DELŠĀD BARNĀ, Tajik educator, historian, and poetess bilingual in Persian and Chaghatay Turkish (b. Ura Tepe, 1800; d. Ḵˇoqand, 1905).

Delšād, who signed her poetry also with the pen name of Barnā, was born in Ura Tepe (historical Osrušana), in present-day northern Tajikistan. The main source for her biography is her own historical-biographical treatise Taʾriḵ-e mohājerān, as well as some verses included in her divān. According to Delšād’s own account, she lost both her parents when she was a child, and in 1816, during an assault on Ura Tepe by the Ḵˇoqand troops, she was captured and carried away to Ḵˇoqand (Divān, fols. 13, 44; Muḵtorov, 1969, p. 37). In that period, the Ḵˇoqand cultural and literary milieu was flourishing at the court of Moḥammad ʿOmar Khan (r. 1810-22) and his wife Nādera (1792-1842), who were themselves poets and actively promoted the social and cultural life of the khanate (Qayumov, p. 63). One may conjecture that Delšād was not a court poetess, since in the manuscript sources that have come down to us there is no evidence of her possible relationship with the female literary milieu of the Ḵˇoqand court, which was led by Nādera and was very active in the field of poetry in both Persian and Chaghatay (Grassi, p. 241; see also Chaghatay language and literature).

In 1820, Delšād married Tāš Maḵdum and started work as a teacher at the girls’ school (maktab; see Education iii; Education xxviii) of her mother-in-law, which was located in the Ḵˇāja Kalān quarter of Ḵˇoqand. It was her mother-in-law who familiarized her with the Chaghatay language and literature, since before arriving in Ḵˇoqand, as Delšād herself stated, she was monolingual in Persian. In 1830, Delšād opened her own girls’ school, where she regularly taught reading and writing to about thirty girls annually—891 girls in total during her fifty-years-long career as an educator (Taʾriḵ-e mohājerān, fols. 44, 49; Muḵtorov, 1969, pp. 44, 46).

Delšād’s work has survived in two manuscripts: a divān containing poetry in both Persian and Chaghatay, and a treatise in prose entitled Taʾriḵ-e mohājerān, composed in Persian (see Bibliography). Her divān, or Montaḵab al-ašʿār-e Barnā, contains 14 ḡazals in Persian, 50 poems in Chaghatay (among which 35 ḡazals, 13 moḵammases, one mosaddas, and one maṯnawi), and a bilingual poem which follows the literary device known as šir o šakar. It is dated 1321/1903-04 and was copied by Solaymānqol Rāji (d. 1924).

Delšād’s reputation as a prose-writer and historian rests primarily on her treatise Taʾriḵ-e mohājerān, which alternates her autobiography with the historiography of the Ḵˇoqand Khanate, covering the period 1810s-80s. Beginning from the first assaults on Ura Tepe by the Ḵˇoqand troops, she depicted the historical events up to the construction of the Farḡāna railway by the Russians (see Delšād, Taʾriḵ, fols. 1-68). The treatise also provides information on the literary milieu of Ḵˇoqand in the 19th century, introducing the biographies of eleven poets (Bahāri, Divāna Qāri, Golḵani [1770s-1827], Majḏub, Maḥjub, Maḵzani, Montaẓer, Neẓāmi, Ṣabuḥi, Ṣadāʾi, Turābi) and five poetesses, namely Fedāya, Ḥāfeẓa Ātin, Mahin Bānu, Nādera, and Jahān Ātin Oveysi (1780-1845) (Delšād, Taʾriḵ, fols. 56, 66, 67; ed. Muḵtorov, pp. 95 ff.). Of the works of these authors, only those of Golḵani, Nādera, and Jahān Ātin have come down to us; the others remain unknown to scholars.




Divān or Montaḵab al-ašʿār-e Barnā, MS of 44 folios, dated 1321/1903-04. Taʾriḵ-e mohājerān, MS of 68 folios, with several lacunas, undated. Although these two manuscripts were not identified in a library fund, they were available in the 1960s to the Tajik historian Aḥrār Moḵtārov (1924-2007), and as such they are traceable in photostat in Muḵtorov, 1969, pp. 333-72.


Tanlangan asarlar, ed. M. Qodirova, Tashkent, 1972.  

“Taʾriḵ-e mohājerān,” in Muḵtorov, 1969, pp. 191-204.  

[Poems], in Muḵtorov, 1969, pp. 207-291.  

[Poems], in Dilšod, Anbar Otin, ed. M. Qodirova, Tashkent, 1994, pp. 11-74.  

Translations into Russian: 

“Istoriya pereselentsev,” in Muḵtorov 1969, tr. N. N. Eršov, pp. 295-306. 

[Poems], in Zebunnisa, Dil’shod, Anbar-Atyn. Izbrannoe, tr. S. Ivanov, Tashkent, 1983, pp. 8-81.


Yuriĭ Akbarov, “Šoira Barno haqida qissa,” Rohi Kommunizm, 23 November 1963 to 25 December 1963.

Evelin Grassi, “Kokand men and women of letters who wrote both in Chaghatāy Turkish and Persian (first half of the 19th century),” Studia Iranica, 42/2, 2013, pp. 227-48. 

Ahror Muḵtorov, “Dastanavisi Dil’šod asira,” Tojikistoni sovetī, 4 September 1966. 

Idem (Akhror Mukhtarov), Dilshod i eë mesto v istorii obshchestvennoĭ mysli tadzhikskogo naroda v XIX nachala XX vv., Dushanbe, 1969.

Idem, Dilšodi Barno va merosi adabii ū, Dushanbe, 1970.

Aziz P. Qayumov, Qŭqon adabiĭ muhiti XVIII-XIX asrlar, Tashkent, 1961.

(Evelin Grassi)

Originally Published: August 7, 2014

Last Updated: January 1, 2000

Cite this entry:

Evelin Grassi, "DELŠĀD BARNĀ," Encyclopædia Iranica Online, available at (accessed on 7 August 2014).