FĀRYĀBĪ, ẒAHĪR-AL-DĪN ABU’L-FAŻL ṬĀHER, b. Moḥammad, Persian poet who used Ẓahīr as his pen name. He was born at Fāryāb, modern Dawlatābād, in the province of Jūzjān near Balḵ (qq.v.), probably about 550/1156, or in 1160 according to Kuliyev (Rypka, Hist. Iran. Lit., p. 209; Kuliyev, pp. 145-46); the occurrence of Turkish words in his poetry gave rise to the incorrect assumption that he was of Turkish origin (Rypka, Camb. Hist. Iran, p. 577). Ẓahīr-al-Dīn died in Rabīʿ I 598/November-December 1201 at Tabrīz and was buried in the graveyard of poets at Sorḵāb (Tārīḵ-e gozīda, ed. Browne, pp. 737-38). From his works it appears that he was a poeta doctus with a good education in Arabic and sciences, especially astronomy. For several years he wandered from court to court writing eulogies for many different patrons. As a young poet he enjoyed the protection of ʿAżod-al-Dīn Ṭoḡānšāh b. Moʾayyad (d. 582/1186), the local ruler of Nīšāpūr. In 582/1186 he wrote an astrological treatise refuting the prognostication of a hurricane, which, according to legend, was made by Anwarī (q.v.). In the same year Ẓahīr went to Isfahan, where he found a new patronage with the Āl-e Ḵojand, a family of Hanafite scholars who as ṣadrsexercised political control over that city. In 585/1189 he traveled further to the court of the Bavandid Espahbad Ḥosām-al-Dawla Ardašīr in Māzandarān; eventually he settled down at the court of the Ildegozid atābegs in Azerbaijan. His most important patrons were Moẓaffar-al-Dīn Qezel Arslān (581-87/1186-91) and Noṣrat-al-Dīn Abū Bakr (591-607/1195-1211), to whom he dedicated many qaṣīdas. In one poem he addressed himself to the Saljuq sultan Rokn-al-Dīn Ṭoḡrel III (571-90/1176-94). Ẓahīr is said to have abandoned court poetry to withdraw into a secluded life during his final years.

Ẓahīr became especially known as a panegyrist who has been often compared to Anwarī and Ḵāqānī, the masters of the courtly qaṣīda of his age. He wrote, however, in a simpler and more fluent style, avoiding the excessive use of learned allusions and Arabic words. Edward G. Browne judged his verse as being “polished, graceful,” but also “rather insipid” and “without the occasional outbursts of invective, satire, or deep feeling which redeem the poems of Anwari and Kháqáni” (p. 414). The influence of Anwarī, which is evident in Ẓahīr’s qaṣīdas, led in the 13th century to a debate on the respective merits of the two poets, in which Majd b. Hamgar and Emāmī Heravī participated (cf. Dīvān-e Anwarī I, editor’s introd., pp. 108-10). A critical note on his extravagant use of hyperbole was made by Saʿdī in a line of his Būstān (p. 40, v. 196, comm., p. 225). Ḥāfeẓ referred to the “good poetry of Ẓahīr” in one of his ḡazals (Dīvān, no. 251, v. 13).

Although Ẓahīr never reached the classical status of his two great contemporaries, his poetry did not fall into oblivion either, as witnessed by the great number of manuscripts known (cf. Monzawī, Nosḵahā III, pp. 2421-25 and Storey/de Blois, pp. 558-61). Since the 19th century his Dīvān has been printed several times, both in Persia and in India. A few early manuscripts contain a preface written shortly after the poet’s death by an anonymous collector of his poems (see, for instance, Sprenger, p. 579; Rieu, pp. 151-52; perhaps the collector’s name was Šams Sojāsī; cf. Storey/de Blois, pp. 536, 558). There are, however, at least two other ancient collections recorded, marked by different incipits (cf. Duda, p. 70 with Ethé, no. 584). The main substance of Ẓahīr’s poetry consists of his qaṣīdasand moqaṭṭaʿāt, the latter belonging mostly to the genre of panegyrics. He also left a number of ḡazals and quatrains, two tarkīb-bands, and a few lines in maṯnawī.

An assessment of his contribution to the development of the ḡazal is thwarted by an unfortunate confusion in some printed versions of his Dīvān. To judge from the descriptions of the early manuscripts, his output of ḡazals must have been rather small. The set of about three hundred poems published under his name (e.g., in the lithographed edition, Cawnpore, 1295/1878, and the edition by H. Rażī, Tehran, 1338 Š./1959) consists primarily of ḡazals by Ẓahīr-al-Dīn Šīrāzī, a 16th-century poet of Shiʿite persuasion (cf. ʿAwfī, ed. Nafīsī, pp. 733-34 and Storey/de Blois, p. 558). Sometimes also the qaṣīdas of his contemporary Šams Ṭabasī have been mixed with Ẓahīr’s poetry. A first attempt to purge the Dīvān from these false additions was made by Taqī Bīneš (Mašhad, 1337 Š./1958), but a proper critical edition on the basis of the available medieval manuscripts is still needed.


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

A.-M. ʿĀbedī, “Ašʿār-e tāza az Ẓahīr-al-Dīn Fāryābī,” in Ī. Afšār and K. Eṣfahānīan, eds., Nāmvāra-ye Doktor Maḥmūd Afšār VI, Tehran, 1370 Š./1991, pp. 3561-91.

Anwarī, Dīvān-e Anwarī, ed. M.-T. Modarres Rażawī I, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1347 Š. /1968.

T. Bīneš, “Yāddāšt-ī dar bāra-ye dīvān-e Ẓahīr Fāryābī,” Našrīya-ye Farhang-e Ḵorāsān 5/1, 1342 Š./1963, pp. 15-16.

Browne, Lit. Hist. Persia II, pp. 412-25.

H. Duda, “Die persischen Dichterhandschriften der Sammlung Esʿad Efendi,” Der Islam 39, 1964, p. 70.

Ebn Esfandīār, I, pp. 120-21.

Ethé, Catalogue, nos. 582-84.

ʿA. Golšāʾīān, “Taḥqīq dar šarḥ-e ḥāl-e Ẓahīr-al-Dīn Fāryābī,” Yaḡmā 3/2, 1329 Š./1950, pp. 96-102.

Ḥāfeẓ, Dīvān, ed. P. N. Ḵānlarī, Tehran, 1359 Š / 1980.

P. Ḵāʾefī, “Ẓahīr Faryābī wa Ḥāfeż,” in idem, Maqālahā wa moqābalahā, Shiraz, 1356 Š./1977, pp. 141-48.

Ḵayyāmpūr, Soḵanvarān, p. 363.

G. M. Khan, “Diwan i Zahir and Its Authorship,” Sind University Reaearch Journal, Arts Series1, 1961, pp. 1-4.

B. Ch. Kuliev, “Zakhur Far’yabi (k voprosu o gode rozhdeniya),” (Ẓahīr Fāryābī: On the problem of his birth), Narodui Azii i Afriki 6, 1965, pp. 145-46.

Nafīsī, Naẓm o naṯr, pp. 106-7, 720.

Rieu, Persian Manuscripts, suppl, pp. 151-53.

J. Rypka, “Poets and Prose Writers of the Late Saljuq and Mongol Periods,” in Cambr. Hist. Iran V, pp. 550-625.

Saʿdī, Būstān, ed. Ḡ.-Ḥ. Yūsofī, Tehran, 1363 Š /1984.

Ṣafā, Adabīyāt II, pp. 750-64.

A. S. Sprenger, A Catalogue of the Arabic, Persian. . .Manuscripts of the Libraries of the King of Oudh I, Calcutta, 1854, pp. 578-80.

Storey/de Blois, V/2, pp. 557-61.

(J.T.P. de Bruijn)

Originally Published: December 15, 1999

Last Updated: January 24, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. IX, Fasc. 4, pp. 382-383