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Iranian Influence on Moslem Literature, Part I by M. Inostranzev

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Transcriber's note: The spelling inconsistencies of the original
have been retained in this e-text.







CHAPTER I. Arabic Writers as Sources of Sasanian Culture 3

CHAPTER II. Parsi Clergy Preserve Tradition 25

CHAPTER III. Ethico-didactic Books of Arabs Exclusively
of Iranian Origin 38

CHAPTER IV. Iranian Components of Arabic _Adab_ Literature 53

CHAPTER V. Pahlavi Books Studied by Arab Authors 65

CHAPTER VI. Arab Translators from Pahlavi 76

CHAPTER VII. Pahlavi Rushnar Nameh 89


(By the Translator).

APPENDIX I. Independent Zoroastrian Princes of Tabaristan
after Arab Conquest 93

APPENDIX II. Iranian Material in Mahasin wal Masawi and
Mahasin wal Azdad 101

APPENDIX III. Burzoe's Introduction 105

APPENDIX IV. The Trial of Afshin,
a Disguised Zoroastrian General 135

APPENDIX V. Noeldeke's Introduction to Tabari 142

APPENDIX VI. Letter of Tansar to the King of Tabaristan 159

APPENDIX VII. Some Arab Authors and the Iranian Material
they preserve:--

The Uyunal Akhbar of Ibn Qotaiba 163
Jahiz: Kitab-al-Bayan wal Tabayyin 168
Hamza Ispahani 171
Tabari 174
Dinawari 177
Ibn al Athir 179
Masudi 182
Shahrastani 187
Ibn Hazm 192
Ibn Haukal 195


Ibn Khallikan 199
Mustawfi 203
Muqadasi 204
Thaalibi 205


The facile notion is still prevalent even among Musalmans of learning
that the past of Iran is beyond recall, that the period of its history
preceding the extinction of the House of Sasan cannot be adequately
investigated and that the still anterior dynasties which ruled vaster
areas have left no traces in stone or parchment in sufficient quantity
for a tolerable record reflecting the story of Iran from the Iranian's
standpoint. This fallacy is particularly hugged by the Parsis among whom
it was originally lent by fanaticism to indolent ignorance. It has been
credited with uncritical alacrity, congenial to self-complacency, that
the Arabs so utterly and ruthlessly annihilated the civilization of Iran
in its mental and material aspects that no source whatever is left from
which to wring reliable information about Zoroastrian Iran. The
following limited pages are devoted to a disproof of this age-long

For a connected story of Persia prior to the battle of Kadisiya, beside
the Byzantine writers there is abundant material in Armenian and Chinese
histories. These mines remain yet all but unexplored for the Moslem and
Parsi, although much has been done to extract from them a chronicle of
early Christianity. The archaeology of Iran, as I have shown elsewhere,
can provide vital clue to an authentic resuscitation of Sasanian past.
Pre-Moslem epigraphy of Persia is yet in little more than an inchoate
condition. Not only all Central Asia but the territories marching with
the Indian and Persian frontiers, where persecution of the elder faith
could not have been relatively mild, the population professing Islam
have been unable to abjure in their entirety rites and practices akin to
those of Zoroastrianism. Within living memory the inhabitants of Pamir
would not blow out a candle or otherwise desecrate fire. While science
cannot recognise the claims of any individual professing to have studied
esoteric Zoroastrianism hidden in the hill tracts of Rawalpindi, the
myth has a value in that it indicates the direction in which humbler and
uninspired scholars may work. These regions and far beyond, teem with
pure Iranian place-names to this day; and you meet in and around even
the Peshawar district individuals bearing names of old Iranian heroes
which, if the theory of persecution-mongers be correct, would be an
anathema to the bigoted followers of Muhammad.

* * * * *

It is, above all, Arabic literature which upsets the easy fiction of
total destruction of Iranian culture by the Arabs. In its various
departments of history, geography and general science Arabic works
incorporate extensive material for a history of Iranian civilization,
while Arabic poetry abounds in references to Zoroastrian Iran. The
former is illustrated by Professor Inostranzev's pioneer Russian essay
of which the main body of this book is a translation. The Appendices are
intended to be supplementary and to be at once a continuation and a
possible key--continuation of the researches of the Russian scholar and
key to the contemned store-house of Arabic letters.

Professor Inostranzev is in little need of introduction to English
scholars. He has already been made known in India by the indefatigable
Shams-ul-Ulma Dr. Jivanji Modi, Ph.D., C.I.E., who got translated, and
commented on, his Russian paper on the curious _Astodans_ or receptacles
for human bones discovered in the Persian Gulf region. He shares with
Professor Browne of Cambridge and the great M. Blochet a unique
scholarly position: he combines an intimate knowledge of Avesta
civilization with a familiarity with classical Arabic. It is not
wilfully to ignore the claims of Goldziher, Brockelmann or Sachau or
the Dutch savants de Goeje and Van Vloten. Deeply as they investigated
Arabic writings, it was M. Inostranzev who first revealed to us the
worth of Arabic: he unearthed chapters embedded in Arabic books which
are paraphrase or translation of Pahlavi originals. He had but one
predecessor and that was a countryman of his, Baron Rosen.

* * * * *

In preparing the Appendices, which are there to testify to the value of
Arabic literature especially the annals and the branch of it called
Adab, I have availed myself of the courtesy of various institutions and
individuals. Bombay, perhaps the wealthiest town in the East where
prosperous Musalmans form a most important factor of its population, has
not one public library containing any tolerable collection of Arabic
books edited in Europe. Time after time wealthy Parsis whose interest I
enlisted have received from me lists of books to form the nucleus of an
Arabic library but apparently they need some further stimulus to
appreciate how indispensable Arabic is for research into Iranian
antiquities. The Bombay Government have expended enormous sums in
collecting Sanskrit manuscripts--a most laudable pursuit--and have
published a series of admirable texts edited by some of the eminent
Sanskrit scholars, Western and Indian. But the numerous Moslem Anjumans
do not appear to have demonstrated to the greatest Moslem Power in the
world, or its representative in Bombay, the necessity of a corresponding
solicitude for Arabic and Persian treasures which undoubtedly exist,
though to a lesser extent, in the Presidency. And what holds true of
Bombay holds good in case of the rest of India. Some of the libraries in
Upper India in Hyderabad, Rampur, Patna, Calcutta possess along with
manuscript material cheap mutilated Egyptian reprints of magnificent
texts brought out in Leiden, Paris and Leipzig. Nowhere in India is
available to a research scholar a complete set of European publications
in Arabic, which a few thousand rupees can purchase. The state of
affairs is due to Moslem apathy, politics claiming a disproportionate
share of their civic energy, to Government indifference and to some
extent Parsi supineness and prejudice which, despite the community's
vaunted advancement, has failed to estimate at its proper worth their
history as enshrined in the language of the pre-judged Arab.

Moulvi Muhammad Ghulam Rasul Surti, of Bombay, himself a scholar, lent
me from his bookshop expensive works which few private students could
afford to buy. No western book-seller could have conceived a purer love
of learning or a gaze less rigidly fixed on "business". Sir John
Marshall, Director General of Archaeology in India, continued very
kindly to permit me use of books after I had severed official connection
with his library at Simla. Dr. Spooner who acted for him obligingly saw
that as far as he was concerned no facilities were incontinently
withdrawn from me at Benmore. I have particularly to thank the Librarian
of the Imperial Library, Calcutta, who not only posted me books in his
charge but went out of his way to procure me others. Mrs. Besant and her
wealthy adherents have created at Adyar the atmosphere associated with
the Ashramas and the seats of learning in ancient India so finely
described by Chinese travellers. The Oriental Library there is
unsurpassed by any institution in British or Indian ruled India. It is
to be wished in the interests of pure scholarship that some one
succeeds--I did not--in prevailing on the President of the Theosophical
Society to lend books to scholars who may not be equal to the exertion
of daily travelling seven miles from Madras to Adyar. Her insistence on
a rigid imitation of British Museum rules in India, mainly because so
many of the Theosophical fraternity cut out pages and chapters from
books once allowed to be borrowed by them, inflicts indiscriminate
penalty on honest research and seals up against legitimate use books
nowhere else to be found in India.

I reserve for the Second Part of this book some observations on the
Russian language with reference to Orientalism, and Arabic and Persian
literatures in particular. Only after the outbreak of the War some
interest has been aroused in England in matters Russian generally and a
number of grammars and dictionaries and other aids to the study of this
most difficult language have recently been placed on the market for the
use of students who only a brief three years ago had to depend mainly on
German for acquisition of Russian. This neglect of Russian is wholly
undeserved. It is doubtful if the researches into Oriental histories and
literatures by the Russians have been yet adequately appreciated in
England, the tireless efforts of Dr. Pollen and the Anglo-Russian
Literary Society notwithstanding. It is apparently still presumed that
ripe scholarship in Arabic and Sanskrit is inconceivable except through
the medium of the languages of Western Europe. No unworthy disparagement
of French labours is at all suggested. But it is only fair to Russia to
remember in India that the absence of a Serg d'Oldenberg would leave a
lacuna which must be felt in Buddhist Sanskrit; without Tzerbatski the
Jain literature both Magadhi and Sanskrit would be appreciably poorer;
and that the Continent has produced nothing to exceed the series of
Buddhist Sanskrit texts of Petrograd, where was published the still
largest Sanskrit lexicon. Naturally in the province of Chinese and
Japanese the Russian Academy at Vladivostock stood _facile princeps_
till only the other day its magnificent rival was established in London
under the direction of Dr. Denison Ross. An individual scholar like
Khanikoff, who like most of his countrymen in the last century preferred
to write in French, and a Zukovski has done more signal service to
Persian antiquities than could be honestly attributed to many a German
name familiar to Indian scholars. The distinguishing feature of the
Russian investigator, devoted to the past of Persia, is his uncommon
equipment. The Russian bring to their task a mature study of Semitic
languages and acquaintance with Avesta philology. Arabic literature
teems with allusions to the religions, dogma, customs and the court of
Sasanian Iran. Once intended for contemporaries equally at home in the
Arabic and Persian idioms these references have in course of time grown
obscure to copyists who have mutilated Iranian names of persons and
places and specific Zoroastrian terms which had become naturalised in
the language of the ruling Arabs. It is scholars like Baron Rosen and
Rosenberg who have adequately appreciated the value of Arabic texts in
which are interwoven verbal translations of celebrated Pahlavi
treatises. Two such have been disinterred by the industry and erudition
of Inostranzev.

This is the first book to be translated from Russian into English by an
Indian and the obvious difficulties of the task may be pleaded to excuse
some of the shortcomings of a pioneer undertaking. I look for my reward
in on awakened interest in Arabic books which hold in solution more
information on Persia than any set work on the history of Iran.

It would not be in place to advert to the present state of hapless chaos
in Persia. The most sympathetic outsider, however, cannot help observing
that her misfortunes are less due to her neighbours and their mutual
relations than to her too rapid political strides and adoption of exotic
administrative machinery repugnant to the genius of the ancient nation.
Whatever the attitude of individual Mullas towards non-Moslems in the
past the central authority and the people as a whole are actuated to-day
with a spirit of patriotism which is still the keynote of the character
of Persia's noble manhood and womanhood. It declines to make religion
the criterion of kinship.

The inconsistency in the spelling of Arabic words has not altogether
been avoidable being due partly to a desire to adhere to the orthography
adopted by authors whom I have consulted.


September, 1917.


Iranian literary tradition in the opening centuries of Islam 1

The character of the Persian history during the Sasanian epoch 6

Importance of this epoch according to the Arab writers of the first
centuries of Islam 10

The position of the Parsi community and the centres of the preservation
of Persian tradition during the period of the Khalifat in Tabaristan,
Khorasan and Fars 15

The castle of Shiz in the district of Arrajan in the province of Fars
described by Istakhri, p. 118, 2-4; 150, 14-7; Ibn Hauqal, p. 189, 1-2;
cf. the translator of the _Khoday Nameh_, Behram, son of Mardanshah of
the city of Shapur in the province of Fars 19

This castle was the residence of those acquainted with the Iranian
tradition (the _badhgozar_) and here their archives were lodged 20


To the Iranian element belongs a very rich role in the external as well
as the internal history of Islam. Its influence is obvious and constant
in the history of the Moslem nations' spread over centuries. Whenever
the circumstances have been favourable it has been clearly manifest;
when the conditions have been hostile it is not noticeable at the first
glance but in reality has been of great consequence. The causes of this
are very complicated. And it is necessary on account of its universal
value to examine a wide concatenation of facts. But from a general point
of view there is no doubt that it has its roots principally in the
continuity of the historical and cultural traditions. Particular
significance attaches to the circumstance that just in the epoch
preceding the Arab conquest Persia had experienced a period of national
revival after the horrors that its sovereignty had undergone, at the
hands, for instance, of Alexander the Great.[1] Therefore for the study
of Iranian tradition in Islam the period of the Sasanian dynasty
preceding the Arab conquest has a special significance.

[Footnote 1: This is explained by the hatred given expression to in the
Parsi tradition regarding Alexander. Comp. J. Darmesteter _La Legende de
Alexandre chez les Parses. Essais Orientaux_, Paris 1883, pp. 227-251.]

The Sasanian dynasty issuing from a small principality in the south of
Persia--a principality which, properly speaking bears the title of the
"kernel of the Persian nation"--occupies a considerable position in
Persian history. Wide imperial aims were united with a plenitude of
solid organisation of government so perfect that it passed into a
proverb among the Arabs. In this last connection the Sasanian tradition
survived for a long time a number of Moslem dynasties. The powerful
influence which Iranian tradition exercised was felt by the Abbaside
Khahlifs and after them by the Turkish Seljuks. But not only the science
of government, a good deal of other matters of cultural and historical
importance in the latter times have their explanation in the Sasanian
epoch. Placed on the confines of the Greco-Roman world on the one hand,
and China and India on the other, Sasanian Persia served during the
course of a long time as a central mart of exchange of a mental as well
as of a material nature. As against the Achaemenides, emulating the high
Semitic culture of the West and the Hellenistic endeavours preceding the
Parthian dynasty, the Sasanians pre-eminently were the promulgators of
the Iranian principles. Alongside of this, however, although in a
subordinate position, the development of the Hellenistic movement and
the ancient Irano-Semitic syncretism continued to proceed.
Simultaneously an ethical amalgamation proceeded especially in Western
Persia where Semiticism was powerful for a lengthened period,
Nevertheless, the Sasanians continued the unification of the Iranian
inhabitants of central and western Persia. The political system of the
Sasanian emperors[1] was based on this fusion. Before it pales the
importance of the other facts regarding the political organisation of
the Sasanians,--centralisation of government in a manner so that the
elements of feudal constitution made themselves felt throughout the
existence of the empire and even after the Arab conquest, when it left
traces in circles representing Iranian traditions.

[Footnote 1: On the constitution of the Sasanian government, see A.
Christensen, _L'empire des Sasanides, le peuple, l'etat, la cour_,

The Iranophile tendencies which dominated the Sasanian epoch developed
in intimate cooperation with the State religion (Mazdaism) and the Parsi
priesthood. Among the latter continued the production of literary works.
Besides, the redaction of the sacred books was completed in these times.
Among them were conserved and propagated Persian ethical ideals, which
found expression in literary forms, in ethico-didactic tracts, like
those which we notice just in the same circles in later times. To the
same end were preserved national traditions and ritual, some of which
had nothing to do with Mazdaism. The ethical ideals of the church found
strong support in the feudalistic circles comprising the larger and the
smaller landholders, the _dehkans_ who, with particular zeal, preserved
ancient heroic traditions.

Alongside of these national currents in the Sasanian empire there
operated in full force those factors of cultural exchange of which we
spoke above. Of those factors the most important that deserve our
attention are questions regarding education and instruction. In this
connection, Sasanian Persia found itself under powerful influences from
the West. There are sufficient reminiscences of neo-Platonic exiles from
Greece at the Sasanian Court and of the school of medicine in which the
leading part belonged to Hellenic physicians. At the same time in the
same field we have to examine other influences. For Sasanian Persia did
not remain stranger to the sciences of India. We have information
regarding the renascence of the activity of the translators of
scientific works into the Persian language and the tradition of this
activity survived down to the Moslem times. In connection with this
theoretical scientific activity stood high perfection in exterior
culture issuing to a considerable degree from exchange of materials. And
even here the Sasanian tradition has survived the dynasties; in the
study of the commerce and industry as well as the art of the Moslem
epoch we have necessarily to refer back to the preceding times of the
Persian history.

In pre-Moslem Arabia the high development of the civilisation of
Sasanian Persia was well known. Among the subjects of the great Persian
sovereigns in the western provinces of their empire there were a large
number of Arabs who in commercial intercourse carried, to tribes of the
Syrian desert and further south to the Arabian peninsula, reports
regarding the great _Iran Shahar_. Not only legends of the heroic
figures of the Iranian epic--Rustam and Isfandiar--but religious views
and persuasions of the Persians found a place and were spread among the
Arab clans. Thus we know that "fire-worshippers" were settled among the
Arab tribe of the Temim.[1]

[Footnote 1: _See_ for example Ibn Rustah (B.G.A. VII, p. 217, 6-9).]

As regards the political influence of the Persians on the tribes of
Arabia a vast deal has been related in the pre-Moslem epoch. As is
well-known, thanks mainly to the Persian influence, there was a small
Arab kingdom of the Lekhmides in the South-Western portion of the
Sasanian empire[1]. It played its part, most beneficial for Persia,
holding back on the one hand Roman-Byzantine onrush from the West, and
on the other restraining the perpetual attempts at irruption into
Persian territory by Arab nomadic tribes. Not long before the appearance
of Islam, Sasanian influence was extended to the Arabs and the South as
well as Yemen passed into the sovereignty of the Persians. Khusro and
his Court appeared to the Arab an unattainable ideal of grandeur and

[Footnote 1: _Die Dynastie der Lekhmiden in al-Hira, Ein Versuch zur
arabisch-persischen Geschichte zur Zeit der Sasaniden Berlin_, 1899.]

The rapid conquest of Persia by the Arab warriors proved a complete
catastrophe to the Sasanian empire. But Persian culture was not to be
extirpated by the success of Arab arms. Persia was overwhelmed only
externally and the Arabs were compelled to preserve a considerable deal
of the past. Having lost the position of rulers, the Persian priesthood
preserved intact its control of the indigenous populace in the eyes of
the latter as well as of the foreign Government. The same remark holds
good of the class of landed proprietors.[1] Iranian tradition continued
to live In and with them. Not only what was preserved but all that was
destroyed for long left vestiges in the memory of the conquerors.

[Footnote 1: Regarding the part played by this class in the times of the
Khalifs, see A. Von Kramer _Culturgeschiche des orients unter den
Chalifen_ II. pp, 150, 62.]

Many years after the Arab conquest the ruins that covered Persia excited
the admiration of the Arabs. Their geographers of the ninth and tenth
centuries considered it their duty to enumerate the principal buildings
of the Sasanians reminding the reader that here Khusro built in his time
in bye-gone days a castle, there a mountain fastness, again at a third
place, a bridge.[1] Regarding various ancient structures which had
survived the Sasanian times, we refer, _inter alia_, to Istakhri, (ibid
I), pp. 124; Ibn Hauqal (ibid II) 195; Ibn Khordadbeh (ibid VI) p. 43,
(text); Ibn Rusteh (ibid VII), 153, 162, 164, 165, 166, 167, 189; Yakubi
(ibid VII), 270, 271, 273, &c.

[Footnote 1: _See_ the enumeration of the noteworthy buildings of
ancient Persia as given in Makdisi (B.G.A. III), p. 399, and
Ibn-ul-Fakih (_ibid_ V), p. 267.]

The remains of the structures, monuments of art from the Sasanian times
and the ages preceding them attracted the attention of the Arabs and
they have left descriptions of the same in more or less detail.[1] From
the information of the same Musalman writers we possess accurate
accounts of the inhabitants of Persia and their religions. Thus, for
instance, Yakubi indicates that the inhabitants of Isfahan, Merv, and
Herat, consisted mainly of high-born Dehkans.[2] Makdisi notices a
considerable number of fire-worshippers in several provinces of Persia,
for instance, Irak and Jibal.[3]

[Footnote 1: Istakhri, p. 203, Ibn Hauqal, p, 266, 256, Makdisi pp. 396
and 445, Ibn Rusteh, p. 166.]

[Footnote 2: Yakubi, pp. 274, 279-280.]

[Footnote 3: Makdisi, pp. 126, 194.]


_Relate that the inhabitants of several localities of Kerman during the
entire Umayyad period openly professed Mazdaism._

In a more detailed fashion, however, the Arab writers notice the Mazdian
dwellers of Fars, the heart of the Persian dominion. Makdisi says that
in Fars existed the customs of fire-worshippers but that the
fire-worshipping inhabitants of the capital of the province of Shiraz
had no distinguishing mark on their clothes; from which it follows that
in that age these people were in no way differentiated from the Musalman
subjects.[2] Istakhri[3] and Ibn Hauqal[4] relate that the bulk of the
inhabitants of Fars consisted of fire-worshippers and they were there in
larger number than anywhere else, Fars being the centre of sacerdotal
and cultural life of the empire in the days of Persian independence.
Very minute information is supplied us by these writers[5] regarding the
ancient castles and fire-temples scattered over the whole of Fars in
abundance. The latter is of capital importance since here was the
residence of those two classes of Persian society, noblemen and priests,
who were the staunchest conservators of the ancient national tradition.

[Footnote 1: Istakhri, p. 164; _Ibn_ Hauqal, p. 221.]

[Footnote 2: _See_ Makdisi, pp. 421, 429.]

[Footnote 3: P. 130.]

[Footnote 4: P. 207.]

[Footnote 5: Istakhri, pp. 116-119; also p. 100. Ibn Hauqal, 187-190;
also p. 181.]

It is undoubted that the position of the Parsi community after the
Moslem conquest was comparatively comfortable. Still sometimes it was
darkened by excessive fanaticism and the intrigues of the followers of
other faiths. Although sometimes the Parsis could push themselves
forward to positions of officials and instructors and played an
important part in the history of the Khalifate, generally speaking, this
community was a close one leading a more or less exclusive life, a
circumstance enabling the conservation of national peculiarities and
attachment to antiquity. As time went on, however, the condition of
their existence necessarily became worse and the consequence was the
gradual emigration of a portion of the community from the motherland to
Western India.

In the entire Parsi literature we come across only one historical
composition which recounts this emigration. But the narrative is so
obscure that of the main occurrence in it there must have remained only
a general memory.[1] This book is called the "Kisseh-Sanjan" and was
written at a very late date at the very close of the 16th century, so
that the data given in it have to be looked upon as a reverberation of
ancient tradition.[2]

[Footnote 1: The modern historian and Parsi scholar Karaka, in analysing
the events subsequent to the Arab conquest follows the views of the old
School of writers regarding this epoch as a complete destruction of all
the previous organisation and the triumph of fanaticism of the new
faith. See D.F. Karaka, _History of the Parsis_, Vol I; on the history
of the Parsis subsequent to the Arab invasion _see_ page 22 ff.]

[Footnote 2: E.B. Easrwick, Translation from the Persian of the
"_Kisseh-Sanjan_" or "History of the arrival and settlement of the Parsis
in India." J.B.B.R.A.S., I. 1844, pp. 167-191. (_See_ also Vol. 21,
extra number, 1005, pp. 197-99).]

From the circumstances detailed in this book it appears that the
emigrators after the establishment of Musalman domination passed a
hundred years in a mountainous locality and only after the lapse of
these long years migrated to Hormuz, from where they proceeded to the
peninsula of Gujarat and finally after negotiations with the local chief
settled in Sanjan. Subsequently fresh refugees joined them from
Khorasan. From this last we can infer that the emigration was gradual
and this is confirmed by the fact that in case of migration in a mass
the diaspora of the Parsis would have left some traces in the Arabic
literature. Further there is no doubt that considerable number of Parsis
remained behind in their country and their descendants are the modern
Persian Guebres who, together with the Parsis of India, may be called
the only preservers of ancient Iranian tradition to the present times.

Thus, throughout Persia in the first centuries of Islam national
elements with, changed fortunes persisted in their existence. It is,
however, to be remarked that their success was not uniform in, every
quarter of the country, that their fate depended to a considerable
extent upon the geographical position and the historical life of the
various provinces of the land. Western provinces owing to their
proximity to the centre of the Arab ruling life had more than the rest
to mingle with, the Arab stream, and to participate in the cycle of
events in the Arabic period of the history of the Musalman East. Central
Persia, owing to its geographical position, could not constitute the
point _d'appue_ of the Persian element. For the latter the most
favourably situated provinces were those in the North, East, and South,
Tabaristan, Khorasan, and Fars.


As is well-known throughout the floruit of the Arab empire this province
found itself in almost entire independence of the central power. Local
dynasts called the Ispahbeds enjoyed practical independence and in those
times Arabo-Moslem influences simply did not exist. Local
rulers,--Bavendids, Baduspans, Karenides--appeared successively or
simultaneously following the traditions left to them by the Marzbans or
the land holders and partly the successors of the great King who were
independent from the times of the Arsacide dynasty.[1] Subsequently as
Aliides and Ziyarids, they were closely attached to Shiaism with its
definite expression of Persian sympathy. Nevertheless, this province was
not favourable for a particularly successful national evolution. The
fact was that even in the Sasanian epoch Tabaristan remained a distant
and obscure frontier division and did not take part in the progress of
civilisation of the times. Therefore it could not form the centre of
gravity of Persian life although there is no doubt that in several
respects in this province there were preserved typical features of
Sasanian antiquity.

[Footnote 1: For a general conspectus of the history of the provinces
with regard to their independence during the Sasanian and Arab
domination, _see, e.g._ F. Justi, G.I. Ph., II, pp. 547-49--"History of
Iran from the earliest to the end of the Sasanides" in German--Appendix


It was otherwise with the Eastern provinces of Khorasan, too far distant
from the territary occupied by the Arab settlers, and too densely
inhabited by Iranians to rapidly lose its previous characteristics. On
the contrary, we know from the historians that in this province Iranian
elements remained steadfast throughout the Umayyad dynasty and it was
exclusively due to the support given by Khorasanians to the Abbasides
that the latter succeeded in overthrowing the previous dynasty and
commenced the era of powerful Iranian influences in the history of the
Musalman Orient.[1] Khorasan played a vital part in the development of
the modern Persian literature and especially its chief department,
poetry. The entire early period of the history of modern Persian poetry,
from Abbas welcoming with an ode Khalif Mamun into Merv down to
Firdausi, may be labelled Khorasanian. There flourished the activity of
Rudaki, Kisai, Dakiki, and other less notable representatives of the
early period of modern Persian bards.[2] The culture of poetry was
favoured not only by the geographical position of the province of
Khorasan but by its political conditions. Already in the beginning of
the ninth century in Khorasan there had arisen national Persian
dynasties and under their patronage began the renascence of the Persian
nation (Taherides, Saffarides, Samanides).

[Footnote 1: On the history of Khorasan in the Umayyad period _see_ J.
Wellhausen _Das Arabische Reich und Sein Sturz,_ p, 247 f. and p. 306

[Footnote 2: _See_ the general survey of this period in J, Darmesteter,
"The Origins of the Persian Poesy", in French and E.G. Browne "Literary
History of Persia", I, p, 350 ff.]


Under different circumstances but with considerable significance for the
Persian national ideals lay the Southern province of Fars. Here with
tenacious insistence survived not only national but also political
traditions of ancient Sasanian Persia. Here was the centre of a
government and from here started fresh dynasties. After the Arab
conquest this province came into much more intimate connection with the
Khalifate, than, for instance, Khorasan. But Persian elements were
favoured by its geographical position,--the mountainous character of its
situation and the consequent difficulty of access by the invaders. We
already produced above the information of the Arab geographers of the
tenth century regarding the abundance of fire-temples and castles in
Fars. They relate that there was no village or hamlet of this province
in which there was no fire-temple. Residence was taken up in strong
castles by the native aristocrats whose ideals were rooted in the
Sasanian epoch. Just in these geographers, Istakhri and Ibn Hauqal, is
to be found information of unusual importance, so far as we can judge,
regarding the conservation of the Parsi tradition in Fars These authors
have been up to now not only not appreciated but their significance for
our question has not yet been adequately recognised.

Istakhri and Ibn Hauqal enumerating the castles of Fars declare as
follows regarding the castle of Shiz:[1]

"The castle of Shiz is situated in the district of Arrajana. There live
fire-worshippers[2] who know Persia and her past. Here they study. This
castle is very strong."

[Footnote 1: Istakhri, p. 118, 2-4; Ibn Hauqal, p, 180, 1-2.]

[Footnote 2: In the text occurs the Persian word _badgozar_, that is to
say, the rhapsodists, the relators of the national traditions; on this
word see B.G.A. III, pp. 182-83, and Vuller's _Lexicon Persico-Latinum_
S.V. For a parallel to the archives of the Achamenide empire _see_ F.
Justi, _Ein Tag aus den Leben des konigs Darius._]

Further we read the following in Istakhri (page 150, 14-17):--

"In the district of Sabur on the mountain there are likenesses of all
the noteworthy Persian kings and grandees, of illustrious preservers of
fire, high _mobeds_ and others. Their portraits, their acts and
narratives about them are successively recorded in volumes. With
particular care are preserved these volumes by the people living in a
locality in the district of Arrajan called the castle of Shiz."

From this information we learn that in one of the castles of Fars down
to the tenth century there were preserved manuscripts written probably
in the Pahlavi language containing narratives from Persian history and
illustrated with, portraits after the style of the Sasanian reliefs to
be found in the rocks in the district of Sabur.[1] This strong mountain
fastness was probably little accessible to the Arabs and afforded an
asylum to the _mobeds, dehkans_ and others interested in the past of
their country.

[Footnote 1: That is after the style of the Sasanian bass-reliefs which
were preserved in his time on the rocks in the vicinity of Shapur and
the most famous type of which are the bass-reliefs representing the
triumphs of the Sasanian Shapur I, over the emperor Valentine].

These facts generally important for the history of the preservation of
the epic, historic and artistic traditions of Iran, are particularly
important for the investigation of the sources of the Arabic
translations of the Sasanian chronicles and of the epopee of Firdausi.
As we know, the translators of these chronicles were Persian
"fire-worshippers" or Musalmans who had adopted Islam only externally
and had remained true to the ancient Persian religion. Among them the
foremost is called _Mobed_ belonging to the city of Sabur in the
province of Fars. He is important as a worker in the Iranian historical
tradition and about him we shall have occasion to speak later on. This
_Mobed_ probably made Arabic translations of Sasanian chronicles from
materials in the archives in the castle of Shiz. Further, the
information adduced by us above regarding the castle refers to times a
little previous to the age of Firdausi and undoubtedly among the
materials in these archives were the sources of the Shah Nameh which
were available to Firdausi through intermediate versions. Finally, we
see that these Sasanian histories were illustrated, a fact which is
confirmed by the statement of other Arab writers as we shall see later
on. Generally the district of Arrajan enjoyed its ancient glory with
reference to its cultural connections. Yakut[1] has preserved for us the
information that at Raishahar in the district of Arrajan there lived in
the Sasanian times men, versed in a peculiar species of syllabary who
wrote medical, astronomical and logical works.

[Footnote 1: "_Muajjam ul Buldan_", ed. Wustenfeld, II, p. 887. This
passage has been translated by Barbier de Maynard in his "Geographical,
Historical and Literary Dictionary of Persia", in French, pp. 270-271.
_See_ also Fihrist II, p, 105.]

What we have studied above establishes the existence of Persian literary
tradition in its national form for several centuries after the Arab
invasion. Now we have to survey wherein lie the characteristic features
of this tradition and what were its main contents. And we pass on to
their consideration.


The Parsi Clergy and the Musalman Iranophile party of the Shuubiya 26

The part played by them in the conservation of the Persian literary
tradition 30

The different varieties of this tradition; scientific, epico-historic,
legendary and ethico-didactic 32


We have demonstrated above that in the time subsequent to the Arab
conquest Iranian tradition found a congenial asylum in the bosom of the
Parsi priesthood. There it was maintained and developed orally as well
as in a written form. The most competent among the Persian historians
who employed the Arabic language in those times turned to the Parsi
clergy for information. Of this we have first-hand proof in their own
works and in the quotations from other works preserved in later authors.
For example, they frequently remark "the Mobedan-mobed related to me",
"the _mobed_ so and so told me" and so on. In their quest for ancient
Persian books, too, Arab authors searched for them among the Parsi
priesthood and it was only there that they found them. Thus it was the
merit of the Parsi community that it conserved Iranian traditions daring
unfavourable times and handed them on to Moslem Persia under more
auspicious conditions.

Involuntarily we are led to a comparison, to their advantage, with the
activity of the Iranophile party of the same times in the Moslem
community, the party of the Shuubiya,[1] In their capacity as promoters
of learning and exponents of literature they concentrated their activity
in the cultured centre of the Khalifate at Baghdad and other cities, and
being familiar with Persia played an important part in the development
of Moslem culture of the Middle Ages. But in the preservation of the
Iranian tradition they turned to much restricted and greatly exclusive
Parsi circles. In the second half of the tenth century and in the
eleventh century the currents which were preparing the Persian
renascence party were lost and their significance forgotten. But for
the purpose of illuminating historical questions a careful examination
of these currents deserves our undivided attention. It was owing to them
that literary materials were preserved which were sometimes direct
translations from books belonging to the Sasanian period. The course by
which these materials found their way into Arabic literature can be
definitely traced. They came from Parsi centres through older circles
of Moslem civilisation which were sympathetic towards Persia. Generally
speaking they were trustworthy transmitters. As a matter of fact the
Shuubiya turned only to the Parsi circles for materials and in the
explanation of the material they did not distinguish them from their
other sources. Their sources betray themselves by an exaggerated Parsi
partiality where the penchant of these circles is clearly manifest. And
these are intimately connected with certain questions of daily
life,--the struggle for power between the Arab and the Iranian element
in the Khalifate. Enthusiastic partisans of the Persian element, these
circles as a counterblast to the poverty of civilizing factors of the
pre-Islamic Arab nation, turned to the glories of Persia, principally
of the Sasanian past. Iranophile writers had no need for inventions,
since historical truth was on their side. The effectiveness of their
method was indisputable. In this connection Iranian tradition among the
Musalmans as transmitted by Arab writers must take precedence of a
similar transmission, the Christian literature of the East, where all
possibility was excluded of polemics such as obtained under the Moslem
domination between the pro-Iranian and anti-Iranian parties. It is,
therefore, to be regretted that the literary activities of the Musalman
circles sympathising with Persian culture have descended to us only in
occasional extracts and are sometimes confined only to the titles of
books written by them.

[Footnote 1: For details, Goldziher. _Muhammedanische Studien,_ I,

We noticed above the revival of scientific activities in Sasanian
Persia. This activity for the most part has its significance in its
quality of being a connecting link, in the first place, as the
transmitter of Greek knowledge to the East, and secondly, as the unifier
of this knowledge with the heritage which Sasanian Persia had received
from scientific works belonging to Semitic culture, as well as from the
science of India. The principal representatives of this activity were
not Persians, but Christians, mainly the Syrian Nestorians, and
Monophysites from the school of Edessa.[1]

[Footnote 1: For a general account of the character of this activity see
T.J. de Boer, _History of Philosophy in Islam_, 17-20.]

What was the share in these operations of the Persians themselves it is
hard to tell. But at all events, it was not considerable.[1] The general
character of this activity does not leave particular room for wide
creative science, since it has expressed itself pre-eminently in
compilations, translations of philosophical, astronomical, astrological,
medical, mathematical and ethical commentaries on Greek and some Indian
authors. It was not in this field that the activity of the Persian
sacerdotal community in the Sasanian epoch was concentrated. And
latterly in the period of the development of analogous scientific work
dining the eastern Khalifate under the Abbasides the principal role
belonged just to the same class of scholars, Christian Syrians, with
just this difference that the activity of the latter continued among the
Musalman alumni of various nationalities whilst in Sasanian Persia their
operations were cut short by the unfortunate circumstances of the Arab
inroads. It is interesting that in the Abbaside period the translations
made from the Persian authors or authors belonging to Persia appertain
to a certain special _genre_ of works of a technical nature, books on
warfare[2], on divination, on horse-breaking[3], on the training of
other animals, and on birds[4] trained to hunting. These special
treatises were of no abstract scientific contents but referred to the
practical demands of life.

[Footnote 1: As regards philosophical traditions of Sasanian Persia in
the Musalman epoch principally we may refer to the influence of the
system of "_Zervanism_" on the adherents of the system of "_Dahar_", de
Boer 15 and 76.]

[Footnote 2: See my studies on the _Ain-Nameh_.]

[Footnote 3: See my book on _Materials from Arabic Sources for Culture
History of Sasanian Persia_.]

[Footnote 4: Fihrist 315.]

A different kind of importance attaches to histories devoted to
government and national life of the Sasanian period and to the epic and
literary tradition of Persia. Their value as history has been
acknowledged and appreciated by the progressive circles of the Musalman
community. Contemporary researches directing the greatest attention to
this aspect of Iranian movement appreciated its value and thanks to
their works, we are enabled to speak with some clearness regarding
books of exceeding importance. Traces of ancient Iranian epic tradition
are observable in some Greek writers, Ktesias, Herodotus, Elian, Charen
of Mytelene and Atheneus. But it has survived in a considerable quantity
in the Avesta.[1]

[Footnote 1: The principal works for investigating the Persian
historical and literary tradition are, besides the introduction to his
edition and translation of the Shah-Nameh by Mohl, Noeldeke's German
_History of the Persians, and Arabs at the time of the Sasanians_, his
introduction, and his Iranian national epic G.I.Ph. II, 130--212; Baron
Rosen, _On the question of the Arabic translations of the Khudai Nameh_
(Paraphrase by Kirst in W.Z.K.M.X, 1896); H. Zotenberg, History of the
Kings of Persia by Al-Thalibi, Arabic text with translation, especially
Preface, XLI-XLIV. A number of profound ideas and ingenious suggestions
are made in the various articles and reviews by Gutschmid. (See Appendix
V, p. 141).]

The most recent and pregnant exposition is by Lehmann.

It existed also in official writings of the Sasanian times, recensions
of which, we possess in several Arab histories and in the Shah Nameh.
Like the scientific literature these writings were subjected to a final
redaction towards the close of the Sasanian dynasty and it is this
recension that has mainly come down to posterity. Alongside of official
writings of a general character, there existed various books of
epic-historical contents, for instance, the _Yadkari-Zariran_.[1] As in
these writings, so in the versions appearing from them at later times,
the materials embodied were of a kindred nature, like the Romance of
Behram Chobin, Story of Behram Gor, the narrative of the introduction
into Persia of the Game of Chess. Besides these there were writings
relating to local histories. It is noteworthy that the epic element was
and is preserved with persistence by the Parsis. Mohl notes that the
majority of Persian epic poems, excepting the Shah Nameh, has been
preserved only in manuscripts belonging to Parsis[2]. Farther
development of this phase of Persian literary tradition bifurcated into
two directions. It has been shown that the official chronicles of the
Sasanian times exercised influence on the development of the Musalman
science of history. On the other hand, the epic was resuscitated in
heroic romances and tales[3]. Alongside of the historical traditions and
the epos stands the romantic poesy which has entered into Musalman
literature in a marked degree in the shape of Iranian tradition. At the
time this species of poetry prospered in Arabic literature there was a
strong Persian influence and some of its representatives were
undoubtedly inclined to Persian literary motifs, for instance, the
Shuubite Sahal Ibn Harun.[4]

[Footnote 1: We refer mainly to the epic cycle of Soistan for the views
of the authorities on which see Mohl (LXII) and Noeldeke _National
Epic_, 80-81. As a supplement to the bibliography furnished by Noeldeke
see V. Rugarli, the _Epic of Kershasp_, G.S.A.I., XI, 33-81, 1898.]

[Footnote 2: LXVII, note 2.]

[Footnote 3: On the process of the latter nature see Mohl LXXII ff.
Regarding one of the principal representatives of the later stage of
this development see Abu Taher Tarsusi, Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1, 115.]

[Footnote 4: Fihrist 120, 1-13. For this kind of poetry see Fihrist 306,
8-308, 14, and compare also the books characterised at page 314, 1-7.]

To the same type of literary monuments we have to add the vast field of
story literature. Although a considerable portion of it belongs to the
province of migratory subjects, and although to Persia belongs often
only the role of the transmitter, nevertheless, collections of stories
of this class undoubtedly had their assigned place in the Sasanian epoch
and the dependence of the core of the _Thousand and One Nights_ on the
Persian stories collected in the _Hazar Afsan_[1] is indisputable. We
shall not, therefore, stop here further regarding facts which have been
decided more than once. We will only observe that in connection with the
Persian literary age of the Sasanians we have to indicate a series of
works of the character of epic tales arisen from the ancient historical
period of the western boundary of Persia and representing "stories of
the Babylonian kingdom" which have been enumerated among the books of
this class and also among Persian books,--a circumstance which proves
that these tales originated in Sasanian literature. Finally, just as in
historical and especially in narrative literature, Persian tradition
survived to the Musalman times so also it continued to live in the
writings of the ethico-didactical category. The importance of the
Pahlavi translation of the book of _Kalileh and Dimneh_ for the
migration of this collection of tales to the West is well-known. The
significance of Pahlavi translations is not less evident with regard to
the _Hazar Afsan_ in connection with the _Thousand and One Nights_.
Still Persian tradition in the field of ethico-didactic literature has
been studied and appreciated much less than in the historical and story
literature. We have now to examine a few questions in connection with
the Persian tradition regarding the ethico-didactic literature of the
early Musalman epoch. We shall devote the following chapter to its

[Footnote 1: Fihrist 304, 10-305, 2. Fihrist 306, 6; Fihrist 305, 7.]


The ethico-didactic books in the Fihrist (315, 19-316, 25) 38

They are almost exclusively of Persian origin 38


Opinion on the importance of the influence of ethical and didactical
works of the Sasanian times on the literature of this class of early
Moslem epoch, generally speaking has been expressed in scientific works
and has found admittance into a few general surveys of Persian
literature. To the literary monuments go back a number of books on what
is called _Adab_, good behaviour or agreeable manners, in modern Persian
literature. Besides several literary monuments of later ages,[1] for the
solution of this question, capital importance attaches to the
information given in the _Fihrist_ of an-Nadhim which is the fundamental
source of the history of entire Arabic literature bearing on our period.
Further on we shall draw upon this work with the object of determining
this species of literary tradition in Arabic books of the first
centuries of Islam.

[Footnote 1: P. Horn, Geschichte der persischen Letteratur, _(Die
Letteraturen des Ostens in Finzeldarslellungen_ Bd VI) 38, and _Die
Mittelpersische Letteratur_, 237.]

Great importance for this problem lies in that portion of the Fihrist
which when first edited had elicited little interest, and where are
enumerated the titles of books of ethico-didactic character, Persian,
Greek, Indian, Arabic, by well-known authors and by anonymous
writers[1]. We are aware that in the Fihrist there are partly Arabic,
partly Persian, titles of books which have come down to us in a
mutilated form, but at the same time some of them have reached us in
their correct shapes and others are often easily restorable.

[Footnote 1: Fihrist 315, 19-316, 23.]

In this section of the Fihrist we have in all forty-four titles of
books. Among them a large number can be directly traced to Persian
origin and a portion were evidently written under Persian influence. To
the first class we have no hesitation in assigning fourteen names of
books, since as we shall see, two of them or possibly three pertain to
one and the same work. We will examine these titles in some detail.

1. The first book is by Zadan Farrukh and is a testament to his son[1].
Although we are not able to recall a book of this title among the
Pahlavi literature that has come down to us, still the general character
of this work is presented to us in perfect definiteness. It is
undoubtedly one of the testaments or counsels, the so-called _Pand
Nameh_ or _Andarz_, of a father to a son, or some one person to another,
and the typical representatives of which in the Pahlavi literature
appear to be the well-known book of testament of Adarbad to his son, the
book of advice to his son by Khosro Anushirvan and the book of counsel
to the latter by his Wazir, Buzurj Meher[2].

[Footnote 1: In the text the term is Zadan Farrukh, but Justi already in
his _Iranisches Namenbuch_ in 1895 proposed the reading Zadan Farrukh.]

[Footnote 2: As regards the first, see my _Materials from Arabic
Sources,_ page 68-69. For the second, West Pahlavi literature G.I. Ph.
II, 112. For the third, in Pahlavi verse West 113. For Musalman times
see Schefer Chrestomathy 3-6 and Salemann and Zukovski, Persian Grammar
page 41-49. Also compare _Melanges Asiatiques_ IX, 215. In Arabic
Anthologies especially of the character of what is known as
Furstenspiegel the maxims of this wise Wazir are very frequently quoted.
See for instance, _Sirajul Mulk_ of Tartushi, also compare the
bibliography in V. Chaubin, of Arabic works, Leige 1892, page 66.]

Alongside of this most celebrated _Pand Nameh_ in the Pahlavi
literature are also famous a number of other analogous literary
monuments traceable to definite persons, while some are anonymous. They
are of a nature, for instance, of a simple testament from father to

[Footnote 1: West 109-111, and 113-115.]

As we have already observed, and as we shall have occasion to speak
further, this category of literary remains undoubtedly survived in the
Musalman literature and partly in the literature of the Arabs. For the
study of the Pahlavi literature this class of tracts has already evoked
attention and has called forth several editions and translations. We
notice that their interest goes beyond that of Pahlavi literature proper
and they are important also for the history of the literature of
Musalman nations. Moreover, they are of interest from a general point of
view, for the study of Musalman culture. In fact, by their very
character these works are brief catechisms with no pretensions to
abstract theoretical acquaintance with the sacerdotal tracts, composing
another important section of Pahlavi literature, but immediately
connected with the daily ordinary life. It goes without saying that
whoever read them in the original, their interest did not lie in their
theoretical character, but that they were rendered into Arabic and
modern Persian languages with a view to the same practical end. Hence
however monotonous they are,[1] whatever wearisome character these books
possess, they are of great interest for the purpose of comparison with
similar productions of Musalman literature and for the purpose of
establishing their influence in the unfolding of ethical ideas of the
Musalman east, which are far from being clearly made manifest. This side
of the question deserves, in my opinion, in these days ampler attention
and research.

[Footnote 1: See Noeldeke "_Persische Studien_" II, S.B.W.A, 1892, 29,
Noeldeke remarks, with reference to this class of literature, "that the
investigation of this fatiguing business demands an unusual amount of
patience", see for instance, the comparison instituted between ethical
norm in the Parsi and in the Musalman Literature by Darmesteter in
_Revue Critique_, 21, 1-8.]

2. The second book in the Fihrist is attributed to a _Mobedan-mobed_
that is, head of the Parsi clergy, who in Arabic texts is sometimes
called simply Al-Mobedan and whose name was not understood by Flugel[1].
The same word is met with in a mutilated form in another place in the
Fihrist[2]. (119-20).

[Footnote 1: Fugel took it for a dual, and consequently divided the name
into two.]

[Footnote 2: The book next following is called _Kitab kay Lorasp_ and
apparently it had to do with questions connected with Persian literary

He is mentioned by Ali Ibn Rayhani, Arabic author, who stood in near
relationship to the Khalif and who was partial to the Zindiks, that is,
in this case, to the Dualists. He is a reputed author of several books
among which there is one whose title was restored by Justi in the
_Namenbuch_[1]. The conjecture of Justi that this name should be read
Mihr Adar Jushnas is fully supported by a sketch of it in a passage of
interest to us in the Fihrist. Justi hesitated to declare whether this
was the name of the book or of its author. But in another place in the
text this word is accompanied by the designation Al-Mobedan from which
we can undoubtedly conclude that this book was ascribed to a particular
person, the supreme _Mobed_ Mihr Adar Jushnas. Therefore, this title of
the book should be read as that of the book of Mihr Adar Jushnas, the
Mobedan. This book stands at the head of the works we are considering in
the Fihrist. Therefore, we can fully trace it to the Persian literary

[Footnote 1: _Namenbuch_ Mahr Adar Jushnes.]

3. Similarly there can be no scepticism regarding the individual nature
of the book called the _Book of the Testament of Khusro to his son
Ormuz_, the admonition given to the latter when he handed over to him
the reins of government and the reply of Ormuz. Flugel already perfectly
correctly noticed that by Kisra we must here understand Kisra
Anushirvan. In this way in this book or in the first half of it we have
certainly the _Andarz Khusro_, the celebrated work in the Pahlavi
literature which has been preserved up to our times and which has been
translated into the European languages.[1] It contains a number of
counsels of Khusro to his son and occupies the place of importance in
this species of literature. It is of a pseudo-epigraphic character.

[Footnote 1: See West, 112. The full title is: _Andarz-e-Khusro Kavadan.

4. With this book is identical another mentioned just there but a little
further and entitled the _Book of Counsels of Kisra Anushirvan to his
son_ who was called "a well of eloquence". In this way these third and
fourth titles indicate one and the same book sufficiently known in the
Persian literary tradition in which we are interested.

5. To the same category belongs another book ascribed to the Kisra. It
is possible that in this book we have a treatise identical with the one
referred to above as the book of the Testament of Khosro Anushirwan,
since in several redactions his testaments are represented as advice to
his son while in some they stand as admonition directed to the general

[Footnote 1: Salemann, _Mittel-persische Studein, Melanges Asiatiques_,
ix, 1888, 218.]

6. Under the sixth heading appears a _Book of Counsels of Ardeshir
Babekan to his son Sabur._ This work which was sufficiently known and
made use of in the early Moslem period has not come down to us in the
original Pahlavi. We know of the existence of a verse translation of
this book in the Arabic made by Belazuri (Fihrist, 113 and 114).
Moreover, this work was considered as a model composition (probably as
represented by Belazuri), and in this connection it was comparable
(Fihrist 126, 15-19) to _Kalileh wa Dimneh,_ the Essays of Umar Ibn
Hamza,[1] Al Mahanith,[2] the tract called _Yatima_ of Ibn al Mukaffa,
and the Essays of Ahmed Ibn Yusuf, secretary of Mamun. In view of the
importance attached to this and the following _risalas_ by the author of
the Fihrist, it would be interesting to have their editions and

[Footnote 1: A relative of the Khalif Mansur and Mahdi, a secretary of
the former Fihrist, 118, 8-12. In the _Kitab al Mansur wal Manzum_ of
Ahmed ibn Abi Taher (_vide_ Baron B.P. Rosen, _On the Anthology of Ahmed
ibn Abi Taher_, Journal of the Russian Oriental Society, Vol. III, 1889,
page 264). The essay probably referred to is called _Rasalat fi al
Khamis lil Mamun_. (Or Rislat al Jaysh). See Fihrist, II, 52.]

[Footnote 2: This was probably the title of the epistle of Umar Ibn
Hamza to Ali ibn Mahan preserved by the same Ahmed ibn Abi Taher. As
regards persons by the name of Mahan in the Musalman period see Justi
_Namenbuch_ 185.]

Extracts from this testament especially from its concluding portion,
have been handed down to us in the _Kitabat Tambih._[1] They relate to
the prophecy of Zaradusht regarding the destruction of the Persian
religion and empire in the course of a thousand years after him.[2]

[Footnote 1: By the same Ahmed ibn Abi Taher has been preserved the
Essay of this Ahmed ibn Yusuf on "Thankfulness"--_Risalat Ahmed ibn
Yusuf fishshukr_ which possibly is referred to by the author of the
Fihrist. See also there the highly important _Risalat ibn Mukaffa

B.G.A. VIII, 98, 16-99, 1. Macoudi, _Le livre de l'avertissement et de
la revision_, trad. par Carra de Vaux, Paris, 1897, 141-142.]

[Footnote 2: In connection with this prophecy, as regards the changes
which were made in the chronological system of the Persian history see
A. Gutschmid, _Kleine Schriften,_ III, Leipzig, 1892. 22-23, and 97,

It is highly interesting that just like the well-known testament by
Tansar to the king of Tabaristan this testament was written at a
considerably later period, in the time of Anushirwan.[3]

[Footnote 3: See on this question Christensen 111-112 and Appendix VI.]

Regarding the general character of this apocryphal testament we may
judge by the counsels of the founder of the Sasanian dynasty which have
come down to us in various Arabic and Persian historical works and in
the Shah Nameh.

7. The 7th title refers to the book of a certain _mobedan mobed_ on
rhetorical passages which were analogous probably to the anonymous _Pand
Namehs_ which are found in the Pahlavi literature.

8. The 8th is the book on the correspondence between the Kisra and a

[Footnote 1: Does not this appear like a book containing the
correspondence on the well-known episode in the history of the Persians
in Yemen and the letters which were exchanged between the Marzban or
Mavazan and Khosrau Parviz? (See Noeldeke, Tabari 237, 264, 350-351).]

9-10. The 9th and the 10th titles relate to books of questions directed
on a certain occasion by the king of Rome to Anushirwan and on another
occasion by the king of Rome to another emperor of Persia.

11. The 11th book refers to the order of Ardeshir to bring out from the
treasury books written by Wisemen on "Government."

12. The 12th book was written for Hormaz, son of Kisra, _i.e.,_ Kisra
Anushirwan on the correspondence between a certain Kisra and

[Footnote 1: Are we to understand under this name a reference to the
well-known Jamasp Hakim occurring in Pahlavi literature (Weat, 110)?

On the Persian wisdom of Jamasp, see C.H.L. Flise, cher _Kleinere
Schriften_ 3 Leipzig, 1888, 254-255, and Justi _Namenbuch_, 109.

The name, however, cannot be clearly read, Hadahud (see Fihrist, 316,
13) where instead of Mardyud should be read Mardwaihi. In the same book
162, 6, instead of Zaydyud should be read Zaiduya. As regards the name
Hadahud generally, see Justi, 177, who mentions a son of Farrukhzad.]

13. The 13th book is attributed to a certain Kisra and it is added that
it treated of gratitude and was written for the benefit of the public.

14. Finally, the 14th heading referred no doubt to one of those Persian
books written by Persians bearing Persian names and embodying various
stories and anecdotes.

Of the remaining 30 books, 11 belong to the Moslem period but were
composed at the time of complete Persian influence on Arabic literature.
We have three books on Adab written for Khalif Mahdi, Rashid and for the
Barmecide Yahya ibn Khalid. Then there are nine books by authors who are
partly unknown and partly belong to the same period of Persian influence
and who have been mentioned in other places in the Fihrist.

Of the remaining 19 books a considerable number is to be found to have
issued from Persian sources. Of Persian origin probably were two books
translated by the aforesaid Mihr Adur Jushnasp--one relating to 'Adab'
and the other on 'house-building.'

The book on the refutation of the Zendiks by an unknown author was
probably derived from Parsi circles. For, especially in the reign of
Mamun there existed various controversies with the followers of Mazdaism
and Dualists.[1]

[Footnote 1: A. Barthelemy, Gujastak Abalish. _Relation d'une Conference
Theologique, presidee par le Calife Mamoun_, Paris, 1887. (Bibliotheque
de l'ecole des hautes etudes, sciences philologiques et historiques,
LXIX., fascicule.)]

Further, undoubtedly under Persian books must be reckoned the book of
the 'Counsels' of ancient kings and the book of the 'Questions' to
certain Wisemen, and their Answers. If these are not of direct Persian
origin they are similar in contents to Persian books. Two books included
in this list, namely, one by a certain Christian on ethico-didactical
subjects as is stated in the title itself, drawn from Persian, Greek and
Arabic sources, and the other, a book translated by the author of the
Fihrist himself containing the anecdotes regarding the people of a
superior class and of the middle class--these two books on account of
their contents embody the experiences relating to ethico-didactical
questions and were of the nature of compilation similar to the book of
Ibn Miskawaihi of whom we shall speak later on. Finally, all the
remaining books relate to that class of anecdotal and didactic
literature which spread so wide among Arabic writers through Pahlavi and
originating from Indian authors. Such books were, for instance, the
story of Despair and Hope, the Book of Hearing and Judgment, the Book of
the two Indians, a liberal man and a miser, their disputation, and the
judgment passed on them by the Indian prince, etc. That our assumption
is highly probable is confirmed by the mention among these books of the
book of the philosopher and his experiences with the slave girl

[Footnote 1: This book no doubt is a portion of the well-known fable Lai
d'--Aristote preserved in certain ancient monuments of Arabic
literature. The same book is mentioned among Persian books in another
place in the Fihrist. (305-6). Kitab Musk Zanameh, w[=a] shah Zanan.
These two books have been variously transcribed by the copyists.]

The name has been much mutilated and serves as an example of the degree
to which Persian titles have been corrupted. Nevertheless, thanks to the
circumstance that the name of the slave girl has come down to us, in the
Arabic version of the story we are able to trace the title adduced in
the Fihrist.[1]

[Footnote 1: Le Livre des beautes et des antithesis attribute a Abu
Othman Amr ibn Bahr al-Djahiz texte publie par G. Van Vloten, Leyde,
1898, 225-257; E. G., Browne, "some account of the Arabic work entitled
Nihayatu'l-irab fi Akhbari'l Furs wa'l-Arab," particularly of that part
which treats of the Persian kings, J.R.A.S. (900, 243-245).]

This name is Mushk Daneh or a grain of Musk. The book of Musk Daneh and
the _mobed_ became famous in Arabic literature as a separate Persian

[Footnote 2: Similarly the title Shahzanan in the Fihrist is possibly
Mobedan, (See Browne 244, 2, 3, 11, 15; 245, 4, 15; and Van Vloten 255,
16; 256, 1, 4, 14; 257, 7, 9; or Shaikh al mobedan, Browne 245.)]


The Persian, sources of the compilation of Ibn Miskawaihi 54

Preponderance of the Persian element in the evolution of the Musalman
morals 57

The "Book of Adab" by Ibn al Muqaffa and other similar Arabic works 59


At the head of works under the title of ethico didactic writings, which
have come down to us stands a group most characteristically denominated
_Adab ul Arab val Furs_ belonging to the pen of a writer of the 10th and
11th centuries, Ibn Miskawaihi whose name is pronounced in Persian Ibn
Mushkuya. At the basis of this collection lies the ancient Persian
pseudepigraphical book _Javidan khired_, or "Eternal wisdom." But in the
body of it there is a series of literary monuments of Sasanian
literature and its descendants.[1] The author is known, besides, by his
philosophical works, as a historian[2] and as such he is particularly
important for the history of the Buides.[3] And his Persian origin would
point to his sympathy for Persian literary tradition. As a matter of
fact, his ethico-didactic collection is based on a book of the Sasanian
epoch. It would appear that this circumstance has undoubted significance
for the determination of the influence in the compilation of Moslem
ethical ideals. However, in contradiction to this basal fact and
notwithstanding that in the province of the development of Islam as a
religion, Persian element played an important part,[4] the development
of the Moslem ethical tracts in contemporary literature, for the most
part, is dependent upon more antique, specially Greek, tradition. J.
Goldziher recognizing the importance of the influence of Parsism on
Islam says the exact demonstration of the dependence of these phenomena
on the culture historical facts, whose consequences they are, would be
the most interesting task which those studying Islam in its present
position can place before themselves. Many of the dominating views
regarding the original spirit of Islam would receive the needed
correction by such investigation.

[Footnote 1: On this work and its manuscripts see my _Material from Arab
sources_ 68-69.]

[Footnote 2: For Miskawaihi as a philosopher see Boer 116-119.]

[Footnote 3:--He was the treasurer and a close friend of the Buide

[Footnote 4: For a general sketch of Moslem ethics in ancient times see
Carra de Vaux, _Gazali_, 129-142, and _Encyclopaedia of Islam_ 4,

Let us examine three points regarding the influence on Moslem morals and
general conduct. In the first place stand the moral writings of
ecclesiastical character. The morality is rooted in and based on the
moral of the Bible and then on the developed Moslem law and has absorbed
in itself some of the elements of the ethics of Christianity. In the
second place, there is a series of ethical documents of a most valued
nature in the shape of proverbs, dicta, maxims, fables, constituting a
kind of moral philosophy, often independent of each other, varied in
their character, and different as to time and the place of their
compositions. Here we may separate a certain stratum of Persian element,
and an analysis of them may reveal partly contemporary knowledge and
partly elements of foreign religious ethics. The third but not the last
place in importance is occupied by the Greek ethical tradition in which
latterly are discernible important Christian constituents. Recent
studies have yielded us as their result, this structure of Musalman
ethics. But it is to be noted that the theoretical deductions at first
sight do not find confirmation in facts. For we do not know which Greek
books on ethics were translated in the beginning of the period of the
scientific development of Islam, and for the support of our thesis we
have to point to the possibility of oral transmission of Hellenic
ethical tradition through Syriac scholars, although this circumstance
does not militate against our hypothesis. Besides a small amount of
translations from Greek ethical works, especially the books of
Aristotle, there are observed among the works embodied in this tradition
a series of pseudographs which, however, can have only an external
relation with the Greek sciences and which would rather lead to the
second group of the influences on Musalman ethical monuments namely, the
group of monuments of "Oriental wisdom." The most typical of the
pseudographical _wisaya_, or "Testaments" are ascribed to Aristotle,
Pythagoras, and others. To our mind, they are derived from Persian
tradition to the same extent, if not in a larger extent than from the
Christian. Actual studies demonstrate that the basal work for this epoch
was the book above-mentioned of Ibn Miskawaihi which as we saw above,
issued from Persian literary tradition. And the character of that
tradition can be explained from exterior circumstances without an
analysis of its contents. The fact is that Ibn Miskawaihi worked upon
that class of Persian material, for instance the _Pand Nameh_ or
_Andarz_, which had nothing to do with the province of the indefinite
gnomic literature but which had the character of a catechism and
therefore expresses a definite system of religious morals, the morals of
Parsism.[1] The appreciation of the influence of Parsism on Islam has
only just commenced. But we are already in a position to emphasise the
great influence, which Parsi ethics have exercised on Islam and this
influence has been attested by a number of Greek and Christian
witnesses. So far, for an acknowledgment of this influence serves a
purely external fact, namely, a glance at the bibliography of the
ancient ethico-didactic tracts in the Musalman literature and an
examination of the contents of the book of Ibn Muskawaihi. A number of
additional facts confirm this hypothesis.

[Footnote 1: For a general review of the morals of Parsism see A.V.W.
Jackson's G. I. Ph. Vol. II, 678-683.]

Well-known is the importance enjoyed in the beginning of the epoch of
the development of the Arabic Musalman literature, by the activities of
the Parsi Ibn al Muqaffa.[1] He is famous as the first commentator of
the Greek books on logic in Arabic literature, but he is particularly
renowned as the efficient supporter of the Persian literary tradition
and its translator into the Arabic literature. His rendering of _Kalila
and Dimma_ is well-known. It enjoys a prime role in the migration of
this collection of stories to the West. Well-known also is his
translation of the Persian book of _Khoday Nameh_,--that is, the
official chronicle of the Sasanian times and of the _Ain Nameh_, the
Institutes of the time. We shall have occasion to speak about these
books later on. To him also belong the books closely connected with the
Sasanian epoch, namely, the _Book of Mazdak_ the _Book of Taj_ to which
we shall refer further on. It is interesting that he is also the reputed
author of two books on Adab, perhaps among the most ancient ones in
Arabic literature.[2] One of these books called the Smaller was probably
contained in the other which is called the Larger and has the purely
Persian title of Mah farra Jushnas. (This is how the title is to be read
according to Hoffmann and Justi).[3] Since the interest of Muqaffa was
concentrated in the province of Persian culture it is indisputable that
his activity was not confined in this direction to one book and the
contents of the book have vestiges in a high degree of dependence on
Persian motifs. This is proved by a variety of circumstances. We have
descended to us his book called _Al Yatima_, a tract on that aspect of
morals which was especially diffused in the Sasanian epoch and was
devoted to politics and in form represented the species of writings
called Furstenspiegel.[4] A tradition of this kind of literature for
long continued to live in the Musalman writers and the typical
representative of the species seems to be the famous _Siyasat Nameh_, of
Nizam-ulmulk, the Saljuk Wazir. On some occasions it directly serves as
a source for the internal history of the Sasanian domination. It bears
particularly on didactic literature though it has been as yet very ill
studied from the comparative standpoint. The Sasanian influence is
perfectly obvious. Some portions of Al Yatima of Ibn Muqaffa may be
parallelled to corresponding remnants from Pahlavi literature in the
_Kabus Nameh_ and the _Siasat Nameh._[5] We know further that books
under the title of Persian Adab were spread among those who sympathised
with Mazdaism and Manichism in the circle of Moslem society.[6] These
books by their character were comparable to books on Mazdak but also to
Kalila wa Dimna.

[Footnote 1: Fihrist, 118, 18-29, and Ibn al Qifti's _Tarkh al hukama_
edited by Lippert, page 220, 1-10.]

[Footnote 2: Brockelmann, On the rhetorical writings of Ibn all Mukaffa,
Z.D.M.G. 53, 231-32.]

[Footnote 3: Hoffmann "Extracts from Syrian acts of Persian martyrs",
1880 page 289 note, and Justi, _Namenbuch_ 186.]

[Footnote 4: Precise information regarding its contents is rather to be
found in Ibn al Qifti than in the _Fihrist_. In the former the heading
is _Fi taat us Sultan_, in the latter _Fi rasail._ See _La perle
incomparable ou_ l'art du parfait courtisane de Abdallah ibn al-Muqaffa,
1906. See the French translation from the Dutch rendering of this

[Footnote 5: On the political ideas of the latter see Pizzi, Le idee
politiche di Nizam-ul-Mulk G.S.A. 1., 131-141.]

[Footnote 6: Tabari "Annales" Vol. 3, 1309, 9-15, and Browne A literary
History of Persia, 1, 332.]

Besides Muqaffa a number of writers of the epoch of the development of
Arabic Musalman literature interested themselves in themes connected
with Persian antiquities. One of them, Aban Ibn Abdul Humiad ar Rakashi
otherwise known as Aban al-Lahiki chose a number of themes from ancient
Persian literature and according to the Fihrist versified them (119,
1-6-163, 7-10). Such subjects were--_Kalila and Dimna,_ the _Book of
Barlaam and Yuasef, the Book of Sindbad_, the _Book of Mazdak_ and
finally books on two popular representative of the Sasanian dynasty,
namely, the _Book of the acts of Ardasher_ and the _Book of the acts of

[Footnote 1: Versification of the history of Anushirvan is also to be
met with in later Parsi literature, see, Sachau, Contribution to the
knowledge of the Parsi literature, J.R.A.S. 1870 page 258.]

Another author, Ahmed Ibn Tahir Taifur, wrote according the Fihrist
(146, 21) a special Book of Hormuz son of Kisra Anushirvan.[1] No doubt,
further more, writers of Persian origin followed in their books on
_Adab_ Persian models. Such probably was the book of Adab by an author
whose name has been mutilated in the Fihrist (139, 15, 18). There is
another class of writings which bears relation to this one and which is
mentioned in the Fihrist. It is quite possible that on this literary
Persian tradition, were based also some of the tracts under the title of
"_Books on counsels_" a considerable number of which we meet with in the

[Footnote 1: See the essay of Baron Rosen on the anthology of Ahmed Ibn
Abi Tahir.]

[Footnote 2: 78, 15; 105, 10; 293, 12; 204, 17-18; 204, 29; 207, 21;
210, 23; 212, 22-23; 217, 4-5; 220, 25; 222, 14; 234, 23; 281, 20; 282,

Ethico-didactical treatises in the form of counsels, maxima or
testaments, constitute a singular group of literary mementos the genesis
of which in the Musalman literature maybe established only after an
examination of similar books in the Persian writings of the Sasanian
times. Examples of a like class of testaments, literary compilations
under the title, for the most part, of pseudo-graphs going up to
pre-Moslem period we have already noticed in the _Book of the counsels
of Ardasher_ and the _Pand Nameh_ of Kisra Anushirvan.


The _Taj Nameh_ as mentioned in the Fihrist page 305, and page 118, and
repeatedly referred to in the _Uyunal Akhbar_, Part I, of Ibn Kutayba 65

The Persian book with illustrations mentioned by Masudi in his _Kitab at
Tambih_, page 106-7 and the illustrations in the scrolls in the castle
of Shiz 68


We have indicated in the preceding chapter the translations of Ibn al
Muqaffa from Persian books into Arabic. Besides those of an
ethico-didactic contents, among them there were books of historical
character. All these translations have not come down to us. Extracts of
these renderings into Arabic, however, have been preserved in the
original and sometimes in paraphrase. Unusually important was the
translation of the book called the _Khuday Nameh,_ the value of which
has long been appreciated by science. Questions of vital importance in
connection with this history are its relation to the _Shah Nameh_ and
the examination of its various translations in the Musalman period. The
loss of this book, perhaps the most important monument of Middle Persian
literature, is to be particularly deplored in that with it has perished
the connecting link of the historical evolution of Iran, incorporating
the religious and clerical legislature in an official redaction. Of
capital importance also was another book called the Ain Nameh[1] or the
Book of Institutes, a valuable source of the internal history of the
Sasanian Empire, comprising a descriptive table of official dignitaries
or the _Gah Nameh._[2] Judging by the clue given in the Fihrist (118,28)
it would appear that the _Book of Taj_ also was a historical one since
it has been explained that the book treated of the "Acts of Anushirwan."
As a matter of fact, among the books written by the Persians on epic and
historical subjects and indexed in the same Fihrist (305, 8-13) has been
mentioned the _Book of Taj._[3]

[Footnote 1: See below and also my book on _The Materials from Arabic
sources,_ &c., 63-66. Like Masudi in his _Kitab_ at Tambih, Asadi in
his _Lughal al-Furs_ (Asadi's _neupersischen Worterbuch Lughat al-Furs,_
edited by P. Horn, 1897, 110, 1), identifies the word _ain_ with the
word _rasam,_ practice or custom. As regards the word _ain_ in the
Iranian languages see Horn _Grundriss der neu persischen Etymologie_,
15-16; Hubschmann, _Persische Studien_ 11, and B.G.A. IV, 175, and VIII,
Glossarium IX. To understand the ancient usage of the term the modern
Parsi expression _Dad wa ain din_ in the sense of religious law and
custom helps us. In this phrase the word _dad_ corresponds to the modern
Musalman _shariyat_ and the word _ain_ to _adat_. Regarding its special
meaning in the Umayyad times see J. Wellhausen _Das Arabische Reich und
sein Sturz_ 189.]

[Footnote 2: Most probably in connection with the materials of this book
stood A collection of Persian genealogy written by the well-known Ibn
Khurdadbeh (Fihrist 149, 4), representing a peculiar antithesis to the
numerous selections of Arab tribal and family genealogies.]

[Footnote 3: Here are first mentioned the two books translated by Jabala
ibn Salim, namely, the _Book of Rustam and Isfandiyar_ and the _Book of
Behram Chobin_ (the well-known Romance of the King about which, sea
Noeldeke's Tabari 474-478), and further the _Book of Shahrzad and
Aberviz_ (which no doubt was connected with the _Thousand and one
Nights_), the _Book of Kar Nameh_ or the "Acts" of Anushirwan belonging
to the same class of books as the _Kar Nameh of Ardashir_. Then the
books that interest us are the _Book of Taj_, the _Book of Dara and the
Golden Idol_, the _Ain Nameh_, the _Book of Behramgor and his brother
Narseh_ and finally, one more _Book of Anushirwan._]

It is possible that the book of Ibn al Mukaffa was not the first
translation of the Persian book since this title is applied by not a few
other Arabic writers of the time to some of their own works. (For
example, Abu Ubaida, See Goldziher _Muhammed Studien_ 1,198).

In his time Baron Rosen called attention to quotations from a certain
_Book of Taj_ in _Uyunal Akhbar_ of Ibn Qutaiba.[1] These quotations are
only to be found in the first part of the _Uyunal Akhbar_. All these
quotations, eight in number, bear a didactic character, and excepting
three, refer back to Kisra Abarviz and contain his testament to his sons
(two), secretaries, treasurers and _hajibs_. Of the remaining three one
bears on general maxims of practical politics. Another is a testament of
an ancient Persian king to his Wazir. And the third is a maxim of one of
the secretaries of a king. In this manner all these citations are of an
ethicodidactic nature; only they have been invested with a historical
environment and under ordinary circumstances would represent the general
type of writings on political conduct for rulers, standing for the class
of literature designated _Furstenspiegel_. A similar class of citations
is preserved in the "speeches from the throne" and the counsels of the
Sasanian kings which we come across in various Arab historical and
anthological works bearing on Sasanian Persia, as also in the Shah

[Footnote 1: Baron Rosen, Zur arabischen Literatur geschichte der altern
zeit, 1. Ibn Qutaiba; _Kitab Uyunal Akhbar_ (Melanges Asiatiques, VIII,
1880, 745-779, especially 774-775). These citations correspond to those
in the edition of Brockelmann as follows: 21, 12-16; 27, 11-15; 32, 2-8;
44, 13-45, 4; 67, 13-66, 8; 84, 8-16; 107, 2-17; 120, 16-121, 5.]

Gutschmid already noticed in his time that by the Persian historians to
each Sasanian ruler was ascribed a maxim and indicated that with
reference to Ardashir and Anoshiravan these maxims may be taken as the
basis since the _Book of Counsels_ of the former was well-known and a
large number of edifying proverbs of the latter had found admittance
into the national language.[1] Let us add that, as we showed above,
there has been preserved a similar class of _Books of Counsels_, the
reputed author of which is Anoshiravan. The putative dicta of the other
Sasanian kings Gutschmid considered as fabricated being designed to be
brief characterisations of each of them. Gutschmid further advanced the
conjecture that these apophthegms formed the texts under the portraits
of the kings in the book which was used by Hamza Ispahani[2] and which
was seen by Masudi.[3] According to the information supplied us by the
latter (Masudi) he saw this book in Istakhr in an aristocratic Persian
family, and that it included, besides information of a scientific
character, the history of the Persian kings and their reigns and a
description of the monuments erected by them.[4] In the book were the
portraits of the Sasanians and it was based on the documents found in
the royal archives. And the portraits also were prepared from the
materials deposited there. The book was completed in A.H. 113 (A.D.
731), and it was translated for the Khalif Hisham from the Persian into
the Arabic language.

[Footnote 1: Gutschmid, Kleine schriften, III, 35-36.]

[Footnote 2: About this book see Gutschmid, III, 150-151.]

[Footnote 3: B.G.A. VIII, 106, 5-107, 5. Translation by Carra de Vaux
150-151. See Christensen 90-91.]

[Footnote 4: Gutschmid 150, 151.]

We called attention above to the information supplied by Istakhri and
Ibn Haukal regarding the castle of Shiz and the preservation in it of
the archives and the portraits of the Sasanian kings. It is highly
probable that for the reproduction of these portraits of the sovereigns
the authors were guided as much by the bas-reliefs, not far from this
castle, as by the tradition regarding them which was embalmed in older
books belonging to the class mentioned by Masudi which undoubtedly
existed in the Imperial archives.[1] Along with the literary tradition
there must have survived the artistic tradition. It is highly probable
that the peculiar Persian art of illuminating manuscripts which was yet
unknown according to Masudi in his own time,--the embellishing of books
with gold, silver, and copper dust was practised by the Manichians whose
calligraphy[2] delighted the Musalman authors and whose style of
illustrating manuscripts must have been fashioned after the art
displayed in those books which in the tenth century were preserved in
the castle of Shiz[3] and which at an earlier period were widely
desseminated among the Parsi circles.

[Footnote 1: Connected with ancient tradition, but dependant upon modern
science, are the portraits of the Sasanian kings in the recently
published _Nameh Khusrawan_, Tehran 1285, (A.D. 1868).]

[Footnote 2: In connection with the art of the Persian calligraphist and
illustrative of the Sasanian epoch stand the indications of the ancient
Moslem writers regarding the Avesta, which is reported to have been
inscribed by Zoroaster in gold ink on parchment and also writings in
gold ink of certain ancient Persian books. According to the _Zafar
Nameh_, Anushirwan directed that the maxims of Buzurjamihr should be
written down in golden water,--(ba-abizar). From early Sasanians also
comes the custom of writing on valuable parchment or paper. Masudi
speaks of the purple ink of these books.]

[Footnote 3: See Browne, "A Literary History", I, 165-166.]

Now we revert to the supposition of Gutschmid. Had he known the
quotations from the _Book of Taj_ in _Uyunal Akhbar_ he would have
adduced them in confirmation of his hypothesis, and he would have
compared the book mentioned by Masudi with the _Book of Taj_ referred to
among the Persian books enumerated in the Fihrist. On the basis of the
last-mentioned work it may be affirmed that in the Sasanian times there
existed a certain _Taj Nameh_ comparable to the _Khuday Nameh_ and _the
Ain Nameh_. The extracts in the _Uyunal akhbar_ do not contain anything
of a special nature with reference to king Anushirwan so that the _Book
of Taj_ on the "Acts of Anushirwan" mentioned in the Fihrist among the
books of Ibn al Mukaffa could hardly have comprised what has been quoted
in _Uyunal akhbar_. The materials at our disposal are too scanty to
establish its relation with the Sasanian _Book of Taj_.[1]

[Footnote 1: The supposition (Zotenberg, Thaalibi XLI,) according to
which Firdausi saw an illustrated "Book of Kings" rests on a
misunderstanding. The fact is that certain verses have been incorrectly
translated by Mohl (IV, 700-701, Verses 4071-4075).

Mohl translated the passage as follows: "There was an aged man named
Azad Serw who lived at Merv in the house of Ahmad son of Sahl; _he
possessed a book of kings in which were to be found the portraits and
figures of the Pehlwans_. He was a man with a heart replete with wisdom
and a head full of eloquence, and a tongue nourished with ancient
tradition; he traced his origin to Sam, son of Nariman, and he knew well
the affairs regarding the fights of Rustam."

A more correct translation would be: "There was a certain old man by
name of Azad Serw living in Merv with Ahmad son of Sahl. _He had a Book
of Kings. In figure and face he was a warrior_; his heart was full of
wisdom, his head full of eloquence, and in his mouth there ever were
stories of the ancient times. He traced his origin back to Sam, son of
Nariman, and preserved in his memory many a tale of the battles of


The list of the translators from Persian into Arabic as given in the
Fihrist, (244, 25-245, 6) 75

The different categories of these translators

Omar ibn al Farrukhan of Tabaristan (Fihrist 273, 14-18) and his _Kitab
al Mahasin_ 79

Other authors of books of analogous titles in the first centuries of
Islam,--the relation of these books to the books of "Virtues and
Vices" (cf. Baihaqi, pseudo-Jahiz) and the connection of these books
with the Parsi religious idea of the licit and the illicit,--_Al Mahasin
wal Masavi_, and the _Shayast la Shayast_. 83


In the Fihrist (244, 25-245, 6) are stated a number of names of the
principal translators from the Persian into the Arabic language.
Assuredly this list is far from complete. The author names only a few
calling attention to only particular translators. The passage in
question in the Fihrist has been more than once utilised. The entire
section has not been exhaustively examined. We believe that from it we
can infer the general character of the contents of those translations
which were prepared from Persian into Arabic and can gather some further
indices regarding this list of names.

To examine the list of translators in order. First of all as may be
expected is mentioned Ibn al Muqaffa about whom the Fihrist speaks in
detail at another place. Then follow the family of Naubakht; Musa and
Yusuf, the sons of Khalid; Abul Hasan Ali ibn Zyad at Tamimi--of his
principal translations is mentioned "the Tables of Shahriyar;" Hasan ibn
Sahal mentioned at the head of astronomers; Balazuri; Jabala ibn Salem,
secretary of Hisham; Ishak ibn Yazid, translator of the Persian history
entitled _Khuday Nameh_; Muhammad ibn al Jahm al Barmaki; Hisham ibn al
Kasim; Musa ibn Isa al Kisravi; Zaduya ibn Shahuya al Isfahani; Muhammad
ibn Behram al Isfahani; Behram ibn Mardanshah, Mobed mobedan of the City
of Sabur in Fars; Umar ibn al Farrukhan of whom special mention is made
by the author of the Fihrist.

An examination of the aforesaid names of translators in order would, it
seems to us, afford material for the solution of the problem regarding
the different varieties of Persian literary tradition in the first
centuries of Islam. Ibn al Muqaffa stands in the first place belonging
to him by right. He was a genuine encyclopaedic translator familiar with
the Arab society with all its influence of spiritual Sasanian life of
Persia finding expression in its literature. He translated scientific,
epico-historical, and ethico-didactic books. Hence we can understand
that in the Fihrist has been assigned to him a special notice as noted
by us above.

The family of Naubakht, mentioned next, represents a group of scholars
mentioned separately in the Fihrist.[1] The head of the Naubakhts, was
an astronomer to the Khalif Mansur and his son Abu Sahl succeeded to his
father's occupation. The grandsons of Naubakht wrote books on astronomy
as well as jurisprudence. Persian literary tradition is earliest
recognised in the astronomical works of the grandsons of Naubakht. The
author of the Fihrist places this Hasan ibn Sahl, as already indicated
by Flugel, at the head of astronomers. And the same scientific character
no doubt was attached to the activities of Musa and Yusuf,[2] the sons
of Khalid mentioned there as well as at Tamimi, the author of the
astronomical tables _Zichash Shahriyar_. In this manner these
translators mentioned after Ibn al Mukaffa constituted in a manner a
peculiar group of scholars who prepared translations from Pahlavi into

[Footnote 1: 176, 20-177, 9; 177, 9-19; 274, 7-13; 275, 25-6. See Ibn al
Kifti 165, 1-5 and 409, 3-14.]

[Footnote 2: See Ibn al Kifti, 1711, 10-11.]

Balazuri and Jabala ibn Salem have already been mentioned above. The
first translated into verse a Book of the Counsels of Ardeshir and the
second the Book of Rustam and Isfandiyar as well as the romance of
Behram Chobin. In this way the themes handled by these writers may be
called epico-historical and ethico-didactic. Purely historical questions
interested the seven succeeding translators from Ishaq ibn Yazid to
Mobed Behram. These persons are sufficiently known in their special
departments of literature. They were the translators into the Arabic
language of the _Khuday Nameh_.[1] Accordingly we may group them in a
class by themselves.

[Footnote 1: Compare the essay of Rosen mentioned above _On the
question of the Arabic translations of the Khuday Nameh_, 173-176, and

The next author mentioned at this place in the Fihrist as a translator
stands by himself,--Umar ibn al Farrukhan. He is altogether unknown as a
translator of historical works. Hence he was not included in the group
of persons mentioned before. On the other hand, had he been set down in
this passage of the Fihrist as a translator of scientific works he would
have been assigned a place not at the close of the list but in the
middle of the translators of this class of books, that is, after Ibn
Muqaffa and in the midst of the descendants of Naubakht and other
persons mentioned above. Therefore we think that Umar ibn Farrukhan was
a translator of another species of work or, may be, works. In support of
our assumption we must call attention to that place in the Fihrist where
are enumerated the books of this author and to which an-Nadhin himself
refers in the analysis of the number of translators from Persian into

Besides this place in the Fihrist, Umar ibn Farrukhan of Tabaristan has
been mentioned in two other places. Once briefly,[1] (268, 25-26) as the
annotator of the astronomical book of Dorotheya Sidonia and in another
place (277, 14-18) in a few lines[2] specially devoted to him. Here he
is mentioned as the annotator of Ptolemy as translated by Batrik Yahuya
ibn al Batrik and as the author of two books, one of astronomical
contents and the other entitled _Kitab al Mahasin_, that is the book of
good qualities and manners.[3] This latter book demands a few lines from

[Footnote 1: Ibn al Qifti 184, 9--10.]

[Footnote 2: Ibn al Kifti 241, 20-242, 12. (This has been pointed out in
the Fihrist Vol. II, 110-111, and in ZDMG XXV, 1871, 413--415.) Further
mention of him in the same book 98, 9 and 184, 10.]

[Footnote 3: An account of the literary activity of this author was
given in the work of H. Suter, _Die Mathematiker und Astronomen der
Araber und ihre Werke_, Abhandiungen Zur Geschichte der mathematischer
Wissenschaften Supplement zum, 45 Jahrgang der Zeitschrift fur
Mathematik und Physik, Leipzig, 1900, 7-8. Haji Khalfa cites only the
astrological books of Omar Ibn Farrukhan I, 198 and V, 35, 386. See also
Justi _Namenbuch_ 95, Nos. 15 and 19.]

Umar ibn Farrukhan is mentioned in the section of books on astronomy,
mathematics, physics, mechanics, and music. In this group are mentioned
a number of writers who composed works on these sciences, beginning with
Euclid and ending with the contemporary authors of an-Nadhin. In the
midst of them, an-Nadhin has also mentioned the grandsons of Naubakht.
Not one of them wrote any _Kitab al Mahasin_ which appears, therefore,
to be the independent work of Umar ibn Farrukhan. This book, further,
could not have been of a scientific astronomical, or mathematical nature
as is obvious from its subject-matter which related to good manners and
conduct. This book has been mentioned in this group only because here
are enumerated the works of Umar ibn Farrukhan. And good manners and
conduct constituted, as we saw above, a favourite theme of Parsi
literature: wherefor the book heads the list. Similar to it are the
contents not only of _Andarzes_ and _Pand Namehs_ but of a series of
tracts on religious subjects. Hence we think that it was mainly owing to
this book that Umar ibn Farrukhan was included among the number of
principal translators from Persian into Arabic and came to be enumerated
among the translators to whom is ascribed a certain amount of
speciality. For he was the solitary representative of his category of
translators of ethicodidactic books intimately connected with the
problems of the Paris religion. Possibly Umar ibn Farrukhan was the
first to introduce this species of literature into Arabic, and we must
add, employed for his material as well as ideas Parsi tracts. Originally
from Tabaristan, he, in the words of Ibn al Qifti, was introduced to Abu
Maashar al Balkhi, stood well with Jaffer the Barmecide, and
subsequently with Fazl ibn Sahl, the Wazir who recommended him to his
sovereign al-Mamum. And for this Khalif Mamun he prepared a number of
translations. The sympathy of these persons for the Persian literary
tradition could not have been confined to the translation of scientific
works, but must have extended to the preservation of Persian
ethico-didactic tradition in literature.

Books with the title of _Kitab al Mahasin_ are to be met with in the
Fihrist, if not often, several times. A book with this title (77, 21)
has been ascribed to the celebrated Ibn Qutaiba. It was composed
doubtless after the book of Umar ibn Farrukhan, for Qutaiba flourished
at the close of the reign of Mamun and his literary activities could be
referred to the ninth century. Qutaiba undoubtedly interested himself in
Persian literary materials. Hence it can be concluded that his _Kitab al
Mahasin_ was not foreign to the materials and in form could be the first
imitation of Farrukhan. Further it is interesting to note that books
with this title were attributed especially to Shia authors such as Abu
Nadar Muhamed ibn Masud al Ayashi who wrote _Kitab al Mahasin al Akhlak_
or a book of good morals (195, 10) and Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Khallid
al Barki who wrote _Kitab al Mahasin_ (2213-4, also 7-9). And the
interest of Shia authors in Persian tradition was unquestionable. A book
with the same title of _Kitab al Mahasin_ is ascribed to a certain Ibn
al Harun, (148, 17) an author who has been assigned in the Fihrist a
place among the writers on Adab and as responsible for a book called
_Kitab al Adab_. Now the discussion of Adab as we said above is
intimately connected with Persian tradition. And this tradition probably
survived in the books which had for their theme "the good qualities of
Adab."[1] We believe that all these books were devoted to Persian
literary tradition, in close relation to which stands the book on "good
qualities and manners" mentioned in the Fihrist as translated from the
Persian language into Arabic by the man from Tabaristan, Umar ibn al

[Footnote 1: For instance, _Mahasin al Adab of Ispahani_, see
Brockelmann, _Geschichte der Arabischen Litterature_ I. 351.]

Co-related with these books on "good qualities" stand, in our opinion,
the books on "good morals and their opposite," or "goodness and
wickedness," _Kutub al Mahasin wal Azdad_, or _Kutub al Mahasin wal
Masawi_. Although in the Fihrist we do not come across books with this
title, we have a book so named from the beginning of the tenth century
whose author was Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al Baihaki.[1] Under the title of
_Kitab al Mahasin wal Azdad_ we likewise possess a work ascribed to
Jahiz.[2] Both these books evidently go to a common origin.[3] It is
quite possible that antithesis was originally not excluded from these
_Kutub al-Mahasin_, from which were developed a special species of
educative treatises,--those on "good qualities and their opposites."
Continuing our comparison with the Parsi literature, we notice that a
similar kind of antithesis is most commonly employed there.

[Footnote 1: Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al Baihaki, _Kitab al-Mahasin val
masavi_, herausgegeben von Dr. F. Schwally, Geissen 1902.]

[Footnote 2: _Le livre des beautes et des antithesis attribue a Abu
Othman Amr ibn Bahr al-Djakiz_, texte arabe publie par G. Van Vloten
Leyde; 1898.]

[Footnote 3: See the review by Barbier de Meynard of the edition of
_Mahasin wal Azdad_ in the Revue Citique, 1900, 276.]

In the Parsi ecclesiastical literature of an ethical nature we find
definitely settled what is "proper" and, on the other hand, what is
"improper."[1] It is well known that books under this title,--"the
proper and the improper" or "the licit and the illicit"--are to be found
among the Pahlavi tracts the time of whose composition can be fixed
somewhere between the seventh and the ninth centuries A.D.[2] Comparing
the Pahlavi tracts with reference to these questions with Arabic books
on good and bad qualities and manners, we have to bear in mind the
general features, general outline, as well as the conditions of
civilisation of the period when these books were written, in other
words, the circumstances of their intimate relation generally of a
cultural nature, particularly of a literary form obtaining between the
Arab and Persian nations, and between Islam and Parsism. Not only in
detail, but also in their nature these books must be differentiated in
proportion as were different the clergy who wrote these ethical tracts
from didactic works of a strong legendary element belonging to the pen
of secular people. These literary monuments must be differentiated quite
as much as their authors and with reference to them we may institute the
same parallel which we suggested above between the Parsi clergy and the
Iranophile party of the Shuubiya.

[Footnote 1: Shayed-na-shayed.]

[Footnote 2: _Shayast la-shayast_ West Pahlavi Texts, Part I, 1880.
Sacred Books of the East, Vol. V. 237-407.]

Furthermore, associated with these literary features was also that class
of Arabic books, so well known and the period of which interests us, the
books on _Questions and Answers._[1]

[Footnote 1: Kitab al Masael wa Jawabat.]

And this is precisely the form in which some of the better known of the
Parsi books have been cast, for instance, the _Minog-i-Khrad_[1] and the
_Dadistan_[2] The second of these books decidedly belongs to the ninth
century. Its contents no doubt, were strongly divergent from others
owing to its dependence on altered conditions.

[Footnote 1: Sacred Books of the East, Vol. XXIV, 1-15.]

[Footnote 2: Sacred Books of the East XVIII, 1-277.]

We have already indicated the importance of the citations in early
Arabic anthologies incorporated from Persian historical works.[1] This
nature of quotations are to be found also in books on "good and bad
morals and conduct." Further we find embedded in Arabic works a
considerable amount of matter of great importance, a circumstance of
vital moment for the investigation of the survival of Persian literary
tradition. A number of passages similar to those found in these books
are undoubtedly embodied in various Arabic anthologies. We give below
from the two works _al Mahasin wal Masavi_ and _al Mahasin wal Azdad_
extracts bearing on Persian subjects.[2]

[Footnote 1: See Noeldeke "National Epos" 13.]

[Footnote 2: See Part II.]

The list of Persian subjects comprised in these Arabic books afford us a
sufficient idea of the wealth and variety of the material on these
points to be recovered from Arabic discourses on manners and morals.


The Book of Ali Ibn Ubaida ar Raihani


We spoke above about the Arabic writer Ali ibn Ubayd ar Rayhani who was
prone to Persian cultural tradition in general and to the literary
tradition in particular. Besides the ethico-didactic book, _Mehr Adar
Jushnas_, he is the reputed author of a book on Adab which has a Persian
title (Fihrist 1, 119, 22 and II, 52),[1] and also another book the
title of which could not be deciphered by Flugel when he edited the text
of the Fihrist, (Fih. 119, 21). The title consists of two words which
can be read conjecturally as _Rushna nibik_.[2] Such a name of a book we
know to exist in Middle Persian literature.[3]

[Footnote 1: _Kitab Adab Jawanshir_].

[Footnote 2: As regards the mutilation of Persian proper names in the
Fihrist, such comparatively wellknown books as _Khuday_ Nameh appear in
some of the manuscripts of the Fihrist as Baktiyar Nameh instead of
_bakhuday Nameh_; see Rosen's essay on the Translations of the Khuday
Nameh, 177.]

[Footnote 3: West; Sacred Books of the East Vol. V. page 241, note 1,
and Sacred Books of the East Vol. III, 169. [The first authority is not
quite clear to me. The second authority is evident: "writing which the
glorified Roshna, son of Atur-frobag, prepared--for which he appointed
the name of the _Roshan Nipik_." Tr.] _Re_ the name of Rushen see Justi

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