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Abd al-Rahman (Abdurrahman) Jami

‘Abd al-Rahman Jami

O. Vasilyeva, O. Jastrebova

Literary Heritage

Kulliyyat. 1560s–1570s.
Jami not only contributed almost to all classical genres of Persian literature, but also left a number of scientific, philosophical and philological treatises, both in Persian and Arabic which he knew perfectly well. There are different opinions about the exact amount of works written by him, their number varies from 45 to 99, according to various researchers.

Mordern audiences celebrate him primarily as a poet. Throughout his life, he composed the lyrics and lyrical epic poems in form of ghazals, qasaid, rubaiyat, which the author himself compiled into three Diwans - collections of poetry: Fatihat al-shabab («Opening of Youth»), Wasitat al-'iqd («The Middle of the Necklace») , and Khatimat al-hayat («The End of Life»). «Opening of Youth» was edited by the poet many times, most recently - in 1479, it consists of more than 9000 beits - couplets. «The Middle of the Necklace» containing about 4500 beits was completed around 1489, and «The End of Life», in 2000 couplets, was finished about 1490.

«Rosary of the Pious». 1560s.
Jami's epic consists of seven poems, known as Haft Awrang - «Seven Thrones», refering to seven stars of Big Dipper. Six of them were created in Herat during the poet's most fruitful period of 1480–1485. Two poems were written in response to the famous didactic and philosophical poem from Nizami's «Quinary», titled «The Storehouse of Mysteries». These are Tuhfat al-ahrar («The Gift of the Nobel» or «The Gift of the Free», 1481–1482) and Sabhat al-abrār («Rosary of the Pious», 1482–1483).

«Salaman and Absal». 1581
Three poems are love tales, into which the poet embedded a hidden religious-mystical Sufi message: «Salaman and Absal» (1480–1481), «Joseph and Zulaikha» (1485) and «Layla and Majnun» (1485). Following Nizami, Jami used the Muslim version of the legend of Alexander the Great and, in 1485, wrote Hirado-nama-yi Iskandari - «Iskandar Book of Wisdom» which narrates how Alexander met various sages and philosophers.

«The Chain of Gold». 1549
The largest of the seven poems is called Silsilat al-Dhahab«The Chain of Gold». It was modeled upon by «The Garden of Truth» by Sanai of Ghazna, a mystic poet of the 12th century who also lived in Herat.
«The Chain of Gold» consists of three parts and was created by the author bit by bit over several years from 1468 to 1485. The title is taken from the terms of the Naqshbandi Order. In such way the followers of the brotherhood called the chain of transmitters of divine grace, leading back to the Holy Prophet Muhammad. The chain embraced the most prominent adherents of the Sufi teaching up to Jami's contemporaries - sheikhs and leaders of the order.

Masterfully using all the rich techniques of Persian poetry and skillfully applying them in his poems, Jami, however, blamed too big poet's propensity for an external form and for an ingenuity that often transformed into the artificiality and extravagance. For him, the main merits of the verses are ideas and emotions expressed in them, so poetic techniques are only tools that help to convey meaning to the reader's mind in a vivid, memorable and impressive way.

In the poem «The Chain of Gold», in the section on «disapproval of contemporary poets», the author confesses:

'Although the word "poet" is brief,
But it incorporates a thousand vices and evils.

There is no such blamed man and course of action
That would not meant by this nickname.

Although I hate the craft of the poet,
Striking is the fact that I could not avoid it.

I blame poetry, but compose verses,
Reproach musk, but inhale its fragrance.

In the poem «The Gift of Noble», Jami describes the work of true poets:

Makers of verses, when knocking on the doors of hearts,
Seal the door by clay in front of the evil hearted.

Turning to composing rhymes,
They turn their backs to this temporary shelter.

They leave their body and completely transformed into spirit,
Cross the mountains and embark on a quest of mine.

Obviously, he contrasted professional poets who were, in fact, skilled craftsmen, inclined to "money-grubbing" and kowtowing to their patrons, with the true poets whose poems are born in a burst of inspiration. The welfare of poets usually depended on the rulers' goodwill to them, so eulogies praising high-ranking persons in an exaggerated form were a very common genre. Jami did not approve of gross flattery, he never stooped to it. He wrote poems, addressed to the powers, from the heart, trying to use his poetry to convey his instructions and advice to them.

In one of his ghazals, he wrote:

In my Diwan, there were collected ghazels to those
Who consumed with lovingly melancholy,
High meditations, teachings,
Accumulated by the wisdom of mankind,
But you will not find in it a reference to the low
And flattery with empty verbosity.
In it, a word to shahs, with good wishes, is
Written by the truth-loving hand.
You may read a hundred times my Diwan,
Its any line by line,
You will find in a praise to the worthy
No servility, no selfish futility.
And, no one request for handouts
is expressed in it by a flattering strophe!

«Spring Garden». 1580s.
Jami was very impressed by the famous book «Gulistan» («Rose Garden»), which was written, mainly, in prose by the great Persian poet Saadi in the 13th century. The text of this landmark of Persian literature is interspersed with short verses. In 1487, Jami compiled his «Baharestan» («Spring Garden») in the style of Saadi's «Rose Garden» for his son Ziya (Diya) ad-Din Yusuf. «Baharestan » consists of eight chapters which include a collection of moralistic short stories and anecdotes with poetic quotations.

Jami was famed not only for his talent as a poet and master of fiction, but also for his comprehensive and thorough scholarship. He considered books to be inexhaustible storehouse of information. The poet valued them both for the sparkling and elegant style of presentation and for their content - information on religion, philosophy, history, and other areas of human knowledge, that a book can provide to the inquisitive reader.

A book is a companion in solitude,
A book is sunrise in the morning of knowledge.

There are a thousand petals in it, as in the bud,
Each petal is equal to the dish filled with pearls.

They look at each other in harmony and support each other,
When someone puts his finger to their lips (i.e. turns over the pages of a book).

They open their mouth, telling jokes,
Revealing thousands of gems of the meaning.

Sometimes they retell the mysteries of the Quran,
Talk about the secrets hidden in the words of the Prophet;

Sometimes, like pure hearted people,
They serve as conductors to the light of the truth;

Sometimes quote in their passages
Wise thoughts of the Greeks.

Sometimes, they tell you stories of the past
Which inform you about the future.

Sometimes, they pour pearls of secrets
From the sea of poems into the pocket of the mind.

«Intimate Breezes from the Sacred Presences». 1566–1567
Jami knew well all wisdoms mentioned above in this passage. He proved to be a good researcher in many branches of medieval scholarship and produced a large number of works on various areas of knowledge.

For instance, the extensive hagiographic essay «Nafahat al-uns hadarat min al-Quds» («Intimate Breezes from the Sacred Presences») narrates about "stories of lifes". Jami compiled biographical information on more than 600 famous Muslim gnostics and Sufi sheikhs, descriptions of miracles created by them and their sayings. Written in 1480, the work «Shavahid en nubuvva» («The Evidence of the Prophethood») tells the story of the Prophet Muhammad's life and deeds. Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad are explained and interpreted in the hugely popular Persian poetic versification «Fortyа Selected Hadith ».

Jami also was very interested in philosophical and theological aspects of the Muslim mystic teachings. In 1456–1457, in imitation of the work of Ahmad al-Ghazali (d. 1123 or 1126) «Savannah» ("Revelation"), he wrote his work «Lava’ih» («The Tablets»), in which the ideas of Sufism are presented in elegant prose, interspersed with poetry. Jami twice commented the work of the outstanding Sufi philosopher Ibn Arabi (1165–1240) «Fusus al-Hikam» («Gems of Wisdom»): first – in 1459 and then – in 1490. Both comments were written in Arabic which Jami knew masterly.

Commentary on  Ibn al-Hajib’s  Arabic Grammar ’al-Kafiya». 1810
Excellent knowledge of Arabic enabled Jami to create one of the most popular guide to the study of the language – The commentary on Ibn al-Hajib’s Arabic Grammar al-Kafiya (1175–1249), wich he entitled «The comprehensive benefit commenting difficult passages from al-Kafiya». The commentary is also known as «Diya ad-Din's Good», as it was devoted to the son of the poet Diya ad-Din.

Jami's legacy comprises works on the poetics of the Persian language, on the theory of rhyme and verse size as well as comments on the poems of his predecessors - Persian and Arabic poets – mystics, such as Jalal al-Din Rumi (1207 – 1273) and Ibn Farid (1181 – 1235) and on his own quatrains. The library holdings include also his treatise on music as well as a significant number of his letters addressed to the various rulers and influential people of his era.

Dorn 436, fols. 1v.-2. «Forty Hadith». The end of Shawwāl 903 AH/ June 1498 AD. Herat. The calligrapher Sultan Ali Mashhadi. Ornamental headpieces, margins of the second half of the 16 cent.
Dorn 422, fols. 1. Kulliyyat. 20 Ramadan 933 AH/ 25 June 1527 AD. The calligrapher Maqsood. The book was intended for library of Bahram Mirza. The decorative rosette.
Dorn 422, fols. 1 v.-2. Kulliyyat. 1527. The double frontispiece
Dorn 422. Kulliyyat. 1527. The gold embossed leather binding of the second quater of the 16 century was renovated in the beginning of the 19th century. (the empty parts of the leather without embossing were filled with a gold ornament )
Dorn 349, fols. 1v.-2.  Collected Poems including Nizami's poem «The Storehouse of Mysteries» and Jami's «The Gift of Noble» (on the margins).  936 AH/ 1529–1530 AD.
Dorn 434, fols. 1 v.-2. «Hunting Tahmasp I ». The artist Sultan Muhammad (?) 1540s. The diptych, pasted into the beginning of the poem «The Chain of Gold»1549.
Dorn 434, fol. 3 v. «The Chain of Gold». 1 Shaban 956 AH/ 25 August 1549 AD. Ardebil.  The calligrapher Shah Mahmud Nishapuri. The double frontispiece
Dorn 434 «The Chain of Gold». 1549. The lacquered binding. 983 AH/ 1575–1576 AD.
Dorn 434, fols. 81 v.-82.  «Hunting Sultan Uzun Hasa». 1460–1470. The diptych, pasted into the end of the poem «The Chain of Gold»1549.
Dorn 256, fols. 1v.-2.. «The Music Majlis». The artist Mirza Ali. 1550s. The diptych, pasted into «The Tables» 978 AH/1570–1571 AD.
Dorn 256, fols. 10 v.-11.. «The Tables». 978 AH/1570–1571 AD. The calligrapher Mir Sayyid Ahmad al-Husayni al-Mashhadi al-Katib made it for the governor of Mazandaran Emir Sultan Murad Khan. The double miniature «Shah listens to spiritual instructions from a dervish». Blue margins covered with a gold pattern. The lacquered binding.
Dorn 256. «The Tables». 978 AH/ 1570–1571 AD.  The lacquered binding depicting the scene «Hunting Shirin».
PNS 395, fols. 1 v.-2. «Joseph and Zulaikha». Rajab 956 AH/ July-August /1549 AD. The calligrapher Sultan Muhammad. The ornamental design on margins of the 18th cent.
PNS 395. «Joseph and Zulaikha». 956 AH/ 1549 AD. The lacquered binding the 18th cent. Joseph is being sold at the slave market, and Zulaikha recognizes him as the young man whom she once saw in a dream and fell in love.
PNS 248, fol. 51 v. «Joseph and Zulaikha». 930 AH/ 1523–1524 AD. The miniature «Zulaikha has a third dream about Joseph». the 18th cent. Kashmir (?)
Dorn 430, fol. 72. «Joseph and Zulaikha». 946 AH/ 1539–1540 AD.  The calligrapher Farid. The miniature «Joseph in the palace of the ruler of Egypt»
Dorn 429, fols. 1 v.-2. «Rosary of the Pious». 1560s. The diptych «The Literary Majlis in the open country». Blue margins with gold sparks.
Dorn 429.  «Rosary of the Pious». The lacquered binding depicting the scene «Khosrow encounters Shirin on the Hunt». 1560s–1570s.
PNS 109, fols. 1 v.–2. Kulliyyat. 1560s–1570s. The diptych «The Music Majlis in the open country».
PNS 109, fol. 77 v. Kulliyyat. 1560s–1570s. The first Diwan, part two. The opening headpiece, headpieces in the text on margins
Dorn 425. Fols. 2 v.-3. «The Gift of Noble». 1560s–1570s. Bukhara. The calligrapher Mir al-Husayn al-Husayni, known as Mir Kulango Мир Куланги.  Colourful margins with a gold ornamental design and medallions.
Dorn 425, fos. 46. «The Gift of Noble». 1560s–1570s. Bukhara. The miniature «The flight of the turtle». The illustration to the parable about a boastful turtle whom ducks raised into the sky, and who cried to attract attention of people standing on the ground, and, at the same instant, fell down and got smashed up.
Dorn 426, fol. 50. «The Gift of Noble». 1560s–1580s.  Qazvin. The miniature «The flight of the turtle». margins decorated with an ornamental design.
Dorn 426, fol. 64. «The Gift of Noble». 1560s–1580s.  Qazvin. The miniature «The old man and the young beauty».  The illustration to the parable about an old man who fell in love with a slender woman walking by. When, responding to the call of the old man, she answered that her hair was grey, his feelings became extinct at once, and, uncovering her face, the beauty said,
'Don't ask me to come,

That which is disgusting for you, equally, is disgusting for us'.

PNS 145, fols. 50 v.-51. «Salaman and Absal ». Muharram989 AH/ February–March 1581 AD. The calligrapher  Mullah Mir Muhammad ibn al-Husayni. Miniatures in medallions on colourful ornamental margins.
PNS 63, fols. 1 v.-2. Kulliyyat. 984 –14 Safar986 AH/ 1576 – 22 April 1578 AD. The frontispiece: rosettes bear Jami's writings containted in the Collected Works.
PNS 63, fol. 426 v. Kulliyyat. 1576–1578. A treatise on music. The opening headpiece.
PNS 116, fol. 1. «Baharestan». 1580s. The miniature «In the School»
PNS 116, fols. 13 v.-14. «Baharestan». 1580s. Pink margins with gold and silver pictures
PNS 193, fols. 9 v.–10. «Intimate Breezes from the Sacred Presences». 974 AH/1566–1567 AD, Damascus. The ornamental headpiece. Margins of the manuscript bear a supplement of Jami's disciple 'Abd al-Ghafur Larry to the anthology («Intimate Breezes from the Sacred Presences»), containing Jami's detailed biography. The supplement was rewritten by был the calligrapherом Gad-yi 'Ali al-Harawi in Delhi.
Dorn 206, fols. 81v.–82. Jami's textbook of Arabic grammar. Commentary on Ibn al-Hajib’s Arabic Grammar ’al-Kafiya». In Arabic. 10 Muharram 937 AH/ 2 September 1530 AD. The copyist Muhammad b. Hajji al-Yakuni.
АНС 481, fol. 10. «ami's textbook of Arabic grammar. Commentary on Ibn al-Hajib’s Arabic Grammar ’al-Kafiya». In Arabic. Rabbi‘ II 1225 AH/ May 1810 AD, the village Warka’and (Dagestan?). The scribe Sha‘ban b. Mullan.