The literary and artistic wealth of the period now under review has been already summarily indicated in the pre- Enormous literary activity of this period ceding chapter, and it will be our business in this chapter to discuss in greater detail the work of some of its most eminent representa­tives in the world of letters. To attempt to treat, even in the briefest manner, of all its notable poets and men of learning would be impossible in any moderate compass. Thus the Ḥabíbu's-Siyar, a history specially valuable on account of the biographies of notable writers and poets added as an appendix to each reign or historical period, enumerates no less than 211 persons of this class who flourished during the Tímúrid period, of whom all save 23, who belong to the reign of Tímúr himself, represent the period now engaging our attention. * The city of Herát during the reign of Sulṭán Abu'l-Ghází Ḥusayn (A.H. 878-912 = A.D. 1473-1506) may be regarded as the culminating point of this brilliant period, and it derives an additional importance from the great influence which it exercised on the development of Ottoman Turkish literature, a fact duly emphasized and fully illustrated by the late Mr E. J. W. Gibb in the second volume of his monumental History of Ottoman Poetry.

“This school,” he says (pp. 7-8), speaking of what he denotes as “the Second Period,” “which cultivated chiefly Influence of Jámí, Mír 'Alí Shír Nawá'í etc. on Ottoman Turkish litera­ture lyric and romantic poetry, and which was dis­tinguished by its love of artifice, reached its meridian in the latter half of the fifteenth century at the brilliant court of the scholarly and accomplished Sulṭán Ḥusayn [ibn] Bay-qará of Herát. Here its spirit and substance were gathered up and summarized in their manifold works by the two greatest men of letters of the day, the poet Jámí and the statesman Mír 'Alí Shír Nawá'í. As these two illustrious writers were the guiding stars of the Ottoman poets during the whole of the Second Period (A.D. 1450-1600), it will be well to look for a moment at their work.”

After a brief account of these two eminent men, and an admirable characterization of the school which they repre­sent, Mr Gibb (pp. 12-13) summarizes its chief features as “subjectivity, artificialness, and conventionality, combined with an ever-increasing deftness of craftsmanship and brilliance of artistry.” “This all-absorbing passion for rhetoric,” he adds, “was the most fatal pitfall on the path of these old poets; and many an otherwise sublime passage is degraded by the obtrusion of some infantile conceit, and many a verse, beautiful in all else, disfigured by the presence of some extravagant simile or grotesque metaphor.”

The high esteem in which the poet Jámí was held in Turkey and at the Ottoman Court is proved by two Persian Jámí honoured by the Otto­man Sulṭán Báyazíd II letters addressed to him by Sulṭán Báyazíd II (A.D. 1481-1512) and printed in the Munshá'át of Firídún Bey. * The first, which is in a highly complimentary strain, was, as we learn from Jámí's answer, written “for no special reason and without the intervention of any demand, out of pure grace and favour, and sincere virtue and gratitude.” In his second letter Sulṭán Báyazíd expresses his gratification at receiving the poet's letter and informs him that he is sending a gift of one thousand florins, * which gift is gratefully acknow­ledged by the poet in a second letter sent by the hand of a certain darwísh named Muḥammad Badakhshí, who, with some others, was setting out on the pilgrimage to Mecca. Unfortunately none of these four letters are dated. Two Other Persian men of letters honoured by Báyazíd II other Persian scholars, the philosopher Jalálu'd-Dín Dawání and the theologian Farídu'd-Dín Aḥmad-i-Taftázání, were similarly honoured by the same Sulṭán, but in the last case Taftázání took the initiative (October 25, 1505), while the Sulṭán's answer was not written until July 13, 1507. The great Nawá'í's influence in Turkey influence exerted on Ottoman poetry by Jámí's illustrious patron, the Minister Mír 'Alí Shír Nawá'í, who was equally distinguished in prose and poetry, both in Eastern Turkish and Persian, is emphasized by Mr E. J. W. Gibb; * who also describes * how A Turkish juris­consult spends seven years in study at Shíráz the eminent Ottoman jurisconsult Mu'ayyad-záda 'Abdu'r-Raḥmán Chelebí (afterwards in the reign of Sulṭán Báyazíd II famous as a generous patron of letters and collector of books) being compelled in A.D. 1476-7 to flee from his country, spent seven years at Shíráz studying with the above-mentioned philosopher Jalálu'd-Dín Dawání. It was, in short, during this period which we are now considering that Persia began to exercise over Ottoman Turkish litera­ture the profound influence which in the next period she extended to India.

From these general considerations we must now pass to a more particular examination of the most eminent prose writers of this period, deferring the consideration of the poets to another chapter.


In this, as in the preceding period, history and biography are well represented, and at least nine or ten writers on Historians and Biographers these subjects deserve at any rate a brief men­tion. Speaking generally they are distinctly inferior in quality to their predecessors in the Mongol period, for, while their style is often almost as florid as, though less ingenious than, that of Waṣṣáf-i-Ḥaḍrat, they fall far short of him in wealth of detail, breadth of treatment, and citation of documents of historic value, while they compare even more unfavourably with the great historical writers 'Alá'u'd-Dín 'Aṭá Malik-i-Juwayní and Rashídu'd-Dín Faḍlu'lláh. We shall now consider them briefly in chronological order.

(1) Ḥáfiẓ Abrú.

Almost all that is known about this historian, whose name is more familiar than his works, which remain un- Ḥáfiẓ Abrú published and are very rare even in manuscript, is contained in Rieu's Persian Catalogues. * His proper name (though otherwise given elsewhere, as we shall presently see) is generally assumed to have been Khwája Núru'd-Dín Luṭfu'lláh. He was born in Herát, * but in what year is not recorded, and educated in Hamadán. After the death of Tímúr, who showed him marked favour, he attached himself to the court of his son and successor Sháh-rukh, and of his grandson Prince Báysunqur, for whom he wrote his great history. This history, generally known as Zubdatu't-Tawárikh (“the Cream of Histories”) but called by Faṣíḥí of Khwáf Majma'u't-Tawáríkh as-Sulṭání (“the Royal Compendium of Histories”), was concluded in A.H. 829 or 830 (A.D. 1426 or 1427), * only three or four years before the author's death. It comprised four volumes, of which, unfortunately, the third and fourth, dealing with the post-Muhammadan Persian dynasties down to the date of composition, appear to be lost. * Manuscripts of the first and second volumes exist at St Petersburg and are fully described by Baron V. Rosen; * a copy of vol. i, formerly in the collection of the Comte de Gobineau, is now in the British Museum and is numbered Or. 2774; and I myself possess a very fine copy of vol. ii (containing the history of Muḥammad and the Caliphate down to its ex­tinction) dated Friday, 15 Sha'bán, 829 (June 22, 1426), and copied in Herát in the very year of the work's completion.

Besides this history, Ḥáfiẓ Abrú also compiled a great geographical work, of which the first volume is represented by a manuscript (Or. 1577) in the British Museum (fully described by Rieu), * and another in St Petersburg. * From this work, composed in 820-823/1417-1420 for Sháh-rukh Rieu has succeeded in gleaning many particulars of the author's life, and especially of his very extensive travels. He accompanied Tímúr in several of his campaigns, and was with him at the taking of Aleppo and Damascus in 803/1400-1401. When Sháh-rukh succeeded to the throne he settled down in Herát to a life of letters not later than 818/1415-1416, but died at Zanján while returning with the royal cavalcade from Ádharbáyján, and is buried there.

Notice ofḤáfiẓ Abrú in Faṣíḥí's Mujmal The following short obituary notice of him occurs in the rare Mujmal (“Compendium”) of Faṣíḥí of Khwáf under the year 833/1429-1430, in which (contrary to most authorities, who give the following year) * his death is placed by this writer:

“Death of Mawláná Shihábu'd-Dín 'Abdu'lláh of Khwáf, * known as Ḥáfiẓ Abrú, the compiler of the Royal Compendium of Histories, on Sunday the 3rd of Shawwál, at Sarjam, at the time of the return of His Supreme and Imperial Majesty from Ádharbáyjan. He is buried at Zanján near the tomb of the Divine Doctor Akhú Abi'l-Faraj-i-Zanjání .”*

Free use was made of the Zubdatu't-Tawáríkh by the author's younger contemporary 'Abdu'r-Razzáq of Samar-qand, of whom we shall shortly have to speak, and half of the geographical work mentioned above consists of a his­torical summary of post-Muhammadan Persian history, which becomes very detailed in the latter part, down to Ramaḍán 822 (October, 1419). The author's style, so far as can be judged from vol. ii of the Zubdatu't-Tawáríkh (the only portion of his work to which I have access) is very simple and direct, and it is greatly to be desired that his works, so far as they are available, should be published.