Chapter 7 Translations of the Key Texts Concerning the Khwadāynāmag

In: Khwadāynāmag The Middle Persian Book of Kings
Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila
Search for other papers by Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila in
Current site
Google Scholar
Open Access

This chapter gives some key passages on the Khwadāynāmag and related issues in Arabic and Persian texts in English translation in a chronological order, mainly according to the year of the death of the author. All translations from Arabic and Persian are mine. The passage by Agathias has been taken from Cameron’s translation (1969–70: 135).

7.1 Agathias

I have completed the list of Persian kings and the chronological table and, to put it briefly, I have fulfilled the whole of my promise. It is my belief that this is quite true and accurate, since it was translated from the Persian books. When Sergius the interpreter went there he asked the officials in charge of the Royal Annals to give him access to the records (for I had often urged him to do this). He added his reason – that his sole purpose in wanting this was so that their affairs could be recorded by us also and become known and honored. They agreed at once – rightly – thinking the idea a good one. It would actually bring credit to their kings, they thought, if the Romans too knew what they were like and how many they were, and how the succession of their dynasty had been preserved. So Sergius extracted the names, the chronology, and the most important happenings in their time, and translated all this most skillfully into Greek (for he was the best interpreter, admired by Chosroes himself as having the highest possible reputation for learning in both states). So it was to be expected that he made a very accurate translation, and he gave it all to me in a most conscientious and friendly way, and urged me to make good the reason for which he had procured it. This has been achieved.

IV.30.2–4; trans. Cameron 1969–70: 135

7.2 al-Masʿūdī

At the end of the seventh part of Kitāb Murūj al-dhahab we have mentioned the reason why Persians exaggerate the [regnal] years of these kings, their secrets concerning this, and their wars against the kings of the Turks – these wars are called Baykār, which means “battle” – and other nations, as well as the battles between Rustam ibn Dastān and Isfandiyār in Khurasan, Sistan, and Zābulistān.

Tanbīh, p. 94//136

Persians have a book called Kahnāmāh, in which there are (listed) the ranks in the kingdom of Fārs, which were 600, according to their counting. This book forms part of the Āyīnnāmāh. The meaning of Āyīnnāmāh is “book of customs”, and it is large, (going up to) thousands of pages. It is rarely found complete except in the hands of mōbads and suchlike.

Tanbīh, p. 104//149

In the year 303 I saw in the city of Iṣṭakhr of the land of Fārs a large book in the possession of a member of one of the noble families. It contained many kinds of their sciences, stories of their kings and their buildings and ways of rule, things which I have not found in any other of the Persians’ books, such as the Khudāynāmāh, the Āyīnnāmāh, the Kahnāmāh, or others.

It contained the pictures of the Sasanian kings of Fārs, twenty-seven rulers, twenty-five of them male and two women. Each was depicted as he was the day he died, whether old or young, with his decorations and crown, the plaits of his beard and the features of his face. They ruled the world for 433 years, one month and seven days.

When one of their kings died they used to draw a likeness of him and take it to the treasury, so that the living among them would know the features of the dead. The pictures of those kings that had been in wars were (represented) standing, and the pictures of those that had been in (peaceful) rule were (represented) seated. The way of life of each one of them (was told in this book) with its private and public details and the notable events and important occasions that had taken place during their rule.

The date of this book is that it was written on the basis of what was found in the treasury of the kings of Fārs in the middle of Jumādā ii in the year 113 (731) and translated for Hishām ibn ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Marwān from Persian into Arabic.

The first of their kings in this book was Ardashīr, whose sign in his picture was red-golden and he wore trousers of the colour of the sky and his crown was green on gold. He had a spear in his hand and he was standing. The last of them was Yazdajird ibn Shahriyār ibn Kisrā Abarwīz, whose sign was green with ornaments and he wore embroidered trousers of the colour of the sky and his crown was red. He was standing with a spear in his hand leaning against his sword. (The book and the portraits were painted) in Persian colours, the like of which are no longer found, using liquid gold and silver, and powdered copper. The paper was purple and wonderfully coloured, though I am not sure as to whether it was paper or parchment because it was so beautiful and so perfectly made.

We have mentioned some (of the book’s content) in the seventh volume of Murūj al-dhahab (…).

Tanbīh, p. 106//150–151, on Kitāb al-Ṣuwar

This fortress was built by an Ancient Persian king of old times, called Isbandiyār ibn Bistāsf (…). This is one of the fortresses in the world that are described as impenetrable. The Persians mention it in their poems and tell how Isbandiyār ibn Bistāsf built it. Isbandiyār waged many wars in the East against various peoples. He was the one who travelled to the farthest parts of the Turkish lands and destroyed the City of Brass. The deeds of Isbandiyār and all the things we have told are mentioned in the book known as Kitāb al-Baykār, which Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ translated into Arabic.

Murūj §§479–480

The Persians tell a lot about Afrāsiyāb’s death and his battles, the battles and raids between the Persians and the Turks, the death of Siyāwush, and the story of Rustam ibn Dastān. All this is found explained in the book titled Kitāb al-Sakīsarān, which was translated by Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ from Ancient Persian into Arabic. The story of Isfandiyār (…) and how Rustam ibn Dastān killed him is narrated there, as well as how Bahman ibn Isfandiyār killed Rustam and other wonders and tales of the Ancient Persians. The Persians think highly of this book because it contains stories about their ancestors and their kings’ histories. Thank God, we have been able to narrate many of their histories in our earlier books.

Murūj §541

According to what is told in the Book of al-Sakīsarān the Persians say that his paternal grandfather Kay Qāwūs was the king before Kay Khusraw and that Kay Khusraw had no offspring, so he gave the kingship to Luhrāsb.

Murūj §543

The Persians have a separate book for the stories of Bahrām Jūbīn and his stratagems in the country of the Turks to which he travelled, saving the daughter of the King of the Turks from a beast called simʿ, which is like a great goat and which had captured her from among her maidens when she had gone to a park. (The book also contained Bahrām’s story) from the beginning of his matter (ḥāl) until his death and included his genealogy.

Murūj §644

7.3 Ḥamza al-Iṣfahānī

Their (the Persians’) chronologies are all confused, rather than accurate, because they have been transmitted for 150 years from one language into another and from one script, in which the number signs are equivocal, into another language, in which the “knotted” number signs (ʿuqūd) are also equivocal.1 In this chapter, I have had to take the recourse of collecting variously transmitted manuscripts, of which I have come across eight, namely: Kitāb Siyar mulūk al-Furs, translated/transmitted by Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ; Kitāb Siyar mulūk al-Furs, translated/transmitted by Muḥammad ibn al-Jahm al-Barmakī; Kitāb ta⁠ʾrīkh mulūk al-Furs, which was taken from the Treasury of al-Maʾmūn; Kitāb Siyar mulūk al-Furs, translated/transmitted by Zādūye ibn Shāhūye al-Iṣbahānī; Kitāb Siyar mulūk al-Furs, translated/transmitted or compiled by Muḥammad ibn Bahrām ibn Miṭyār al-Iṣbahānī; Kitāb Ta⁠ʾrīkh mulūk Banī Sāsān, translated/transmitted or compiled by Hishām ibn Qāsim al-Iṣbahānī; and Kitāb Ta⁠ʾrīkh mulūk Banī Sāsān, corrected by Bahrām ibn Mardānshāh, the mōbad of Kūrat Sābūr of the province of Fārs.

When I had collected them I compared them with each other until I managed to compile what is correct in this chapter.

Taʾrīkh, pp. 9–10

Mūsā ibn ʿĪsā al-Kisrawī has said in his book: I looked into the book called Khudāynāme, which is the book that, when translated from Persian into Arabic, is called Ta⁠ʾrīkh mulūk al-Furs. I repeatedly looked into manuscripts of this book and perused them minutely, finding that they differ from each other. I was unable to find two identical copies. This is because the matter had been confused by the translators of this book when they translated it from one language into another.

Taʾrīkh, p. 16

I have not concerned myself with the chronologies of the Ashghānian kings before the Sasanians because of the misfortunes that occurred at the time of those kings. Namely, when he had conquered the land of Babel, Alexander envied the sciences that they (i.e., the Persians) had acquired, such as no nation had been able to acquire before. He burned all their books he was able to find and then turned to killing their mōbads and hērbads and learned and wise men and those who, among their other sciences, preserved their chronologies, until he had killed them all. This he did after he had translated what he needed of their sciences into Greek. After this, during all the days of the Ashghānians, also known as the Petty Kings, the Persians remained obscure, having no one to bring back knowledge or be concerned with any kind of wisdom until their rule returned to them with the appearance of Ardashīr.

When Ardashīr confirmed the kingship for himself, he started counting time from his own accession. After him, the Sasanian kings followed his way and each of them counted time by his own regnal years, which has caused confusion in their chronologies. What an excellent idea it was that the Arab kings decided to count their years continuously, from the beginning of the hijra onward.

Taʾrīkh, pp. 20–21

(What follows) repeats what was mentioned in the first chapter of this History, with a commentary, which was brought by Bahrām ibn Mardānshāh, the mōbad of the district of Shābūr from the country of Fārs.

Bahrām al-Mōbadhānī said: I collected more than twenty manuscripts of the book titled Khudāynāme and corrected from them (i.e., on their basis) the chronologies of the kings of Persia from Kayūmarth, the Father of Mankind until the end of their days and the transfer of kingship from them to the Arabs.

Taʾrīkh, p. 22

The fourth chapter of the first book, containing an abbreviation of the mention of the stories of the Persian kings. It is appropriate to accompany the exposition of (their) chronologies and the interrelatedness of (it and) what is in the books of (their) lives. (…)

These short stories about the kings with which I fleshed this chapter out are not found in chronological and historical books, except in small measure. The rest of them are in (i.e., come from) their other books. I have, however, omitted from this book their letters and testaments and such material that is found in chronological books.

Taʾrīkh, pp. 26, 49

The fifth chapter of the first book, concerning narrating some passages of what there is in the Khudāynāme, which neither Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ nor Ibn al-Jahm narrated [probably to be emended as: “concerning narrating some passages which neither Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ nor Ibn al-Jahm narrated in (their translations of) the Khudāynāme.”] I have put them at the end of this chapter, so that the reader might consider them in the same way he considers the Arabs’ stories about Luqmān ibn ʿĀd and the Israelites’ stories about ʿŪj and Bulūqiyā. That should be understood.

I have read in a book that was translated from a book of theirs titled al-Ābistā (the Avesta) that … [there follows the story of Gayōmard, here Kahūmarth, and the twins Mashih and Mashyāna, in some seventeen lines].

I also read about this in a different form and with more commentaries to the narrative in another book: [there follows some ten lines with chronological and astronomical details that are lacking from the first narrative].

Taʾrīkh, pp. 50–51

7.4 The Prose Shāhnāme/Preface

The following translation is based on the texts of Qazwīnī (1332 ah) ii: 30–90, and Monchi-Zadeh (1975): 4–15, with the paragraph division used by Minorsky (1956) for easy reference.2

§2 The beginning of Kārnāme-ye Shāhān,3 which was compiled by Abū Manṣūr al-Maʿmarī, the minister (dastūr) of Abū Manṣūr-e ʿAbd al-Razzāq-e ʿAbdallāh-e Farrukh.

(The author) first says in this book: As long as the world has existed, people have pursued knowledge, valued words, and known them to be the best memorial, because in this world man becomes greater and richer by knowledge. As men know that nothing will remain of them, they strive that their name would remain and their mark would not be deleted by making places flourish and strengthening them, being courageous and daring, giving their life (for something) or bringing forward new wisdom to people by making novel things

§3 like the King of India who brought forward Kalīla wa-Dimna, Shānāq, and Rām o-Rāmīn.

§4 Maʾmūn, the son of Hārūn al-Rashīd, had royal greatness and noble ambition. Once he was sitting with his grandees and said: “As long as they are in the world and have power, men must endeavour to leave a memorial (yādgārī) of themselves, so that after their death their name will remain alive.” His secretary, ʿAbdallāh, son of Muqaffaʿ,4 replied to him: “Kisrā Anūshīrwān left something that no king has left.” Maʾmūn asked what that was, and ʿAbdallāh answered: “He brought from India a book, the one which the doctor Burzūye translated from Indian5 into Pahlavi, and so his name remained alive among the people of the world. He spent 500 ass loads of dirhams (on this).”6 Maʾmūn asked for this book7 and when he saw it, he ordered his secretary to translate it from Pahlavi into Arabic.

§5 When he heard this Naṣr ibn Aḥmad was pleased and commissioned his minister khwāja Balʿamī to translate it from Arabic into Persian, so that the book came to the hands of people and everybody read it. He ordered Rūdakī to versify it, and so Kalīla wa-Dimna became familiar to both great and small and his8 name remained alive because of this and this book remained as his memorial. Then people added so much to its embellishments that everyone was pleased with seeing and reading it.9

§6 Now, the Emir Abū Manṣūr-e ʿAbd al-Razzāq was a magnificent and strong-willed man, able and great-minded in his enjoyment. He had a full share of kingship and princely manners, as well as high endeavours. He was of noble origin by nature and descended from the ispahbads of Iran.

He heard about the case of Kalīla wa-Dimna and the example set by the King of Khurasan and this pleased him. He wished from destiny that he, too, would have a memorial in the world. He gave orders to his minister Abū Manṣūr al-Maʿmarī that owners of books from among the dihqāns, learned men (farzānagān), and men of experience be brought from (various) towns. His servant Abū Manṣūr wrote a letter by his order and sent someone to the towns of Khurasan and brought from there, and everywhere, men of understanding, such as Shāj (Mākh), son of Khurasānī10 from Herat, Yazdāndād, son of Shāpūr from Sistan, Māhūy-e Khwarshīd, son of Bahrām from Shābūr,11 and Shādān, son of Burzīn from Ṭūs.

He brought (men from) every town12 and set them down to collect13 these books of theirs14 and the kings’ books of deeds (*kārnāmehā-ye shāhān)15 and the life of each: their deeds of justice and injustice, (their times of) peace16 and war, and their manners (āyīn), from the first king (kay) who was in the world and set the manners of being human and distinguished men from animals down to Yazdagird-e Shahriyār, who was the last of Persian kings.

§7 (This was accomplished) in Muḥarram 346 after the hijra of the best of mankind, Muḥammad the Chosen, may God bless him, and they gave it the title Shāhnāme, so the knowledgeable people would read it. (…)

§9 (…) Now we shall mention the deeds of kings (kār-e shāhān) and their stories from the beginning.

§10 The beginning of the story. Wherever there was a resting place for men, this earth was divided into four directions, from one end to the other. (…)17

§11 Know that people have said many (different) things about the beginning of this world.18 We will mention the opinion of each group, so that it be known to him who seeks and asks and follows the way that seems to him the best.19

In the book of the son of Muqaffaʿ, of Ḥamza-ye Iṣfahānī, and suchlike we have heard that from the time of Adam the Pure, God’s prayers and salutations upon him, down to this time, when they began this book,20 5,700 years have passed. The first man who appeared on this earth was Adam.

I have heard the same from Muḥammad-e Jahm-e Barmakī and Zādūy ibn Shāhūy. Similar information has come from the book of Bahrām-e Iṣfahānī and the Book of the Sasanians by Mūsā-ye ʿĪsā-ye Khusrawī,21 and from Hishām-e Qāsim-e Iṣfahānī, and from the Book of the Kings of Pārs (nāme-ye shāhān-e Pārs) and22 (from the book taken out) from the treasury of Maʾmūn and from Bahrāmshāh-e Mardānshāh-e Kirmānī, and from Farrukhān, mōbadān mōbad of Yazdagird-e Shahriyār, and from Rāmīn, who was the servant of Yazdagird-e Shahriyār.

§12 From them onwards (down to us) (the reckoning) comes to *three hundred23 years, so that we should mention how many years have passed since Adam’s time. They agreed on this which we will mention. Whatever we discuss in this book must derive from the dihqāns because this kingship was in their hands and they know their24 deeds and doings, good or bad, more or less. Thus, we must take recourse to what they have said. So what we have learned about them (i.e., the kings), we have compiled from their (the dihqāns’) books.

The problem arises from (the fact) that whenever a reign extends long or the religion of one prophet goes (away) with the appearance of another prophet and time goes on, people25 forget their deeds and change (the chronology) from its (true) nature, and so differences26 are generated, as also happened to the Jews (in their reckoning) between Adam and Noah, likewise from Noah until Moses, likewise from Moses until Jesus and from Jesus until Muḥammad, may God bless him. (…)27

§16 After they had put (the book compiled for Abū Manṣūr) into prose, Sulṭān Maḥmūd Sabuktegin commanded the wise Abū l-Qāsim Manṣūr al-Firdawsī to versify it in Persian (darī). This will be told in its own place.

7.5 Ibn al-Nadīm

The names of those who translated from Persian into Arabic:

Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ, whom we have already mentioned. Most of the family of Nawbakht, whom we have already mentioned and some of whom we will later mention if God, the Most High, so wills. Mūsā and Yūsuf, the sons of Khālid, who were in the service of Dāʾūd ibn ʿAbdallāh ibn Ḥumayd ibn Qaḥṭaba. They used to translate for him from Persian into Arabic. Al-Tamīmī, whose name was ʿAlī ibn Ziyād and whose kunya was Abū l-Ḥasan. He translated from Persian into Arabic. Among what he translated was Zīj al-Shahriyār. Al-Ḥasan ibn Sahl, who will be mentioned in his proper place among the stories of astrologers. Al-Balādhurī Aḥmad ibn Yaḥyā ibn Jābir, whom we have already mentioned. He translated into Arabic from Persian.28 Isḥāq ibn Yazīd. He translated from Persian into Arabic.

Among what was translated (nuqila) was Kitāb Sīrat al-Furs, known by the name *Khudāynāme. Among those who translated it were29 Muḥammad ibn al-Jahm al-Barmakī; Hishām ibn al-Qāsim; Mūsā ibn ʿĪsā al-*Kisrawī; Zādūye ibn Shāhūye al-Iṣbahānī; Muḥammad ibn Bahrām ibn Miṭyār al-Iṣbahānī; Bahrām ibn Mardānshāh, the mōbad of the city of Sābūr from the province of Fārs; and ʿUmar ibn al-Farrukhān, whom we will discuss in more detail among the authors.

Fihrist, p. 305/245//589

7.6 Balʿamī

In Shāhnāme-ye buzurg Ḥamza-ye Iṣfahānī says thus: The son of Muqaffaʿ, i.e., ʿAbdallāh, (says that) the time between the coming of Adam, peace be upon him, until the time of our Prophet, may God bless him, was 6,013 years, but they also say (that it was) 5,900 years. They (also) say that the first person who lived on earth was Adam, but he was called Kayūmarth. Also Muḥammad ibn al-Jahm al-Barmakī says thus and Zādūye ibn Shāhūye says thus and from the book by Bahrām ibn Bahrām, he (the author?) says thus, and from the Book of the Sasanians (nāme-ye Sāsāniyān) and Mūsā ibn ʿĪsā al-Khusrawī30 and Hāshim and Qāsim-e Iṣfahānī (sic)31 and the Rulers of Pārs (Pādishāhān-e Pārs), all these say the same as Zādūy-e Farrukhān mōbad-e mōbadān, who tells such from Yazdagird, too.32

Tārīkhnāme I: 5

7.7 Firdawsī

There was a book from ancient times,
which contained many stories,
but it was scattered around at the hands of the mōbads,
a part of it was owned by every learned man.33
A hero there was, descendant of the dihqāns,
brave and great, wise and intelligent,
who sought after (tales of) ancient times
and searched for lost stories.
He brought from every country
age-old mōbads in order to (re)compile this book.
He asked them about the kays of the world
and about those famous and blessed noblemen:
how did they live in the world in the beginning
and left it so lowly to us?
How, by good fate, had they been able
to accomplish heroic deeds at those times?
One by one they (the mōbads) narrated to him
the words of the kings and the turnings of the world.
When the lord had heard their words
he compiled a famous book.
It became a monument in this world
and both high and low praised it.
Readers read to everybody
many stories from this book.
Everybody was delighted by this book,
both wise men and right-minded ones.
Then there came an eloquent young man,
good with words and of nimble mind.
He said: “I will versify this book.”
Everybody was happy to hear this.
Yet this youth was a friend of bad habits,
which he fought year in and out,
until he finally had to surrender his sweet life to those bad habits.
He died and this (planned book) remained uncomposed:
his wakeful fate fell asleep.
When my radiant heart left (hopes of) him,
it turned towards the Throne of the Lord of the World:
“Should I try to get that book
and start versifying (it) myself?”
I consulted innumerable people,
as I was worried because of changing fortunes.
Perhaps I would not have much time left
and would have to give it to other hands.
Moreover, my own treasures were not up to it:
would anyone be the buyer of my toils?
I had a dear friend in the town:
you might say we were like two persons in one skin.
He said to me: “This is an excellent idea!
You are going the right way!
I will bring you this heroic book,
in written form! Be not slack.
You are eloquent and still young,
you have the way to speak of heroes!
Go and retell this royal book,
seeking glory among noblemen by this deed!”
Shāhnāme I: 12–14, vv. 115–131, 134–144

One night the author (gūyande) saw in his sleep
that he had a bowl of wine, like rosewater.
Daqīqī appeared from somewhere
and started talking over the wine.
He said to Firdawsī: “Drink only in the fashion of Kay Kāwūs.
You have sought this book eagerly for some while,
but now you have reached all that you were seeking.
I have (also) said words in this manner.
If you find (my tales), do not act niggardly!
I composed a thousand verses on Gushtāsp and Arjāsp,
(but then) my days ended.
If that number (of my verses) reaches the King of Kings,
my spirit will soar from Earth to (the sphere of) Moon.”
Now I will speak words that he spoke.
I live, but he has turned to dust!
Shāhnāme V: 75–76, vv. 1–3, 9–13

When I obtained this book (of Daqīqī)
and the fish was caught with my hook,
I looked at the versification, but it seemed lame to me,
and I found many unsound lines.
This much I have quoted from it so that the King
would know what imperfect verse is.
There was a book from ancient times.
Its words were worthy of the dignity of the right-minded.
The story was ancient and it was in prose
and did not appeal to the mind (of the readers).
It was six thousand years old!
– If someone asks, keep this in mind!
No one believed (he could) versify it,
so (my) happy heart became filled with worry.
I praised the author (Daqīqī)
who had shown the way to versify it,
even though he had versified but little,
a thousandth part of the battles and banquets.
Shāhnāme V: 175–176, vv. 1029–1031, 1037–1042

7.8 al-Bīrūnī

This is according to what I have heard from Abū l-Ḥasan Ādharkhwar the Architect (al-Muhandis). Abū ʿAlī Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-Balkhī al-Shāʿir has told in al-Shāhnāme this story about the origin of mankind differently from what we have narrated. He claims to have revised his report on the basis of the Kitāb Siyar al-mulūk which is by ʿAbdallāh Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ, and the one by Muḥammad ibn al-Jahm al-Barmakī, and the one by Hishām ibn al-Qāsim, and the one by Bahrām ibn Mardānshāh, the mōbad of the city of Sābūr, and the one by Bahrām ibn Mihrān al-Iṣbahānī. These he collated with what Bahrām al-Harawī al-Majūsī brought him.

Āthār, p. 114/99//107–108

7.9 The Mujmal

In each period, the wise and learned men have collected together the stories of the turning of the spheres, the wonders of the world, the stories of the prophets and kings, and everything that has happened, (but these have become) scattered.

Muḥammad ibn Jarīr al-Ṭabarī has explained all these stories, among them the lives of Persian kings (siyar-e mulūk-e ʿajam), who lived in the fourth clime, but he did not give much commentary on these greatest kings of the world, just briefly mentioning them in listing the kings and their chronology. (This he did) even though the stories of our kings, kisrās, rulers, and noblemen have a clear prominence in works other than Jarir’s Ta⁠ʾrīkh. Each has in his own place a complete commentary, and earlier transmitters (rāwiyān) have transmitted from the books of the Persians and have left nothing unmentioned, in verse or prose. Everyone has adorned his topic and patron with beautiful descriptions and fine work.

We wanted to compile a book where the chronology of the Persian kings, their genealogy, and their manner of life and rule would be collected in the order of their reigns in a brief form from what we have read in the Shāhnāme of Firdawsī, which is the root, and other books, which are its branches and which other authors have versified, like the Garshāsbnāme, the Farāmarznāme, the stories of Bahman, and the story of Kūsh-e Pīldandān, as well as (what we have got) from the prose of Abū l-Muʾayyad al-Balkhī, like the stories of Narīmān, Sām, Kay Qubād, and Afrāsiyāb, and the stories of Luhrāsb and Āghush-e Wahādān and Kay Shikan, as well as (what we have got) from the Ta⁠ʾrīkh of Jarīr and Siyar al-mulūk from the telling and version of Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ and the collection of Ḥamza ibn al-Ḥasan al-Iṣfahānī, who transmitted from the works of Muḥammad ibn al-Jahm al-Barmakī, Zādūye ibn Shāhūye al-Iṣfahānī, Muḥammad ibn Bahrām ibn *Miṭyār, Hishām ibn Qāsim, Mūsā ibn ʿĪsā [al-Kisrawī], and Kitāb tārīkh-e pādishāhān, corrected by Bahrām ibn Mardānshāh mōbad-e Shāpūr from the city of Fārs. (Ḥamza) revised these according to what he was able to do.

Even though these books that we have mentioned all disagreed with each other – we will explain why – everything that could be conceived and known has been put together, so that when readers take a close look, none of the original meanings will remain hidden to them, except for the art of versifications and the beautiful expressions in prose, in which they (the original authors) had gone far. Indeed, it is impossible to transmit the verse of Ḥakīm Firdawsī and Asadī and others, no less than the prose of Abū l-Muʾayyad al-Balkhī, (in a way that does justice to them).

Mujmal, p. 2/2

For ʿuqūd, see Rebstock (1992): 64–65, and the literature cited there.


The “Middle” Preface, Muqaddime-ye awsaṭ (see Dabīr-Siyāqī 1383: 126–140) contains an abbreviated version of the same story.


The manuscripts give various confused readings, but both Qazwīnī and Monchi-Zadeh suggest this emendation. Minorsky seems to have based his translation on what Qazwīnī printed in his text (kār-e Shāhnāme), ignoring Qazwīnī’s footnote where he suggests this emendation. It is unfortunate that this important passage is confused, but there are two strong reasons for accepting the conjecture. First, it is easy to understand how a later scribe changed the title into the Shāhnāme, as that title was more familiar to the scribe and the Preface was attached to Firdawsī’s Shāhnāme. Secondly, āghāz-e kār-e Shāhnāme does not quite make sense. In order to make sense, Minorsky has to supply a verb at the end of the sentence and still the sentence is odd at this place, whereas “the beginning of the book xxx, which was …” is a standard opening sentence. Later, §9, we also have textual vacillation between īn nāme o-kār-e shāhān vs. īn kārnāme-ye shāhān, and other variants.


Note that we either have to take this as the son of the famous Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ or admit a grave anachronism here.


I.e., Sanskrit.


The sum is extravagant. Minorsky takes the expression to mean that he spent 500 ass loads daily, presumably on his whole court, which is still extravagant and makes a sudden change in the topic: instead of the book, his fame is now (at least partly) due to his luxurious court. This does not fit the general story line.


Either to be brought from his library or to be acquired.


Minorsky takes this to refer to Rūdakī, but I would prefer to take this as referring to his patron.


This is a difficult passage and I follow here the reading of Monchi-Zadeh. Qazwīnī emended this to pas chīniyān taṣwīr andar afzūdand, which Minorsky translates as “The Chinese added images to it”, adding a note that one might also read chandān and translate “so many images were added to it”. I do not find the reference to Chinese illustrators convincing, but Minorsky’s reading is possible, as the end of the sentence emphasizes that the (mere) seeing of the book caused pleasure, as if the book were also a visual pleasure. My translation leaves that as a possible reading without excluding the possibility that the text was “embellished”, i.e., revised/added to.


Variants Sarkhāy, Khwānī, Sarkhānī.


Probably to be read Bishābūr ← Wēh Shāpūr.


Again, a key passage is sadly confused. For [az] har shāristān there is a variant har chahār-ishān “every four of them”, favoured by Minorsky, but it is slightly incongruent with the preceding use (four times!) of chūn “such as”. If the four are just given as examples, there should surely have been more people included than just the four of them. On the other hand, the Preface is not always quite logical, and Minorsky’s reading cannot be excluded.


Minorsky translates farāz āwurdan as “to produce”, but a more natural and unforced translation is “to collect”.


Again there are variants and an equally possible translation would be “these Books of Kings”, depending on whether we follow the reading nāmehā-ye shān or nāmehā-ye shāhān.


Qazwīnī’s reading is nāmehā-ye shāhān o-kārnāmehāshān.


As it conforms to parallelism, I prefer here Monchi-Zadeh’s reading (āshtī) to Qazwīnī’s (āshūb), which is followed by Minorsky.


The paragraph continues with the Sasanian geographical division of the world into kishwars. It clearly comes from Sasanian sources and seems to be uncontaminated by later Islamic ideas of geography.


Qazwīnī printed in his main text āghāz-e īn kitāb, which is more or less nonsensical (even though followed by Minorsky in his translation), but emended kitāb in his notes to gītī or jahān (Monchi-Zadeh emends this to gīhān).


I follow here the reading of Monchi-Zadeh.


If the emendation in §12 is correct, then this refers to the compilation of the Pahlavi Khawadāynāmag.


Minorsky takes these as two separate items: the Book (Minorsky, though, follows Qazwīnī in reading Rāh “Path”) of the Sasanians and Mūsā.


So Qazwīnī and Monchi-Zadeh, but there are variants in which o- is missing and the two titles are joined together.


I adopt here the emendation of Monchi-Zadeh (see his comments on p. 27) and read *tirīst for Qazwīnī’s duwīst.


I.e., the kings’.


I follow Monchi-Zadeh’s emendation of buzurgān to bandagān.


See Monchi-Zadeh (1975): 28.


The text continues with chronological problems, including Biblical ones (§§13–14) and the genealogy of Abū Manṣūr-e ʿAbd al-Razzāq and the deeds of his ancestors (§§15, 17–20), with §16 inserted in between.


Note the inverted order here.


For this translation, cf. the discussion in Chapter 3.1.


Tārīkh, p. 4, reads nāme-ye Sāsāniyān-e Mūsā-ye ʿĪsā-ye Khusrawī, thus making the two one item.


Tārīkh, pp. 4–5, reads Hāshim ibn Qāsim. Note the form of the first name (instead of Hishām) in both editions.


The end of the passage is slightly confused.


This closely resembles the legend of the Avesta that had contained all wisdom but had later been scattered after Alexander had destroyed the original copy.

  • Collapse
  • Expand