BĀBĀ SANKŪ (or SANGŪ), ecstatic Central Asian dervish of disorderly habits, contemporary with Tīmūr and one of several Sufis with whom Tīmūr chose to associate for reasons of state. The name Sankū does not yield any obvious meaning, and should perhaps be read as Süngü (Turk. “pike”); the dervish in question may have carried a pike as part of his accoutrement. He appears to have spent his entire life in Andḵūd (Transoxiana), where he was famous for his miraculous feats. When Tīmūr passed through Andḵūd in 728/1381, en route to his first campaign in Iran, he visited Bābā Sankū and sat down with him to eat. For no apparent reason, Bābā Sankū picked up a roast breast of lamb and threw it straight at Tīmūr. Delighted by this gesture, Tīmūr predicted that just as he had had the choicest part of the meat thrown at him, he would soon go on to conquer the choicest part of the globe, i.e., Khorasan. Bābā Sankū’s tomb in Andḵūd became a place of visitation, and he was succeeded in his spiritual dignity first by Bābā Jān Bābā (sic) and then by Bābā Ebrāhīm. A ḵānaqāh was constructed near the tombs of the three men and remained in use for an unknown period.



Ḥabīb al-sīar (Tehran) III, p. 543.

Alî ŞÂ´ir Nevâyî, Nesâyimüʾ l-mahabbe min şemâyimiʾ l-fütüvve, ed. K. Eraslan, Istanbul, 1979, p. 392.

Browne, Lit. Hist. Persia III, pp. 184-85.

V. V. Bartol’d, Sochineniya II, 2, Moscow, 1964, p. 44.

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 بابا سنکو baba sankoo  baabaa sankoo baba sankou
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(H. Algar)

Originally Published: December 15, 1988

Last Updated: August 18, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. III, Fasc. 3, p. 295