JAWĀHER AL-ʿAJĀYEB, a short, rare kind of taḏkera in Persian containing biographies of female poets and specimens of their verses (mostly in Persian, some in Chaghatay Turkish). It was compiled by Solṭān-Moḥammad b. Amir(i) Heravi (ca. 1562), known as Faḵri Heravi (q.v.; for variant names, see Rāšedi, p. 13), who had started his literary career in Safavid Herat before emigrating to the court of the Arḡuns in Sind (Storey, pp. 795-97; Rāšedi, pp. 11-74 ; Naqawi, pp. 91-94; Ḵayyāmpur, pp. y, yhá). The Jawāher al-ʿajāyeb was most probably written in Šaʿbān 962/June-July 1555 (Rāšedi, p. 66), or rather in 1556 after Jalāl-al-Din Moḥammad Akbar (q.v.) ascended the Mughal throne (Naqawi, p. 98; Ḵayyāmpur, pp. yb; Rāšedi, pp. 69-70), and not in 1540-41 (Sprenger, p. 10), at the court of Moḥammad ʿIsā Khan Tarḵān (r. 1554-67), and dedicated to a lady called Māh/Māhom Begom (Jawāher al-ʿajāyeb, ed. Rāšedi, pp. 114-15). She could be identified either with the nurse of the Emperor Akbar, Māhom (Naqawi, p. 97; Ḵayyāmpur, p. yb), or with Ḥājia Māh Begom, the daughter of Moḥammad Moqim Arḡun, wife first of Šāh-Ḥasan Arḡun and then of Moḥammad ʿIsā Tarḵān (Jawāher al-ʿajāyeb, ed. Rāšedi, pp. 114 n. 1, 115).

The Jawāher al-ʿajāyeb starts with an introduction containing praises of the ruling kings, Shah Ṭahmāsp Ṣafawi in Iran and Akbar in India, of the author’s last patron Moḥammad ʿIsā Khan, and of Māhom Begom, the dedicatee (ed. Rāšedi, pp. 113-15); some copies end with a qaṣida dedicated to “Māhom” (ed. Rāšedi, pp. 141-42). Eight known manuscripts are described by Rāšedi (pp. 72-74), which completes the lists of Charles Storey and other catalogues. Number of biographies varies between 20 and 31 according to the copy. They are arranged in a rough chronological order. Some manuscripts start with four entries devoted to legendary or saintly women famous throughout the Muslim world: Delārām, ʿĀyeša, Fāṭema, and Zoleyḵā (see ed. Rāšedi, pp. 117-20). The following four items treat Persian language poetesses who lived prior to the Timurid period (ed. Rāšedi, pp. 120-24), namely Mahsati (at the court of the Seljuq Solṭān Sanjar, 12th cent.); Pādšāh Ḵātun bent Qoṭb-al-Din Moḥammad-Solṭān Qarā Ḵetāy who ruled in Kermān at the end of the 13th cent.; Jahān Ḵātun Širāzi and Bibi Ḥayāt, both wives of a vizier of the Injuid Shah Abu Esḥāq (d. 1357) and contemporaries of ʿObeyd Zakāni (d. 1371).

The majority of the entries are devoted to poetesses who lived mostly in Herat, Khorasan, and Transoxiana, and who were contemporaries or near-contemporaries of the author. They include “Mehri; Moḡul Ḵātun (wife of Moḥammad Khan Šeybāni); Āfāq Bega Jalāyer; Nehāni Kermāni; Bija Monajjema; Bibi ʿEṣmati; Bideli; Nehāni Širāzi; a daughter of the qāżi of Samarqand; Faḵr-al-Nesāʾ; Ḵānzāda Torbati; Partovi; Šāhmolk; a daughter of Ḡazali Yazdi; Bibi Ārezu; Żaʿefi; Ḥayāt Heravi; Bibi Ātun (wife of Mawlānā Baqāʾi); Jamāli or Ḥejābi (daughter of Mawlānā Helāli); daughter of ʿEffati Esfarāyeni; Fāṭeme Ḵātun Dusti; Tervi(?) Meymāni, and Nesāʾi.

The Jawāher al-ʿajāyeb became itself a source for several later Persian and Mughal authors, who included chapters on female poets (list in Rāšedi, pp. 11-12). The Jawāher al-ajāyeb is a valuable complementary source for Timurid and Safavid social and cultural history by a contemporary author, but it is also rather unusual and unique in medieval Persian literature by the fact that it is exclusively devoted to women (see Szuppe). It sheds light on the cultural life of Herat elites close to the court circle and on the part played in it by women, both Persian and Turkic.



Catalogues of manuscripts. Eduard Sachau, Hermann Ethé and Alfred Felix L. Beeston, Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindūstāni and Pushtū manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Catalogi codicum manuscriptorum bibliothecae Bodleianae 13, 3 vols, Oxford 1889-1954, no. 362 (fol. 190-98).

Aloys Sprenger, Catalogue of the Arabic, Persian and Hindùstàny Manuscripts in the Libraries of the King of Oudh I, Calcutta 1854, no. 5, pp. 9-11.

Maulavi Abdul Muqtadir and Sayyed Athar Sher, Catalogue of the Arabic and Persian manuscripts in the Oriental Public Library at Bankipore, Patna, 1908, XI, ms 1098; XXXII.

Maulavi Qāsim Hasir Radavi and Maulavi Abd-ul-Muqtadir, Catalogue raisonné of the Būhār Library I: Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts . . . , Calcutta, 1905, no. 482(1).

Editions. Faḵri Heravi, Jawāher al-ʿajāyeb, lithograph ed., Lucknow, 1873.

Idem, Taòkera-ye Rawżat al-salāṭin wa Jawāher al-ʿajāyeb (with Divan Fakhri Harvi), compiled during the reign of Shah Hasan Arghun and Mirza Isa Tarkhan at Tatta, year 1551-56, ed. with annotations Sayyed Ḥosām-al-Din Rāšedi, Hyderabad, 1968, pp. 111-42.

Secondary Sources. Aḥmad Golčin-e Maʿāni, Tāriḵ-e taḏkerahā-ye fārsi, 2 vols., Tehran, 1969-71, I, pp. 417-32; II, pp. 839-41.

Mir Neẓām-al-Din ʿAli-Šir Navāʾi, Majāles al-nafāʾes, two Pers. translations by Solṭān-Moḥammad Faḵri Heravi (as Laṭāʾef-nāma) and Ḥakim Šāh-Moḥammad Qazvini, ed. ʿAli-Aṣḡar Ḥekmat, Tehran, 1944, editor’s Intro.

ʿAbd-al-Rasul Ḵayyāmpur, “Introduction” to Faḵri Heravi, Taḏkera-ye Rawżat al-salāṭin, ed. ʿAbd-al-Rasul Ḵayyāmpur, Tabriz, 1966.

Sayyed Ḥosām-al-Din Rāšedi, “Introduction” to Jawāher al-ʿajāyeb (see above). Ḏabiḥ-Allāh Ṣafā, Tāriḵ-e adabiyāt dar Irān VI/3, 1992, pp. 1652-53.

Charles A. Storey, Persian Literature: A Bio-Bibliographical Survey, 2 vols., London 1927-, I/2, no. 1099, pp. 795-97.

Saʿid Nafisi, Tāriḵ-e naẓm o naṯr dar Irān wa dar zabān-e fārsi, 2 vols., Tehran, 1965, I, pp. 438-39.

Sayyed ʿAli-Reżā Naqawi, Taḏkera-nevisi-e fārsi dar Hend wa Pākestān, Tehran, 1968, pp. 91-100.

Maria Szuppe, “Female Intellectual Milieu in Timurid and Post-Timurid Herāt: Faxri Haravi’s Biography of Poetesses Javāher al-ʿAjāyeb,” in Michele Bernardini, ed., La civiltà timuride come fenomeno internazionale, 2 vols., Rome, 1996, I, pp. 119-37.

(Maria Szuppe)

Originally Published: December 15, 2008

Last Updated: April 13, 2012

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