ABU’L-QĀSEM ʿABDALLĀH KĀŠĀNĪ, historian of the reign of the Il-khan Olǰāytū (r. 703-16/1304-16) and member of the Abū Ṭāher family of potters. He was apparently associated with two rivals of the period, the viziers Fażlallāh Rašīd-al-dīn and Tāǰ-al-dīn ʿAlīšāh. The first (and probably original) preface to his earliest work (no. 3, below) is dedicated to Rašīd-al-dīn, the second to Tāǰ-al-dīn. The first preface gives the author’s name as ʿAbdallāh b. ʿAlī b. Moḥammad b. Abī Ṭāher al-Qāšānī al-Mowarreḵ al-Ḥāseb (“the chronicler, the mathematician”). The epithets suggest a role in Mongol administration, and his preferences to gem prices (no. 3, below) and to other prices and income (no. 2) suggest his interest in economic affairs. Perhaps, as a chronicler, he recorded daily court activities in addition to writing historical narratives; his chronicle of Olǰāytū’s reign seems to derive from such day-to-day records (J. A. Boyle, “The Significance of the Jāmʿ al-Tawārīkh as a Source on Mongol History,” Īrān-šenāsī 2, 1970, pp. 1-8).

Works. 1. Zobdat al-tawārīḵ, a general history of the Islamic world down to the fall of Baghdad, dedicated to Olǰāytū. Only a small portion of the text has been published, and its significance remains uncertain (see Blochet, Introduction, pp. 144-57; Jahn, “Study,” pp. 201-02).

2. Tārīḵ-e Olǰāytū, an account of the ruler’s reign up to his death (27 Ramażān 716/13 December 1316). The work also presents a detailed account of the quarrel between Tāǰ-al-dīn and Rašīd-al-dīn, lavishly praising Tāǰ-al-dīn and expressing hostility toward Rašīd-al-dīn. The author alleges that he intends to provide a more complete picture of the reign than that given in Rašīd-al-dīn’s Jāmeʿ al-tawārīḵ (Tārīḵ-e Olǰāytū, ed. M. Hambly, Tehran, 1348 Š./1969, pp. 2-6). He in fact claims to have written that portion of the Jāmeʿ presented to Olǰāytū by Rašīd-al-dīn (ed., pp. 4-5, 54-55, 240-41), and apparently resented the bestowal of lucrative properties on Rašīd-al-dīn as a reward, while he received nothing. The account of Olǰāytū’s reign in the Jāmeʿ has not yet been found. Abu’l-Qāsem probably transferred his allegiance to Tāǰ-al-dīn, who became vizier in 711/1312. It was apparently after that date that Abu’l-Qāsem rededicated his earliest work (see no. 3) to Tāǰ-al-dīn, described as vizier in the preface. The earliest extant manuscript of the Tārīḵ-e Olǰāytū is dated 29 Rabīʿa II 725/14 April 1325 (ibid., intro., pp. 17-18, text, p. 241).

3. ʿArāʾes al-ǰawāher wa nafāʾes al-aṭāʾeb, a treatise on minerals, gems, and perfumes. It was apparently written in 700/1300-01, the date occurring in the text and in the colophon of a copy which may be author’s autograph (ed. Ī. Afšār, Tehran, 1345 Š./1966, preface, pp. 13, 16-17). That colophon, since it contains the dedication to Tāǰ-al-dīn, may have been added to an earlier manuscript, or colophon and text may have been recopied after 711/1312. Most of the text is taken, often verbatim, from the Tansūḵ-nāma-ye īlḵānī of Ḵᵛāǰa Naṣīr-al-dīn Ṭūsī, which itself is heavily indebted to Bīrūnī’s Ketāb al-ǰamāher fī maʿrefat al-ǰawāher (ibid., preface, pp. 17-18, text, pp. 360-68; Tansūḵ-nāma, ed. Modarres Rażawī, Tehran, 1347 Š./1968, intro., pp. 12-14). But Abu’l-Qāsem adds valuable information on the Mongol period—e.g., prices of various gems (pp. 45-48 passim, 78, 119, 120, 122) and formulas for manufacturing imitations of turquoise and lapis lazuli (pp. 71-72, 137). He mentions gold mines in Dāmḡān and Kermān, silver mines in Anatolia, and copper mines in Azerbaijan (pp. 215-16, 224, 229). These last provided metal for Ḡāzān Khan’s coins. A short appendix on ceramic production provides valuable insight into the materials and techniques of Iranian potters (Ritter, Steinbücher, pp. 16-48; J. W. Allan, “Abu’l Qasim’s Treatise on Ceramics,” Iran 11, 1976, pp. 111-20). Rašīd-al-dīn may have borrowed from Abu’l-Qāsem in his own compendium of practical information, al-Āṯār wa’l-aḥyāʾ, which contained information on minerals and gems and their uses. However, only portions of the vizier’s treatise have survived (Quatremère, ed., Histoire, p. CLVIII; K. Jahn, “The Still Missing Works of Rašīd Al-dīn,” Central Asiatic Journal 9, 1964, p. 118).


E. Blochet, Introduction à l’histoire des Mongols de Fadl Allah Rashid ed-Al-dīn, Paris, 1910.

Raschid-eldin, Histoire des Mongols de la Perse, ed. E. Quatremère, repr. Amsterdam, 1968.

K. Jahn, “Study on Supplementary Persian Sources for the Mongol History of Iran,” in Aspects of Altaic Civilization, Bloomington, 1963.

H. Ritter et al., Orientalische Steinbücher und Persische Fayencetechnik, Istanbuler Mitteilungen 3, Istanbul, 1935.

(P. P. Soucek)

Originally Published: December 15, 1983

Last Updated: July 21, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 4, pp. 362-363

Cite this entry:

P. P. Soucek, “ABU’L-QĀSEM ʿABDALLĀH KĀŠĀNĪ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/4, pp. 362-363; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abul-qasem-abdallah-kasani-historian-of-the-reign-of-the-il-khan-olaytu-r (accessed on 31 January 2014).