TAḎKERA-YE NAṢRĀBĀDI, a compilation of short biographical notices on some one thousand poets of the Safavid period, compiled by the poet and literary historian Mirza Moḥammad Ṭāḥer Naṣrābādi (b. Mārbin of Naṣrābād, in the vicinity of Isfahan, 1027/1618) and presented to the Safavid Shah Solaymān (r. 1666-1694). Naṣrābādi embarked upon the project in 1083/1672 (Taḏkera, p. 5) and completed it in 1091/1680. The exact date of his death is unknown.

Naṣrābādi’s ancestors, according to his autobiography, which appears with a selection of his poems at the last chapter of the book, served two Safavid kings, Shah ʿAbbās I (r.1587-1629), and Shah ʿAbbās II (r. 1642-1666; Taḏkera, ed., Aḥmad Modaqqaq Yazdi, Yazd, 2000, p. 705). At 17 he lost his father and, as he admits in his brief autobiographic account, after some years of idleness in his youth went to live for many years in a coffeehouse frequented by scholars and poets who gathered to read their poems, and whose company left a profound impact on his personality and life. Shah ʿAbbās himself is said to have been an occasional visitor to the coffee shop, and at times a participant in the poetry reading sessions. (Taḏkera, pp. 706-07). Eventually, when the death of several friends robbed the coffeehouse of its charm, Naṣrābādi adopted a pious life and settled down for seven years in the mosque of Lonbān, a village near Isfahan, where he penned his autobiography (Taḏkera, pp. 704-17). Naṣrābādi’s fame as a poet was soon established. Although frank and to the point he was generally well tempered and reserved in his criticism (Zarrinkub, p. 265).

Taḏkera starts with the customary brief passages in praise of God and the Prophet, a discourse on the virtues of poetry, the reasons for composing the work, and a florid eulogy of Shah Solaymān. It consists of a preface (moqaddama) devoted to the poetry of kings and princes, five chapters, titled ṣaff (lit. row), and an epilogue (ḵātema). The first ṣaff is on emirs, khans, and noted figures, and is divided into three sub-sections (ferqa): Persian rulers and notables; Indian Emirs and Khans; and viziers, court accountants, and secretaries. The second ṣaff is devoted to descendants of the Prophet Mohammad and other religious figures. The third ṣaff, on scholars and the learned men, comprises three ferqa; literati, calligraphers, and dervishes. The fourth row, with three ferqa, is on the poets of ʿErāq and Ḵorāsān; the poets of Transoxiana; and the poets of India. The fifth row is devoted to the life and poetry of Naṣrābādi and members of his family. The ḵātema, which consists of two sections called dafʿa (time), each divided into three ḥarf (letter), is a collection of chronograms (see MĀDDA TĀRIḴ), loḡaz (enigma), a poem constructed as a series of questions; and moʿammā (riddle), which does not need to be in the form of a question. The first dafʿa consists of poems whose composers are known, and the second one is devoted to anonymous compositions.

Amounting to about 8,400 lines from one thousand poets, and listing 150 books, treatises and poetry collections in a condensed and simple language (Šarifi, p. 405), Taḏkera is a pre-eminent source for Persian poetry in the Safavid period, offering a wealth of information on the customs, culture, architecture, political history, and social organization of Iran and India in the 16th and 17th centuries. It is also an invaluable source on schools, bookstores, the bookbinding industry (Afšār, 1977, pp. 33-36), diseases, poets, calligraphers, musicians, storytellers, painters, craftsmen, architects, dervishes, and finally, villages and cities of Iran, with particularly rich offerings on Isfahan (Ḥassani, p. 716; Jaʿfariān, pp. 55-59; Afšār, 1997, pp. 447-59). Many poems are transcribed in local dialects and accents. The work also abounds in words and phrases that appear obsolete and arcane now but were current at the time (Afšār, 1982, pp. 243-54).

According to Golčin Maʿāni (see GOLČIN MAʿĀNI, AḤMAD; 1916-2000), Naṣrābādi has benefited in the preparation of his Taḏkera from Ḳolāṣat al-aš‘ār of Taqi al-Din Kāši, composed in 1064 AH/1653-54) and Owḥadi Balyāni’s ʿArafāt al-āšeqin, composed in 1024 AH/1615, although neither is mentioned in the text (Kārvān-e Hend, II, p. 976).

As noted by Modaqqeq Yazdi, there are occasional errors in Naṣrābādi’s recording of names, dates, and places (Modaqqeq Yazdi, pp. 17-18). The absence of a systematic and coherent set of normative criteria applied consistently throughout the book has been noted by critics (Zarrinkub, p. 265). While some poets like Esḥāq Mirza (d. 1668) and Ḵalifa Solṭān (d. 1653) are given extensive coverage, some others are either neglected or unfairly criticized and derided. Naṣrābādi quotes 21 couplets by his son, Badiʿ-al-Zamān (d. 1711), a mediocre poet, and mentions only two lines of Bidel Dehlavi (BĪDEL, ʿABD-AL-QĀDER; 1644-1721) an eminent poet of the period. His selection from his own poetry, similar in style to that of KALIM KĀŠĀNI (ca.1581-1651), and ṢĀʾEB TABRIZI (ca.1592-1676; see Storey, I/2, pp. 819-20), include a qaṣida in praise of Shah Solaymān, and chronograms for the building of the Hašt Behešt Palace (See ISFAHAN x. MONUMENTS) in Isfahan (Taḏkera, p. 743).

Editions. A selection of Taḏkera’s entries, edited by Moḥammad Šafiʿ Lāhuri, was first published in Lahore in 1935. Vaḥid Dastgerdi published the book first as supplements to ARMAḠĀN, a monthly literary journal he founded in 1919 (Armaḡān, 1937-38; see Storey, I/2, pp. 820-21), and then as a book in 1938. At the time when Vaḥid Dastgerdi was preparing his critical edition, only two manuscripts of the Taḏkera were known; one held in the Malek Library in Tehran, and a second in the personal library of Moḥammad ʿAli Tarbiat (Golčin Maʿāni, 1968, pp.1908-1909; for a detailed description of the edition’s inaccuracies and flaws, see Aḥmad Golčin Maʿāni, 1988, pp. 1958-65). Several more manuscripts have been discovered in recent decades, including one in the Central library of Tehran University (no. 3342; see Moḥammd Taqi Dānešpažuh, Fehrest-e nosḵahā-ye ḵaṭṭi-e ketāb-ḵāna-ye markazi-e Dānešgāh-e Tehrān, 1961, II, pp. 2331-38), to which the biographies of 141 poets, as well as selections of their poetry, were appended by an anonymous writer in 1134/1722 (Golčin Maʿāni, 1969, pp. 399-400; Homāʾi, I, p. 150). For the list of the appended biographies see Golčin Maʿāni, 1988, pp. 1965-73.

The Taḏkera was later edited by Moḥsen Nāji Naṣrābādi, and published with extensive annotations and a detailed introduction (Tehran, 1999). A third edition was published in the next year by Aḥmad Modaqqeq Yazdi in Yazd. This last edition is primarily based on the manuscript held in Vaziri Library of Yazd, which is signed and stamped with the seal of Naṣrābādi himself in 1099/1684. It has a meticulously detailed preface by the editor (75 pages), and is generally regarded as the most reliable edition of the work (Fotuḥi, 2000, p. 301).



Iraj Afšār (Iraj Afshar), “Eṭṭelāʿāt-e ketābdāri va nosḵa-šenāsi dar Taḏkera-ye Naṣrābādi,” Jašn-nāma-ye Ostād Modarres Rażavi, ed. Żiāʾ-al-Din Sajjādi, Tehran, 1977, pp. 31-42.

Idem, “Tariḵ-e Naṣrābādi,” Yād-e Bahār, ed. ʿAli-Moḥammd Ḥaqšenās et al., Tehran, 1997, pp. 447-59.

Idem, “Čand loqat o tarkib o taʿbir o eṣtelāḥ-e kamyāb dar Taḏkera-ye Naṣrābādi,” in Ārām-nāma, ed. Mehdi Moḥaqqeq, Tehran, 1982, pp. 243-54.

Moḥammd-Taqi Dānešpažuh, Fehrest-e nosḵahā-ye ḵaṭṭi-e ketāb-ḵāna-ye markazi-e Dānešgāh-e Tehrān (Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Central Library of Tehran University), Tehran, 1961, vol. 11, pp. 2331-38.

Maḥmud Fotuḥi, Taḏkera-ye Naṣrābādi,” in Dānešnāma-ye zabān o adab-e Fārsi III, ed. Esmāʿil Saʿādat, Tehran, 2009, pp. 301-2.

Idem, Naqd-e ḵiāl, Tehran, 2000.

Aḥmad Golčin Maʿāni, “Naẓari be Taḏkera-ye Naṣrābādi,” in Nāmvāra-ye Dοktor Maḥmud Afšār Yazdi, ed., Iraj Afšār and Karim Eṣfahāniān, IV, Tehran, 1988, pp. 1958-73.

Idem, Tariḵ-e taḏkerahā-ye Fārsi I, Tehran, 1969.

Idem, Kārvān-e Hend, Tehran, 1990.

Ḥamid Ḥassani, “Taḏkera-ye Naṣrābādi,” Dāyerat-al-maʿāref-e bozorg-e Eslāmi, ed.

Kāẓem Musavi Bojnurdi, XIV, Tehran, 1385 Š./2006, pp. 715-16.

Jalāl Homāʾi, Tāriḵ-e Eṣfehān, ed., Māhdoḵt-Bānu Homāʾi, Tehran, 2003.

Rasul Jaʿfariān,Eṣfahān-e qarn-e yāzdahom az negāh-e Taḏkera-ye Naṣrābādi,” Āʾiyna-ye pažuheš  8/2, Qom, 1997, pp. 55-59.

Aḥmad Modaqqaq Yazdi, Moqaddama-i bar Taḏkara-ye Naṣrābādi, Yazd, 1990.

Idem, “Taḏkara-ye Naṣrābādi az didgāh-e naqd-e adabi,” in Nāmvāra-ye Dοktor Maḥmud Afšār Yazdi, ed., Iraj Afšār and Karim Eṣfahāniān, IV, Tehran, 1988, pp. 1958-73.

Mirza Moḥammd Ṭāḥer Naṣrābādi, Taḏkera-ye Naṣrābādi, ed., Aḥmad Modaqqaq Yazdi, Yazd, 1999.

Moḥammad Šarifi, “Taḏkera-ye Naṣrābādi,” Farhang-e adabiyāt-e Fārsi, Tehran, 2008, p. 405.

Charles Ambrose Storey, Persian Literature: A Bio-Bibliographical Survey, London, 1953.

ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Zarrinkub, Naqd-e adabi I, Tehran, 1982.

(Mahmoud Fotoohi)

Originally Published: January 1, 2000

Last Updated: August 30, 2011