population. He uses older dictionaries such as Loḡat-e fors by Asadī Ṭūsī, the Farhang-nāma by Faḵrī Ḡawwās, the Resāla-ye Naṣīr-e Aḥmad (before 822/1419), and the Farhang-e Ferdowsī (before 822/1419), to which the text contains frequent references. Badr-al-Dīn’s dictionary served as an authoritative source for later lexicographers, such as Ebrāhīm Fārūqī (Farhang-e Ebrāhīm, comp. 878/ 1473), Maḥmūd b. Żīāʾ-al-Dīn (Toḥfat al-saʿāda, comp. 916/1510), Shaikh Moḥammadzād (Moʾayyed al-fożalāʾ, comp. 925/1519), Sorūrī (Majmaʿ al-fors, comp. 1008/1600), Jamāl-al-Dīn Ḥosayn Enjū (Farhang-e jahāngīrī, comp. 1017/1608), etc.

For a long time the Farhang-e zafāngūyā was counted as lost, but at the beginning of the 1960s the discovery of two manuscripts was reported: One, in the Orientalist Library of Patna (India), is a complete copy of the dictionary, but defective at the edges, written in the 9th/15th century. The second manuscript was identified by S. I. Baevskiĭ in an incomplete copy of an unidentified dictionary in the library of the State University of Tashkent, written in 1123/1711. Baevskiĭ used this copy as the basis for an edition of the dictionary, comparing the Indian manuscript. In 1978, he published a report of the discovery of a third (incomplete) manuscript of the dictionary (wr. 998/1590) in the catalogue of the Ketāb-ḵāna-ye Senā (the Senate Library; no. 527), Tehran, which had until then been known in scholarly literature as the Farhang-e panj-bakšī.

In 1986 Baevskiĭ identified a fourth manuscript. The manuscript, described in W. Pertsch, Verzeichnis der persischen Handschriften (Berlin, 1888, p. 142, no. 74) is dated 921/1515 but does not name itself. It contains a complete copy of the Farhang-e zafāngūyā, closely resembling the Tehran copy in its redaction.



Badr-al-Dīn Ebrāhīm, Farhang-e zafāngūyā wa jahānpūyā, ed. S. I. Baevskiĭ (facsimile, text, translation, index), Moscow, 1974.

Idem, “Unikal’naya rukopis’ persidskogo tolkovogo slovarya "Farkhang-i Zafanguya va dzhakhanpuya",” Narody Azii i Afriki 3, 1965, pp. 118-21.

Idem, “Rukopis’ "Slovarya Pandzhbakhshi"/"Pyatichastnogo slovarya",” in Pis’mennye pamyatniki i problemy istorii kul’tury narodov Vostoka, Moscow, 1979, I, pp. 15-21.

Idem, “Identifikatsiya neopoznannoĭ rukopisi persidskogo farkhanga v "Kataloge persidskikh rukopiseĭ" sobraniya Korolevskoĭ Biblioteki v Berline,” Narody Azii i Afriki, 1987, I, pp. 104-05.

Search terms:

بدرالدین ابراهیم badr al din ebrahim badr al dine ebrahim badr aldin ebrahim


(S. I. Baevskiĭ)

Originally Published: December 15, 1988

Last Updated: August 22, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. III, Fasc. 4, p. 381