MOJMAL AL-TAWĀRIḴ WA’L-QEṢAṢ, an anonymous chronicle from the 12th century in the Persian tradition of literary historiography.
The work concentrates on the Persian rulers before the advent of Islam, the Muslim conquests, and events related to Hamadān, indicating that the work probably originated there. The text includes elaborate lists of rulers and fictional narratives. The extant manuscripts are illustrated with maps and images, suggesting that the work was perhaps primarily written for the instruction of a member of the Saljuq nobility.
Manuscripts. Four manuscripts have been preserved in public collections in Paris (BNF MS pers., AF 62), Dublin (CBL MS pers. 330), Berlin (SSB SPK – Orientabteilung, MS pers., Or. 2371), and Heidelberg (MS pers., Cod. Heid. orient. 118). They were written in the 14th and 15th centuries, and their differences in vocabulary and orthography reflect both scribal taste as well as scribal errors (for a detailed description of all four MSS, see ed. Najmabadi and Weber, commentary pp. 35-44). In this entry, all Mojmal al-tawāriḵ references are to the most recent critical edition by Seifeddin Najmabadi and Siegfried Weber, followed by references to the Heidelberg manuscript, a pdf-file of which is available for free on the website of Heidelberg University Library (for a list of the leaves bound out of order, see ed. Najmabadi and Weber, commentary p. 38), and to the 1939 Tehran edition by Moḥammad Taqi Bahār.
The anonymous author. His own name is not recorded but his grandfather’s name is given as Mohallab b. Moḥammad b. Šādi (ed. Najmabadi and Weber, p. 269/fol. 198a/ed. Bahār, p. 344), and this implies that the author himself did not intentionally remove all personal traces from his work. His grandfather’s name also suggests that Abu ʿIsā Šādi b. Moḥammad, the commander of Abu Najm Badr b. Ḥasanuya’s army, might have been an ancestor. The author’s focus on the Buyids, the Zaydi Ḥasanids, and the Sayyids of Hamadān (ed. Najmabadi and Weber, pp. 354-55/fols. 252b-254a/ed. Bahār, pp. 459-60), together with his detailed knowledge of the Hamadān region (fols. 289b-290a/ed. Bahār, pp. 520-23/ed. Najmabadi and Weber, pp. 402-404), makes it likely that he lived in Hamadān or Asadābād and moved in court circles (ed. Najmabadi and Web, commentary pp. 17-20; cf. Meisami, pp. 206-207). The author mentions that he had traveled to Kufa, Najaf, Ḥella, Khuzestan, Susa, Isfahan, Shiraz, and it seems probable that he had visited Baghdad and Jerusalem as well. That he cites from a book written by his grandfather (ed. Najmabadi and Weber, p. 269/fol. 198a/ed. Bahār, p. 344) suggests that he may have come from a learned family.
The reason for writing the book. In his preface (ed. Najmabadi and Weber, p. 7/fols. 4b-5a/ed. Bahār, p. 8) the author states that the idea for this work originated in Asadābād where at the time there was considerable interest in everything concerning the kings of the Persians. While the author does not name a patron for his work, he mentions that he used to talk with a man of some eminence (mehtari) about these matters, and stresses that after a first false start he decided that his full attention was needed for the composition of a truly useful book.
The date of the compilation. The author dates the beginning of his work to 1126 (ed. Najmabadi and Weber, p. 7/fol. 5a/ed. Bahār, p. 9), during the reign of the caliph Mostaršed (r. 1118-35) and of the sultans Sanjar b. Malekšāh (d. 1157) and Maḥmud b. Moḥammad b. Malekšāh (r. 1118-31). Later he indicates that in 1131 (ed. Najmabadi and Weber, p. 312/fol. 224a/ed. Bahār, p. 405) he was still occupied with writing this book. If the author completed his work during these five years, later additions by others can be specified within the text. After the reign of Mostaršed, for example, his successors Rāšed (r. 1135-46), Moqtafi (r. 1136-60), Mostanjed (r. 1160-70), and Mostażiʾ (r. 1170-80) are mentioned (ed. Najmabadi and Weber, p. 350/ fol. 250b/ed. Bahār, p. 454). The author might still have been active during the caliphate of Moqtafi, but lists like those in the Mojmal clearly prompted subsequent readers to update them later.
Contents. In his preface the author identifies the history of the kings of the Persians as the focus of his work (ed. Najmabadi and Weber, p. 7/fols. 4b-5a/ed. Bahār, p. 8). The work consists of 25 chapters (sing. bāb), but chapters 2-7 contain only lists of names and chapter 25 is missing from all extant manuscripts. The advent of Islam in the 7th century allows the author to divide its contents into pre-Islamic and Islamic history. The text starts with a doxology, praising God and explaining the role of the prophets and kings. He then summarizes the main sources of his compilation, and provides a detailed table of contents (ed. Najmabadi and Weber, pp. 3-6/fols. 3a-4b/ed. Bahār, pp. 4-7). Although its headings do not always correspond to those used later in the text, the detailed table of contents allows the reader to easily consult the work for specific information:
1. The historical works and how they differ from each other.
2. The prophets (peyḡāmbarān).
3. The kings of Persia (pādšāhān-e ʿAjam).
4. The wise men of Rome (ḥakimān-e Rum) and some kings.
5. The kings of the Arabs (moluk-e ʿArab) and the Prophet’s ancestors.
6. The caliphs.
7. The kings and sultans of Islam (moluk o salāṭin-e Eslām).
8. Different versions of the history of Gayumarṯ divided into 4 sections (sing. faṣl).
9. The kings of Persia (pādšāhān-e ʿAjam), divided into three sections.
10. Which prophet (peyḡāmbar) and which priests (mōbadān), martyrs (šahidān), and notables (maʿrufān) lived during the reign of each king of Persia.
11. The Turks (Torkān).
12. The kings of India (pādšāhān-e Hend).
13. The kings of the Greece (pādšāhān-e Yunān).
14. The kings of Rome (moluk-e Rum).
15. The annals of the Egyptians/Copts (tāriḵ-e sālhā-ye Qebṭiān).
16. The annals of the Israelites (sālhā-ye Esrāiliān) and their kings and sages (moluk o ʿolamāʾ)
17. The kings of the Arabs (moluk-e ʿArab), divided into 5 sections (but the second section on the Lakhmids is missing).
18. The prophets.
19. The kings (moluk) of the Qorayš, the Arabs of Islam, from the birth of the Prophet (peyḡāmbar) until the writing of this book.
20. The lineage (nasab) of the kings (moluk) and sultans of Islam during the days of the caliphs.
21. The titles (laqab) of the kings of Persia (pādšāhān-e ʿAjam), the names of cities, and the titles of the caliphs and the sultans after the Prophet (rasul).
22. The burial sites of the prophets, kings (pādšāhān), and caliphs.
24. The cities of Islam, which includes exhaustive sections on Asadābād and Hamadān.
25. Some scattered sections on the eminence of Islam consisting of histories about the caliphs, etc. (but this chapter is missing).
Since Balʿami’s Tarjoma-ye tāriḵ-e Ṭabari and Gardizi’s Zayn al-Aḵbār are the only known near contemporary general chronicles, the Mojmal is of special importance (see HISTORIOGRAPHY iii. Early Islamic Period). Its outstanding historical value is manifested in the sections on Hamadān and Asadābād, where the author gives detailed information about local groups such as the Kurds and the local sites. Moreover, chapters 11 and 12 on the Turks and on India and in chapter 21 the remarks on the titles of the kings of the East (ed. Najmabadi and Weber, p. 323/fols. 231a-231b/ed. Bahār, pp. 420-22) are among the oldest extant sources about these topics. Finally, the work represents a rich source for 11th century Persian. For example, the Middle Persian word gōsān “minstrel” is immediately followed by the New Persian translation ḵonyāgar (ed. Najmabadi and Weber, p. 56/fol. 37a/ed. Bahār, p. 69; cf. Boyce, p. 11), suggesting that the older word had become less common parlance.
Sources. The author seems to have known Ebn Rosta’s Ketāb al-aʿlāq al-nafisa and the anonymous Tāriḵ-e Sistān, since whole passages show striking similarities with these works. He also refers to a Ketāb mamālek o masālek, which could be Ebn Ḵordāḏbeh’s well known Ketāb al-masālek wa’l-mamālek.
(1) Several works with generic titles cannot be identified with specific extant texts with any degree of certainty:
4. Qeṣaṣ al-anbiāʾ (for works with this title, see the indices in GAS and Storey; however, parallels to Ṯaʿlabi’s famous book are obvious).
5. Ketāb al-ansāb.
6. Adab al-moluk.
7. ʿAjāʾeb al-ʿolum.
6. Majmuʿa-ye Bu Saʿid-e Ābi.
(2) The author mentions a number of works that are lost:
1. ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān b. ʿIsā al-Kāteb al-Hamadāni’s Hamadān-nāma or Ketāb-e Hamadān.
2. Ḥamza al-Eṣfahāni’s Ketāb Eṣbahān va aḵbārehā.
3. Ebn al-Moqaffaʿ’s Siar al-ʿajam.
4. Bahrām Mōbad Šāpur’s Ketāb-e tāriḵ-e pādšāhān (probably identical with the translator Bahrām b. Mardānšāh, mentioned by Ebn al-Nadim, ed. Flügel, I, p. 245; ed. Tajaddod, p. 305)
5. ʿAli b. Ḥamza’s Qalāʾed al-šaraf fi mafāḵer Eṣbahān.
6. Abu’l-Moʾayyad Balḵi’s Aḵbār-e Narimān, Aḵbār-e Lohrāsf, and ʿAjāʾeb al-donyāʾ.
7. Ketāb-e ṣurat-e Sāsāniān, which is also cited as as Ketāb al-ṣovar (for the claim that the work was extant in 303/915-16, see Masʿudi, p. 106).
(3) The author knew of Moʿezzi’s poems and of Vis o Rāmin and Wāmeq o ʿAḏrā, and mentioned traditions (ḥadiṯ) of Ebn Meqsam (878-965), Šaʿbi (640-721), Daḡfal (d. 685), and ʿAṭāʾ - who could be ʿAṭāʾ b. Dinār al-Hoḏali al-Meṣri (d. 744) or ʿAṭāʾ b. Abi Moslem Maysara al-Ḵorāsāni (670-757; for both, see GAS, vol. I, pp. 32-33).
(4) There are other works whose titles appear in the Mojmal (for a complete list of mentioned titles, see the index in ed. Najmabadi and Weber, pp. 461-62):
1. Ṭabari’s Taʾriḵ al-rosul wa’l-moluk and Balʿami’s Tarjoma-ye tāriḵ-e Ṭabari.
2. Ḥamza al-Eṣfahāni’s Ketāb taʾriḵ seni moluk al-arż wa’l-anbiāʾ.
3. Aḥmad b. Abi Yaʿqub Yaʿqubi’s Taʾriḵ.
4. ʿOtbi’s Tāriḵ-e Yamini.
5. Ebn Qotayba’s Ketāb al-maʿāref.
6. Ferdowsi’s Šāh-nāma.
7. Esfarāyeni’s Tāj al-tarājem.
8. Širavayh b. Šahradār Daylami’s Riāż al-ons le’ ʿoqalāʾ al-ens fi maʿrefa aḥādiṯ al-nabi wa-taʾriḵ al-ḵolafāʾ (for the only extant MS arab. of this work, see GAL S I, p. 586).
9. Abu Saʿid Ḵarguši’s Šaraf al-nabi.
10. Abu’l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad al-Ṭabari al-Baḡdādi’s Ketāb al-maʿrefa (known also as Dalāʾel al-qebla, cf. GAS, vol. I, pp. 496-97).
11. Asadi Ṭusi’s Garšāsp-nāma.
12. Ṣābi’s Ketāb al-tāji.
13. Ḥakim Irānšān (Irānšāh)’s Bahman-nāma.
14. Ḥakim Irānšān (Irānšāh)’s Kuš-nāma.
Method and features. The Mojmal is a historical handbook. Since the author is continuously correcting or commenting on his sources, which are occasionally supplemented with his own original writing, he does not consider himself a simple copyist or mere compiler.
As one of the earliest examples of Persian historiography, the Mojmal displays its typical features. For example, the author frequently relies on direct speech to enhance the truthfulness of the reported events. The text is peppered with Quranic references and lines of Arabic or Persian poetry (e.g., Aʿšā Hamdān, Ferdowsi). In the section on early Islamic history a few passages are given in Arabic, but Arabic sources are often translated into Persian, the court language of the time (ed. Najmabadi and Weber, p. 7/fol. 4b/ed. Bahār, p. 8: baʿżi az Tāzi be Pārsi tarjama kardan ka ʿādat-e noṭq-e waqt ast). The author’s scholarly ambitions are evident in the first chapter (ed. Najmabadi and Weber, pp. 9-11/fols. 5a-7a/ed. Bahār, pp. 9-12) in which he describes his methods for resolving contradictory chronology in his sources. An example for this method is his treatment of Gayumarṯ (Gayōmart), which concerns the Iranian creation myth (cf. Christensen, vol. I). At first, the author states that Gayumarṯ and Adam are the same person (ed. Najmabadi and Weber, p. 10/fol. 6b/ed. Bahār, p. 11). But in chapter 8 (ed. Najmabadi and Weber, pp. 21-22/fols. 11a-12b/ed. Bahār, pp. 21-23) the author summarizes four different traditions about Gayumarṯ, and in the fourth tradition, Gayumarṯ is identified with Seth (Šeṯ), a son of Adam. In the following chapter 9, after having refined his calendar calculations, the author concludes that Gayumarṯ cannot be identified with Adam (ed. Najmabadi and Weber, p. 67/fol. 44b/ed. Bahār, p. 84).
The author combines the genres of historiography (Ar. taʾriḵ, pl. tawāriḵ) and story telling about prophets, miracles and the like (Ar. qeṣṣa, pl. qeṣaṣ)—as indicated in his title Mojmal al-tawariḵ wa’l-qeṣaṣ. The author often concludes his summaries of events with the expression “God knows best” (Ar. Allāh aʿlam), which is widely used in Islamic scholarship to defer final judgement on any matter. The work’s contents, however, are not limited to historiography and story telling, as they include a general account of the earth and a description of some important cities.
Illustrations. In all four manuscripts, chapter 23 has some maps and illustrations, and this observation suggests that the author wrote this chapter as an illustrated text. There is also in all four a diagram (Figure 1) of the Haft eqlim (Haft kešvar, lit. “seven regions or climes”) in which seven circles represent the traditional Iranian world view: the central region of Iran is adjacent to the regions of the Arabs and the Turks as well as to the regions of Africa, Rome, China, and India (ed. Najmabadi and Weber, p. 367/fol. 263a/ed. Bahār, p. 478). Six miniature paintings show the Kaʿba (Figure 2; ed. Najmabadi and Weber, unnumbered pl. between pp. 372-73/fol. 267b/ed. Bahār, p. 483), the mosques of Medina (Figure 3; ed. Najmabadi and Weber, unnumbered pl. between pp. 374-75/fol. 268a/ed. Bahār, p. 484) and Jerusalem (Figure 4; ed. Najmabadi and Weber, unnumbered pl. between pp. 376-77/fol. 270a/ed. Bahār, p. 487), as well as Rome as a labyrinth (Figure 5; ed. Najmabadi and Weber, unnumbered pl. between pp. 378-79/fol. 197b/ed. Bahār, p. 489; in the Heidelberg MS this leaf is bound out of order; for the iconographic tradition of Rome as a labyrinth, see Casari) and the lighthouse of Alexandria (Figure 6; ed. Najmabadi and Weber, unnumbered pl. between pp. 380-81/fol. 273a/ed. Bahār, p. 495). The series concludes with a seventh miniature, in which a man sits on a tree while below him, in a sea, a drowning man is surrounded by large fish (Figure 7; ed. Najmabadi and Weber, unnumbered pl. between pp. 390-91/fol. 280b/ed. Bahār, p. 505; missing in the Dublin MS, though space has been reserved for it); this image occurs in the section (ed. Najmabadi and Weber, pp. 384-95/fols. 275a-285a /ed. Bahār, pp. 498-511) on the City of Gold (Šārestān-e zarin; cf. Dehḵodā) and the City of Brass (Šārestān-e ruyin; cf. Dehḵodā). Only in the manuscripts in Paris (ed. Bahār, p. 471) and Heidelberg (Figure 8; fols. 258b-259a), a map of the world precedes the diagram of the Haft eqlim. Within the circle that marks the known parts of the world, the east is located on the left side. The map shows the wall of Gog and Magog and the Nile with its sources, as well as China, India, Sri Lanka (Jazira-ye Serendib), Europe (Afranja), and some important cities such as Jerusalem, Tangier, Alexandria, and Mecca.
For a comprehensive bibliography until the late 1990s, see Eine persische Weltgeschichte, eds. S. Najmabadi and S. Weber, 2000, pp. 57-70; the complete bibliographical reference follows below.
Germany, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Universitätsbibliothek, MS pers., Cod. Heid. Orient. 118; no date; the complete manuscript has been digitized and is available for free download at: http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/codheidorient118
Germany, Berlin, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Orientabteilung, MS pers., Hs. Or. 2371; dated 4 Šawwāl 751/13 December 1350; published fascim. ed. by Iraj Afshar and Mahmoud Omidsalar, Tehran, 2001.
France, Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS pers., Ancien fonds 62; dated 28 Jomādā I 813/7 October 1410.
Ireland, Dublin, Chester Beatty Library, MS pers. 330; dated 16 Jomādā II 823/7 July 1420.
Printed editions of the complete work.
Mojmal al-tawāriḵ wa’l-qeṣaṣ, ed. Moḥammad Taqi Bahār, Tehran, 1939.
Eine persische Weltgeschichte aus dem 12. Jahrhundert, eds. Seifeddin Najmabadi and Siegfried Weber, Edingen-Neckarhausen, 2000.
Printed excerpts in chronological order.
Etienne Quatremère, “De l’ouvrage persan qui a pour titre Moudjmel-attawarikh: Sommaire des histoires,” JA, ser. III, 7, 1839, pp. 246-85.
Jules Mohl, “Extraits du Modjmel al-Tewarikh relatifs à l’histoire de Perse,” JA, ser. III, 11, 1841, pp. 136-78, 258-301, 320-61; 12, 1841, pp. 497-536; 14, 1842, pp. 113-52; ser. IV, 1, 1843, pp. 385-432.
J. T. Reinaud, “Fragments arabes et persans inédits relatifs á l’Inde,” JA, ser. IV, 4, 1844, pp. 114-84.
Moḥammad al-Naršaḵi, Tāriḵ-e Boḵārā, ed. Ch. Schefer, Paris, 1892, pp. 97-99.
John Dowson and H. M. Elliot, History of India, 8 vols., London, 1866-77, I, pp. 100-113.
Karim Kešāvarz, Hazār sāl naṯr-e pārsi, 5 vols., Paris, II, pp. 537-45. Orig., 3 vols., Tehran, 1966.
Moḥammad Taqi Bahār, Sabk-šenāsi, yā tāriḵ-e taṭawwor-e naṯr-e fārsi, 3 vols., 2nd ed., Tehran, 1958, II, pp. 122-28.
Ḥakim Asadi Tusi, Garšāsb-nāma, ed. Ḥ. Yaḡmāʾi, Tehran, 1975.
Abu ʿAli Moḥammad Balʿami, Tarjoma-ye tāriḵ-e Ṭabari, Tehran, 1966.
Abu’l-Fażl Moḥammad Bayhaqi, Tāriḵ-e Bayhaqi, ed. H. Ḵaṭib-Rahbar, Tehran, 1992.
Ḥamza al-Esfahāni, Ketāb taʾriḵ seni moluk al-arż wa’l-anbiā, ed. and tr. into Latin by J. M. E. Gottwaldt, 2 vols., St. Petersburg, 1844-48; repr. of the Arabic text, Beirut, n. d.
Ebn Ḵordāḏbeh, Ketāb al-masālek wa’l-mamālek, ed. M. J. de Goeje, Leiden, 1889. Ebn al-Nadim, Ketāb al-fehrest, ed. G. Flügel, 2 vols., Leipzig, 1871.
Ebn al-Nadim, Ketāb al-fehrest, ed. G. Flügel, 2 vols., Leipzig, 1871-72; ed. M. R. Tajaddod, Tehran, 1971.
Ebn Qotayba, Ketāb al-maʿāref, ed. Saroite Okacha, Cairo, 1960.
Ebn Rosta, Ketāb al-aʿlāq al-nafisa, ed. M. J. de Goeje, Leiden, 1892.
Abu’l-Mozaffar Ṭāher b. Moḥammad Esfarāyeni, Tāj al-tarājem fi tafsir al-Qorʾān le’l-aʿājem, eds. N. M. Haravi and ʿA. A. Ḵorāsāni, 3 vols., Tehran, 1996.
Abu’l-Qāsem Ḥasan Ferdowsi, Šāh-nāma, ed. J. Mohl, 7 vols., Paris, 1838-78; repr., 7 vols., Paris, 1976.
Abu Saʿid ʿAbd-al-Ḥayy Gardizi, Zayn al-aḵbār, ed. ʿA. Ḥabibi, Tehran, 1968.
Irānšān (Irānšāh) b. Abi al-Ḵayr, Bahmān-nāma, ed. Raḥim Afifi, Tehran, 1991.
Idem, Kuš-nāma, ed. Jalāl Matini, Tehran, Tehran, 1998.
Abu Saʿid Ḵarguši, Šaraf al-nabi, ed. Moḥammad Rawšan, Tehran, 1982.
Aḥmad b. ʿAli Manini, Šarḥ al-Yamini al-musammā bi’l-fatḥ al-wahbi ʿalā tāriḵ Abi Naṣr al-ʿOtbi, 2 vols., Cairo, 1869.
Abu’l-Ḥasan ʿAli Masʿudi, al-Tanbih wa’l-ešrāf, ed. M. J. de Goeje, Leiden, 1894.
Moḥammad b. ʿAbd-al-Malek Moʿezzi Nišāburi, Kolliāt-e divān, ed. N. Hayyeri, Tehran, 1983.
Ebrāhim b. Helāl Ṣabi, al-Montazaʿ min Ketāb al-tāji, ed. M. Ḥ. Zobaydi, Baghdad, 1977; ed. M. S. Khan, Karachi, 1995.
Moḥamad b. Jarir Ṭabarī, Taʾriḵ al-rosol wa’l-moluk, ed. M. Abu’l-Fażl Ebrāhim, 10 vols., Cairo, 1960-69.
Aḥmad b. Muḥammad Ṯaʿlabi, Ketāb qeṣaṣ al-anbiāʾ al-mosammā be’l-ʿarāʾes, ed. ʿAbd-Allāh b. Asʿad Yāfeʿi, Cairo, 1907.
Tāriḵ-e Sistān, ed. Moḥammad Taqi Bahār, Tehran, 1935.
Aḥmad b. Abi Yaʿqub Yaʿqubi, Taʾriḵ, ed. M. T. Houtsma, 2 vols., Leiden, 1883; repr., 2 vols., Beirut, 1960.
Mary Boyce, “The Parthian gosān and Iranian Minstrel Tradition,” JRAS 89/1-2, 1957, pp. 10-45.
Claude Cahen, “The Historiography of the Seljuqid Period,” in Historians of the Middle East, eds. Bernard Lewis and P. M. Holt, London, 1962, pp. 59-78.
Mario Casari, “Decoding the Labyrinth: Rome in Arabic and Persian Medieval Literature,” Medieval Encounters 17, 2011, pp. 534-65.
Arthur Christensen, Les types du premier homme et du premier roi dans l’histoire légendaire des Iraniens, vol. I, Stockholm, 1917; vol. II, Leiden, 1934.
Bert G. Fragner, Die “Persophonie”: Regionalität, Identität und Sprachkontakt in der Geschichte Asiens, Berlin, 1999.
William L. Hanaway, Review of the facsimile editions of Mujmal al-tawārikh wa'l-qiṣaṣ and Mujmal al-aqwāl, JAOS 124/3, 2004, p. 626.
Julie S. Meisami, Persian Historiography to the End of the 12th Century, Edinburgh, 1999.
(Siegfried Weber and Dagmar Riedel)
Originally Published: September 18, 2012
Last Updated: September 18, 2012Cite this entry:
Siegfried Weber and Dagmar Riedel, “MOJMAL AL-TAWĀRIḴ WA’L-QEṢAṢ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2016, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/mojmal-al-tawarik (accessed on 19 May 2016).