DAWLATŠĀH b. Amīr ʿAlāʾ-al-Dawla Boḵtīšāh Ḡāzī SAMARQANDĪ, AMĪR (b. ca. 842/1438, d. 900/1494 or 913/1507), author of Taḏkerat al-šoʿarāʾ (Memorial of poets), a book containing biographies of about 150 poets with specimens of their poetry, as well as historical information. Dawlatšāh was one of the few authors before the 16th century to have devoted a work entirely to poets, arranged more or less chronologically. His is the second such full-length Persian taḏkera of poets to have survived, the first being Lobāb al albāb by ʿAwfī. The only other earlier work known to have been of the same type, Abū Ṭāher Ḵāṭūnī’s Manāqeb al-šoʿarāʾ, has apparently been lost. Dawlatšāh was unaware of these earlier works, however (Nafīsī, Naẓm o naṯr I, pp. 13, 87-88).
The title “amir” in his name and information given by ʿAlī-Šīr Navāʾī (Majāles al-nafāʾes, p. 108), to whom the Taḏkerat al-šoʿarāʾ was dedicated, indicate that Dawlatšāh belonged to the the ruling elite. His father, ʿAlāʾ-al-Dawla Boḵtīšāh, was a confidant of the Timurid Šāhroḵ (807-50/1405-47), and his brother Amir Rażī-al-Dīn ʿAlī, who wrote poetry in Persian and Turkish, served Abu’l-Qāsem Bābor in Khorasan (853-61/1459-57). Dawlatšāh himself wrote poetry and was for a time a companion of Sultan Ḥosayn Bāyqarā (875-912/1470-1506), but he eventually withdrew from court and government service (Dawlatšāh, ed. Browne, pp. 11, 337-38, 455-56; Ḵayyāmpūr, Soḵanvarān, p. 399). As Dawlatšāh completed Taḏkerat al-šoʿarāʾ in 892/1486, when he was about fifty years old, he was probably born in 842/1438 (Dawlatšāh, ed. Browne, pp. 11, 403). His death was reported by Ḥājī Ḵalīfa (Kašf al-ẓonūn, ed. Yaltkaya and Bilge, I, cols. 387-88) and by Esmāʿīl Pāšā Bāḡdādī (col. 364) as having occurred in 913/1507, though Charles Rieu, on the authority of Merʾāt al-ṣafāʾ by Moḥammad-ʿAlī Borhānpūrī (comp. 1148/1735), proposed the year 900/1494 (Persian Manuscripts I, p. 364).
Taḏkerat al-šoʿarāʾ is divided into a lengthy preface with a biographical notice about the author; a preamble on ten poets who composed in Arabic; seven chapters on poets who composed in Persian, from Rūdakī to Dawlatšāh’s contemporaries; and an epilogue on six great men of letters who lived in the author’s time (e.g., ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān Jāmī, ʿAlī-Šīr Navāʾī) with a biographical sketch of Sultan Ḥosayn Bāyqarā. It is written in flowing prose, in a style between the epistolary and the ornate. Its chief merit is the information that it provides on the lives and works of poets who lived after the composition of Lobāb al-albāb. It should not, however, be overlooked that the author paid little heed to the veracity of the information that he collected, some of which belongs to the realm of fairy tales. Furthermore, the earlier the poet, the more frequent are the errors and flaws. Nevertheless, a critical reader can find much reliable and useful information, especially about periods closer to the author’s own time.
Editions of Taḏkerat al-šoʿarāʾ have been published by an anonymous editor (Bombay, 1887); E. G. Browne (Leiden and London, 1901); and Moḥammad Ramażānī (Tehran, 1338 Š./1959). It was translated into Turkish in the mid-16th century (Kašf al-ẓonūn, ed. Yaltkaya and Bilge, cols. 387-88). According to Browne (Lit. Hist. Persia III, p. 436), a second, abridged Turkish translation, by Solaymān Fahmī, appeared under the title Safīnat al-šoʿarāʾ in 1259/1843. In modern Turkish there is a translation in four volumes by Necâti Lugal (Istanbul, 1977). A German translation was published by Josef von Hammer (Geschichte der schönen Redekünste Persiens . . ., Vienna, 1818).
Bahār, Sabk-šenāsī III, pp. 184 ff.
Esmāʿīl Pāšā Bāḡdādī, Hedayāt al-ʿārefīn I, Istanbul, 1951.
Browne, “The Sources of Dawlat-shah,” JRAS, 1899, pp. 37-60.
Idem, Lit. Hist. Persia III, index, s.v. Dawlatshāh. Golčīn-e Maʿānī, Taḏkerahā I, pp. 264-66.
C. Huart and [H. Massé], “Dawlat-shāh,” in EI2 II, p. 179.
M. F. Köprülü, “Devlet-şah,” in İA III, pp. 560-62.
Ṣafā, Adabīyāt IV, 4th ed, Tehran, 1366 Š./1977, pp. 531-34.
Originally Published: December 15, 1994
Last Updated: November 18, 2011
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Vol. VII, Fasc. 2, pp. 149-150