As already indicated in more than one place, the charac­teristic of the art which prevailed under the Tímúrids,

Literary taste under the Tímúrids whether literary or pictorial, was an extreme elaboration and preciosity little in accordance with modern European taste, though verysimilar on its literary side to that evolved by John Lyly and the Euphuists in England nearly a century after Jámí's reputa­tion had reached its zenith in Persia. * In England this florid, artificial style enjoyed but a brief popularity; in Persia it has flourished intermittently for a long period, especially under Tartar and Turkish patronage, but not continuously nor in all parts of the country, so that it is easy to point out fine specimens of simple, strong, natural Persian prose and verse both before and after the period now under consideration. During this period, however,

Period of greatest Persian influence on Turkish and Indian literary style the prevailing literary style in Persia was very ornate and artificial, and as it unfortunately happened that at no time was Persian literary influence greater in the adjoining lands of Turkey, India and Transoxiana, this style became stereo­typed throughout Western and Central Asia, and has come to be regarded by many persons, especially those who have pursued their linguistic studies in India, as typically Persian. Still it is a fact that not only the Persians, Turks and Indians, but even the Arabs, whose natural tendency is to a chaster and more simple style, and who seldom quite forget their adage that “the best speech is that which is brief and to the point,” * tend to regard form as more important than ideas in literary composition, to care less what a writer says than how he says it, and to prefer conventionality to originality. Most instructive are the remarks of that great and original historian Ibn Khaldún, who was not only contemporary with Tímúr but came into personal relations with him when Damascus surrendered to him at the end of A.D. 1400. * These remarks, with other observations germane to this subject, I have given in a previous volume * to which the reader is referred. In particular the student of Persian poetry, especially of the later more ornate writers, may be recommended to read that curious work, “the Lovers' Companion” (Anísu'l-'Ushsháq), composed in 826/1423 by Sharafu'd-Dín Rámí at Marágha in Ádharbáyján, of which a French translation by M. Cl. Huart was published in Paris in 1875, and of which I have given a brief account in a previous volume.*

It must not be supposed, however, that all the poets who will be mentioned in this chapter, or even all who The ornate style in Persian not so universal as sup­posed flourished at the court of Sulṭán Ḥusayn at Herát, employ this inflated and ornate style, which, indeed, is more noticeable in prose-writers, including even historians, who ought to know better than to fill ten pages with what could very well be set forth in one. The earlier poets of whom we shall imme­diately speak, like Sháh Ni'matu'lláh and Qásimu'l-Anwár, are free from this blemish, for so we must regard it; and so also, as a rule, is Jámí, who is universally and justly regarded not only as the chief ornament of the court of Herát, but as one of the greatest Persian poets of all time. It is the ornate prose-writers and minor poets and versifiers of the later part of this period who are the chief offenders in this respect. The passion for the riddle and acrostic (mu'ammá) which prevailed amongst the latter is very characteristic, while the methods of the former are well illustrated by Ḥusayn Wá'iẓ-i-Káshifí's Anwár-i-Suhaylí, where, for ex­ample, a squeaking mouse is described as “raising its outcry to the aetherial sphere.” In a previous volume I have shown * by parallel extracts from the Book of Kalíla and Dimna as rendered into Arabic by 'Abdu'lláh ibnu'l-Muqaffa' in the eighth century, and into Persian by Niẓámu'-d-Dín Abu'l-Ma'álí Naṣru'llah in the twelfth and Ḥusayn Wá'iẓ at the end of the sixteenth centuries how the last-named writer set himself to “write up” and improve upon the work of his predecessors.

1. Sayyid Ni'matu'lláh of Kirmán.

Though Jámí is unquestionably the greatest poet of the period which we are now considering, it seems better to Sayyid Ni'matu 'lláh of Kirmán adhere to chronological sequence and to begin with the earliest, Sayyid (or Sháh) Ni'matu'lláh of Kirmán, who died at an advanced age in the spring of 1431 (Rajab 22, 834), and was buried at the charming village of Máhán near Kirmán, of which some malicious wit has said:

Epigram on Máhán

<text in Arabic script omitted>

“Máhán an Earthly Paradise would be, I wot right well,
If you could clear its people out and shake them into hell.”

The site of his grave is marked by a fine monastery inhabited by dervishes of the Sháh Ni'matu'lláhí order which he founded; for he was a great saint and mystic as well as a poet, and his verses abound in dark apocalyptic sayings concerning the “Mischief of the Last Days” (Fitna-i-Ákhiru'z-Zamán ), the Advent of the Mahdí, and other similar matters. I visited this shrine in September, 1888, shortly before I left Kirmán, and was very hospitably entertained by its acolytes.

As usual, the best account of Ni'matu'lláh is that given by Rieu in his Persian Catalogue, * where the substance of the information given by the ordinary biographical works is supplemented by details drawn from a rare contemporary monograph existing in the British Museum * and from the history of Yazd and its most notable men known as the Jámi'i-Mufídí. His full name was Amír Núru'd-Dín Biography of Sayyid Ni'matu'lláh Ni'matu'lláh, his father's name was Mír 'Abdu 'lláh, and he claimed descent from the fifth Imám of the Shí'a, Muḥammad Báqir, the great-grand­son of 'Alí ibn Abí Ṭálib. He was born at Aleppo in 730/1329-30 or in the following year, but spent most of his youth in 'Iráq. At the age of 24 he visited Mecca, where he resided for seven years, and became one of the chief disciples of Shaykh 'Abdu'lláh al-Yáfi'í, a well-known mystical and historical writer, who died in 768/1366-7. His later life was passed in Samarqand, Herát, Yazd and finally, as already mentioned, at Máhán near Kirmán, where he spent the last twenty-five years of his life, and where he died on Rajab 22, 834 (April 5, 1431) aged more than a hundred years. The historian 'Abdu'r-Razzáq of Samarqand visited his grave in 845/1441-2.

Ni'matu'lláh was the king of dervishes (the title “Sháh” is always prefixed to his name) and the friend of kings.

He and his de­scendants enjoy Royal favour He enjoyed the special favour of Sháh-rukh, while Aḥmad Sháh Bahmaní, King of the Deccan, deemed himself fortunate in persuading to come to his court one of his grandsons. Two other grandsons with their father followed him thither, while several of Sháh Ni'matu'lláh's descendants who remained in Persia intermarried with the Royal Ṣafawí House. According to Rieu, * Ni'matu'lláh left more than 500 Ṣúfí tracts besides his Díwán of verse, but the latter is his chief work, and it alone need be considered here. The only complete copy at my disposal is the lithographed edition published at Ṭihrán in 1276/1860, but numerous selections from it are contained in the various biographies and antho­logies in which he is mentioned. His fame, however, is that of a saint and mystic rather than a poet, and his verse strikes one on the whole as monotonous and mediocre, similar in style and subject-matter to that of Maghribí, and altogether lacking the consuming ardour and brilliant illustration of Shams-i-Tabríz. His most characteristic poems, though few in number, are those couched in the prophetic strain, and these still exercise a certain influence, and are appealed Importance attached to his prophetic utterances to by other Persians than those who belong to the order of dervishes which he founded. The Bábís, for example, used to tell me in Kirmán that the date of the Báb's “Manifestation” (1260/1844) was foretold in the following poem. When I visited the saint's shrine I took the trouble to obtain from one of the dervishes a copy of the poem in question from the oldest and most trustworthy manuscript in their pos­session, and I found that there the date was given as 274 instead of 1260 (<text in Arabic script omitted> = 70 + 200 + 4 instead of <text in Arabic script omitted> = 1000 + 200 + 60), while in Riḍá-qulí Khán's Majma'u'l-Fuṣaḥá , * where the same poem is quoted, the date becomes 1204 (<text in Arabic script omitted> = 1000 + 200 + 4). In the last-named work the poem is thus entitled:

Declaration of sundry mysteries and revelations by
way of allegories