FARROḴĪ SĪSTĀNĪ, ABU’L-ḤASAN ʿALĪ b. Jūlūḡ, Persian court poet. According to the earliest notice on his life, contained in the second essay of Neẓāmī ʿArūżī’s Čahār maqāla (ed. Qazvīnī, pp. 58–65), his father Jūlūḡ was a military slave (ḡolām) of Amir Aḥmad Ḵalaf-e Bānū, the Saffarid ruler of Sīstān (r. 352-93/ 963–1003). As a youth, Farroḵī served a dehqān (q.v.), but—disappointed by the answer to his request for an increase in his salary—he left his homeland and found a new patron in Abu’l-Moẓaffar Faḵr-al-Dawla Aḥmad b. Moḥammad, the ruler of Čaḡānīān (q.v.). Neẓāmī ʿArūżī’s story contains a detailed report of Farroḵī’s entry there, with the help of the Kadḵodāy Amīr Asʿad, and the two qaṣīdas which won him a lasting fame. The first was the poem opening with bā kārvān-e ḥolla beraftam ze Sīstān, “With the caravan of striped cloth I left Sīstān” (no. 169), alluding fancifully to his poetry. The second contained a poetical description of the branding of the colts at Abu’l-Moẓaffar’s dāḡgāh (no. 86).

According to a calculation made by Ahmed Ateş, Farroḵī’s arrival in Čaḡānīān would have taken place in the spring of 406/1016. In the autumn of the same year, he wrote a poem for Abu’l-Moẓaffar on the Mehragān festival. Perhaps not much later, he left the provincial court for Ḡazna, where he entered the service of Sultan Maḥmūd before 408/1017.

Particulars of Farroḵī’s life at the Ghaznavid court can only be gleaned from his own works, because the later taḏkera sources are of no value as far as his biography is concerned. He stayed on in Ḡazna till the end of his life. His death is often said to have occurred in 429/1037-38, but this dating, though not improbable, can only be traced to a 13th/19th century source, Reżāqolī Khan Hedāyat’s Majmaʿ-al-foṣaḥāʾ (II, pp. 1054-55). Another date mentioned in some taḏkeras is 470/1077-78, but this is quite impossible. It is certain, anyway, that his life came to an end during the reign of Sultan Masʿūd I (421-32/1030-41), the last royal patron named in his poems. A short elegy by Labībī states that Farroḵī died young, at a time when his fellow-poet ʿOnṣorī was still alive (cf. Rādūyānī, p. 32).

Farroḵī was one of the most successful court poets in the history of Persian literature. During his long service to the Ghaznavids, he witnessed the heyday of that dynasty under Sultan Maḥmūd, for whom he wrote a great number of panegyrics. He attended formal occasions, like the celebration of the seasonal festivals Nowrūz, Mehragān, and Sada, and the Islamic ʿīd al-feṭr, as well as banquets and drinking bouts. He commemorated events in the lives of his patrons, such as the birth of a child, the building of a palace or the creation of a pleasure garden, the nomination to an office and reception of a robe of honor. Besides attending to these domestic affairs, he also accompanied his royal patron on hunting trips and during his military expeditions against the Hindus .His description of the raid on the temple of Somnath (Sūmnāt) in Gujarat (no. 35), which took place in 417/1026, is the most celebrated of Farroḵī’s poems on these wars, which are are not without value for historians. Another famous poem related to a momentous event was the elegy he wrote for Maḥmud in 421/1030 (no. 41), one of the greatest poems of this kind ever written in Persian.

Other members of the Ghaznavid house who patronized Farroḵī were Maḥmūd’s brothers Yūsof and Naṣr, and his sons Moḥammad and Masʿūd. From the great number of panegyrics he wrote for Moḥammad, it is clear that Farroḵī was particularly close to this prince, but he changed sides unscrupulously when Masʿūd deposed his brother after a reign of only a few months. Farroḵī found other patrons among the high officials of the state such as the viziers Aḥmad b. Ḥasan Meymandī (nos. 75, 153, 157) and Ḥasanak (no. 93). He also wrote a poem (no. 78) for Maḥmūd’s favorite slave Ayāz b. Ūymāq (q.v.), at a time when Ayāz had become a commander in the Ghaznavid army .

There are only a few indications pointing to a temporary disgrace of the poet (see, e.g., nos. 134 and 142). On the whole, Farroḵī must have been an immensely popular man who participated with great zest in the convivial life of the court and whose art was lavishly rewarded. Like Rūdakī in the preceding century, he was not only a poet, but also a minstrel who had mastered the harp (čang), the lute (barbatÂ) as well as the art of recitation. The introductions to his qaṣīdas show his superior skill in anacreontic verse and nature poetry. The evocation of idealized landscapes and gardens is often linked with love themes, for instance when he describes his emotions in terms of their reflection in the seasonal changes. His beloved is often specified as a Turkish youth, apparently a military slave; at least in one instance the beloved is said to have come from an army camp (laškargāh; no. 45). Farroḵī must have been a prolific writer of independent ḡazals. He often refers to such poems, but apart from the occasional quotation within a qaṣīda (no. 47/48) they have not been preserved.

ʿAwfī (Lobāb, ed. Nafīsī, II, p. 47) had already ascribed sahl-e momtaneʿ (“inimitable simplicity”) to his style, a phrase frequently repeated by later critics. However, the same writer remarked that in his early work Farroḵī exerted himself in the use of rhetorical devices. As a matter of fact, one finds among his qaṣīdas several examples of this, e.g., in a qaṣīda-ye maṣnūʿa (no. 40) in which each distich begins and ends with the same word or a few poems in the form of a dialogue (nos. 136, 177), or in various kinds of repetitive devices such as the use of anaphora, parallelism, and alliteration. However, his style remains always fluent and easy to understand, free from difficult words or learned allusions.

The Dīvān of Farroḵī, as we know it now, consists of about nine thousand distichs. It is apparently a fairly complete collection of his output of panegyrics in the form of qaṣīdas. There are also three stanzaic poems, a number of fragmentary poems, and a collection of quatrains. If there has been any loss of material, this must have been restricted mainly to the independent ḡazals. Beginning with Asadī’s dictionary Lōḡat al-fors, written about half a century after the poet’s death, several medieval works, especially anthologies and treatises on poetics, have included citations from Farroḵī’s poetry. This indirect tradition has been studied by Jan Rypka and Miloš Borecký. These fragments are of particular interest to the textual history of his poems because they provide some insight in the state of these texts during a period from which nomanuscript of the Dīvān has survived. At the end of the 9th/15th century, Dawlatšāh observed that manuscripts of Farroḵī’s collected poems were “enjoying a wide celebrity in Transoxiana, but lost or little known in Khurasan” (Browne, Lit. Hist. Persia II, p. 124). It may be due to a temporary lack of interest in Farroḵī’s poetry (which may have appeared unsophisticated to the contemporaries of Ḥāfeẓ), that no medieval copies of the Dīvān are extant. The oldest dated source used in the most recent edition by Moḥammad Dabīrsīāqī is a volume entitled Majmaʿ al-qaṣāʾed, compiled by Taqī-al-Dīn Moḥammad Ḥosaynī in 1067/1656-57, which was in the possession of the editor (cf. Dabīrsīāqī, Sar-āḡāz, p. hefdah; see also Storey/de Blois V/3, p. 606). It is further remarkable that the number of copies made from the Dīvān greatly increased during the Qajar period when, as a result of the bāzgašt-e adabī (q.v.), Farroḵī had become one of the most important models of neo-classical poetry. In a manuscript in the Bankipore Library, Farroḵī is named as the author of an epic poem, the Šahrīār-nāma, but this attribution, which is not very likely, is still to be verified.


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

The Dīvān was lithographed in Tehran, 1301/1883-84, and 1302/1884-85.

It was edited by ʿAlī ʿAbd-al-Rasūlī, Tehran, 1311 Š./1932, and again by M. Dabīr-Sīāqī, Tehran, 1335 Š./1957; 2nd ed. 1349 Š./1970 (used for nos. of poems cited in this article).

Studies: A. Ateş, “Farroḵī če zamān be Čaḡānīān raft?” MDAT 8/2, 1339 Š./1961, pp. 1-12; Turkish version, “Farruhī Çaġāniyān’a ne zaman gitti?” Şarkiyat Mecmuası 4, 1961, pp. 23-32.

C. E. Bosworth, “Farrukhī’s Elegy on Maḥmūd of Ghazna,” Iran 29, 1991, pp. 43-49 (tr. and commentary).

D. M. Correale, Farroxī: Concordance and Lexical Repertories of 1000 Lines, Venice, 1991.

C.-H. de Fouchécour, La description de la nature dans la poésie lyrique persane du XIe siècle: Inventaire et analyse des thèmes, Paris, 1969.

J. S. Meisami, “Ghaznavid Panegyrics: Some Political Implications,” Iran 28, 1990, pp. 31-44.

Moḥammad b. ʿOmar Rādūyānī, Tarjomān al-balāḡā, Istanbul, 1949 (with notes by A. Ateş). Rypka, Hist. Iran. Lit., p. 176.

J. Rypka and M. Borecký, “Farruḫī,” Archiv orientální 16, 1948, pp. 17-75.

Ṣafā, Adabīyāt I, pp. 531-46.

Storey/de Blois, V/1, pp. 108-12.

Ḡ.-Ḥ. Yūsofī, Farroḵī Sīstānī: baḥṯ-ī dar šarḥ-e aḥwāl wa rūzgār wa šeʿr-e ū, Mašhad, 1341 Š./1962-63 (the most detailed monograph available).

(J. T. P. de Bruijn)

Originally Published: December 15, 1999

Last Updated: December 15, 1999