BOKĀVOL (Büke’ül), a term used in the Il-khanid period and after for a royal food taster or, later and more commonly, a military commissariat officer. The word is not used in the Secret History of the Mongols, but the officials who it tells us were appointed by Jengīz (Čengīz) Khan at the qūrīltāy of 1206 to act as court overseers of food (called bāvoṛčī, cook or steward) fulfill the same functions (ed. Ligeti, p. 184; tr. Cleaves, p. 154).
In the early Mongol period, bokāvols were responsible during the reign of Ögedei (Oktāy) for the distribution to the princes and amirs of game killed during the great royal encircling hunt (nerga/jerga) (Rašīd-al-Dīn, II/1, p. 148; tr. Boyle, p. 65). Later their misdeeds were among the reasons for the administrative reform whereby, in 703/1303-04, the Il-khan Ḡāzān granted eqṭāʿs (assignments) to his army. Ḡāzān had previously attempted to meet the soldiers’ needs by granting them specific amounts of provisions by means of drafts (barāt). This expedient broke down because the bokāvols and other commissariat officials took bribes and were negligent in the performance of their duties (Rašīd-al-Dīn, III, pp. 508-09; Morgan, p. 92).
From the end of the Mongol period there is a long account of the bokāvol’s duties in the Dostūr al-kāteb of Moḥammad b. Hendūšāh Naḵjavānī (pp. 53-57). The term continued in use for many centuries after the fall of the Il-khanids, e.g., in the Jalayerid Resāla-ye falakīya of Ebn Kīā Māzandarānī (fols. 33b, 34b, 35b, 54a); in the 11th/17th century, according to Chardin (V, p. 349), the bokāvol was in charge of the royal kitchens.
J. Chardin, Voyages . . . en Perse, ed. L. Langlès, 10 vols., Paris, 1811.
Doerfer, I, pp. 204; II, pp. 301-07.
ʿAbd-Allāh b. Moḥammad b. Kīā Māzandarānī, Resāla-ye falakīya (Die Resālä-ye Falakiyyä), ed. W. Hinz, Wiesbaden, 1952.
Moḥammad b. Hendūšāh Naḵjavānī, Dostūr al-kāteb fī taʿyīn al-marāteb, ed. A. A. Alizade, II, Moscow, 1976.
D. O. Morgan, “The Mongol Armies in Persia,” Der Islam 56/1, 1979, pp. 81-96.
Rašīd-al-Dīn, Jāmeʿ al-tawārīḵ II/1, ed. A. A. Alizade, Moscow, 1980; tr. J. A. Boyle, The Successors of Genghis Khan, New York and London, 1971; III, ed. A. A. Alizade, Baku, 1957. Secret History of the Mongols, ed. L. Ligeti, Budapest, 1971; tr. F. W. Cleaves, Cambridge, Mass., 1982.
(David O. Morgan)
Originally Published: December 15, 1989
Last Updated: December 15, 1989
This article is available in print.
Vol. IV, Fasc. 3, p. 332