EBN YAMĪN, AMĪR FAḴR-AL-DĪN MAḤMŪD b. Amir Yamīn-al-Dīn Ṭoḡrāʾī, a poet of the 8th/14th century. He was born in 685/1286-87 (Rypka, p. 261; Bāstānī Rād, p. yd) in Faryūmad, a center of culture in western Khorasan, into a family of landed gentry; he died on 8 Jomādā II 769/30 January 1368 (ʿAbd-al-Razzāq Ḵᵛāfī, II, p. 101).

According to his own prose preface to his Dīvān (Bāstānī Rād, pp. 1-6), Ebn Yamīn’s original book of poems was lost in the battle which occurred in the principality of Ḵᵛāf between Malek Moʿezz-al-Dīn Ḥosayn the Kart (see ĀL-e KART) and Wajīh-al-Dīn Masʿūd, the second Sarbedār leader, in 743/1342 (Dīvān, pp. 3-4.). All extant manuscripts are, therefore, based on a second compilation (ibid., p. 5). Almost all of Ebn Yamīn’s biographers and hagiographers, from Dawlatšāh to Bāstānī Rād, have drawn on the brief prose preface to his Dīvān and on his poems, wherein an exceptionally large number of references to the poet’s own life and circumstances can be found, in order to sketch his biography and extol his virtues. They all portray Ebn Yamīn as a man of moral virtues and a master composer of qetʿa (fragment), a poetic genre resembling the ḡazal pattern. Begun in a provincial setting, Ebn Yamīn’s life was an eventful one and culminated in close involvement in the power struggles of Khorasan in the 14th century and in long residence at several courts, most prominently at that of Malek Ḥosayn the Kart in Herat as mostawfī (state comptroller). Eventually, in old age it led to a longed-for return to Faryūmad, the poet’s birth place, and a peaceful death there (Browne, pp. 215-16; Bāstānī Rād, pp. km, nd, yd, yt; Ṣafā, pp. 952-55; Zarrīnkūb, pp. 229-34; Ḥabīb al-sīar III, p. 386).

Ebn Yamīn had an eclectic style and a variety of thematic influences. His poetry epitomizes the major characteristics of the late Ḵorāsānī school of Persian poetry, both in generic divisions and stylistic features. His Dīvān includes almost all the major genres made current by that school, as well as many of the minor ones like čīstān (puzzle-poem), the epigram, the chronogram, and various occasional and commemorative poems. About 100 short molammaʿ (bilingual poems in Arabic and Persian) fragments as well as poems in Arabic accompanied by their verse translation in Persian are also recorded in his Dīvān. Following medieval taḏkera writers, several contemporary literary historians and critics have mentioned Ebn Yamīn’s mastery in the composition of qetʿa (Browne, p. 216; Rypka, p. 261; Ṣafā, p. 906), a poem of a philosophical, ethical, or meditative character and an arena where “the poet often tells of his own personal experiences” (Rypka, pp. 95 f.). Browne (pp. 218-22) cites eight of these together with his own verse translation of them. This genre, having risen in importance in the later period of the Ḵorāsānīschool, occupies over half of Ebn Yamīn’s Dīvān, a greater share than any previous poet. But here, as elsewhere in the Dīvān, the quality of the poetic utterance varies greatly, inhibiting categorical judgment.

Stylistically, Ebn Yamīn’s poetry reflects the main features of the Ḵorāsānī school characterized in the main by relatively simple expressive devices, a pronounced rhythm, and a straightforward syntax (Maḥjūb, pp. 1-15). At the same time, diverse syntactic complexities and preponderance of a lexicon of Arabic derivation already herald the presence of certain stylistic features from the so-called Erāqī school of Persian poetry. In addition to the stock themes and motifs employed in the panegyric qaṣīda and love lyrics, Ebn Yamīn’s verse compositions aim at propagating human endeavor and industry, warning against excesses of all kinds, and providing observations on the passage of time and the onslaught of old age, death, and the afterlife. Citing a single poem on the pain of existence, Browne calls it characteristic of Ebn Yamīn’s "Manichšan and Malthusian pessimism” (p. 218).

A selection of Ebn Yamīn’s poems has been translated into German by Maria von Ottakar, with a “Foreword,” containing the poet’s biographical sketch (Ibn Jamin’s Bruchstücke aus dem Persischen, Vienna, 1852). E. H. Rodwell has also translated 100 of his qetʿas into English from a lithograph edition printed in 1865 in Calcutta (Ibn Yamin. Short Poems, London, 1922).


Bibliography: (For cited works not given in detail, see “Short References.”)

Mīr ʿAbd-al-Razzāq Ḵᵛāfī, Bahārestān-e soḵan, Madras, 1958, pp. 333-35.

Āftāb Rāy Lakhnavī, Rīāż al-ʿārefīn, ed. S. Ḥ. Rāšedī, 2 vols., Rawalpindi, 1976, I., pp. 279-80.

Ātaškada I, pp. 37-39.

Dawlatšāh, ed. Browne, pp. 309-11.

Brown, Lit. Hist. Persia III, pp. 211-22.

Ebn Yamīn Faryūmadī, Dīvān-e ašʿār, ed. Ḥ.-ʿA. Bāstānī Rād, Tehran, 1344 Š./1965.

Faṣīḥ Aḥmad b. Maḥmūd Ḵᵛāfī, Mojmal-e faṣīḥī, ed. M. Farroḵ, 3 vols., Mašhad, 1339-41 Š./1960-62, III, pp. 63-64.

Reżāqolī Khan Hedāyat, Majmaʿ al-foṣaḥāʾ, 2 vols., Tehran, 1339 Š./1960, II, pt. 1, pp. 2 ff.

M.-J. Maḥjūb, Sabk-e ḵorāsānī dar šeʿr-e fārsī, Tehran, 1350 Š./1971.

Rypka, Hist. Iran. Lit. Ṣafā, Adabīyāt III, pp. 951-62.

ʿA-Ḥ. Zarrīnkūb, Bā kārvān-e ḥolla, 5th ed., Tehran, 1362 Š./1983, pp. 229-35.

(Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak)

Originally Published: December 15, 1997

Last Updated: December 6, 2011

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