EBN BĀBĀ KĀŠĀNĪ (Qāšānī), ABU’L-ʿABBĀS (d. Marv, 510/1116-17), Persian writer and boon-companion (nadīm), whose manual for courtiers preserves otherwise lost information on the later Ghaznavids. Presumably a native of Kāšān, Ebn Bābā worked in western Persia, Baghdad, and finally Khorasan, probably at the court of the Saljuqid Sultan Sanjar. His main fame is as author of the Ketāb raʾs māl al-nadīm, written for one Amir Raʾīs Saʿd-al-Molk Abu’l-Fatḥ Moḥammad (ed. M. Ṣ. Badawī, 2 vols., unpubl. Ph.D. diss., University of Manchester, 1975). It is an adab work in seven chapters containing material useful for companions and entertainers, such as the lore and traditions of the pre-Islamic Arabs, proverbs, chess and backgammon, etc., and drawing heavily on earlier authors. The last chapter, on the main Islamic dynasties, contains an account of the Ghaznavids that is especially important for the second half of the 5/11th century, a period not covered by the narratives of Bayhaqī and Gardīzī (Bosworth, Later Ghaznavids, pp. 2-3). He also wrote a book, now lost, on the sects of the Shiʿites (Yāqūt).
The little that is known about him is contained in Samʿānī, Ketāb al-ansāb, fols. 80a, 437b, and Yāqūt, Boldān, Beirut, I, p. 412, IV, pp. 296-97.
Bosworth, “Early Sources for the History of the First Four Ghaznavid Sultans,” Islamic Quarterly 7, 1963, pp. 17-18.
Idem, Later Ghaznavids, pp. 132-55 (tr. of the section on the Ghaznavids). V. M. Hamdani, “Some Rare Manuscripts in Istanbul,” JRAS, 1938, pp. 562-63.
(C. Edmund Bosworth)
Originally Published: December 15, 1997
Last Updated: December 6, 2011
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