Firdowsi

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Hakīm Abul-Qāsim Firdawsī Tūsī (Persian: حکیم ابوالقاسم فردوسی توسی‎ ), more commonly known asFirdowsi (c. 940–1020) or Ferdowsī/Ferdowsi[1] or Abu ʾl-Qasim Ferdowsi Tusi, was a Persian poet and the author of Shahnameh ("Book of Kings"). Having drafted the Shahnameh under patronage of the Samanid and the Ghaznavid courts of Iran, Ferdowsi is celebrated as the most influential figure in Persian literature and one of the greatest in the history of literature.

Early life

Ferdowsi was born into a family of Iranian landowners (dehqans) in 940 in the village of Paj, near the city of Tus, in the Khorasan region of the Samanid Empire, which is located in the present-day Razavi Khorasan Province of northeastern Iran.[2]

Little is known about Ferdowsi's early life. The poet had a wife, who was probably literate and came from the same dehqan class. He had a son, who died aged 37, and was mourned by the poet in an elegy which he inserted into the Shahnameh.[3]

Life as a poet

It is possible that Ferdowsi wrote some early poems which have not survived. He began work on the Shahnameh around 977, intending it as a continuation of the work of his fellow poet Daqiqi, who had been assassinated by a slave. Like Daqiqi, Ferdowsi employed the prose Shahnameh of ʿAbd-al-Razzāq as a source. He received generous patronage from the Samanid prince Mansur and completed the first version of the Shahnameh in 994.[4] When the Turkic Ghaznavids overthrew the Samanids in the late 990s, Ferdowsi continued to work on the poem, rewriting sections to praise the Ghaznavid Sultan Mahmud. Mahmud's attitude to Ferdowsi and how well he rewarded the poet are matters which have long been subject to dispute and have formed the basis of legends about the poet and his patron (see below). The Turkic Mahmud may have been less interested in tales from Iranian history than the Samanids.[5] The later sections of the Shahnameh have passages which reveal Ferdowsi's fluctuating moods: in some he complains about old age, poverty, illness and the death of his son; in others, he appears happier. Ferdowsi finally completed his epic on 8 March 1010. Virtually nothing is known with any certainty about the last decade of his life.[6]

Legend

According to legend, Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni offered Ferdowsi a gold piece for every couplet of the Shahnameh he wrote. The poet agreed to receive the money as a lump sum when he had completed the epic. He planned to use it to rebuild the dykes in his native Tus. After thirty years of work, Ferdowsi finished his masterpiece. The sultan prepared to give him 60,000 gold pieces, one for every couplet, as agreed. However, the courtier Mahmud had entrusted with the money despised Ferdowsi, regarding him as a heretic, and he replaced the gold coins with silver. Ferdowsi was in the bath house when he received the reward. Finding it was silver not gold, he gave the money away to the bathkeeper, a refreshment seller and the slave who had carried the coins. When the courtier told the sultan about Ferdowsi's behaviour, he was furious and threatened to execute him. Ferdowsi fled Khorasan, having first written a satire on Mahmud, and spent most of the remainder of his life in exile. Mahmud eventually learned the truth about the courtier's deception and had him either banished or executed. By this time, the aged Ferdowsi had returned to Tus. The sultan sent him a new gift of 60,000 gold pieces, but just as the caravan bearing the money entered the gates of Tus, a funeral procession exited the gates on the opposite side: the poet had died from a heart attack.[7]

His Works

Ferdowsi's Shahnameh is the most popular and influential national epic in Iran and other Persian-speaking nations. The Shahnameh is the only surviving work by Ferdowsi regarded as indisputably genuine. He may have written poems earlier in his life but they no longer exist. A narrative poem, Yūsof o Zolaykā (Joseph and Zuleika), was once attributed to him, but scholarly consensus now rejects the idea it is his.[8]

There has also been speculation about the satire Ferdowsi allegedly wrote about Mahmud of Ghazni after the sultan failed to reward him sufficiently. Nezami Aruzi, Ferdowsi's early biographer, claimed that all but six lines had been destroyed by a well-wisher who had paid Ferdowsi a thousand dirhams for the poem. Introductions to some manuscripts of the Shahnameh include verses purporting to be the satire. Some scholars have viewed them as fabricated; others are more inclined to believe in their authenticity.[9]

Jat people in Shāhnāma

Main article: Jat people in Shāhnāma

According to Dr S.M. Yunus Jaffery, Jat people have been mentioned in Shāhnāma ("The epic of kings") [10].

References

  1. Huart/Massé/Ménage: Firdawsī. In: Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition. Brill, Leiden. CD-Version (2011)
  2. Davis, Dick (2006). Introduction. Shahnameh: the Persian book of kings. By Ferdowsi, Abolqasem. Viking. ISBN 0-670-03485-1. p. xviii
  3. Shahbazi, A. Shahpur (26 January 2012). "Ferdowsi". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  4. Shahbazi, A. Shahpur (26 January 2012). "Ferdowsi". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  5. Davis, Dick (2006). Introduction. Shahnameh: the Persian book of kings. By Ferdowsi, Abolqasem. Viking. ISBN 0-670-03485-1. p. xviii
  6. Davis, Dick (2006). Introduction. Shahnameh: the Persian book of kings. By Ferdowsi, Abolqasem. Viking. ISBN 0-670-03485-1. p. xviii
  7. Donna Rosenberg (1997). Folklore, myths, and legends: a world perspective. McGraw-Hill Professional. pp. 99–101.
  8. Shahbazi, A. Shahpur (26 January 2012). "Ferdowsi". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  9. Shahbazi, A. Shahpur (26 January 2012). "Hajw-nāma". Encyclopædia Iranica.
  10. Dr S.M. Yunus Jaffery:The Jats - Their Role and Contribution to the Socio-Economic Life and Polity of North and North West India, Vol. I, 2004. Page 36-37, Ed. by Dr Vir Singh, Publisher - M/S Originals (an imprint of low priced publications), A-6, Nimri commercial Centre, Near Ashok Vihar, Phase-IV, Delhi-110052

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