Rug depiction of Nizami Ganjavi (1939). Ganja Museum, Azerbaijan.
1141 (approximate) (Earlier date around c. 1130 has also been mentioned)
Ganja (now Azerbaijan)
|Genre||Romantic Persian epic poetry, Persian lyrical poetry, wisdom literature|
|Notable works||The Five Jewels (Panj Ganj)|
Nizami Ganjavi (Persian: نظامی گنجوی, Nezāmi-ye Ganjavi; Kurdish: Nîzamî Gencewî; Azerbaijani: Nizami Gəncəvi) (1141 to 1209) (6th Hejri century), Nizami Ganje'i, Nizami, or Nezāmi, whose formal name was Jamal ad-Dīn Abū Muḥammad Ilyās ibn-Yūsuf ibn-Zakkī, was a 12th-century Persian poet. Nezāmi is considered the greatest romantic epic poet in Persian literature, who brought a colloquial and realistic style to the Persian epic. His heritage is widely appreciated and shared by Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, the Kurdistan region and Tajikistan.
- Parents 1.1
- Family 1.2
- Education 2
- Influences and literary scene 3
- Persian lyrical poetry 4.1
Quinary ("Panj Ganj" or "Khamsa") 4.2
- Makhzan al-Asrar 4.2.1
- Khosrow o Shirin 4.2.2
- Layli o Majnun 4.2.3
- Eskandar Nameh 4.2.4
- Haft Paykar 4.2.5
Influence and legacy 5
- Persian culture 5.1
- Western reception 5.2
- Soviet Union 5.3
- Azerbaijan 5.4
- See also 6
- Notes 7
- References 8
- External links 9
His personal name was Ilyas and his chosen pen-name was Nezami (also spelled as Nizami and Neẓāmi). He was born of an urban background in Ganja (Great Seljuq empire now present-day Azerbaijan) and is believed to have spent his whole life in South Caucasus. According to De Blois, Ganja was a city which at that time had predominantly an Iranian population. The Armenian historian Kirakos Gandzaketsi (Ca. 1200–1271) mentions that: "This city was densely populated with Iranians and a small number of Christians".
Because Nezami was not a court poet, he does not appear in the annals of the dynasties. Tazkerehs, which are the compilations of literary memoirs that include maxims of the great poets along with biographical information and commentary of styles refer to him briefly. Much of this material in these Tazkerehs are based on legends, anecdotes, and hearsays. Consequently, few facts are known about Nezami's life, the only source being his own work, which does not provide much information on his personal life.
Nezami was orphaned early and was raised by his maternal uncle Khwaja Umar who took responsibility for him and afforded him an excellent education. His mother, named Ra'isa, was of Kurdish background. His father, whose name was Yusuf is mentioned once by Nezami in his poetry. In the same verse, Nezami mentions his grandfather's name as Zakki. In part of the same verse, some have taken the word Mu'ayyad as a title for Zakki while others have interpreted it as the name of his great grandfather. Some sources have stated that his father might be possibly from Qom. Nezami is variously mentioned as a Persian and/or Iranian.
Nezami was married three times. His first wife, who was called Afaq by many modern writers, was a Kipchak slave girl, was sent to him by Fakhr al-Din Bahramshah, the ruler of Darband, as a part of a larger gift. She became Nezami's first and according to Iraj Bashiri: "most beloved wife". His only son Mohammad was from Afaq. Afaq died after "Khosrow and Shirin" was completed. Mohammad was seven at the time. Although her name being called "Afaq" was first mentioned by Vahid Dastgerdi, Said Nafisi and a recent source have challenged that her name was Afaq and have taken the Afaq to mean "horizon" rather than a proper name. Strangely enough, Nezami's other wives, too, died prematurely – the death of each coinciding with the completion of an epic, prompting the poet to say, "God, why is it that for every mathnavi I must sacrifice a wife!".
Nezami was not a philosopher in the sense of Avicenna or an expositor of theoretical Sufism in the sense of Ibn 'Arabi. However, he is regarded as a philosopher and gnostic who mastered various fields of Islamic thoughts which he synthesized in a way that brings to mind the traditions of later Hakims such as Qutb al-Din Shirazi.
Often referred to by the honorific Hakim ("the Sage"), Nezami is both a learned poet and master of a lyrical and sensuous style. About Nezami's prodigious learning there is no doubt. Poets were expected to be well versed in many subjects; but Nezami seems to have been exceptionally so. His poems show that not only he was fully acquainted with Arabic and Persian literatures and with oral and written popular and local traditions, but was also familiar with such diverse fields as mathematics, astronomy, astrology, alchemy, medicine, botany, Koranic exegesis, Islamic theory and law, Iranian myths and legends, history, ethics, philosophy and esoteric thought, music, and the visual arts. His strong character, social sensibility, and knowledge of oral and written historical records, as well as his rich Persian cultural heritage unite pre-Islamic and Islamic Iran into the creation of a new standard of literary achievement. Being a product of the Iranian culture of the time, he not only created a bridge between pre-Islamic and Islamic Iran, but also between Iran and the whole ancient world.
Influences and literary scene
The recent discovery and publication of the anthology titled Nozhat al-Majales contains Persian language quatrains from Nizami and 115 other poets from the northwestern Iran (Arrān, Šarvān, Azerbaijan; including 24 poets from Ganja alone) during the same era. Unlike other parts of Persia, where the poets mostly belonged to higher echelons of society such as scholars, bureaucrats, and secretaries, a good number of poets in the northwestern areas rose from among the common people with working-class backgrounds, and they frequently used colloquial expressions in their poetry. Accordingly, the book demonstrates the social conditions at the time, reflecting the full spread of Persian language and the culture in the region, which is evidenced by the common use of spoken idioms in poems and the professions of many of the poets. The influence of the northwestern Pahlavi language, for example, which had been the spoken dialect of the region, is clearly observed in the poems contained in this anthology. However, at the same time, the Caucasus region was entertaining a unique mixture of ethnic cultures. Khaqani's mother was a Nestorian Christian, Mojir Baylqani's mother was an Armenian, and Nezami's mother was a Kurd. Their works reflect the cultural and linguistic diversity of the region.
By the end of the 10th century, Persian literature became widespread from the eastern Mediterranean to the banks of the Indus. The earliest extant example of Persian poetry from the area is that of Qatran Tabrizi(1009–1072) who served in the courts of the Shaddadid and Rawadid dynasties. Qatran Tabrizi, is credited with what some scholars in the last century have termed as the founder of the "Azerbaijan" or "Trans-Cacausian" school or "Tabriz School" or "Shirvan School" or "Arranian Style" of Persian poetry. This school produced a distinctive style of poetry in Persian, which contrasted with "Khurasani" ("Eastern") style in its rhetorical sophistication, its innovative use of metaphor, its use of technical terminology and Christian imagery, the presence of Persian archaism while borrowing from Arabic vocabulary, as well as new concepts. Other sources including the Encyclopaedia of Islam and traditional Iranian literary sources have used the term "'Iraqi" style for the Persian poetry of Nezami.
The Seljuqs took control of Ganja from the Shaddadids in 1075 and spread Persian literary westwards to their courts. In the middle of the 12th century, the Seljuks control of the region weakened and their provincial governors, virtually autonomous local princes, further encouraged Persian culture, art and poetry in their courts. Persian culture characteristically flourished in this era when political power was diffused and Persian remained the primary language, Persian civil cervants, merchants were in great demand and rival dynastines continue to vie for the service of Persian poets. This was especially true in Ganjeh, the Caucasian outpost town where Nizami lived. Nezami was patronized by different rulers and dedicated his epics to various rival dynasties including the Seljuqs, Eldiguzids(who maintained control of Ganja during most of the later 12th century), Shirvanshahs, the ruler of Ahar and Ahmadilis. Although he enjoyed the patronage of various rulers and princes, he avoided the court life and is generally believed to have lived a secluded life. Since he was not a court poet, he does not appear in the annals of the dynasties which list the names of events of the ruling families.
According to Professor Chelkowski: It seems that Nezami's favorite pastime was reading Firdawsi's monumental epic Shahnameh (The book of Kings). Nezami has mentioned Ferdowsi as the Sage (Hakim) and Knower/Wise (daanaa) and the great master of discourse: who has decorated words like new bride. Nezami advises the son of the Shirvanshah to read the Shah-nama and to remember the meaningful sayings of the wise. Nezami has used the Shahnameh as a source in his three epics of "Haft Paykar", "Khosrow and Shirin" and "Eskandar-nameh".
The story of Sufi influences, which are seen in Nezami's epic poetry.
The first monumental work of Nezami, the Makhzan al-Asrar is influenced by
- Academician IM Diakonov, personal impressions of the anniversary of Nezami
- Article arguing for an Iranian background of Nezami from an Iranian writer titled: "Politicization of the Background of Nizami Ganjavi: Attempted de-Iranization of a historical Iranian Figure by the USSR" by Ali DoostzadehPDF version Another site
- Siavash Lornejad, Ali Doostzadeh "On the Modern Politicization of the Persian Poet Nezami Ganjavi", Edited by Victoria Arakelova, YEREVAN SERIES FOR ORIENTAL STUDIES (Editor of the Series Garnik Asatrian), Caucasian Centre for Iranian Studies, Yerevan, 2012.
- Viewpoints on Nezami's background
- Persian Literature in Translation The Packard Humanities Institute
- Persian Literature in Translation The Packard Humanities Institute: Lailî and Majnûn
- Persian Literature in Translation The Packard Humanities Institute: Haft Paikar: TRANSLATED FROM THE PERSIAN,WITH A COMMENTARY, BY C. E. WILSON, B.A. (LOND.)
- Persian Literature in Translation The Packard Humanities Institute: Eskandar-Nama (The Book of Alexander) translated by Henry Wilberforce-Clarke
- Biography of Nezami Ganjavi by Professor Julia Scott Meysami at the Wayback Machine (archived September 30, 2007)
- Nizami, Jamal al-Din Ilyas. A biography by Prof. Iraj Bashiri, University of Minnesota.
- Nezami's works in original Persian at RiRa, the Persian Digital Library
- Nezami's works in original Persian at Ganjoor Persian Library
- The Legend of Leyli and Majnun
- Bio: Nezami Ganjavi
- Encyclopædia Britannica Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition
- University of Arizona Resources on Nezami Ganjavi
- Encyclopædia Iranica, "Khamsa", Domenico Parrello
- E.G. Browne. Literary History of Persia. (Four volumes, 2,256 pages, and twenty-five years in the writing). 1998. ISBN 0-7007-0406-X
- Biography of Nizami Dr. Julie S. Meisami of Oxford University
- Jan Rypka, History of Iranian Literature. Reidel Publishing Company. 1968 OCLC 460598. ISBN 90-277-0143-1
- C. A. (Charles Ambrose) Storey and Franço de Blois (2004), "Persian Literature – A Biobibliographical Survey: Volume V Poetry of the Pre-Mongol Period.", RoutledgeCurzon; 2nd revised edition (June 21, 2004). ISBN 0-947593-47-0.
- K. Talattof & J.W. Clinton, The Poetry of Nizami Ganjavi: Knowledge, Love, and Rhetoric. – New York, 2001
- Christine van Ruymbeke. . University of Cambridge Press , 2008.Science and Poetry in Medieval Persia: The Botany of Nizami's Khamsa
- Christine van Ruymbeke. "From culinary recipe to pharmacological secret for a successful wedding night: the scientific background of two images related to fruit in the Xamse of Nezâmi Ganjavi", Festschrift in honour of Professor J.T.P. de Bruijn, Persica, Annual of the Dutch-Iranian Society, (Leiden), 2002, pp. 127–136
- "Nizami's Unlikely Heroines: A Study of the Characterizations of Women in Classical Persian Literature" by Kamran Talattof.
- ., New York: Oxford University Press, 1995Haft Paykar: A Medieval Persian RomanceJ. S. Meisami(Translator)
- Johan Christoph Burgel & Christine van Ruyuymbeke, "Nizami: A Key to the Treasure of the Hakim ", Amsterdam University Press, 2011
- Peter J. Chelkowski, "Mirror of the Invisible World", New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1975
- Neẓāmī. Encyclopædia Britannica Online (Encyclopædia Britannica). 2009. Retrieved February 28, 2009. excerpt: Greatest romantic epic poet in Persian Literature, who brought a colloquial and realistic style to the Persian epic. .... Nezami is admired in Persian-speaking lands for his originality and clarity of style, though his love of language for its own sake and of philosophical and scientific learning makes his work difficult for the average reader.
- C. A. (Charles Ambrose) Storey and François de Blois (2004), "Persian Literature – A Biobibliographical Survey: Volume V Poetry of the Pre-Mongol Period.", RoutledgeCurzon; 2nd revised edition (June 21, 2004). ISBN 0-947593-47-0. p. 363: "Nizami Ganja’i, whose personal name was Ilyas, is the most celebrated native poet of the Persians after Firdausi. His
Meisami, Julie Scott (1995). The Haft Paykar: A Medieval Persian Romance. Oxford University Press.
Abû Muhammad Ilyas ibn Yusuf ibn Zaki Mu'ayyad, known by his pen-name of Nizami, was born around 1141 in Ganja, the capital of Arran in Transcaucasian Azerbaijan, where he remained until his death in about 1209. His father, who had migrated to Ganja from Qom in north central Iran, may have been a civil servant; his mother was a daughter of a Kurdish chieftain; having lost both parents early in his life, Nizami was brought up by an uncle. He was married three times, and in his poems laments the death of each of his wives, as well as proferring advice to his son Muhammad. He lived in an age of both political instability and intense intellectual activity, which his poems reflect; but little is known about his life, his relations with his patrons, or the precise dates of his works, as the accounts of later biographers are colored by the many legends built up around the poet
- Mo'in, Muhammad(2006), "Tahlil-i Haft Paykar-i Nezami", Tehran.: p. 2: Some commentators have mentioned his name as “Ilyas the son of Yusuf the son of Zakki the son of Mua’yyad” while others have mentioned that Mu’ayyad is a title for Zakki. Mohammad Moin, rejects the first interpretation claiming that if it were to mean 'Zakki son of Muayyad' it should have been read as 'Zakki i Muayyad' where izafe (-i-) shows the son-parent relationship but here it is 'Zakki Muayyad' and Zakki ends in silence/stop and there is no izafe (-i-). Some may argue that izafe is dropped due to meter constraints but dropping parenthood izafe is very strange and rare. So it is possible that Muayyad was a sobriquet for Zaki or part of his name (like Muayyad al-Din Zaki). This is supported by the fact that later biographers also state Yusuf was the son of Mu’ayyad
- Chelkowski, P.J (1995), “Nizami Gandjawi”, Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Ed., vol. 8: 76–81. Online Version: Chelkowski, P. "Nizami Gandjawi, jamal al-Din Abu Muhammad Ilyas b. Yusuf b. Zaki Muayyad . Encyclopaedia of Islam. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2008. Brill Online. Excerpt one:"Nizami Gandjawi, Djamal al-Din Abu Muhammad Ilyas b. Yusuf b. Zaki Muʾayyad, one of the greatest Persian poets and thinkers." Excerpt two: "In Haft Paykar, the phantasmagoric movement of its hero, Bahram Gūr, as he visits each princess, covers a symbolic path between black, or the hidden majesty of the Divine, and white, or purity and unity. The princesses and their pavilions are manifestations of specific planets, specific climes, colours, and days. The pavilions are domed, representing the structure of the heavens. Nizami illustrates the harmony of the universe, the affinity of the sacred and the profane, and the concordance of ancient and Islamic Iran." (Nizami Ganjavi in Encyclopedia of Islam, Chelkowski)."
- Bernard Lewis, “Music of a distant drum”, Princeton University Press, 2001. Pg 9: “The Persians went a step further, creating authentic epic tradition comparables with those of Greece, Rome and the Vikings. This too, became in time, a form of Persian national self definition. The most famous of Persian epic poets, Firdawsi (940–1020) has been translated several times. An extract from the story of Farhad and Shirin, as told by the 12th century Persian poet Nizami, exmpelified another form of narrative”
- Julie Scott Meisami, Paul Starkeym, “Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature”, Taylor & Francis, 1998. Pg 69: “In Arabic literature there has been no artistic elaboration of the story comparable to that undertaken by the Persian poet Nizami“
- "BACHER, WILHELM – Encyclopaedia Iranica". Iranicaonline.org. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
- "Ganca (Azerbaijan) - Encyclopedia Britannica". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
- CHARLES-HENRI DE FOUCHÉCOUR, "IRAN:Classical Persian Literature" in Encyclopædia Iranica
- Jan Rypka (Rypka, Jan. ‘Poets and Prose Writers of the Late Saljuq and Mongol Periods’, in The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 5, The Saljuq and Mongol Periods, ed., Published January 1968. p. 578: As the scene of the greatest flowering of the panegyrical qasida, southern Caucasia occupies a prominent place in New Persian literary history. But this region also gave to the world Persia’s finest creator of romantic epics. Hakim Jamal al-din Abu Muhammad Ilyas b. Yusuf b. Zaki b. Mu’ayyad Nizami a native of Ganja in Azarbaijan, is an unrivaled master of thoughts and words, a poet whose freshness and vigor all the succeeding centuries have been unable to dull. Little is known of his life, the only source being his own works, which in many cases provided no reliable information. We can only deduce that he was born between 535 and 540 (1140–46) and that his background was urban. Modern Azarbaijan is exceedingly proud of its world famous son and insists that he was not just a native of the region, but that he came from its own Turkic stock. At all events his mother was of Iranian origin, the poet himself calling her Ra’isa and describing her as Kurdish.
- Vladimir Minorsky. Studies in Caucasian History. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
- Thomas de Waal. The Caucasus: An Introduction. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
- "Nizami Ganjavi - USSR Politicization - Iranian Persian Civilization - Nezami Ganjei". Azargoshnasp.net. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
- Gandzakatsi, Kirakos. Kirakos Gandzakats'i's History of the Armenians / translation from Classical Armenian by Robert Bedrosian. — New York: 1986. — p. 197 Excerpt: "This city was densely populated with Iranians and a small number of Christians. Kirakos Gandzakets' Patmut'iwn Hayots' [Kirakos of Gandzak, History of Armenia], edited by K.A. Melik'-Ohanjanyan, (Erevan, 1961), p. 235: "Ays k'aghak's bazmambox lts'eal parsko'k', ayl sakaw ew k'ristone'iwk'..."
- Peter J. Chelkowski, "Mirror of the Invisible World", New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1975. p. 1: "The culture of Nizami's Persia is renowned for its deep-rooted tradition and splendor. In pre-Islamic times, it had developed extraordinarily rich and exact means of expression in music, architecture, and daily life as well as in writing, although Iran, its center—or, as the poets believed, its heart—was continually overrun by invading armies and immigrants, this tradition was able to absorb, transform, and ultimately ocercome foreign intrusion. Alexander the Great was only one of many conquerors, to be seduced by the Persian way of life." p. 2:"During the last quarter of the twelfth century, when Nizami began his Khamsa, Seljuq supremacy was on the decline and political unrest and social ferments were increasing. However, Persian culture characteristically flourished when political power was diffused rather than centralized, and so Persian remained the primary language, Persian civil servants were in great demand, Persian merchants were successful, and princedoms continued to vie for the service of Persian poets. This was especially true in Ganjeh, the Caucasian outpost town where Nizami lived." p. 6: "Nizami's strong character, his social sensibility, and his poetic genius fused with his rich Persian cultural heritage to create a new standard of literary achievement. Using themes from the oral tradition and written historical records, his poems unite pre-Islamic and Islamic Iran", p. 9:"Probably no Persian writer has inspired succeeding generation of poets more than Nizami", p. 6: ""Khosrow and Shirin" proved to be a literary turning point not only for Nizami but for all of Persian poetry. Furthermore it was the first poem in Persian literature to achieve complete structural and artistic unity". p. 2;"During the last quarter of the twelfth century, when Nizami began his Khamsa, Seljuq supremacy was on the decline and political unrest and social ferments were increasing. However, Persian culture characteristically flourished when political power was diffused rather than centralized, and so Persian remained the primary language, Persian civil servants were in great demand, Persian merchants were successful, and princedoms continued to vie for the service of Persian poets. This was especially true in Ganjeh, the Caucasian outpost town where Nizami lived." p. 1: "By the end of the tenth century, Persian literature was world renowned; it was heralded from the eastern Mediterranean to the banks of the Indus" pp2:"Few facts about the life of Nizami are certain. Because he was not a court poet and it was his poetry rather than his life or his political connections that won him enduring fame, he does not appear in the annals of the dynasties...". p. 9: "The memorization and recitation of their literary heritage has alway beens vital to Iranians, whose attitude towards the power of the written and spoken word is revential. Even today the national passion for poetry is constantly expressed over radio and television, in teahouses, in literary societies, in daily conversation, and in the Musha'areh, the poetry recitation contest. Nizami's work serves as a vehicle and a symbol of this tradition, for it unites universality with deep-rooted artistic endeavor, a sense of justice and passion for the arts and sciences with spirituallity and genuine piety. for richness and fineness of metaphor, accuracy, and profundity of psychological observation, and sheer virtuosity of storytelling, Nizami is unequalled"
- "The Poetry of Nizami Ganjavi: Knowledge, Love, and Rhetortics", New York, 2001. p. 2: "His father, Yusuf and mother, Rai'sa, died while he was still relatively young, but maternal uncle, Umar, assumed responsibility for him"
- A) V.Minorsky: "review of G. H. Darab translation of Makhzan al-Asrar" 1945 Minorsky, BSOAS., 1948, xii/2, 441–5):"Whether Nizami was born in Qom or in Ganja is not quite clear. The verse (quoted on p. 14): "I am lost as a pearl in the sea of Ganja, yet I am from the Qohestan of the city of Qom ", does not expressly mean that he was born in Qom. On the other hand, Nizami's mother was of Kurdish origin, and this might point to Ganja where the Kurdish dynasty of Shaddad ruled down to AH. 468; even now Kurds are found to the south of Ganja." B)V. Minorsky, Studies in Caucasian History, Cambridge University Press, 1957. p. 34:"The author of the collection of documents relating to Arran Mas’ud b. Namdar (c. 1100) claims Kurdish nationality. The mother of the poet Nizami of Ganja was Kurdish (see autobiographical digression in the introduction of Layli wa Majnun). In the 16th century there was a group of 24 septs of Kurds in Qarabagh, see Sharaf-nama, I, 323. Even now the Kurds of the USSR are chiefly grouped south of Ganja. Many place-names composed with Kurd are found on both banks of the Kur"
- Barazat Zanjani. “Layla va Majnun-I Nizami Ganjavi: matn-I Ilmi va intiqadi az ru-yi qadimtari nuskha-hayi khatti-I qarn-I hashtum ba zikr-i ikhtilaf-i nusakh va ma’ani lughat va tarikbat va kashf al-bayat”, Tehran, Mu’assasah-i Chap va Intisharat-i Danishgah Tehran, 1369. p. 28:گر شد پدرم به سنت جد- یوسف پسر زکی مؤید (Gar shod Pedaram beh sonnat-i jadd – Yusuf Pesar-i Zakki Mu'ayyad)
- A)C. A. (Charles Ambrose) Storey and Franço de Blois (2004), "Persian Literature – A Biobibliographical Survey: Volume V Poetry of the Pre-Mongol Period.", RoutledgeCurzon; 2nd revised edition (June 21, 2004). p. 363: "Nizami Ganja’i, whose personal name was Ilyas, is the most celebrated native poet of the Persians after Firdausi. His nisbah designates him as a native of Ganja (Elizavetpol, Kirovabad) in Azerbaijan, then still a country with an Iranian population, and he spent the whole of his life in Transcaucasia; the verse in some of his poetic works which makes him a native of the hinterland of Qom is a spurious interpolation." B) Ian Philip McGreal, "Great Literature of the Eastern World", Published 1996, p. 505):"His mother was an Iranian Kurd and it is possible that his father had the same ethnic origin, though he is claimed also by Turkish Azerbaijanis as being of their stock.". C) Abel, A. (1978), “Eskandar nāma”,
- "Chapter 4". Archive.org.
- Siavash Lornejad, Ali Doostzadeh (2012). "On the Modern Politicization of the Persian Poet Nezami Ganjavi" (PDF). Yerevan: Victoria Arakelova, YEREVAN SERIES FOR ORIENTAL STUDIES (Editor of the Series Garnik Asatrian), Caucasian Centre for Iranian Studies. pp. 173–175.
- "ON THE MODERN POLITICIZATION OF THE PERSIAN POET NEZAMI GANJAVI : Siavash Lornejad, Ali Doostzadeh : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive". Archive.org. 2001-03-10. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
- Iraj Bashiri,"The Teahouse at a Glance" – Nizami's Life and Works, 2000
- Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Mehdi Amin Razavi, "The Islamic intellectual tradition in Persia",RoutledgeCurzon; annotated edition (July 4, 1996). pp. 178–187
- Nizami (Translated Dr. Rudolf. Gelpke in collaboration with E. Mattin and G. Hill) (1966). The Story of Layla and Majnun. Omega Publications. Excerpt from the introduction: "Nizami preserves the Bedouin atmosphere, the nomad's tents in the desert and the tribal customs of the inhabitants, while at the same time transposing the story into the far more civilized Iranian world...Majnun talks to the planets in the symbolic language of a twelfth century Persian sage, the encounters of small Arabic raiding parties become gigantic battles of royal Persian armies and most of the Bedouins talk like heroes, courtiers, and savants of the refined Iranian Civilization"
- Maria Sutenly, "Visionary Rose: Metaphorical Application of Horticultural Practice in Persian Culture" in Michel Conan and W. John Kress, "Botanical progress, horticultural information and cultural changes", Dumbarton Oaks, 2007. p. 12: "In a highly evocative tale he relates in the Makhzan al-Asrar ("Treasury of Secrets"), the twelfth-century Persian poet, Nizami whose oeuvre is an acknowledged repository of Iranian myths and legends, illustrates the way in which the rose was perceived in the Medieval Persian imagination"
- (Chelkowski, P. "Nezami's Iskandarnameh:" in Colloquio sul poeta persiano Nizami e la leggenda iranica di Alessandro magno, Roma, 1977). p. 10: "The Persian legend of Alexander the Great seems to overshadow all of the other fantastic Alexander stories not only in the tale of the successful accomplishment of many a "mission-impossible" but especially concerning the nature of his career. In Iran he rose from the stature of a damned evil conquerer of the country, to that of a national Iranian hero king, and even more, to that of the great prophet of God, preparing all the nations for the true religion. Yet the Persian legend of Alexander is very little known in the Western world." p. 13: "Nizami was a typical product of the Iranian culture. He created a bridge between Islamic Iran and pre-Islamic Iran and also between Iran and the whole ancient world. His great humanism, strong character, sensibility, drama, colorful description of nature, rich language, and the poetic genius created a new standard of literary achievements and captured the imagination of countless imitators". p. 17: "In the case of previous romances of Khosraw and Bahram, Nizami dealt with national Iranian heroes, though from pre-Islamic times. In the tale of Layla and Majnun, the Arab nationality of the lover is of no importance since the story is based on a simple Arab folktale which was later absorbed and embellished by the Persians". p. 19: "Alexander was glorified by the Muslims as a divine agent, a prophet-king and the blessed conqueror of the lands that were to become the stronghold of Islam. To some Muslims, Islam was a realization of Alexander's "koine" --- a commonwealth where people could live in harmony and in peace of heart and mind. In this atmosphere attempts were made to make out of Alexander not only a Muslim but a Persian as well". p. 21: "However, it was not Tabari directly, but Ferdowsi who was Nizami's source of inspiration and material in composing Iskandarnameh. Nizami constantly alludes to the Shahnameh in his writing, especially in the prologue to the Iskandarnameh. It seems that he was always fascinated by the work of Firdawsi and made it a goal of his life to write an heroic epic of the same stature. p. 22: "It seems that Nezami's favorite pastime was reading Firdawsi's monumental epic Shahnameh (The book of Kings)". p. 22: "In fact, although Alexander conquered Iran, he was soon conquered by Persian customs and ways of life. In many aspects he was so overwhelmed by Persian civilization that he became more Persian than the Persians. He tried to make a blend of the Greek and Persian civilization --- even genetically, when he sponsored mass marriages between his troops and Persian women. He himself married Roxane (Rowshanak) the daughter of the Sogdian prince – not the daughter of Darius the Third, as both Firdawsi and Nizami believed. Like Alexander, Arabs, Turks, Mongols and other people who overran the Iranian plateau also came under the spell of Persian culture. Foreign invaders remained to become contributors and patrons of Persian art and culture. To give one example, some of Nizami's benefactors were of Turkic stock."
- "NOZHAT AL-MAJĀLES – Encyclopaedia Iranica". Iranicaonline.org. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
- Rypka, Jan. "Poets and Prose Writers of the Late Saljuq and Mongol Periods", The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 5, The Saljuq and Mongol Periods, ed., Published January 1968. Excerpt: "The school, which begins with Qatran (d. 1072), formed a well defined group of teachers and pupils of whom two, Khaqani and Nezami, were to exert a lasting development of their respective genre: Khaqani being the greatest exponent of the qasida and Nezami the most brilliant writer of romantic epics".
- P. Chelkowski, "Literature in Pre-Safavid Isfahan", International Society for Iranian Studies, Vol. 7, No. 1/2. — Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of International Society for Iranian Studies, 1974. — p. 112-131.) Quote: "The three main literary styles which follow each other consecutively are known as: Khurasani, Iraqi, and Hindi. The time spans of each style are equally flexible. Within these broad geographical divisions we then come across certain "literary schools" which reflect regional peculiarities and idiosyncrasies and are identified with smaller entities like provinces or towns. For example, there are: the Azerbayjani school, The Tabriz school, or the Shirvan school."
- Sharvānī, Jamāl Khalīl, fl. 13 cent., Nuzhat al-majālis / Jamāl Khalīl Sharvānī ; tāʼlīf shudah dar nīmah-ʼi avval-i qarn-i haftum, tashih va muqaddimah va sharh-i hal-i gūyandigān va tawzīḥāt va fihristhā az Muḥammad Amīn Riyāḥī. Tehran : Intishārāt-i Zuvvār, 1366  . 764 pages (In Persian containing the complete publication of the book). Digital Version]
- Daniela Meneghini, “Saljuqs: Saljuqid Literature” in Encyclopedia Iranica. Excerpt:"The Saljuqs never governed the vast conquered territories as a centralized empire. The main power centers were Hamadān and Isfahan in the west, and Marv and Nišāpur (Nishapur) in the east, but their courts changed location several times over the decades. There were also branches of the Saljuq dynasty in Kermān, Syria, and in Anatolia, and the dynasty’s strong tendency towards decentralization led in the 12th century to the establishment of the atābak, or ‘parallel’ dynasties of Turkish slaves, put in government in some areas (Marāḡa, Tabriz, Shiraz, etc.) ‘external’ to the main centers of power. This phenomenon favored the development of a vigorous cultural life in cities such as Ray, Shiraz, and Yazd and especially in the urban centers of Azerbaijan and Arrān such as Tabriz and Šervān.” “With their capital, Šarvān (Šervān), in the lands of the eastern Caucasus, the Šarvānšāh dynasty also always maintained its independence from the Great Saljqus” “The geographical closeness of the territories subject to the Ildeguzids and those under the Šarvānšāh encouraged the flow of intellectuals and poets from one court to the other. It is also possible to speak of a certain similarity of inspiration and of style between the poets born and educated in these areas, to the point of defining them as belonging to the ‘Azerbaijan school’ (Rypka, Hist. Iran Lit., pp. 201–9). The complexity of the language and of the compositional techniques, the originality and multiplicity of the themes, the presence of Persian archaisms and, at the same time, a wide range of borrowings from Arabic vocabulary are among the stylistic features which are common to poets in this cultural context compared with other contemporaries closer to the Khorasani style.”
- De Bruijn, J.T.P. (1997), “Iran: Literature”, Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Ed., vol. IV:52–75. excerpt: "“On the other hand he enriched the romantic mathnawi by using imagery of lyric poetry to the full, treating it with all the rhetorical ingenuity characteristic of the 'Iraqi style”"
- Dr. Ali Asghar Seyed Gohrab. "Layli and Majnun: Love, Madness and Mystic Longing", Brill Studies in Middle Eastern literature, Jun 2003. p. 276.
- "VIS O RĀMIN – Encyclopaedia Iranica". Iranicaonline.org. 2005-07-20. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
J.T.P. De Bruijn (December 15, 2002). "ḤADIQAT AL-ḤAQIQA WA ŠARIʿAT AL-ṬARIQA". Iranica. Retrieved 2010-09-06.
The Ḥadiqat al-ḥaqiqa is not only one of the first of a long line of Persian didactical maṯnawis, it is also one of the most popular works of its kind as the great number of copies made throughout the centuries attest. Its great impact on Persian literature is evidenced by the numerous citations from the poem occurring in mystical as well as profane works. It has been taken as a model by several other poets, including Neẓāmi, ʿAṭṭār, Rumi, Awḥadi, and Jāmi."
- JTP de Bruijn. Persian Sufi Poetry, An Introduction to the Mystical – Taylor and Francis (Routledge) 1997 pp. 97–98
- "ḴĀQĀNI ŠERVĀNI i. Life – Encyclopaedia Iranica". Iranicaonline.org. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
- Siavash Lornejad, Ali Doostzadeh (2012). "On the Modern Politicization of the Persian Poet Nezami Ganjavi" (PDF). Yerevan: Victoria Arakelova, YEREVAN SERIES FOR ORIENTAL STUDIES (Editor of the Series Garnik Asatrian), Caucasian Centre for Iranian Studies. p. 191.
- Bowker. World Religions. p. 165.
- Darab, Gholam Hossein. Treasury of Mysteries, translation of Makhzanol Asrar. (London:. Arthur Probsthain, 1945).
- "ḴOSROW O ŠIRIN – Encyclopaedia Iranica". Iranicaonline.org. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
- "ESKANDAR-NĀMA OF NEŻĀMĪ – Encyclopaedia Iranica". Iranicaonline.org. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
- "FARHĀD (1) – Encyclopaedia Iranica". Iranicaonline.org. 1999-12-15. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
- "LEYLI O MAJNUN – Encyclopaedia Iranica". Iranicaonline.org. 2009-07-15. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
- Pellat, Ch.; Bruijn, J.T.P. de; Flemming, B.; Haywood, J.A. "Madjnūn Laylā." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C. E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W. P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2009. Brill Online. Excerpts: "The theme was chosen for the first time as the subject of a Persian narrative poem, but the precedent of the treatment of a similar subject of Arabic origin existed in ʿAyyūḳī's Warḳa u Gulshāh. Niẓāmī states in the introduction to his poem that he accepted the assignment with some hesitation. At first, he doubted whether this tale of madness and wanderings through the wilderness would be suitable for a royal court (ed. Moscow 1965, pp. 41 ff.). He adapted the disconnected stories to fit the requirements of a Persian romance. ...In some respects, the Bedouin setting of the original has been changed under the influence of urban conditions more familiar to the poet and his audience: the young lovers become acquainted at school; the generous Nawfal is a prince in the Iranian style rather than an Arab official. Niẓāmī added a second pair of lovers, Zayn and Zaynab, in whom the love between the main characters is reflected. It is Zayn who in a dream sees Madjnūn and Laylī united in paradise at the end of the romance."
- Ali Asghar Seyed-Gohrab, "Layli and Majnun: Madness and Mystic Longing" Brill Studies in Middle Eastern literature, Jun. 2003, pp. 76–77, excerpt: Although Majnun was to some extent a popular figure before Nizami's time, his popularity increased dramatically after the appearance of Nizami's romance. By collecting information from both secular and mystical sources about Majnun, Nizami portrayed such a vivid picture of this legendary lover that all subsequent poets were inspired by him, many of them imitated him and wrote their own versions of the romance. As we shall see in the following chapters, the poet uses various characteristics deriving from ‘Udhrite love poetry and weaves them into his own Persian culture. In other words, Nizami Persianises the poem by adding several techniques borrowed from the Persian epic tradition, such as the portrayal of characters, the relationship between characters, description of time and setting, etc.
- Dr. Ali Asghar Seyed-Gohrab (June 2003). Layli and Majnun: Love, Madness and Mystic Longing. Brill Studies in Middle Eastern literature.
- "HAFT PEYKAR – Encyclopaedia Iranica". Iranicaonline.org. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
- Abel, A. (1978), “Eskandar nāma”, Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Ed., vol. 4:127–129. Online: Abel, A.; Ed(s). "Iskandar Nama." Encyclopaedia of Islam. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2007. Brill onlien edition). Excerpt: "In the Shahnama, Firdawsi already makes Iskandar an exemplary figure, whom the companionship of Aristotle helps to rise still higher, by the path of wisdom and moderation, in the direction of abstinence and contempt for this world. And Firdwasi laid stress on the defeat of Dārā (the Darius of the Greeks) as something desired by "the rotation of the Heavens"....At the time of Niẓami, however, Islam is from then onwards well established in Iran, and it is the prophetic and ecumenical aspect of his destiny that the poet makes evident in his hero. As a learned Iranian poet, Niẓami, who demonstrates his eclecticism in the information he gives (he says, "I have taken from everything just what suited me and I have borrowed from recent histories, Christian, Pahlavi and Jewish ... and of them I have made a whole"), locates the story of his hero principally in Iran. He makes him the image of the Iranian "knight", peace-loving and moderate, courteous and always ready for any noble action. Like all Niẓami's heroes, he conquers the passions of the flesh, and devotes his attention to his undertakings and his friendships. These features appear in the account, which follows ancient tradition, of his conduct towards the women of the family of Darius, in his brotherly attitude on the death of that ruler, in his behaviour towards queen Nushaba (the Kaydaf of Firdawsi, the Kandake of the pseudo-Callisthenes) whom he defends against the Russians.
- "Persian Literature in Translation The Packard Humanities Institute: Eskandar-Nama (The Book of Alexander)". Persian.packhum.org. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
- The Haft paikar [Engl.], Wilson, Charles Edward, London: Probsthain. 1924. (Probsthain's Oriental series.). ISBN 0-85382-017-1 (see Amazon)
- Domenico Parrello, "ḴAMSA OF NEẒĀMI" in Encyclopaedia Iranica
- The Russian philologist Ivan Mikhailovich Steblin-Kamensky, Professor and the Dean of the Oriental Department of Saint Petersburg University comments("Oriental Department is ready to cooperate with the West", Saint Petersburg University newspaper, № 24—25 (3648—49), 1 November 2003"). http://www.spbumag.nw.ru/2003/24/1.shtml – Accessed February 2008. Низами писал свои стихи и поэмы на персидском языке. Nizami wrote his poems in Persian language.
- AO Tamazishvili. Unknown Pages of Russian Oriental Studies: [Collection] / Ros. Acad. Sciences, Institute of Oriental Studies, St. Peterb. Phil. arch. RAS [status. V. Naumkin (отв. Ed.), NG Romanov, IM Smilyanska]. Moscow: Eastern. lit., 2004. From the History of Study of Nezami-ye Ganjavi in the USSR: around the anniversary – E. Bertels, Stalin, and others. Pp. 173–199. (in Russian) excerpt: "Главным, революционным для отечественной науки результатом этой кампании стало отнесение Низами к поэтам азербайджанским, а его творчества к достижениям азербайджанской литературы, в то время как в мировом востоковедении (а ранее и в советском) доминировал взгляд на него как представителя литературы персидской. Точки зрения, что Низами персидский поэт, и сегодня придерживаются ученые многих стран, в первую очередь — Ирана.". "...while in the realm of the world Oriental Studies (and prior to this in the Soviet as well), the viewpoint of him as a representative of Persian literature. The viewpoint that Nezami is a Persian poet is even today held by the scholars of many countries, specially of Iran."
- Dr. Lalita Sinha (Universiti Sains Malaysia, Senior Lecturer in Comparative Literature and Comparative Religion). Garden of Love. World Wisdom, Inc, 2008. ISBN 1-933316-63-2. page: 24. "Hailed by scholars of Persian literature as the greatest exponent of romantic epic poetry in Persian literature (Levy 1969, XI), Nizami is also referred...."
- "ḴAMSA-ye JAMĀLI – Encyclopaedia Iranica". Iranicaonline.org. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
- Burgel, Johan Christoph; van Ruyuymbeke, Christine (2011). Nizami: A Key to the Treasure of the Hakim. Amsterdam University Press.
- Tatiana Egorova Soviet Film Music: An Historical Survey, p. 186
- "Kara Karayev (Azerbaijani composer) - Encyclopedia Britannica". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
National Bank of Azerbaijan. National currency: 500 manat. – Retrieved on 24 March 2009. (Old site -now a dead link- that described the banknote).
Central Bank of Azerbaijan. National currency: 500 manat. – Retrieved on 25 February 2010.
- Central Bank of Azerbaijan. Commemorative coins. Coins produced within 1992–2010: Gold coins dedicated to the memory of Nizami Genjevi. – Retrieved on 25 February 2010.
- Department of Humanitarian and Social Sciences of Azerbaijan National Academy of Science. Names of Scientific Institutions and Organizations Reporting to the Branch.
- Huseinova, Aida. "Muslim Magomayev Celebrates 60th Jubilee". Azer.com. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
- "'"Nizami Ganjavi 'one of most prominent figures in Azerbaijani culture. News.az. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
- List of Persian poets and authors
- Nozhat al-Majales
- Persian literature
- Asadi Tusi
- Vis and Rāmin
Monuments to Nezami are found in many cities of Azerbaijan and Iran, as well as in Chişinău (Moldova), Rome (Italy).
The Nizami Museum of Literature is located in Baku, Azerbaijan. One of the Baku Metro stations is also named after Nizami Ganjavi. There is Institute of Literature named after Nizami and Cinema named after Nizami in Baku. One of the districts of Baku is called Nizami raion. The life of Nizami Ganjavi is shown in the Azerbaijani movie "Nizami" (1982), in which the leading role, role of Nizami Ganjavi, was played by Muslim Magomayev. The Nizami Mausoleum, built in honor of Nizami, stands just outside the city of Ganja in Azerbaijan. It is a tall cylindrical building, surrounded by gardens. To one side, there is a metal statue commemorating Nizami's epic poems. The mausoleum was originally built in 1947 in place of an old collapsed mausoleum, and rebuilt in its present form after Azerbaijan Republic regained its independence after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Nezami was depicted on the obverse of the Azerbaijani 500 manat banknote of 1993–2006. In 2008, coinciding with the 800th anniversary of his death, the National Bank of Azerbaijan minted a 100 manat gold commemorative coin dedicated to his memory.
The Soviet ballet produced a film, Leili and Medjnun, named after a poem by Nizami Gandjevi. The ballet "Seven Beauties" by Azerbaijani composer Gara Garayev, based on Nezami's famous poem, won an international acclaim.
In 2004, there was a conference on Nezami organized in the University of Cambridge. The book containing the proceedings of this conference was published under the title: "Nizami: A Key to the Treasure of Hakim " in 2011 by Leiden Press.
Nezami's story of Layla and Majnun also provided the namesake for a hit single by Eric Clapton, also called "Layla". Recorded with Derek and the Dominos, "Layla" was released on the 1970 album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. The album was highly influenced by Nezami and his poetry of unrequited love. The fifth song of Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, "I Am Yours", was in fact a Nezami composition, set to music by Clapton.
With regards to the recitation of his poetry, Peter Chelkowski states: "The memorization and recitation of their literary heritage has alway beens vital to Iranians, whose attitude towards the power of the written and spoken word is revential. Even today the national passion for poetry is constantly expressed over radio and television, in teahouses, in literary socities, in daily conversation, and in the Musha'areh, the poetry recitation contest. Nizami's work serves as a vehicle and a symbol of this tradition, for it unites universality with deep-rooted artistic endeavor, a sense of justice and passion for the arts and sciences with spirituallity and genuine piety. for richness and fineness of metaphor, accuracy, and profundity of psychological observation, and sheer virtuosity of storytelling, Nizami is unequalled".
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe writes:
A gentle, highly gifted spirit, who, when Ferdowsi had completed the collected heroic traditions, chose for the material of his poems the sweetest encounters of the deepest love. Majnun and Layli, Khosrow and Shirin, lovers he presented; meant for one another by premonition, destiny, nature, habit, inclination, passion staunchly devoted to each other; but divided by mad ideas, stubbornness, chance, necessity, and force, then miraculously reunited, yet in the end again in one way or another torn apart and separated from each other.
Amir Khusro writes:
"The ruler of the kingdom of words, famed hero,
Scholar and poet, his goblet [glass] toasts.
In it – pure wine, it's drunkingly sweet,
Yet in goblet [glass] beside us – only muddy setting."
Jami in his Baharestan mentions that: Nezami's excellence is more manifest than the sun and has no need of description. Hashemi of Kerman remarks: The empire of poetry obtained its law and order from Nezami's beautiful verses and To present words before Nezami's silent speech is a waste of time.
Jami in his Nafahatol Ons remarks that: Although most of Nezami's work on the surface appear to be romance, in reality they are a mask for the essential truths and for the explanation of divine knowledge.
According to Vahid Dastgerdi, If one would search all existing libraries, one would probably find more than 1000 versions of Layli and Majnun.
According to Dr. Rudolf Gelpke: Many later poets have imitated Nizami's work, even if they could not equal and certainly not surpass it; Persians, Turks, Indians, to name only the most important ones. The Persian scholar Hekmat has listed not less than forty Persians and thirteen Turkish versions of Layli and Majnun.
Amongst the many notable poets who have taken the Five Treasures of Nezami as their model may be mentioned Amir Khusro, Jalal Farahani, Khwaju Kermani, Mohammad Katebi Tarr-Shirini, Abdul Rahman Jami, Hatefi Jami, Vahshi Bafqi, Maktabi Shirazi, Ali-Shir Nava'i, Abdul Qader-e Bedel Dehlavi, Fuzûlî, Hashemi Kermani, Fayzi, Jamali and Ahmad Khani. Not only poets, but historians such as Rawandi were also influenced by Nezami's poetry and used his poem in rendering history. Besides these, scores of poets have started their composition with the first line of the Makhzan al-Asrar.
In Persian miniature, the stories in Nezami’s poems alongside those of Ferdowsi's Shahnama have been the most frequently illustrated literary works. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica: Nezami is admired in Persian-speaking lands for his originality and clarity of style, though his love of language for its own sake and of philosophical and scientific learning makes his work difficult for the average reader. Nezami composed his verses in Persian and Western Encyclopedias such as Encyclopedia of Islam, Encyclopædia Iranica, Encyclopædia Britannica and orientalists of many countries consider Nezami as a significant Persian poet and hail him as the greatest exponent of romantic epic poetry in Persian literature.
The influence of Neẓāmi’s work on the subsequent development of Persian literature has been enormous and the Khamsa became a pattern that was emulated in later Persian poetry (and also in other Islamic literatures). The legacy of Nezami is widely felt in the Islamic world and his poetry has influenced the development of Persian, Arabic, Turkish, Kurdish and Urdu poetry amongst many other languages.
Influence and legacy
English translation by Wilson:
The story was translated to English in 1924 by Charles Edward Wilson. A newer English rendering based on more complete manuscripts was accomplished by Professor Julia Scott Meysami. An excerpt (Original Persian):
Ritter, in his introduction to the critical edition describes it as: "the best and most beautiful epic in New Persian poetry and at the same time . . . one of the most important poetical creations of the whole of oriental Indo-European literature". The Haft Paykar is considered the poet's masterpiece. Overall, in this masterpiece, Nezami illustrates the harmony of the universe, the affinity of the sacred and the profane, and the concordance of ancient and Islamic Iran.
A pre-Islamic story of Persian origin, it was dedicated to the ruler of Maragha, 'Ala' Al-Din korp Arslan. It is the story of Bahram V, the Sassanid king, who is born to Yazdegerd after twenty years of childlessness and supplication to Ahura Mazda for a child. The Haft Paykar is a romanticized biography of the Sasanian Persian empire ruler Bahram Gur. His adventurous life had already been treated by Ferdowsi in the Shahnama, to which fact Nezami alludes a number of times. In general, his method is to omit those episodes that the earlier poet had treated, or to touch on them only very briefly, and to concentrate on new material. The poet starts by giving an account of the birth of Bahram Gur and his upbringing in the court of the Arab King No'man and his fabled palace Khwarnaq. Bahram whose upbringing is entrusted to Nom'man becomes a formidable huntsman. While wandering through the fabled palace, he discovers a locked room which contains a depiction of seven princesses; hence the name Haft Paykar (seven beauties). Each of these princesses is from the seven different climes (traditional Zoroastrian-Islamic division of the Earth) and he falls in love with them. His father Yazdegerd I passes away and Bahram returns to Persia to claim his throne from pretenders. After some episodes he is recognized as King and rescues the Persians from a famine. Once the country is stable, the King searches for the seven princesses and wins them as his brides. His architect is ordered to construct seven domes for each of his new brides. The architect tells him that each of the seven climes is ruled by one of the seven planets (classical planetary system of Zoroastrian-Islamic world) and advises him to assure good fortune by adorning each dome with the color that is associated with each clime and planet. Bahram is skeptical but follows the advice of the architect. The princesses take up residence in the splendid pavilions. On each visit, the king visits the princesses on successive days of the week; on Saturday the Indian princess, who is governed by Saturn and so on. The princesses names are Furak (Nurak), the daughter of the Rajah of India, as beautiful as the moon; Yaghma Naz, the daughter of the Khaqan of the Turks; Naz Pari, the daughter of the king of Khwarazm; Nasrin Nush, the daughter of the king of the Slavs; Azarbin (Azareyon), the daughter of the king of Morocco; Humay, the daughter of the Roman Caesar; and Diroste(wholesome), a beautiful Iranian princess from the House of Kay Ka'us. Each princess relates to the king a story matching the mood of her respective color. These seven beautifully constructed, highly sensuous stories occupy about half of the whole poem. While the king is busy with the seven brides, his evil minister seizes power in the realm. Bahram Gur discovers that the affairs of Persia are in disarray, the treasury is empty and the neighboring rulers are posed to invade. He clears his mind first by going hunting. After returning from hunt, he sees a suspended dog from a tree. The owner of the dog, who was shepherd, tells the story of how his faithful watchdog had betrayed his flock to a she-wolf in return for sexual favors. He starts investigating the corrupt minister and from the multitude of complaints, he selects seven who tell him the injustice they have suffered. The minister is subsequently put to death and Bahram Gur restores justice and orders the seven pleasure-domes to be converted to fire temples for the pleasure of God. Bahram then goes hunting for the last time but mysteriously disappears. As a pun on words, while trying to hunt the wild ass (gūr) he instead finds his tomb (gūr).
- Haft Paykar(Persian: هفت پیکر) "The Seven Beauties" (1197) (also called Bahram-Nama)
An English translation of the Sharaf-Nama by Henry Wilberforce-Clarke was published in 1881 under the title Sikandar Nama e Bara and is available online.
The Iqbal-nameh is a description of Alexander's personal growth into the ideal ruler on a model ultimately derived, through Islamic intermediaries, from Plato's Republic. He has debates with Greek and Indian philosophers (c.f. with Garshaspnama) and a major portion of the text is devoted to the discourses he has with seven Greek sages. The poet then tells of Alexander's end and adds an account of the circumstances of the death of each of the seven sages. Nezami's image of Alexander is that of an Iranian knight.
The Romance of Alexander the Great" contains 10,500 distichs. There are differences of opinion on whether this was Nezami's last epic or the Haft Paykar. The names of its dedicatees are uncertain but the ruler of Ahar, Nosart al-Din Bishkin b. Mohammad has been mentioned. The story is based on Islamic myths developed about Alexander the Great, which derive from Qur'anic references to the Dhu'l-Qarnayn as well as from the Greek Alexander romance of Pseudo-Callisthenes. It consists of two books, Sharaf-Nama and Iqbal-nameh. The poem narrates the three stages in Alexander's life: first as the conqueror of the world; then as a seeker after knowledge, gaining enough wisdom to acknowledge his own ignorance; and finally as a prophet, traveling once again across the world, from west to east, and south to north to proclaim his monotheistic creed to the world at large. The Sharaf-nama discusses the birth of Alexander, his succession to the throne of Rum (Greece), his wars against Africans who invaded Egypt, his conquest of Persia and his marriage to the daughter of Darius. The episode also discusses Alexander's pilgrimage to Mecca, his stay in the Caucasus and his visit to Queen Nushaba of Barda' and her court of Amazons. Alexander conquers India, China and the land of the Rus. The Sharafnama concludes with Alexander's unsuccessful search for the water of immortal life.
- Eskandar-nameh (Persian: اسکندرنامه) "The Book of Alexander" (1194) or (1196–1202)
The Story of Layla and Majnun by Nizami, was translated and edited by Dr. Rudolf Gelpke into an English version in collaboration with E. Mattin and G. Hill Omega Publications and published in 1966. A comprehensive analysis in English containing partial translations of Nezami's romance Layla and Majnun examining key themes such as chastity, constancy and suffering through an analysis of the main characters was recently accomplished by Ali Asghar Seyed-Gohrab.
He Persianises the poem by adding several techniques borrowed from the Persian epic tradition, such as the portrayal of characters, the relationship between characters, description of time and setting, etc. and adapts the disconnected stories to fit the requirements of a Persian romance.
A story of Arabic origin which was later absorbed and embellished by the Persians. The poem of 4,600 distichs was dedicated, in 1192, to Abu al-Muzaffar Shirvanshah, who claimed descent from the Sassanid King, whose exploits are reflected in Nezami's "Seven Beauties"(Haft Paykar). The poem is based on the popular Arab legend of ill-starred lovers: the poet Qays falls in love with his cousin Layla, but is prevented from marrying her by Layla's father. Layla's father forbids contact with Qays and Qays becomes obsessed and starts signing of his love for Layla in public. The obsession becomes so severe that he sees and evaluates everything in terms of Layla; hence his sobriquet "the possessed" (Majnun). Realizing that cannot obtain union even when other people intercede for him, he leaves society and roams naked in the desert among the beasts. However the image of Layla was so ingrained in him that he cannot eat or sleep. His only activity becomes composing poetry of longing for Layla. Meanwhile, Layla is married against her will, but she guards her virginity by resisting the advances of her husband. Arranging a secret meeting with Majnun, they meet, but have no physical contact. Rather they recite poetry to each other from a distance. Layla's husband dies eventually which removes the legal obstacles to a licit union. However Majnun is so focused on the ideal picture of Layla in his mind that he had fled to the desert. Layla dies out of grief and is buried in her bridal dress. Hearing this news, Majun rushes to her grave where he instantly dies. They are buried side by side and their grave becomes a site of pilgrimage. Someone dreams that in Paradise they are united and live as a king and queen. Nezami composed his romance at the request of the Shirvanshah Akhsatan. Initially, he doubted that this simple story about the agony and pain of an Arab boy wandering in rough mountains and burning deserts would be a suitable subject for royal court poetry and his cultured audience. It was his son who persuaded him to undertake the project, saying: "wherever tales of love are read, this will add spice to them". Nezami used many Arabic anecdotes in the story but also adds a strong Persian flavor to the legend. He adapted the disconnected stories about Majnun to fit the requirement of a Persian romance.
- Layli o Majnun(Persian: لیلی و مجنون) "Layla and Majnun" (1192)
Layli o Majnun
 With complete artistic and structural unity, the epic of Khosrow o Shirin turned to be a turning point not only for Nizami but for all of Persian literature. In turn, Nezami's great work had a tremendous influence on later authors and many imitations of this work were made. Nezami's concern with astrology also has a precedent in an elaborate astrological description of the night sky in Vis o Rāmin. The influence of
A story of pre-Islamic Persian origin which is found in the great epico-historical poems of Shahnameh and is based on a true story that was further romanticized by Persian poets. The story chosen by Nezami, was commissioned and dedicated to the Seljuk Sultan Toghril II, the Atabek Muhammad ibn Eldiguz Jahan Pahlavan and his brother Qizil Arsalan. It contains about 6,500 distichs in length, the story depicts the love of Sassanian Khosrow II Parviz towards his Armenian princess Shirin. "Khusrow and Shirin" recounts the story of King Khosrow's courtship of Princess Shirin, and vanquishing of his love-rival, Farhad. The story has a complex structure with several genres exploited simultaneously; and contains many verbal exchanges and letters, all imbued with lyrical intensity. Khosrow endures long journeys, physical and spiritual, before returning to Shirin, his true love. They are eventually married, but eventually Khosrow is killed by his son and Shirin commits suicide over the body of her murdered husband. Pure and selfless love is represented here embodied in the figure of Farhad, secretly in love with Shirin, who finally falls victim to the king's ire and jealousy.
- Khosrow o Shirin(Persian: خسرو و شیرین) "Khosrow and Shirin" (1177–1180)
Khosrow o Shirin
Not a romantic epic, "The Treasury of Mysteries" was translated into English by Gholam H. Darab in 1945. After this early work, Nezami turned into narrative poetry.
The ethico-philosophical poems of about 2,250 Persian distichs was dedicated to Fakhr al-Din Bahramshah, the ruler of Erzinjan. The story deals with such esoteric subjects as philosophy and theology. The story contains twenty discourses, each of them portraying an exemplary story on religious and ethical topics. Each chapter concludes with apostrophe to the poet himself containing his pen name. The content of the poems are indicated in the heading to each chapter and are written in a typical Homiletics style. The stories which discuss spiritual and practical concerns enjoin kingly justice, riddance of hypocrisy, warning of vanity of this world and the need to prepare for the after-life. The general message of the discourse is that Nezami preaches the ideal way of life drawing attention to his reader of the supreme rank man among God's creatures and approaching of the end life and the necessity of man becoming aware of his spiritual destination. In a few chapters he address the duties of a King, but as a whole he addresses himself to mankind in general rather than his royal patrons. In the introduction, the poet provides an account of his solitary vigils, called Khalwat. There is no indication that these were Sufi vigils, but are used as a literally fantasy on the duty of spiritually inclined poet he wanted to be. In highly rhetorical style, the aim he pursues is to transcend the limitation of secular literature of the courts. With this work, Nezami joins the destination of Persian poetry which had started with Sanai and was continued by others, in the first place by Attar.
- Makhzan al-Asrar (Persian: مخزن الاسرار) "The Treasury of Mysteries" (1163) (some date it 1176)
The Quinary(Five Treasures-Panj Ganj) includes the five Persian books of Nezami:
A scene from the romance "Layla and Majnun". The thwarted lovers meet for the last time before their deaths. Both have fainted and Majnun's elderly messenger attempts to revive Layla while wild animals protect the pair from unwelcome intruders. Late 16th-century illustration.
The Khamsa was a popular subject for lavish manuscripts illustrated with painted miniatures at the Persian and Mughal courts in later centuries. Examples include the Khamsa of Nizami (British Library, Or. 12208), created for the Mughal Emperor Akbar in the 1590s.
Nezami is best known for his five long narrative poems, which have been preserved. He dedicated his poems to various rulers of the region as was custom of that time for great poets, but avoided court life. Nezami was a master of the Masnavi style (double-rhymed verses). He wrote poetical works; the main one is the Panj Ganj (Persian: Five Jewels) "Quinary", also known by the Persian pronunciation of the same word in Arabic, Khamsa. The first of his five 'Treasures', called The Storehouse of Mysteries was influenced by Sanai of Ghazna's (d. 1131) monumental Garden of Truth. The other ‘Treasures’ were medieval romances. Khusaw and Shirin, Bahrām-e Gur, and Alexander the Great, who all have episodes devoted to them in Ferdowsi's Book of Kings, appear again here at the center of three of four of Nezami's narrative poems. The adventure of the paired lovers, Leyli and Majnun, is the subject of the second of his four romances, and derived from Arabic sources. In all these cases, Nezami reworked the material from his sources in a substantial way.
Quinary ("Panj Ganj" or "Khamsa")
I went to the Tavern last night, but I was not admitted
Only a small corpus of his lyric poetry, mainly qaṣīdahs ("odes") and ghazals ("lyrics") have survived. Ten of his quatrains have also been recorded in the anthology Nozhat al-Majales (which was compiled around 1250) by Jamal Khalil Shirvani along with 23 other poets from Ganja. A famous ghazal of Nezami talks about altruism as the path for reaching the ultimate spiritual goal:
Persian lyrical poetry
Nezami lived in an age of both political instability and intense intellectual activity, which his poems reflect; but little is known about his life, his relations with his patrons, or the precise dates of his works, as the many legends built up around the poet color the accounts of his later biographers.
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