Official Digitized Version by Victoria Arakelova; with errata fixed from the print edition

















On the Modern Politicization

of the Persian Poet Nezami Ganjavi


















Yerevan Series for Oriental Studies


Edited by

Garnik S. Asatrian











Siavash Lornejad

Ali Doostzadeh







On the Modern Politicization

of the Persian Poet Nezami Ganjavi






Caucasian Centre for Iranian Studies

Yerevan 2012



Siavash Lornejad, Ali Doostzadeh



On the Modern Politicization

of the Persian Poet Nezami Ganjavi




Guest Editor of the Volume

Victoria Arakelova




The monograph examines several anachronisms, misinterpretations and outright distortions related to the great Persian poet Nezami Ganjavi, that have been introduced since the USSRcampaign for Nezamis 800th anniversary in the 1930s and 1940s. The authors of the monograph provide a critical analysis of both the arguments and terms put forward primarily by Soviet Oriental school, and those introduced in modern nationalistic writings, which misrepresent the background and cultural heritage of Nezami. Outright forgeries, including those about an alleged Turkish Divanby Nezami Ganjavi and falsified verses first published in AzerbaijanSSR, which have found their way into Persian publications, are also in the focus of the authors attention. An important contribution of the book is that it highlights three rare and previously neglected historical sources with regards to the population of Arranand Azerbaijan, which provide information on the social conditions and ethnography of the urban IranianMuslimpopulation of the area and are indispensable for serious study of the Persian literature and Iranian culture of the period.



ISBN 978-99930-69-74-4


The first print of the book was published by the Caucasian Centre for Iranian Studies in 2012. Copyright is released to the public with the exception that all citations from the book must reference the authors and publisher. (S. Lornejad and A. Doostzadeh, On the Modern Politicization of the Persian Poet Nezami Ganjavi, edited by Victoria Arakelova, Caucasian Centre for Iranian Studies, Yerevan, 2012).


Note for the digitized version of the book by Victoria Arakelova:


A few modifications by the authors were regretfully received late by the editor and did not make the first print version (October 2012). However, they have been included in the digitized version of the book which holds the same ISBN. In the event of future prints of the book, these modifications will also be applied.


Some of the Misprints that were corrected include:


1) Pg 29:

From: Accept in parts that need more explanation

To: Except in parts that need more explanation.


2) Slight modifications in Section 3.5 with regards to the count of few words which did not change the actual percentages that were mentioned previously by the authors.


3) Page 150.

From: Currently, Qatrān Tabrizi and Asadi Tusi (both were originally from Tus, but fled to Naxchivan during the Ghaznavid era)

To: Currently, Qatrān Tabrizi and Asadi Tusi (originally from Tus, but fled to Naxchivan during the Ghaznavid era)


Note: The authors in many places of the book have already emphasized that Qatrān spoke the Fahlavi dialect of Tabriz as his native language and was a Western Persian (from the Iranian region of Azerbaijan and not from Khurasan).


4) Footnote 150: Iranioans changed to Iranians


5) Title of Section 3.1 which did not show up in the index of the print edition was re-inserted.

6) Page 135:

From Habashi is not while

To: Habashi is not white


7) Page 187:

From: such poets

To: such writers


8) Footnote 277:

From: Vyronis 2001

To: Vyrnois 1993. Vyrnois 1993 added to the reference list.



Table of Contents


Preface. i

Introduction.. 1

Part I. 7

Anachronistic Terminology Used with Regard to Nezami. 7

1.1 Arrān and Azerbaijan.. 7

1.2 Iran and Ajam... 12

1.3 Non-existent ethnicities and ethnonyms in the 12th century. 16

Part II. 21

The Soviet Concept of Nezami and the Arguments. 21

2.1 Nezami and the Persian Language. 22

2.2 Invention of an Arbitrarily Named Azerbaijani School or Transcaucasian School of Persian Literature by the Soviet School of Oriental Studies. 32

2.3 Nezami, the Sharvānshāh and the Layli o Majnun. 49

2.4 Turkish Language in the 12th Century. 57

2.5 Dar zivar-e Pārsi o Tāzi. 58

2.6 Torkāneh-sokhan. 64

2.7 Misinterpreting the Relationship of Nezami and the Sharvānshāh through Erroneous Readings 74

2.8 Distortion of the word bidārtarak. 80

Part III. 85

The Turkish Nationalist Viewpoint of Nezami and Recent Forgeries. 85

3.1 National Treason! 86

3.2 Fabrication of the History of Turks in the Caucasus. 90

3.3 Fabrication of a False Verse and a Turkish Divan Falsely Ascribed To Nezami 91

3.4 Invalid Claim: Using Turkish Loan Words Means Being a Turk. 93

3.5 Analysis of Pseudo-Turkish and Turkish Words in Nezamis Works. 98

3.6 Misinterpretation of Symbols and Imagery. 109

3.7 Turk as an imagery for Soldier. 117

3.8 Invalid Claim: Talking About a Turkish Ruler Means Being a Turk!. 119

3.9 Was Nezami Selling Curd in Ethiopia!?. 127

3.10 Alleged Turkish Phrases in Nezamis Works. 138

Part IV.. 143

New Sources on the Population of Azerbaijan, Arrān and Sharvān.. 143

4.1 Iranian Languages of Azerbaijan and Arrān.. 143

4.2 First-Hand Account on Ganja. 154

4.3 The Nozhat al-Majāles. 157

4.4 The Safina-ye Tabriz. 161

4.5 Some Information on Nezamis Life. 168

4.6 Nezamis First Wife and Her Name. 173

4.7 On the Term Tork-zād. 175

4.8 Nezami, a Persian Dehqān. 178

4.9 Nezamis Persian Cultural Heritage. 183

Conclusion.. 189

Bibliography: 193

Index.. 208

Back Cover Reviews......













The new Yerevan Series for Oriental Studies is conceived as a continuation of the Series of the Caucasian Centre for Iranian Studies, published in Yerevan since 1996. The latter, though having never been restricted to Iranian Studies, had a narrower thematic range. Predominantly aimed at the CIS auditorium, it was mainly published in Russian. The present Series is first and foremost an international initiative. As such, the Yerevan Series for Oriental Studies will include short monographs primarily in Western European languages.

In the sixteen years of publishing the international journal Iran and the Caucasus (BRILL: Leiden-Boston), we have often faced a problem when an important contribution to the field remained beyond the journals scope because of its format. Thus, the Series has been created to promote scholarly works, which successfully pass the peer-reviewing, but exceed the limited space allotted to articles in Iran and the Caucasus.

The authors of the present monograph, Siavash Lornejad and Ali Doostzadeh, and I as the Guest Editor, are privileged to open the Yerevan Series with research on one of the pillars of the Persian poetry Nizami Ganjavi.

Mediaeval Ganja was the native place of many outstanding figures poets, historians, philosophers, etc. For instance, Jamāl al-Dīn Khalīl Sharvānīs Nuzhat al-Majālis, an anthology of the 11th-13th century Persian literature, includes the works of 115 poets from northwestern Iran(Azerbaijan, Sharvānand Arran),24 of them from Ganjaalone. Thus, Nizami Ganjavis personality represents an essential part of the cultural phenomenon of mediaeval Ganja and wider, the Caucasian-Iranian culture. Alas, centuries later initially as a result of the USSR nation-building policy and afterword as a result of nationalistic aspirations in the Azerbaijan Republic, the same phenomenon became an instrument for biased, pseudo-academic approaches and political speculations.

I would like to especially emphasise that while analysing the arguments of authors involved in politicised Orientalistics, Siavash Lornejad and Ali Doostzadeh respond to the phenomenon of distortions related to Nizami as such, without calling into doubt the positive contributions of such scholars as, say, Evgenij Eduardovich Bertels to the study of Persian literature. Yet, it was the invention of the so-called Azerbaijani school of Persian poetry and the political mislabeling of Persian literature as Azerbaijani literature by recognised Soviet scholars, which later allowed politicised amateurs to substantiate the annihilation of the Iranian heritage of Transcaucasia for the sake of a new Azerbaijani identity.

Several words should be said about the scholarly value of the present research as it is, apart from its reasoned critiques of the politicised use of culture. The comprehensive bibliography, including Western, Russian, Iranian, Armenian and other publications, which are seldom, if ever, considered together by modern authors, makes the book itself a significant source on the subject discussed, as well as on the history and culture of Shirvan and Arran. The work is based on a solid corpus of available sources, including recently published manuscripts related to the history of the region and its literary tradition. What is particularly attractive is that the narration, with its amazing insight into the colourful atmosphere of Nizamis Ganja, to a certain extent reconstructs the ethno-cultural landscape of the city, in which the great Persian poet lived.

A note about some technical aspects: The authors, the North America-based scholars prefer, naturally, the New Persian transcription of Arabo-Persian citations and names, including the poets name itself (Nezami). We decided to keep it unchanged, despite the tradition we follow to render the early Persian texts in the classical manner, i.e. according to the rules of the Persian pronunciation before the 15th century.

I am grateful to Prof. Dr. Garnik Asatrian, the General Editor of the Yerevan Series, for accepting the monograph for publication in the Series. I would also like to extend sincere thanks to Prof. Dr. Adriano V. Rossi for his valuable comments and notes, as well as to Dr. George Bournoutian and Dr. Paola Orsatti for their evaluation of this work.















ای نام تو بهترین سرآغاز

بی نام تو نامه کی کنم باز


Dedicated to the Memory of Prof. Mohammad-Amin Riāhi Khoi





The USSRanniversary campaign of the Persian poet Nezami which began in the late 1930s was politicized from its very beginning[1]. From the beginning of the campaign, scholarship and politics were combined together for the purpose of nation building[2]. The campaign culminated in the festivities in 1948, but its consequences have affected scholarship by introducing anachronistic terms as well as non-scientific misinterpretations of Nezamis writings. The political ramifications of that campaign can be seen in ethno-nationalistic writings to this day, as well as works of some scholars who are not aware of sources which contain critical examinations of USSR nation-building scholarship. For example, one can mention the anachronistic and 20th century invented term Azerbaijani School of Persian poetry or Azerbaijani style of Persian poetry whereas Nezami Ganjavi, Mujir al-Din Baylaqāni, Dhulfiqār Sharvāni and other poets of the area have never used such a term. As shown, such a term is not encountered prior to the 20th century and it was solely invented for partition of Persian poetry along politically contrived basis. The poetry of these Persian poets indicates that they referenced their own style as the historical term of Iraqi Style(see Part II). Another example is that some of these politicized USSR scholars like Bertels[3] have called the poetry of Nezami using the anachronistic and non-existent (in the 12th century) term Azerbaijani literature whereas Nezami himself has explicitly termed his poetry as Persian poetry (see Part II). However, this unscientific anachronism is still being applied in non-specialist literature and some non-scholarly English articles.

The politics surrounding the anniversary campaign and the nation building in USSRhave been reviewed by some scholars[4]. Consequently, the aim of the present work is not to examine the politics surrounding this issue which has already been examined at varying level of details by the aforementioned scholars. Rather, we aim at critical examination of the politically driven arguments by the USSR scholars and also the writers with ethno-nationalist viewpoints.

These political fallacious claims have been collected and recently presented by authors writing from an ethno-nationalistic point of view[5]. Some of the Sovietand even ethno-nationalist viewpoints have also found their way into some English publications whose authors lack knowledge of the Persian/Arabic languages[6] and are politically biased[7]. The mainstream and specialized English publications that have been examined by us have not been affected or only minutely affected by the USSRcampaign. These sources which are written by scholars of Persian literature and Nezami specialist, affirm clearly that the uniform consensus of Nezami scholars is that Nezami Ganjaviis a Persian poet and thinker[8].

However, a recent new trend is observed where some non-expert authors writing about the region have carelessly relied on politicized USSRand modern AzerbaijanRepublic sources. These authors lack knowledge of the Persian languageand consequently have no scholarly authority in the field of Persian literature. In order to compensate for this short-coming, they have relied on readily available politicized Sovietand modern Azerbaijan Republic sources to make invalid claims. Three authors who do not understand Persian are mentioned here to demonstrate this point[9]. In one recent book on ethnic music[10], the author who uses sources published in Soviet Union and Republic of Azerbaijan, claims that: the poetry of Nezami contained expressions of spoken Turkish[11] and the ghazal is the essence of Azerbaijanian classical poetry created by native poets such as Nezami, Sharvāni, Fizuli, Nasimi, Natavan and Vagif[12]. We note that neither Nezami nor Khāqāniwrote in any language called Azerbaijanian nor was such an anachronistic term used until the 20th century. They both wrote in Persian and the ghazal genre pre-exists the poetry of both poets. Also, as shown in Part IV, there is absolutely no proof that Nezami, who does not even have a single verse in Turkish, even knew Turkish.

In another recent book[13], the author claims that: Nezami Ganjevi, because of his wide fame and enormous contributions to Persian-language literature, is seen as an example of interconnections between Turkish and Persian cultural strands, and of Azerbaijans place in Turco-Persianculture[14]. However, the statement is not sourced, and there is no literary basis to claim that Nezamis work shows an interconnection of such two strands. Nezami in his many works has referenced such works as Shāhnāmaand the Quran(see Part IV below). However, there is no such reference in any work of Nezami for any Turkish language sources as the Oghuznomads who had just entered the area lacked a written literature (see Part II). In another highly politicized book[15], Brenda Shafferclaims that: Authors such as Nezami, who were of Azerbaijani ethnic origin but wrote most of their works in Persian[16]. However, Nezami wrote all of his work in Persian and the notion that he wrote most of his work in Persian was first proposed in the political settings of the USSR(see Part I). Also there was no Azerbaijani ethnicity in the 12th century and the author who lacks knowledge of the Persian languageand mainly writes about modern geopolitical matters, has revealed her bias.

The same author, in another politicized gathering about geopolitical matters, has made the wrong statement that: Some have interpreted Khusrawto be an ancestor of today's Turks in the Caucasus, and Shirenas a woman who is an ancestor of Armenians[17]. Therefore she has politicized the work of Nezami by attributing false interpretations to him. It is obvious that the Sassanidking Khusraw Parvizhas nothing to do with the culture or language of Turks in the Caucasus. What is important to note is that some of these politicized authors are affiliated with universities in the West[18], and although they lack knowledge of the Persian language, this has not stopped them in using Sovietand post-Soviet AzerbaijanRepublic based sources to make unsound and absurd claims about history in general and Nezami in particular.

The present book is divided into four parts. In Part I, we examine some anachronistic terminology and misplaced (in both space and time) terms with regards to the 12th century in which Nezami lived.

In Part II, we examine the politicized arguments that are found in the USSRliterature. We provide the first known English translation of two sections of the Layli o Majnunof Nezami and examine it in the light of the Persian literature of time. We also examine the unsubstantiated term Azerbaijani schoolof Persian literature or Azerbaijani style of Persian literature and clearly show that such a concept did not exist at the time of Nezami. Rather, the poetry of Caucasian Persian poets such as Nezami, Mujir al-Din Baylaqāni, Dhulfiqār Sharvāni shows that they considered their own style to be part of the Iraqi Style. This is still the most common category used for these poets in books about Persian literature studies.

In Part III, we look at arguments brought by Turkish authors with nationalist viewpoints, some of which are based on non-ethnic affiliated image/symbol of Turk in Persian poetrywhile others are outright falsifications of verses, unscientific extrapolation of sources and even false attribution of a Turkish Divanto Nezami. A list of arguments which were mainly created during the USSRera to support the thesis of an Azerbaijani (which actually meant a different idea in the Russianand AzerbaijanSSR) background of Nezami Ganjaviare found in Heyat and Manaf-Oglu[19]. Some of these contain outright fabrications while other arguments are anachronistic and imply bad reading of the verses.

In Part IV, we examine three important historical sources which have not been examined in the scholarly literature with regards to Nezami. We also look at some verses surrounding Nezami, his religion and specifically, a section about his first wife which provides conclusive evidence that he was not of Turkish background as claimed by the authors discussed in Part III. The book is concluded with a summary and future outlook.













Part I

Anachronistic Terminology Used with Regard to Nezami


The terminologies mentioned in this section should be known by scholars and historians who write about medieval Persian literature, medieval Islamic history or modern history. However, as shown in the previous section, this is sometimes not the case due to either lack of knowledge about ancient nomenclatures or political motivations. An overview is provided here because many authors might not be aware of how these terms have been used and changed due to political reasons.


1.1  Arrānand Azerbaijan

The name Azerbaijanhas an Iranian[20] root and derives from the Iranian satrap Atropates[21]. In the older new Dari-Persian form[22], the term is given as Ādharbādhagān / Ādharābādhagān which is used[23] by Nezami[24] and Adharbāyagān[25]. The Modern Persian form is pronounced as Āzarbāydjān. In the 12th century, the name Azerbaijan was almost unanimously used for the geographical region of North Western Iranwhose boundary in the north was with Arrān(including Ganja), Sharvānand Armenia[26]. An important proof bearing on this fact is the examination of the numerous well known historical maps that has been drawn in the span of centuries by local Christianand Muslim geographers, as well as those drawn by Western cartographers[27]. The adoption of the name Azerbaijan in 1918 by the Mussavatistgovernment for classical Caucasian Albania(Arrān and Sharvān) was due to political reasons[28]. For example, the giant orientalist of the early 20th century, Vasily Barthold has stated: whenever it is necessary to choose a name that will encompass all regions of the republic of Azerbaijan, the name Arrān can be chosen. But the term Azerbaijan was chosen because when the Azerbaijan republic was created, it was assumed that this and the Persian Azerbaijan will be one entity, because the population of both has a big similarity. On this basis, the word Azerbaijan was chosen. Of course right now when the word Azerbaijan is used, it has two meanings as Persian Azerbaijan and as a republic, its confusing and a question rises as to which Azerbaijan is being talked about[29]. In the post-Islamic sense, Arrān and Sharvān are often distinguished while in the pre-Islamic era, Arrān or the Western Caucasian Albania roughly corresponds to the modern territory of republic of Azerbaijan. In the Sovietera, in a breathtaking manipulation, historical Azerbaijan (NW Iran) was reinterpreted as South Azerbaijan in order for the Soviets to lay territorial claim on historical Azerbaijan proper which is located in modern Northwestern Iran[30].

Nezami Ganjaviin his own work like Khusrawo Shirinhas mentioned the queen Mahin Bānuas the ruler of Arrāno Arman[31] while mentioning Adharbāyagān[32] in the same epic poem, which clearly shows these were separate lands. In one of his ghazals[33], Nezami mentions his land as Arrān:


Do not be unjust to me, if you are from the lands of Arrān

مرا غلط مکن، ار تو ز شهر ارانی

Oh idol (beauty), Nezami does not come from the outskirts

نظامی، ای صنم از روستا نمی‌آید

Abu Ala Ganjavi, himself a native of Ganjaand contemporary of Nezami, has also called his native land as Arrānand contrasted it with Sharvān[34]:


I am now sixty and from the land of Arrān

مرا شصت سال است و از خاک اران

It is sixteen years that I have come to Sharvān

بوَد شانزده تا به شروان فتادم


Another poet who influenced Nezami Ganjaviand lived in Eastern Transcaucasia was KhāqāniSharvāni. Khāqāni Sharvāni has also consistently called his land as Sharvānand not Azerbaijan. A keyword search in his divan shows that Arrānoccurs at least 4 times, Azerbaijan occurs once, and Sharvān occurs more than 100 times[35]. QatrānTabrizi also has distinguished these three regions separately and has mentioned Arrān, Azerbaijan and Sharvān as separate lands[36].

Another source very close to Nezami Ganjavis time is the work History of Jalal al-Din Mangubirti (reigned in 1220-1231) written by a high official of his court, Shihab al-Din al-Nasawi(d. 1249). He was part of the entourage of the Khwarazmshāh Jalal al-Din Mangubirti and followed the Khwarazmshāh in the Caucasusand Azerbaijan, during the turbulent period of the Mongol invasion and recorded the events that he witnessed. In his book, he clearly distinguishes between Arrānand Azerbaijan[37]. Consequently, to even use the term Azerbaijani geographically for Ganjaof the 12th century is an anachronism in the sense that the area at that time was geographically known as Arrān. Furthermore, some authors try to anachronistically define ancient poets by modern geographical territories whose ethnic characteristics have changed significantly in the last 1000 years. This method of naming is fallacious as calling an Armenianwriter who was born in Ganja (see Part IV) as an Azerbaijani or calling Herodotuswho was born in the territory that is now modern Turkeyas Turkish. The same concept applies to Nezami Ganjavi who lived in the 12th century.

However, one author with a nationalist viewpoint[38] has used the different historical name for the Eldiguzid, that is Atabegs of Azerbaijan, to erroneously claim that the region of Arrānwas also part of Azerbaijan. However, the author ignores that there was no ethnic concept attached to the Iranianword Azerbaijan in the 12th century and so such a naming cannot have any sort of ethnic connotation. Furthermore, it should be noted that the term Atabegs of Azerbaijan for the Eldiguzids is simply a name used by later historians for the family itself rather than a name for an official geographical area[39]. For example, while their capital was in Tabriz (Azerbaijanproper), their territory extended to Northern Jebal, Ray, Hamadanand Isfahan[40], but this does not mean that these territories were called Azerbaijan in any official record of that period. Similarly, they did not control the area of Sharvānwhich was under the rule of Sharvānshāhs. As mentioned, Nasawi,who describes the battles between the Khwarazmshāhs and Eldiguzids, has clearly mentioned Arrān and Azerbaijan as separate lands. Similarly, later historians also used Atabegs of Fars (Salghurids) or Atabegs of Yazd or Atabegs of Mosul or Atabegs of Maraghah who controlled neighboring territories or cities, but it does not mean that their territory was officially designated by such names or there were official states with names such as Fars, Yazd, etc. Rather these are the names assigned to these dynasties by later historians for the territory of their main capital or political center. And even in this case, this term was not necessarily unique. For example, the term Atabeg of Azerbaijan was not unique to the Eldiguzids as it also has been used to reference an Ahmadili ruler who is called as the Atabeg of Maraghaand Azerbaijan[41]. This clearly shows that such a title did not denote an official name of a nation state (which is anachronistic), but rather it was a title for the dynasties (not a name of a country or state or an empire) by historians to distinguish the Atabeg dynasties (mainly by the territory of their capital or their traditional power base) within the larger and decaying SaljuqEmpire. A study of the works of Nasawi[42] and the Ilkhanid adaptation of Nishapuri[43] explicitly shows that Arrān and Azerbaijan are used as separate lands in their descriptions of the events of the 12th and 13th century.


1.2 Iranand Ajam

The same writer has claimed that the name Irandid not exist[44] in the 12th century since it was reunited under a single government during the Safavidera. Although this is non-factual as there were other Iranianand non-Iranian dynasties which had united major portions of SassanidIran (such as Samanids, Saffarids, Buyids, Ilkhanids, etc.), what that writer forgets is that Iran just like Indiaor China, existed for the Persian/Arabic (as well as Armenianas shown in Part IV) writers as an ethno-cultural-geographical region despite being ruled by a variety of dynasties. For many examples of this term being used prior to Nezami Ganjavi, one can refer to the comprehensive article by Jalal Matiniwhich has cited numerous examples from medieval Arabic texts, Persian poets and officials, as well Persian manuscripts of the Samanid, Ghaznavid, Saljuqid, Mongol, Timurid, Turcomanand Safavid eras[45]. Since the wide occurrence of the name Iran has been examined therein, we briefly provide sufficient examples from Nezami Ganjavi, KhāqāniSharvāni and Hamdollah MostowfiQazvini.

The examples from Nezami are taken from verses from the prologue which is outside of the main stories. In the Haft Paykar, while addressing the local Ahmadiliruler of Maragha, Ala a-din Korp Arslān, Nezami Ganjavistates[46]:


The world is a body, Iranits heart,

همه عالم تن است و ایران دل

No shame to him who says such a word (The word guyande refers to the poet: the poet (guyande, i.e. Nezami) feels not ashamed in making this comparison: the world as a body and Iran as its heart.)

نیست گوینده زین قیاس خجل

Iran,the worlds most precious heart

چون که ایران دل زمین باشد

Excels the body, there is no doubt

دل ز تن به بود یقین باشد

Among the realms the kings posses

زان ولایت که مهتران دارند

The best place goes to the best

بهترین جای بهتران دارند


C.E. Wilson[47], the early translator of the Haft Paykar into the English language comments on these three verses: The sense is apparently, since Persiais the heart of the earth, Persia is the best part of the earth, because it is certain that the heart is better than the body.

In the Layli o Majnun, in praise of the SharvānshāhAxsitān[48]:


Especially a king like King of Sharvān

خاصه ملکی چو شاه شروان

Why (just) Sharvān?He is the King of Iran

شروان چه؟ که شهریار ایران


By the 9th century A.D., the word Ajamhad become equivalent to the ethnic and geographical designation of Persians and Persiarespectively[49]. It was used by Iranians themselves as ethnic and geographical designation as shown for example by the debate of the Araband Ajam by Asadi Tusi[50], as well as the Shāhnāmaof Ferdowsi[51]:


Where went Fereydun, Zahak and Jamshid?

کجا شد فریدون و ضحاک و جم

The Great Ones of the Arabs,The Kings of the Persians

مهان عرب خسروان عجم


Like in the above example from Ferdowsi, Nezami Ganjavihas also used this term for the Sassanidrealm and has called the domain of Bahram Guras Ajam(Persia) and Molk-e Ajam (Persian realm)[52]. However, even outside the main body of the stories, Nezami Ganjavi has praised the Eldiguzidruler Atabak Shams al-Din as the King of the Persian Realm. For example in the Khusrawo Shirin, Nezami states[53]:


In that day that they bestowed mercy upon all,

در آن بخشش که رحمت عام کردند

Two great ones were given the name Muhammad,

دو صاحب را محمد نام کردند

One whose essence was the seal of prophethood,

یکی ختم نبوت گشته ذاتش

The other who is the Kingdoms Seal, in his own days

یکی ختم ممالک بر حیاتش

One whose house/zodiac is moon of the Arabs

یکی برج عرب را تا ابد ماه

The other who is the everlasting Shāh of Realm of Persians

یکی ملک عجم را جاودان شاه


Another final example, Nezami Ganjavi, outside of his stories, calls upon the Prophet of Islam[54]:

Come to Persia(Ajam), do not stay in Arabia

سوی عجم ران، منشین در عرب

Thou hast the light and dark steeds of night and day

زرده‌ی روز اینک و شبدیز شب

Adorn the Empire and refresh the world.

مُلک برآرای و جهان تازه کن

Blossom both worlds with thy name and fame

هر دو جهان را پرآوازه کن

An examination of the number of occurrences of some regional geographic terms in the work of Nezami reveals that the term Iranhas appeared 32 times, Ajamhas appeared 21 times, Arman (Armenia) has appeared 23 times (mostly in KH), Ādharābādhagān appears twice (like the form in the Shāhnāma), Adharbāyagān appears once (like the form in the Vis o Ramin) and Arrānappears twice (one time in the ghazals and one time in the pentalogue).

The Persian poet KhāqāniSharvāni who was an older contemporary of Nezami has also used the word ajamin the sense of Persian. One of his pen-name which he referenced himself with is Hessān al-Ajam which means the Persian Hessān. This title for him shows that he believed his place among the Persians is like the place of the celebrated Arabian poet Hessān ibn Thabit among the Arabs. We can see in his Divan that he considers his land as part of Persiaand calls Axsitānas the Shāh of Persia[55]:


The king of Ajam(Persia)Axsitānwho took the religion

شاه عجم اخستان که دین را

And decorated it by expanding justice

پیرایه ز عدل‌پروری ساخت


And in a poem dedicated to Axsitān[56] he mentions him as the Khāqān of Iran:


The Kaaba will be clothed with the green of Nowruz

روَد کعبه در جامه‌ی سبز عیدی

If the Khaqan of Iran(Axsitān)holds a feast

مگر بزم خاقان ایران نماید


Khāqāniuses the terms Ajam and Iranmore than 50 and 30 times respectively[57]. Examples include praising the mother of Axsitānas the queen of Iran or praising the EldiguzidAtabak Qizil Arslānor referencing his own land while in Arabia. He considered himself to be unequalled in Persia[58]:


In Persia(Ajam)there is none equal to me today

که نیست در عجم امروز کس قرینه‌ی من


The above examples clearly demonstrates that the cultural-geographical territory of Iranand Ajamduring the time of these IranianMuslimpoets included Azerbaijan(ruled by the Eldiguzids and small portion of it by the Ahmadilis), Arrān(ruled mainly by the Eldiguzids with occasional Georgianincursions and control) and Sharvān(ruled by the Sharvānshāhs). A century after Nezami Ganjavi, the Persian historian, government official and geographer Hamdollah MostowfiQazvini also mentioned Ganjaas part of Arrān, as well as part of Iran in his work Nozhat al-Qolub[59]:


Several cities in Iranare more opulent than many others,

چند شهر است اندر ایران مرتفع‌تر از همه

Richer and more productive, by reason of climate and soil,

بهتر و سازنده‌تر از خوشی آب و هوا

Of these is Ganja,so full of treasure, in Arrān,Isfahān in `Irāq,

گنجه‌ی پر گنج در ارّان، صفاهان در عراق

In Khurāsān Marvand Tus,in Rum(Asia Minor)Āq Sarāy.

در خراسان مرو و طوس، در روم باشد آق‌سرا


So, the ethno-cultural-geographical concept of Iran/Persia as a geographical and ethnic designation was very real[60] to the authors of that era and was not simply references to the legend portions of their story. This is similar to other ancient territories like China, India, Greece(Rumin Islamic historiography), Armenia, etc., which despite being ruled by various kingdoms and having varying borders, were nevertheless, a concrete entity for the authors of that time.


1.3  Non-existent ethnicities and ethnonyms in the 12th century

Besides Azerbaijan, which as a historical territory in the 12th century has been illustrated in the maps of that era as an area in modern northwestern Iranand distinguished from Arrān, we should mention the term Azerbaijani. Prior to the late 19th century and early 20th century, the term Azerbaijani and Azerbaijani Turk had never been used as an ethnonym[61]. Such ethnonyms did not exist[62]. During the 19th century and early 20th century, Russiansources primarily referred to the TurcophoneMuslim population as Tatars which was a general term that included a variety of Turkish speaker[63]. Under the Mussavatistgovernment, in 1918 and during the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan, the term Azeripeople referred to all inhabitants while the Turkish-speaking portion was called Azeri Turk[64]. Thus the concept of an Azeri identity barely appears at all before 1920 and Azerbaijan before this era had been a simple geographical area[65].

In the Soviet era, due to political considerations, the ethnicity and the name of the language of the Turkish speaking Muslims was transformed to Azerbaijani.[66] During the Soviet nation building campaign[67], any historical event, past and present, that ever occurred in the territories of the modern Republic of Azerbaijanand Iranian Azerbaijan, was considered a phenomenon of Azerbaijani culture[68]. In this period, Iranian rulers and poets began to be assigned to the newly formulated identity for the Transcaucasian Turcophones[69]. During the Stalinera, Soviet and particularly Transcaucasian Turkish historians were obliged to formulate the ethno-genesis of the Turkish speakers of the region to the Iranian Medesand to break them off from any Turkish roots[70]. This is part of the reason that the arguments in Part III which derive mainly from a pro-Turkish nationalist viewpoint are treated differently than the Soviet arguments in Part II, although they sometimes do overlap.

As we shall discuss in Part II, Soviet scholars such as Bertels, who were encouraged and coerced to follow the territorial principle of history, did not state a firm opinion on the ethnicity of the father of Nezami Ganjavi(they have described his mother as a Kurd/Iranian). Rather, they primarily tried to connect Nezami Ganjavi to the culture of AzerbaijanSSR through the territorial principle[71]. It was in the Stalinperiod that the Azerbaijanization of Nezami as that of Medes, Babak and other historical Iranian cultural heritages occurred in official Soviet historiography[72]. An example of this anachronistic and non-scientific viewpoint is seen in the fact that even the Zoroastrian holy book of Avesta was considered as part of the Azerbaijani literature in the Great Soviet Encyclopaedia. The 3rd edition of the Encyclopaedia under Azerbaijani literature states: Among the ancient monuments of Azericulture is also the Avesta of Zoroaster, reflecting the religious, philosophical, socio-worldly conception of the ancients Azerbaijanis[73]. We should also note that there is ambiguity between the term Azeri and Azerbaijani, since both ethnonyms have been adopted and used in reference to the Turkish speakers of Eastern Transcaucasia since the 20th century. Although some authors take these as synonymous, most authors use the first as a reference to the Transcaucasian Turkish group while the second, as that to the citizens of the country. However, in the state of the Azerbaijan Republic, Azerbaijani is used as both an ethnicity for the Turcophone population and also as a citizenship which may include non-Turkish ethnicities (including the autochthonous peoples, such as Talyshis, Lezgins, etc).

Modern historiography in the Republic of Azerbaijanon the ethno-genesis of Turkish people of Eastern Transcaucasia has tried to retroactively Turkify many of the peoples and kingdoms that existed prior to the arrival of Turks in the region[74]. The different theories of the SovietUnion and AzerbaijanSSR with regards to the ethnogenesis of Azeris are discussed in more detail elsewhere[75]. What is pertinent for this work is that at the time of Nezami Ganjavi, there was neither such a concept or self-identification, nor an ethnic group called Azerbaijani, Azerbaijani Turkish, Azeri or Azeri-Turkish[76]. Nezami Ganjavi has referenced a variety of people including Persians/Iranians/Kurd(Pārsi/Irāniān/Kord), Armenians (Armani), Turks (Tork), Arabs (Arab), Russians (Rus, likely reference to the Viking Rus), Indians (Hindi), Ethiopians (Habash), etc. As per Turks, we note that the Oghuzspeakers of that time (which can be claimed to be the linguistic ancestors of the Turcophones of the country of Azerbaijan) might have shared a common tribal identity. Besides, it is important to note that the term Turk had a wider, non-ethnic and geographical reference in the Persian and Arabic writings, and it often included Iraniangroups of Central Asia[77], and even Tibetans[78]. However, some authors were not aware of these facts and considered early Arabic references to Turks in Central Asia to denote Altaic speakers, while the term should be treated carefully since many early Arabic references use the term in the geographic sense for anyone from the wider area of Central Asia,[79] which at the time had a much larger Iranian speaking component than today. According to Bosworth, Central Asia in the early 7th century was ethnically, still largely an Iranian land whose people used various Middle Iranian languages[80]. The formation of Altaic speaking majorities in that region took place several centuries after Islam and a major impetus for this was the Mongol (majority of whose troops were of Turkic stock) destruction of the mainly Iranian speaking urban centers.

In conclusion, the terms Azerbaijani, Azeri, Azeri Turk or Azerbaijani Turk did not denote any specific ethnic group, culture or nationality in the 12th century. The correct term for Oghuz-Turkish speaking people (the claim in official Azerbaijanhistoriography seems to be that Nezami was an Oghuz Turk), i.e. the terminology used during that time was Oghuz/Ghuzz and Turcoman[81]. However, even the SovietUnion did not call Nezami a Turcoman poet or Ghuzz poet. Additionally, from the geographical point of view, the Iraniannon-ethnic geographical term Azerbaijan does not include Arrān/Sharvānin the works of the poets of these periods and in the maps by the geographers of that time. So application of this term, in any historical sense or form, for a person from the 12th century Ganjaof Arrān is incorrect. Correct terminology dictates that Nezami Ganjavilived in historical Arrān; henceforth geo-cultural terms such as Arrānian, Caucasian and Eastern Trans-Caucasian Persian poet can be used to designate Nezami without causing any confusion. As noted, Nezami considered the variety of rulers whom he has praised as rulers of part of Iranor the Persian realm (Molk-e-Ajam). Additionally, the language of his work is solely Persian. Consequently, he is correctly considered part of Persian literature and not the invented Soviet term of Azerbaijani literature applied to him in the Soviet politicized writings.











Part II

The Soviet Concept of Nezami and the Arguments


In 1936, when the administrative status of AzerbaijanSovietSocialist Republic was recognized, the Soviets deemed it necessary that it should have its own distinct identity and history[82]. This was not unique to Azerbaijan SSR; each Soviet entity was tasked to develop its identity within the wider Soviet framework[83]. The first secretary of the Azerbaijan Communist Party Mir Jafar Bagirovordered Azerbaijani historians to rewrite history in order to represent the Azeripeople as an indigenous population and cut them off from any Turkish roots[84]. In order for Azerbaijan SSR to have its own autochthonous national history, Armenianand Iraniancultural factors necessarily became conducive to rapid Azerbaijanization of historical heroes and cultural phenomena[85]. According to Shnirelman, in 1938, the 800-year anniversary of Nezami was celebrated, and he was declared a great Azeri poet. In fact, he was a Persian poet that was no wonder, since the Persians accounted for the entire urban population in those days. This was recognized in all the encyclopedias published in Russia before the 1930s, and only in 1939 did the Big Soviet Encyclopedia call Nezami a great Azeri poet for the first time[86]. The sources that were mentioned in the Introduction have covered this politicization campaign in some detail[87]. A striking example of this politicization is the report in Pravda [The Truth official Communist Party of the USSRPublication] published in March 4th, 1939. According to this report, in a talk with the Ukrainian writer, Mikola Bazhan: Comrade Stalinspoke of the Azerbaijani poet, Nezami, quoted his works to destroy the viewpoint by his own words that this great poet of our brotherly Azerbaijani people, should not be given to the Iranian literature, just because he wrote most of his works in the Iranian language. Nezami, in his poems himself asserts that he was compelled to resort to the Iranian language, because he is not allowed to address his own people in his native tongue.[88] It is obviously well known that if one challenges Stalins opinion in the USSR, it would have been politically incorrect, with possible severe consequences.


2.1 Nezami and the Persian Language

Two major fabrications have been propagated ever since this verdict by Stalin. The first falsification is that Nezami Ganjaviwrote most (where it is actually all) of his work in the Persian languageand Stalins verdict has falsely hinted that he could have had works in Turkish. However, Nezami mentioned several times his skill in composing Persian poetry;he never mentioned composing in any other language and all of his works are in Persian. The second distortion is that Nezami was forced to write in the Persian language; in other words implying that someone can create five masterpieces in distress due to force. Whereas Nezami Ganjavi emphasized that he composed his poem out of love and not for money. For example, in the Sharaf-Nāma[89]:


If I had told this story for Gold

گر این نامه را من به زر گفتمی

How could I have pierced shells and brought pearls then?

به عمری کجا گوهری سفتمی

Truly it was love that brought this magnificent work

همانا که عشقم بر این کار داشت

Love had a lot of people who did not seek Gold and Silver.

چون من کمزنان عشق بسیار داشت


And the quatrains and many of the ghazals of Nezami which were not dedicated to any king, also clearly show that Nezami passionately composed Persian poetryon his own free will. Besides, Nezami was not a court poet; he had much more freedom to write in the language he chose. Both of these distortions are analyzed in the present work, since some authors have still propagated these erroneous viewpoints, either as a result of ignorance or due to political reasons.

Evgenii Eduardovich Bertels (d. 1957) was a prolific Sovietscientist who wrote about Nezami. Some of his ideologically-driven theories about Persian literature were adopted and disseminated by the Czech scholar Jan Rypka(d. 1968). Their works have been cited uncritically by some scholars who are not aware of the USSRanniversary campaign and the politicization of Soviet orientalism (which influenced orientalism in the whole Soviet bloc). To challenge Stalinafter his verdict would have been politically incorrect and even dangerous. A recent research by Tamazishviliof the private archives of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the USSR academy of Sciences (IOSAS) illustrates an extremely politicized atmosphere, in which Orientalism was used as a political tool for the USSR nation building and support of the Soviet national interests[90]. With regards to the Soviet Orientalism and nation-building, a Soviet orientalist E.M. Zukhov is quoted as stating: We are obligated to translate everything, through to the end, into the language of politics[91]. That was said precisely in connection with the discussion of the works of E. E. Bertels, in the process of the academic-political campaign of the struggle against bourgeois cosmopolitanism in the Soviet Oriental studies that developed in the late forties[92]. Bertels study on Nezami in the late 1930s and early 1940s were among his most politicized works[93].

Later on, while trying to possibly revise some of his earlier politicized theories, including the USSRsupported view of disunity of Persian literature; he was criticized harshly by others in the IOSAS. According to Tamazishvili, he was even reproached by other USSR orientalist for attempting to revise the politicized Sovietviewpoint of Nezami being an Azerbaijani poet[94]. The most significant criticism of Bertelswas due to the statement in his 1949 work Persian-language literature in Central Asia, in which he states: By the Persian literature we shall, from now on, understand all the literary works written in the so-called neo-Persian language, irrespective of their authors ethnic identity and of the geographical point where these works emerged[95]. Obviously, this was a departing from his earlier political proclamations of calling the work of Nezami with the anachronistic and politicized term Azerbaijani literature.

His fellow politicized colleagues in 1949 accused Bertelsof deviating from Marxism, for reflecting in his works the objectivist errors and the cosmopolitan views characteristic of bourgeois oriental studies[96]. Bertels tried to respond by stating: To find out the ethnic identity of every author worth notice, and then classify them over the various literatures but such a task would be, first of all, impossible to perform, because we have no data on the ethnic identity of old writers, and, probably, we will never have them; and, secondly, that would be methodologically vicious to the extreme. We would, then, be constructing literature by blood, by race. It hardly needs saying that we cannot and shall not be constructing literature in such a way, I won't, at least if someone else wants to do it, let him, that is his private affair[97]. However, A.K. Borokov, the deputy director of IOSAS called Bertels statement unsatisfactory and non-self-critical, and criticized Bertels for not saying the criticism of his view is just and repeating those unusual assertions which he had made before[98].

With further campaign launched by IOSAS against bourgeois cosmopolitanism in oriental studies, Bertelswas accused by another Sovietorientalist Zhukov of spreading: the newest bourgeois-nationalist conceptions about an imaginary superiority of Iran's culture[99]. At this time, the politics surrounding the works of Bertels was heating up and he was forced to admit his mistake, and attempted to explain his mistake by blaming the opinion of Tajik public opinion for sharing the idea of the commonality of their literature with that of Iran[100]. However, these explanations were insufficient; further accusation of supporting pan-Iranism was leveled against him by other scholars and the IOSAS private archive show that criticism of Bertels was continuing. In a radical measure, he was excluded from the research plan of the IOSAS on the topic he was developing History of the Persian literature, and was instructed to temporarily concentrate on dictionary work[101]. This onslaught against Bertels possibly explains his reaction to absolve himself from accusations by abundant usage of ideological clichs and party cant in his public addresses and publications from the early 1950s[102]. This onslaught against him was especially grave because at that time his son Dmitri was behind bars but was later released[103].

What is clear from the political atmosphere surrounding Bertelsis that political ideology and Sovietnation building had cast an imposing ideological shadow upon the work of Soviet bloc orientalists. However, it should be noted that both Bertels and Rypkaonly accepted that Nezamis mother was Kurdand did not present a verdict about his father. Using the term Azerbaijani, they rather meant a territorial principle of historical continuity in the sense of the USSRhistoriography where people of a region are autochthonous and only the elites are changed due to invasions[104]. For example, Bertels states with regards to Nezami: About the family of Nezami, we know almost nothing. The only thing we can say with certainty is that at the time of writing the poem Layli o Majnun, i.e. in 1188, his father had passed away. His mother too, had passed away and the poet calls her a Kurdishlady[105]. Similarly, Jan Rypka states: We can only deduce that he [Nezami] was born between 535 and 540 (1140-46 A.D.), and that his background was urban. Modern Azerbaijanis exceedingly proud of its world famous son and insists that he was not just a native of the region, but that he came from its own Turkic stock. At all events, his mother was of Iranianorigin, the poet himself calling her Raisa and describing her as Kurdish[106]. Thus it seems that Rypka and Bertels did not have a firm opinion on the ethnic identity of Nezami (or due to political pressure, they could not express it), they rather applied the USSR nation building concepts based on the territorial principle.

Despite these facts, Soviet authors like Bertels had to follow the Sovietguidelines, establish new terminologies for nation building and write ideological history to downplay the Persian cultural, ethnic and literary heritage of the Caucasian region. This does not mean of course that all the works of these authors are distortions of historical truths; many of them, indeed, have scholarly merit and contributed to the field. However, when there was a conflict between historical accuracy and Soviet ideological concerns (e.g. nation building, which Nezami studies became part of, cutting off cultural ties with the Iranianworld and ideological compartmentalization of Persian literature), the Soviet ideology of nation building and dissection of Persian literature along imaginary identities took precedence. In fairness to these writers and other writers from the Sovietbloc, the IOSAS archives clearly show that the USSRorientalism did not tolerate ideological divergence.

The ideas about Islam and socialism with regards to Nezami illustrate another dimension of the mentionedideology. For example, Jan Rypkaterms Nezami a socialist and claims: such were the heights of socialist conceptions to which Nezami climbed,[107] citing the Eskandar-Nāmathat not, however, till he reaches north does he [Alexander] find people living in complete happiness and in a classless society[108]. On the Islamic identity of Nezami, which is abundantly clear, Rypka, without any basis, tries to portray a contradiction between Islamic theology and the God of Nezami. Rypka states with this regard: He (God for Nezami) is the supreme moral principle, far removed from the God of Islamic theology[109]. Others even claimed erroneously that Nezami was undermining Islam[110].

E.E. Bertels, while talking about the Eskandar-Nāma, claims that the dream of Nezami was realized by the establishment of the USSRand further states: We, Sovietreaders of Nezami, look at this from a completely different viewpoint. We know this country; we are lucky to live in this country and know which way one should go in order to achieve such happiness. It also excites the Soviet reader that the great Azerbaijani thinker of the 12th century, put this country in the geographic location, where his great dream was in fact realized. Let us note that all of Nezamis works end here; that all of his works were to get to this culminating period And now, in the country where socialism became victorious, a country that does not know the fear of historical truth, Soviet scholars take onto themselves an honorable task to give to the peoples of their country the treasures that were denied to them for centuries[111]. The fact that Nezami was a pious Muslim, and modern concepts such as socialism and classless society would have been alien to him and his milieu, does not need any further elaboration. It is clear from the work of Nezami that he actually supported the Persian tradition of monarchy and believed it was an integral and sacred part of the Persian life[112]. His praise of various monarchs of the region shows that he had no problem with the system of monarchy. But, as shown, the Soviet ideological historiography tried to portray Nezami as a communist and atheist Azerbaijani poet of Azerbaijani literature who strived for a classless society.

In this work, we will focus more on the anachronism propagated by these two scholars to undermine the Persian heritage of Nezami and introduce doubts about his culture and identity. For example, Jan Rypkastates: But as we have no indication of his having spent any length of time outside of the gates of his native Gandja, we conclude that a high standard of education must have existed among the urban Mussulman communities in the Caucasus and in Gandja in particular. The mosaic of nationalities in the Caucasus in Nezamis time was probably not very different from what it is today. And even if we concede a larger number of inhabitants Persian as their mother-tongue, they were still no doubt a minority. What wonder then that Azerbaijan is not content to name the poet a native of Azerbaijan, but claim him as a member of the Turkish race? It cannot be denied that his mother, whom the poet himself, in his epic, Laili and Majnun, designates Kurdish Raisa, was of different (Iranian) origin. The undisputed supremacy of Persian culture, in which the Turkish tribes could only participate through the Persian tongue, makes understandable that Nezami should write in Persian. His mastery of the language is as unexampled as his command of thought. Only a detailed history of the Caucasian town can clear up the question of Nezamis nationality. Not even the Persians seem to have been quite sure of their ground. Only thus can we explain their interpolation of a verse in The Treasury of Mysteries in which the poets birthplace is given at Qom, that is, in Persia proper. In this epos (Khursaw o Shirin), and if we except Layli o Majnun, in all his other epic poems the poet draws on Iranian materials, especially those having some connection with Azerbaijan. The Sassanid Prince (later Shāh) Khusraw Parviz hears of the lovely Armenian princess Shirin.[113]

There are some contradictions and unjustifiable theories in the above quote of Jan Rypkathat should be pointed out. For example, as we shall see in Part IV through primary sources, the mosaic of languages in the Caucasus(especially Ganja) in the 12th century of Nezami differed a lot from that of the 20th century. Indeed, the Mongol, Turcomanand Safavidera brought a major language shift to the area. Another contradiction is the fact that Rypka rightfully admits that Nezami came from an urban and educated background, but at the same time, Rypka states that Turkish tribes could only participate through the Persian tongue Only a detailed history of the Caucasian town can clear up the question of Nezamis nationality. Thus Rypka contradicts the fact that Nezami was from an urban background by mentioning (although not himself accepting) the baseless hypothetical theory accepted in modern Azerbaijan,that he was a Turcoman (Oghuz) tribesman. The question is raised why the very recent and small (relative to the established native population of the area) Turcoman Oghuz tribes would forget their tribal lifestyle (yet still be Turkish tribes as Rypka calls them), decide to become urban and write about ancient Iranianmyths and legends? This would be natural for an Iranian (the sedentary urban and rural populations of Ganja) to write about the myths and legends of Iranians in the Persian language; Rypka provides no reason why members of the nomadic Turcoman tribes who had just entered the region for no more than two or three generations (Ganja fell to the Saljuqs in 1075[114]), became urban (even according to Rypka,[115] Nezami came from an urban background), Persianized and decided to forget their own folk stories, and instead adopt Iranian materials. Similarly, Rypka, without any proof, claims that the verse of Qom which is considered an interpolation had to do with arguments about Nezamis ethnic affiliation (i.e. fathers ethnicity). However, the verse from Qom is found in the Sharaf-Nāma (not The Treasury of Mysteries as Rypka has claimed[116]) and it predates the era of modern nation building and nationalism. This interpolation was already pointed out by Dastgerdibefore the USSRscholars. So there is no proof to connect it with modern nationalism of the 20th century. After all, Qom historically, besides its Persian population, had substantial Arabsettlements which were gradually Persianized. Consequently, more suitable places could have been chosen if an author from at least 400+ years (before the modern era of nationalism) ago interpolated such a verse due to nationalism.

An additional contradiction from the statement of Rypkais that he correctly claims Nezami drew his material from Iranianmyths and legends (see Part IV), but at the same time, he adds about these Iranian materials, especially those having some connection with Azerbaijan and then mentions the Armenianprincess Shirinand the Persian SassanidKing KhusrawParviz[117]. However, as shown in Part I, the definition of Azerbaijan was very different at that time for Nezami and there was no ethnonym Azerbaijani. The stories of Khusraw o Shirin, Haft Paykar, Eskandar-Nāma, and Layli o Majnunwas already part of the lore of the Iranian world and was not peculiar to Azerbaijan proper (Northwestern Iran) or Arrān(the place Nezami was from). Another point of view which we shall come back to in Part IV is that Rypka and some other writers tried to portray the Persian language as distinct from local languages, but this argument has no basis, especially with the recent finding of the Nozhat al-Majālesand Safina-ye Tabriz, as well primary sources describing the populace and language of the region (see Part IV).

E.E. Bertels, for example, has called the poetry of Nezami as great masterpiece of Azerbaijani literature[118]. Such use of an anachronistic term has no historical basis because as shown in Part I, Azerbaijanproper to the Persian Caucasian poets in the 12th century would be an area of NW modern Iranbordering Arrānand Sharvān, and it had no ethnic/linguistic affiliations. Nezami makes it clear that he is writing Persian poetrywhich naturally is part of Persian literature. For example, in the Sharaf-Nāma, the poet recounts a dream or inspiration where Khizrtells him that he should not recompose the Nāma-ye Khusrawān(i.e. legendary history of Iran or Shāhnāma), because Ferdowsihas already composed it[119]:


I heard you want to recompose the book of Kings

شنیدم که در نامه‌ی خسروان

Using your discourse which flows naturally like water

سخن راند خواهی چو آب روان

But do not act in a way which is unacceptable (do not imitate)

مشو ناپسندیده را پیش باز

For people do not like a disharmonious note

که در پرده‌ی کژ نسازند ساز

Accept your fate, so that you may be dear

پسندیدگی کن که باشی عزیز

Those who are approved (saints), may accept you

پسندیدگانت پسندیده نیز

Being swallowed swiftly by a dragon

فرو بردن اژدها بی‌درنگ

Or going down to the mouth of a crocodile

بی انباشتن در دهان نهنگ

Is more pleasant in front of the wise

از آن خوش‌تر آید جهان‌دیده را

Then for the wise to see unacceptable acts

که بینید همی ناپسندیده را

Do not retell what that passed away sage (Ferdowsi)has composed

مگوی آنچه دانای پیشینه گفت

One cannot pierce two holes in a single pearl (majestic work)

که دَر دُر نشاید دو سوراخ سفت

Except in parts that need more explanation (i.e. The portion of Alexanderin the Shāhnāmaneeds more elaboration)

مگر در گذرهای اندیشه گیر

That portion(even if partially overlaps) if repeated, is necessary

که از بازگفتن بود ناگزیر

In this path, be like a new leader

درین پیشه چون پیشوای نوی

Do not follow the ancient ones (i.e. do not imitate)

کهن پیشگان را مکن پیروی

When you have the power of virgin words (i.e. new topic)

چو نیروی بکرآزمائیت هست

Do not incline towards a widow (i.e. imitate)

به هر بیوه خود را میالای دست

Do not be upset by the hunt you did not capture

(i.e. Ferdowsialready has composed the Shāhnāma)

مخور غم به صیدی که ناکرده‌ای

There are untouched food for you preserved in the store

که یخنی بود هرچه ناخورده‌ای


In a poetic way, Khizrtells him that: Do not fill with grief over the hunt you did not capture. Khizr (which could symbolically mean inner divine inspiration or inner thought although in Islamic literature, it is a real person alluded to in the Quran Sura 18) rather inspires Nezami to write the story of Alexander[120]:


Since I listened to the heartfelt inspiration of Khizr

چو دلداری خضرم آمد به گوش

My mind was uplifted with new vigor

دماغ مرا تازه گردید هوش

His words were acceptable and I accepted it

پذیرا سخن بود شد جایگیر

Good advice from the heart is acceptable to the heart

سخن کز دل آید بود دلپذیر

Since those advices took effect on me

چو در من گرفت آن نصیحت‌گری

I opened my tongue and started to produce Persian pearls

زبان برگشادم به دُرّ دَری


Of course, Stalincould not have claimed that Khizrin a dream forced Nezami to compose Persian poetry(or as Nezami calls it Persian Pearls). Stalin also could not claim that Nezami was forced with regards to his great desire and personal inclinations towards the Persian national history! But the way the poet has described his situation here also exposes the invalid claim of the USSRwith regards to the introduction of Layli o Majnun. The fact that Nezami Ganjaviwanted to do an imitation of the Nāma-ye Khusrawān(the sources for the Shāhnāmaor the Shāhnāma itself) itself shows his tremendous interest in his pre-Islamic Iranianculture (which we briefly touch upon in Part IV). If he was of a non-Iranian background as claimed by Stalin, he would gravitate towards composing the national history of other cultures. In the same section, Nezami writes about his own skill and only mentions the Persian language, further invalidating the politically charged claim that Nezami composed in any other language[121]:


Nezami whose skill is composing Persian poetry

نظامی که نظم دری کار اوست

Composing Persian poetryis what he is deserving of

دری نظم کردن سزاوار اوست

He will tell this beautiful story in such a way

چنان گوید این نامه‌ی نغز را

That reading it will enlighten its readers

که روشن کند خواندنش مغز را


Similarly, in a reference likely to himself, he states[122]:

The educated word-master stated such

سخن‌پیمای فرهنگی چنین گفت

When he started piercing the Persian pearls

به وقت آن که دُرهای دَری سفت


Clearly, Nezami has called his own work as dorr-e dari (Persian Pearl) and nazm-e dari (Persian Poetry). Consequently, there is no historical basis to use politically invented anachronistic terms, such as Azerbaijani literature, which Nezami never used.

2.2 Invention of an Arbitrarily Named Azerbaijani School or Transcaucasian School of Persian Literature by the Soviet School of Oriental Studies

As noted the SovietUnion pursued the policy of dissecting Persian literature into smaller components and weakening the unity between these components for the purpose of regional nation building. Bertelseven went further and invented a whole Azerbaijani schoolof Persian poetry or Azerbaijani style of Persian poetry. He states: All authors characterize the group, starting with Qatrān, exhibit a certain commonality of style. It is so great that I think we have the right to speak of Azerbaijani School in the XII[123]. This invented terminology of Azerbaijani School was borrowed from Bertels by Rypkaand introduced in his two major English works[124]. The claim by both authors is that Qatrān Tabrizi started the Azerbaijani School of Persian poetry. It is obvious that these politically invented terms have no historical basis. That is the reason why such a school which is also called Trans-Caucasian School of Persian poetry has yet to be clearly defined. Its main characteristics are said to have been:

1-         The school started with QatrānTabrizi[125].

2-         More usage of Arabic words[126] relative to Khurasani School.

3-         Usage of Persian archaism; that is Fahlaviwhich in Azerbaijanis called Old IranianAzarinot to be confused with the later Turkish language[127].

4-         Christianimagery and quotations from the Bible, and other expressions inspired by Christian sources, so that understanding Khāqāniand Nezami is impossible without a thorough knowledge of Christianity[128].

5-         Relative freedom from mysticism[129].

6-         Complexity of terms and new concepts[130].

7-         Its timeframe is supposed to be three generations of poets in the 11th and 12th century associated mainly with the courts of the Sharvānshāhs[131] (Incidentally, this was a period when Iranianlanguages predominated among the urban Muslims and not just the courts as shown later in this book).

With regards to the main factors above, the style of QatrānTabrizi is very different than that of Nezami, and Qatrān Tabrizi is considered as a poet of the Khurasani styleas described below. With regards to point number two, Arabic words are the feature of School of Iraqand the movement of center of gravity of the Persian languagein this period. More words of Arabic origin had entered the Iraniandialects and languages of Western Iranrelative to Eastern Iran at that time. Incidentally, but incomparable to the influence of the Arabic, the Persian language acquired a minor Turkish vocabulary in the Ghaznavid and Saljuqidera (see Part III). With regards to Persian archaism and Fahlavilanguage (NW Iranian vernaculars), this has been pointed out also by the major Iranian literary scholars (as noted below), but none of them have formulated an Azerbaijani School. Point number four about Christianimagery is a hyperbole which we shall discuss below.

With regards to point number five, this is very arbitrary but in our opinion, the Sufi influence in the Islamic world played its part in the local poetry of the Caucasus. Furthermore, Sufi influence in the chronological differentiation of Persian literature has to do with the specific Persian poet. For example, some poets of the Iraqi School were themselves Sufis while others show less influence of Sufism. With regards to factor number six, with the exception of Khāqāniand Nezami (who was influenced by Khāqāni) who were two outstanding Persian poets of the Caucasus (much like Hafezand Sadi in Fars), one cannot ascribe their creative stylistic features to the hundreds of Persian poets from the region between the 11th to 12th centuries. Just like not all the poets of Fars had the creativity and style of Hafez and Sadi. The symbolic imagery and concepts of Khāqāni Sharvāni and Nezami are part of the stylistic features of these two poets (and to a lesser extent Mujir), or else the style of Mahsati Ganjavior QatrānTabrizi does not use as much imagery and new terms.

As shown, none of the main factors have to do with Turkish culture from the Western language sources that we noted. But as noted, the Sovietnation building concept of building a new Azerbaijani identity devoid of any Turkish connections was not incompatible with such a terminology. Azerbaijanis to the Soviets were the continuation of the Medesand ChristianCaucasian Albanians, whereas the IranianMedes were already absorbed into other Iranians before the arrival of the Saljuqs and the Caucasian Albanians, who followed Christianity, were being absorbed into the Armenianpeoples.

Our analysis begins with point number seven and Jan Rypka, who uses Bertelsas his primary source. Rypka states: The school, which began with Qatrān(d. 1072), formed a well defined group of teachers and pupils and supposedly the school formed: clearly defined group of three generations of teachers and pupilsAll the poets worked at the courts or within the realms of the Sharvānshāhs[132]. However, no such group of teachers and pupils is found in the annals of history with the exception of Khāqāniand Falaki Sharvāni who were pupils of Abu Ala Ganjavi[133] and Mujir Baylaqāni who presumably was a student of Khāqāni. For example, no one knows who were the teachers of Abu Ala Ganjavi or Nezami Ganjavi or that of more than 100 poets (24 of them from Ganja) from Sharvān, Arrānand Azerbaijan(see Part IV) in the 11th -13th century. Indeed the generation gap between Qatrān (circa. 1009-1070 A.D.) and Nezami Ganjavi (circa. 1130-1200 A.D.) is also more than three generation. As the recently discovered manuscript of Nozhat al-Majāles(see Part IV for more details) shows, Persian poetrywas the common and folk expression of the average people and not just associated with the elites of the courts of the Sharvānshāhs.

Rypkaalso notes that: With the exception of Nezamis work, the entire poetic output of the region was confined to lyric poetry, to the qasida in particular[134]. However, as shown in Part IV of this book, the most common poetic output of the region should now be considered the rubai (Quatrains), which is not a genre of court poetry like the qasida (Odes) or epic poetry. Rypka also claims with regards to the Sharvānshāhthat Persian was not the language of the princes whose praise they sang[135], whereas the Sharvānshāhs were already Persianized[136] by the middle of 10th or early 11th century, composed Persian poetrythemselves[137] and claimed descent from ancient SassanidKings[138]. Biruni (d. 1048) states that the common belief of people is that the Sharvānshāhs are descendants of the Sassanids (Biruni 1879:48) and Al-Masudi(d. circa 950) in the middle of the 10th century states there is no doubt that their pedigree goes back to Bahram Gur[139]. By the 10th century they had adopted the new Iranianlanguages that had evolved from Middle Persian dialects (e.g. Tat-Persian in the Caucasus)and composed Persian poetry themselves[140]. According to Minorsky, The Iranicisation of the family must have proceeded continuously and the most likely explanation of this change must be a marriage link established on the spot, possibly with the family of the ancient rulers of Shābarān. The attraction of a Sasanianpedigree proved stronger than the recollections of the Shaybani lineage[141].

On a similar line, Rypkawhile trying to distinguish between the languages of folk literature and court literature (which he states was mainly intended for the courts of the Sharvānshāh), makes the erroneous statement that: folk poetry of course developed in consistence with local idioms[142] without providing a single sample of such folk poetry. As clearly described by the book Nozhat al-Majāles, primary sources describing the population of the area, and modern secondary scholarly sources, Iranianvernacular languages and Persian poetrywere the folk and common languages of the urban Muslim population of the major cities of the Caucasus(see Part IV). Consequently, due to political reasons and as a direct result of Soviet nation building, a set of non-historical and non-factual statements were contrived to minimizing the influence of Persian culture and Iranian ethnic elements of the Caucasus[143].

An important fact to note is that, Rypka and Bertelsclaim that Qatrānallegedly started the Azerbaijani School of Persian poetry. Qatrān who spoke Persian vernacular language (denoted as Fahlavi, see Part IV for direct attestation of the Tabrizi Iranianlanguage and Qatrāns contrast of his native vernacular Pārsi with literary Persian or Dari) however has also intensely derided the plundering and massacres brought by the attack of the nomadic OghuzTurks who ravaged and plundered Azerbaijan[144]. He calls these Oghuz nomads as khunkhār (blood suckers), virāngar (bringers of ruin) to Iran, kin-kār (workers of hatred), āfat (a calamity), ghaddār (covenant breakers) and makkār (charlatan and deceivers)[145]. This portion of Qatrān Tabrizis poetry which is very useful for historical analysis would present a major contradiction between the construction of Azerbaijani School of Persian poetry and attempting to connect such an imaginary school to the Oghuz Turcomans that were not settled in Azerbaijan at that time. Of course, the Azerbaijani School of Poetry was not connected to the Oghuz Turcophones or any other group, but rather it was a term based on the Sovietconception of a new Azerbaijani identity (that did not exist in the 12th century) based on the Medesand Caucasian Albanians. However, this aspect of Qatrāns derision of the nomadic Turcomanincursion (which was the first attack of nomadic Turcomans in the area) is not mentioned by Rypka[146]. How Qatrān Tabrizi relates to the later emerging Turcophoneculture of Azerbaijan SSR which did not exist during the time of Qatrān is unknown and not explained by Rypka. Besides, Qatrān Tabrizi is traditionally considered as part of the Khurasani School (see below). Other terminologies used by these authors for the Azerbaijan School of Poetry were the SharvānSchool and Trans-Caucasian School[147]. However, none of these terms are clearly defined with the exception of portraying the fact that Persian poetry flourished in the 11th and 12th century in the Caucasus(which is precisely when the ethnic Iranian-speaking population constituted the bulk of the urban Muslims of the area).

After Rypkas book and article, other sources have picked up this term of AzerbaijanSchool without recognizing its political intent. For example, Dr. Sakina Berenjianhas mistakenly attributed the term Azerbaijan School to Iranianauthors such as Badi-o-Zaman Foruzanfar, Rezazadeh Shafaq and Zabillollah Safa[148], while looking exactly in the same sources that she cites, none of these prominent expert scholars of Persian literature have mentioned an Azerbaijan school of poetry nor an Azerbaijani style has been mentioned[149]. Rather, these authors, such as Safa, mention the influence of Fahlaviyāt (Persian vernacular or as Safa calls it Old Azari) on the poetry of Qatrān, Nezami and Khāqāni[150]. They mention that due to the Persian of the time, as well as Fahlaviyāt NW Iranian dialects (which had greater Arabic vocabulary than Khurasani Persianaccording to Safa), more Arabic words are seen in the poets of Arāq-e Ajamand the Caucasus[151]. At the same time, Qatrān is considered as master of the Khurasani tradition[152].

The confusion is also compounded by the fact that some scholars have mentioned an Azerbaijanor Sharvānor Tabriz or Transcaucasian School as a geographical term (rather than an independent literary stylistic term) while mentioning the major poets of these as cornerstone of the Iraqi style[153]. That is they differentiate between style and local geographical regions where a large number of Persian poets emerged. For example, Chelkowski rightfully mentions the primary styles of Persian literate are the Khurasani style, Iraqi style and Hindi style, and mentions the Azerbaijan and pre-SafavidIsfahan school under the Iraqi style[154]. He correctly notes that: Khāqānicould be termed as one of the greatest poets of Iranand the cornerstone of the Iraqi style. In Azerbaijan, Mujir, the follower of Khāqāni, brought the style to its apogee.[155] De Bruijn also mentions the three main styles based on the chronological order to be the Khurasani, Iraqi and the Indian style[156]while mentioning the school of pre-Safavid Isfahan and Azerbaijan as part of the Iraqi style. With regards to Nezami, he notes: On the other hand he enriched the romantic mathnawi by using imagery of lyric poetry to the full, treating it with all the rhetorical ingenuity characteristic of the 'Iraqi style[157].

Here we briefly touch upon this point from the viewpoint of traditional Iranianscholars which is also backed up by the verses of the poets of the regions. The division of classical Persian poetryinto Khurasani, Iraqi, and Hindi (or Isfahani) styles is a chronological differentiation. What is called today sabk (style) or school in Persian poetry is usually denoted as shiveh (شیوه = method) or tarz (طرز = style) in Persian poetry. For instance, KhāqāniSharvāni, in comparing himself and Unsuri(the court poet of Mahmud Ghaznavi), states[158]:


I possess a new method

مرا شیوه‌ی تازه‌ای هست و داشت

While Unsurihad the same ancient method

همان شیوه‌ی باستان عنصری


Or Hafezof Shiraz, in a ghazal attributed to him, claims:


Sadi is the Master of ghazal (words) for everybody

استاد غزل (سخن) سعدی است پیش همه کس اما

However, ghazals of Hafezfollow the style of Khwāju

دارد غزل حافظ طرز غزل خواجو


The most prominent scholars of Persian literature like poet laureate Muhammad-Taqi Bahar, Badi-o-Zaman Foruzanfar, Saeed Nafisi, and others define the following schools in Persian poetry[159].

1- School or Style of Khurasan: this style started in the 3rd and 4th century A.H. / 9th and 10th A.D. in Eastern Greater Iran(Greater Khurasan) and was followed by poets in other regions. Some important features of this school are straightforwardness, clarity, scarcity of Arabic loanwords and compounds, abundance of Persian words and compounds, and even traces of Middle Persian. The poems are characterized with description of nature and natural scenery, panegyric and elegy of kings, rulers, and high officials, epics, myths and such. Some of the most famous poets in this school are RudakiSamarqandi, FerdowsiTusi, Shahid Balkhi, Kassāi Marvzi, QatrānTabrizi and Nāser-e Khusraw.

2- School or Style of Iraq: from around the 6th century A.H. / 12th century A.D., due to the invasion of Khurasan by OghuzTurkish tribes (vividly recorded in a poem by AnvariAbivardi and another poem by KhāqāniSharvāni), the gravity center of Persian poetryshifted to the western regions of Iran, or so-called araq-e ajam or IranianIraq[160] in medieval geographic terminology. Due to the proximity to the center of Islamic Caliphate and the influence of Arabic language, we can find more Arabic and Quranic / Islamic terms and terminology in the poetry of this school. Poems are now more about theological concepts, Sufismand mysticism, and more philosophical discourses. Some of the most famous poets of this school include SanāiGhaznavi, Jamāl al-Din Abd al-Razzāq Isfahāni and his son Kamāl al-Din Ismāil, Sadi Shirazi, HafezShirazi, Fakhr al-Din Ibrāhim Irāqi (Hamadani), Nezami Ganjavi, Khāqāni Sharvāni, Farid al-Din AttārNishapuri, Jalal al-Din Muhammad Balkhi(Mowlānaor Rumi), Salmān Sāveji, and Abd al-Rahmān Jāmi.

3- School or Style of India/Esfahan: After the death of Jāmiin later 15th century A.D. and from the time of Safaviddynasty, Persian poetryexperienced some changes. Shāh Abbasthe Great moved the capital of Safavid to the city of Esfahan and this city flourished under his reign. For this reason, the poetry of this period is called Isfahani. The characteristic features of this school are delicacy of imagery, extensive use of hidden references, sophisticated compounds and such. For example, Sāeb Tabrizi says[161]:


When you extend your hand to ask from others

دست طمع که پیش کسان می‌کنی دراز

You are building a bridge to leave behind your pride

پل بسته‌ای که بگذری از آبروی خویش


Or another example[162]:


Under the pressure of Time my hair tuned white

شد از فشار گردون مویم سپید و سر زد

This is the milk that I was fed during my infancy!

شیری که خورده بودم در روزگار طفلی


Another example by Kalim Kāshani:


Im not to be blame if the stitches of my shoes are showing

بخیه‌ی کفشم اگر دندان‌نما شد عیب نیست

My shoes are laughing at my idle wanderings

خنده می‌آید وی را بر هرزه‌گردی‌های من


Due to the political period and as a result of good relations with India, many poets (including Sāeb Tabrizi, Kalim Kāshani, and Orfi Shirazi) and artists of Persia migrated to Northern India and were welcomed by the MughalEmpire. Local poets started to imitate the Iranian poets but since the Persian of the Mughal courts had its own particularities and Persian was not the native language of the majority of the inhabitants of India, they came up with some strange compounds and far-fetched imageries and references. This branch is called School of India. However, some people do not use this distinction and call both groups as the School of India or School of Esfahan.

4- School of Restoration: in late Qajar period or early 13th century A.H. / 19th century A.D., Persian poetrywas experiencing decline and decadence. Poems had become complex and out of reach and tasteless. So some poets decided to return to the elegance of School of Khurasan and make the poems clear and straightforward again. So this school is called Return of Restoration period. Some poets of this school include poet laureate Sorush Isfahani, Muhammad-Taqi Bahar, Saburi (Bahars father) and Parvin Etesami.

This categorization and periods are obviously for ease of understanding and convenience, as such changes are gradual. For example, Seyyed Hassan Ghaznavi, a poet from Khurasan in the 5th century A.H. / 11th century A.D. (during the period of School of Khurasan) that has poems in style of School of Esfahan in which he uses delicate imagery:


I would be hiding in the middle of my ghazal

اندر غزل خویش نهان خواهم گشتن

So I would kiss your lips when you recite my poem!

تا بر لب تو بوسه دهم چون که بخوانیش!


It is said that when Sheikh Abu-Saeed Abu al-Khair, the famous Iranianmystic, heard this line, he was so impressed that along with his disciples, he went and paid the poet a visit at his home. Another example by KhāqāniSharvāni (a representative of the Iraqi schoolin the Caucasus), which shows traces of School of Esfahan, was in existence many centuries before this school [163]:


The mirror of my kneecap has turned dark blue from (beating of) the comb of my hands

شده است آیینه‌ی زانو بنفش از شانه‌ی دستم

And I have rested my head on my knees from regret like a violet flower

که دارم چون بنفشه سر به زانوی پشیمانی


Here Khāqānisees a violet as someone who is resting his head on his knees because of his regrets and sorrow and he portrays himself as such. Khāqāni is mentioned as also a connection between the Khurasani and Iraqi Styleby Foruzanfar[164]. Hafezborrowed the same image in one of his ghazals[165]:


Without her unruly curls, our melancholy-stricken heads

بی زلف سرکشش سر سودایی از ملال

We have rested on our kneecaps like violet

همچون بنفشه بر سر زانو نهاده‌ایم


These school names are not bound to regions either: for instance, one of the founders of School of Iraqis Sanāiwho lived in Ghazni in Greater Khurasan. Or Attārlived in Nishapur in Greater Khurasan, Khāqānilived in Sharvānand Rumi(originally from Wakhsh/Balkhin Greater Khurasan) lived most of his life in Konya in Asia Minorbut they are all prominent poets of School of Iraq. Or even though QatrānTabrizi lived in Azerbaijanhe is a poet of School of Khurasan. And Orfi Shirazi, Sāeb Tabrizi and Kalim Kāshani from Iranare associated with the Indian style.

These classification and school names were common and accepted by all experts and men of letters until Irans provinces in the Caucasuswere lost to RussianTsarist government in the 19th century after the Russo-Persian Wars and signing of the two treaties of Gulistan and Turcomanchay (in 1813 and 1828 respectively). Tsarist Russia and later, Sovietgovernment, decided to cut any links and relationship between Iran and its former provinces. So they started their nation-building and historical revisionism project. The invented term Azerbaijani School by Bertelsis a clear example of such nation-building concepts. The Soviet Orientalist E. E. Bertels in view of USSRnation building created new schools and labels for Persian poetryusing his own contemporary geographical names and regions then under Soviet rule[166]. So he came up with these names for schools in Persian poetry: Central Asian School, Trans-Caucasian School, Persian School (?!), and Indian School[167]. Aside from the Indian Style or School, none of the other terms have any historical basis or precedence. An implication of calling a school Persian would be that other schools were not Iranianand the poets of those schools were not Iranian either. An obvious baseless and distorted theory that implies Rudakiwas Central Asian but not Iranian, and his school was Central Asian rather than Khurasani! Of course, as has been demonstrated in the present work, Bertels had reservations about his political dissections of Persian literature and his unscientific methodology, but the political pressure upon him outweighed any attempted corrections[168].

Dr. Sakina Berenjian, while citing Rypkaand Bertels, makes the extravagant claim that[169] a distinguishing feature specific to Azerbaijani School is Christianimagery and symbolism and continues that: Christian imagery and symbolism, quotations from the Bible and other expressions inspired by Christian sources occur so frequently in the works of Khāqāniand Nezami in particular, that a comprehension of their work is almost impossible without a thorough knowledge of Christianity. Such a statement itself could be rooted in the Sovietattempt that shows that ancient people of The Caucasus(Georgians, Armenians and the Soviet anachronistic concepts of an Azeripeople in the 12th century) being closely bound and fighting jointly against Persians, Arabs and Islam.

The fact is such symbolism and imagery is found mainly in Khāqāniand not all poets of that region. There are two reasons for Khāqānis usage of these symbolisms. First, Khāqānis mother was a Nestorian Christianand then converted to Islam and freed. Khāqāni explains this in one of his poems[170]:


My mother was Nestorian and had lineage from Mubads

نسطوری و موبدی نژادش

Her nature was, however, Islamic and Believer

اسلامی و ایزدی نهادش

Her birthplace was the land of Byzantine

مولد بُده خاک ذوعطابش

Her (spiritual) father was Philip the Great

فیلاقوس الکبیر بابش

So, she chose based on her reason and intuition

پس کرده گزین به عقل و الهام

Islam over the religion of the (Christian)priests

بر کیش کشیش دین اسلام

She fled from Nestorian confession

بگریخته از عتاب نسطور

And she grasped in the Written Book (=Quran)

آویخته در کتاب مسطور

She was a Lady like Zulaikha

کدبانو بوده چون زلیخا

But she became a slave like Yusuf (Joseph)

بَرده شده باز یوسف‌آسا

She was brought from the Rome of Straying

از روم ضلالت آوریده

She was raised by Slave-Trader of Salvation

نـخّاس هُدیش پروریده

Since she saw Quranand There is no God but God

تا مصحف و لااله دیده

She became estranged with Bible and the crucifix

ز انجیل و صلیب دررمیده


Khāqānis mother might have told her son about the Christianityand some of his knowledge might have been through his mother. Alternatively, Khāqāni was very learned in all fields and could have studied the main concepts of other religions.

Second, not all poems of Khāqāniare laden with Christianimagery and symbolism, rather, only few and possibly only two are such. One is called the Christian panegyric and its title mentions: on complaints from imprisonment and eulogy of Master of Rome, Izzu-dowlah Caesar. Khāqāni composed this poem for the Caesar of Byzantiumto intercede on his behalf and help Khāqāni out of prison. The famous orientalist Vladimir Minorskyhas an extensive commentary on this poem in 30 pages and shows that this Caesar was in fact Andronicus Comnenus[171]. Khāqāni has used all of his Christian knowledge to impress the Caesar and incite him to intercede on his behalf. Many of Muslim poets did not understand this poem due to their lack of familiarity with Christian terms, symbols and imagery. Even though Minorsky was a great scholar and Iranologist, he never considered Khāqāni a poet of Azerbaijani School. Khāqāni has another poem in which he uses Maryam (Mary) and Isā (Jesus) repeatedly with some references to their story and they are merely to show off his mastery of words. Otherwise, Khāqāni has composed many long poems about his trips to Mecca and his pilgrimages to Kaaba and the shrine of Prophet of Islam. Or Nezamis treatment of the prophet of Islams ascension (merāj) is the most elaborate amongst Persian poets. Should we not consider such Islamic imagery and symbolism characteristics of Azerbaijani School? Khāqāni has a moving poem about his visit to the Ctesiphon and remains of Sassanidpalace (Arch of Khusraw) where he expresses his love for Ancient Persiaand his grief about the fall of Sassanid. Nezami talks about Iranbeing the center of the World and composed most of his epic about Ancient Persia. Should we not consider these as characteristics of Azerbaijani School? Both Khāqāni and Nezami have extensive and frequent references to pre-Islamic Iran, especially the Persian Sassanid Empire (Nezami has devoted large parts of his works, 3 out of 5 books, to pre-Islamic history of Iran). Should we not consider this as characteristics of Azerbaijani School?

As noted by Schimmelin her study of Christianinfluences in Persian poetry, while Persian poetry in general contains a good number of allusions to JesusChrist, Mary and Christianity, most of the images and ideas expressed about Jesus and Mary are Quranic elaborations[172]. According to Schimmel, only among a few poets who had firsthand contact with Christian communities of Persiaand Anatolia, such as Khāqāniand Rumi, do some lines betray more intimate knowledge of Christian customs and concepts[173]. We should note that Sanāi, Rumi and Attārfor example reference Christianity, Jesus and Mary more often than most of the Caucasian Persian poets. Or for example, Sadi, Nāser-e Khusraw, Rudakihave some parables and themes about Jesus which are close to their Gospel versions[174], but this does not allow for the creation of a new school of Persian poetry or classification of these poets into a separate category. No one has ever seen in the poems of Nezami, Khāqāni, and Mujir Baylaqāni, neither has heard about other poets of Arrān, Sharvānand the Caucasus who are wrongly claimed by the USSRwrites as poets of Azerbaijani School so much Christian imagery and symbolism that prevents readers from understanding their poems, as was claimed in the definition of Azerbaijani School. Should all the numerous imitations of Nezami who themselves were overwhelmingly Muslim and understood the poetry of Nezami without Christianity also be considered as part of this school? As a whole, it is clear that Armenianand GeorgianChristians influenced the Iranianpeoples of the Caucasus more than other Iranian speaking regions. Likely, idioms from these cultures which are more permeated from Christianity had entered the Iranian languages of the area. However, as mentioned, most of the sources and imageries of Christ and Mary in Persian poetry is actually Quranic[175], and the usage of elements borrowed from Christianity in Persian poetry is not solely confined to the Persian poets of the Caucasus[176]. Even in the works of Khāqāni, who takes the foremost place amongst the Caucasian Persian poets, the usage of Christian imagery is extremely small compared to his Islamic and Iranian pre-Islamic terminology and imagery. Consequently, the formulation of new school of Persian by the USSR in the 20th century that bases one of its main pillars upon exaggeration of Christian elements is questionable.

As far we have researched in the books and works published in Iranbefore 1991 by Iranianauthor, the term Azerbaijani School of Persian poetrywas never used by any notable literally scholar. QatrānTabrizi has always been considered a poet from School of Khurasan and Nezami and Khāqāniwere considered poets of School of Iraq. Even HafezShirazi, who has benefited a lot from the works of Khāqāni and Nezami, compared his poetry with the poetry of Nezami[177]:


Hafez!Your poems are like a necklace of exquisite pearls from fine water

چو سِلک دُرّ خوشاب است شعر نغز تو حافظ

Considering their delicateness, they surpass the poetry of Nezami

که گاه لطف سبق می‌برد ز نظم نظامی


Hafezeven composed his Sāqi-Nāma following similar pieces in Nezamis Eskandar-Nāma. Hafez explicitly refers his poetry to the School of Iraq[178]:


Hafezs lyrics are ghazals in the school of Iraq

غزلیّات عراقی است سرود حافظ

Who heard these heart-rending songs and never screamed for sympathy?

که شنید این ره جانسوز که فریاد نکرد؟


After the collapse of the SovietUnion in 1991, its opening to the outside world and outflow of Soviet-era materials abroad, some Iranians became familiar with the Soviet discover named Azerbaijani School. In 1997, in the Jun-July issue of Kayhān Farhangi magazine in Tehran, an article was published under the title of Azerbaijani School of Persian poetry by Ahmad Zākeri. He, too, despite all historical evidences and even despite the explicit writings of Khāqāniand Nezami, considered them as poets of Azerbaijani School. Interestingly, he writes about Nezami, Khāqāni, Sharvāni, Falaki Sharvāni, Mujir Baylaqāni and Dhulfiqār Sharvāni: All these composers and poets from Azerbaijanbelieved that they were creating material in the School of Iraqnot Azerbaijani School[179]! This means, Khāqāni Sharvāni, Nezami Ganjavi, Mujir Baylaqāni, Falaki Sharvāni and others thought that they were composing poem in the School of Iraq, but 800 years later, the USSRnation-builders and other scholars ignorant of the USSR nation building discovered that these poets were mistaken but they did not realize it!

Khāqāniclearly proclaims himself as the successor of SanāiGhaznavi, who was one of the founders of School of Iraqand even claims that his first name, Badil, is the result of this affiliation (Badil means alternate or successor)[180]:


I am the successor (badal) of Sanāiin this world

بدل من آمدم اندر جهان سنایی را

That is the reason why my father named me Badil

بدین دلیل پدر نام من بدیل نهاد


And he mentions[181]:


When Time wrote off the period of Sanāi

چون زمان دور سنایی درنوشت

The Sky gave birth to a Word-Master like me

آسمان چون من سخن گستر بزاد

When a poet was interred in Ghazni

چون به غزنین شاعری شد زیر خاک

The land of Sharvāngave birth to a Wizard like me

خاک شروان ساحری دیگر بزاد


It is interesting that Mr. Zākeri is himself amazed with this new discovery and quotes lines from these poets, where they clearly and explicitly called their style the School of Iraq. He then continues: In our critique and judgment, a point worth considering and investigation is that all the poets of the Azerbaijani School called themselves poets of Iraqi Styleand never designated their style as Azari or Azerbaijani[182]. Then he brings examples from their poems.



I am the king of poems and prose in Khurasan and Iraq

پادشاه نظم و نثرم در خراسان و عراق

I have brought examples from any point to people of knowledge

که اهل دانش را ز هر لفظ امتحان آورده‌ام


Dhulfiqār Sharvāni[184]:


Even though my mind is excited in the Iraqi Style