THIS famous history is also by Khondamír, and was written subsequent to the Khulásatu-l Akhbár, and in a much more extended form, though Stewart (Descriptive Catalogue, p. 4) strangely characterizes it as an abridgment of that work.

The Habíbu-s Siyar was written at the desire of Muhammad al Husainí, who wished to have the facts of universal history collected into one volume. He died shortly after the work was begun, and the troubles which ensued induced our author for some time to suspend his labours, until an introduction to Karímu-d dín Habíbu-llah, a native of Ardabíl, encouraged him to prosecute them again with ardour. Habíbu-llah was a great cultivator of knowledge; all his leisure hours were devoted to its acquisition, and he was particularly partial to history. It was after the name of this new patron that he entitled his work Habíbu-s Siyar. It may be supposed that, as he travels over nearly the same ground as his father, he has made great use of the Rauzatu-s Safá, of which in many parts he offers a mere abridgment; but he has added the history of many dynasties omitted in that work, and the narrative is generally more lively and interesting. He has added, moreover, the lives of the celebrated men who flourished during each period that he brings under review.

The Habíbu-s Siyar was commenced in A.H. 927 (1521 A.D.), when the author was about forty-eight years of age. It is not known in what year it was completed, but M. Quatremère (Journ. des Savants, 1843, p. 393) has not ced that the year 930 (1523-4) is mentioned in it, and that the occurrences of Persian history are brought down to that time;—but Khondamír perhaps con­tinued his labours long after that period, even down to 935 H. (1528-9), because, in an interesting passage at the close of the first volume, of which part has already been quoted in a pre­ceding article,* he says, “Be it known unto the intelligent and enlightened minds of readers that the writing of these histories which form the first volume of Habíbu-s Siyar, has been com­pleted for the third time by the movement of the fingers of the composer, according to the saying that ‘a thing attaineth per­fection on its third revisal.’ The compiler, while on his travels in Hindustán, finished this volume, to the entire satisfaction of all his friends, ‘stopping every day and every night at a different place.’ The pen, ‘whose production is as sweet as a parrot's imitation of human speech, and which, by dipping into the ink like a diver into the sea, brings forth to light different narratives as precious gems from the dark caves of the deep, and displays them to the world, threads certain remarkable incidents as valuable pearls in the following manner.’

“The writer had not been long in Hindustán when he fell sick, and became weaker day by day. The regimen which he underwent for three or four months, with respect to drink and light food as well as medicines, proved ineffectual, so that he was reduced to so slender a skeleton, that even the morning breeze was capable of wafting him to a different country. Heat consumed his body as easily as flame melts a candle. At length Providence bestowed upon him a potion for the restoration of his health from that dispensary, where ‘When thou fallest sick, it is He that cureth thee.’ The compiler lifted up his head from his sick bed, as the disposer of all things opened the doors of convalescence towards his life. At this time, under the shadow of the victorious standard of his august Majesty, Bábar (may God maintain his kingdom till the day of judgment!), the com­piler had occasion to proceed to Bengal, and at every march where there was the least delay, he devoted his time to the completion of this volume, which was finished at Tírmuháná, near the confluence of the Sarjú and Ganges.”*

This passage is taken from a copy written A.H. 1019, but I cannot trace it in any others, all of which end with the verses which precede this conclusion; and it was most probably not in the copy consulted by M. Quatremère, or it could scarcely have escaped the penetration of that learned scholar. It seems, there­fore, to have been a postscript written for his Indian friends, and the work which he imposed upon himself may, after all, have been the mere copying, for the third time, of that which he had already composed.

It has been hitherto customary to translate the name of this History as the “Friend of Travelling,”* under the impression that the name of the original is Habíbu-s Sair; but it has been shown by M. Von Hammer and Baron de Sacy (Not. et Extr. ix., ii. 269), that Siyar is the word, signifying “biographies, lives.” The reason advanced for this is, that the clause, fí akhbár-i afrádu-l bashar, follows immediately after the title; and rythmical propriety, so much studied amongst Orientals, demands that the word should therefore be Siyar, rather than Sair. Further confirmation of the correctness of this view will be found in the third line of the conclusion, where Habíbu-s Siyar follows immediately after Arjimandu-l asar, showing that two syllables are necessary to compose the word Siyar. The entire name signifies, “The Friend of Biographies, comprising the history of persons distinguished among men.”

The Habíbu-s Siyar contains an Introduction (Iftitáh), three Books (Mujallad), each subdivided into four Chapters (Juzv), and a Conclusion (Ikhtitám).


The Introduction contains the history of the Creation of heaven and of earth, as well as of its inhabitants.

Book I.—Contains the history of the Prophets, Philosophers, and Kings who existed before the dawn of Islámism, with some account of Muhammad and the first Khalifs—860 pages.

Chapter 1.—The history of the Prophets and Philosophers.

Chapter 2.—The history of the kings of Persia and Arabia.

Chapter 3.—An account of Muhammad.

Chapter 4.—The events which occurred in the time of the first four Khalifs.

Book II.—Contains the history of the twelve Imáms, the Ummayides, 'Abbásides, and those kings who were contemporary with the 'Abbásides—710 pages.

Chapter 1.—An account of the twelve Imáms.

Chapter 2.—The events which occurred in the time of the Ummayides.

Chapter 3.—An account of the events which occurred in the time of the 'Abbásides.

Chapter 4.—Gives an account of several kings who were con­temporary with the 'Abbásides, as the Ghaznivides, Ghorians, Sámánides, Saljúks, Atábaks, etc.

Book III.—Contains the history of several other dynasties— 784 pages.

Chapter 1.—An account of the kings of Turkistán, and of the reigns of Changíz Khán and his descendants.

Chapter 2.—The history of the Kings contemporary with Changíz Khán.

Chapter 3.—Gives an account of Tímúr and his descendants, down to the time of the author.

Chapter 4.—An account of his patron, the reigning monarch.

The Conclusion mentions the wonders of the world, with a brief account of learned and holy men, poets, etc.

Size.—Small Folio, of 2318 pages, with 20 lines to a page.

The parts relating to India are the sections on the Ghazni-vides, the Ghorians, and the kings of Dehlí, down to the death of 'Aláu-d dín. Tímúr's invasion is described at great length, but the Tughlik dynasty is not mentioned.

The work is very rarely met with in a perfect state, but single books and chapters abound everywhere.

The Habíbu-s Siyar has not met with so many translators as the Rauzatu-s Safá. Major Price has abstracted a portion of it in his Chronological Retrospect, and the tragic events of Karbalá have been translated in the Oriental Quarterly Review. The History of the Mongols has been translated by M. Grigorieff. St. Petersburg, 1834, 8vo. The Life of Avicenna has been trans­lated by M. Jourdain in the Mines de l'Orient, tome iii., and the text of the code of Gházán Khán was published, with a trans­lation by Major Kirkpatrick, in vol. ii. of the New Asiatic Mis­cellany . A portion relating to the invention of paper-money was printed, with a translation, by M. Langlès, in the Memoires de l'Institut, tome iv. M. Charmoy extracted and published, with a translation in French, the passages relating to Tímúr's ex­pedition against the Khán of Kipchak (Mem. de l'Acad. de St. Pétersbourg, vime. série, tome iii.), and in the same periodical (tome viii.), Dr. Bernhard Dorn has given the text, with a German translation, of the Geschichte Tabaristans und der Serbedare. Lastly, M. Defrémery has extracted and translated many pas­sages relating to the Kháns of Kipchak, and the history of Chaghatái Khán and his successors, in the Journal Asiatique, iv. série, tome xvii., xix.