ESKĀFI, ABŪ ḤANĪFA, Persian poet, mentioned among the court poets of Ḡazna (Čahār maqāla, ed. Qazvīnī, text, p. 44). Contemporary information about his life is provided by Bayhaqī (q.v.), who met him for the first time in 451/1059 when the latter was still a young man. Abū Ḥanīfa, to whom Bayhaqī gives the titles ostād and faqīh, had already achieved a reputation as a religious scholar and a man of letters. Impressed by his talent as a panegyrist, the historian asked him to write qaṣīdas for his Tārīḵ-e masʿūdī, four of which are contained in the extant parts of the chronicle. During the reign of Farroḵzād (444-51/1053-59) when the patronage of poetry was at a low ebb, Eskāfī’s work did not draw the attention of the Ghaznavid court until Ebrāhīm succeeded to the throne. The new sultan ordered a few qaṣīdas and rewarded Eskāfī with the post of inspector (mošref) of a provincial district (Čahār maqāla, ed. Qazvīnī, comm., pp. 108-13). It is difficult to reconcile other sources mentioning a poet of the same name with Bayhaqī’s first-hand report. In Sanāʾī’s Dīvān (p. 639) a verse is quoted from a poem written by Bū Ḥanīfa for ʿOnṣorī (died 431/1039-40), which suggests that his career could have started at least twenty years before his meeting with Bayhaqī. On the other hand, his name also occurs in manuscripts of Sanāʾī’s Kār-nāma-ye Balḵī as a poet of the early 6th/12th century (Maṯnawīhā, p. 163), but this reference is almost certainly a later insertion. ʿAwfī (Lobāb, II, p. 175) mentions “Abū Ḥanīfa Eskāf” of Marv as a successful poet during the reign of Sanjar (490-552/1097-1157), “although he was [only] a shoemaker.” Bosworth suggests (p. 174, n. 88) this poet may be Abū Ḥanīfa of Panjdeh, a village near Marv-al-rūd, and author of a few Arabic verses cited by Bāḵarzī (q.v.). The Arabic nickname eskāf, shared by poets from Ḡazna and Marv, means shoemaker. This fact is not sufficient, however, to harmonize conflicting data concerning their lives (cf. Čahār maqāla, ed. Qazvīnī, comm., pp. 111-13). The fragments of Eskāfī’s poetry have been collected by Moḥammad Dabīrsīāqī.


Bibliography (for cited works not given in detail, see “Short References”):

M.-S. Aḵtar, “Abū Ḥanīfa Eskāfī Ḡaznavī,” Yāḡmā 31/5, 1357 (= 2537) Š./1978, pp. 302-5. ʿAwfī, Lobāb II, pp. 175-76.

Abu’l-Ḥasan Bāḵarzī, Domyat-al-qaṣr wa ʿoṣrat ahl al-ʿaṣr, Cairo, 1388/1968, II, p. 257.

Bayhaqī, ed. Nafīsī, I, pp. 329-36, 460-65; II, pp. 771-76; ed. Fayyāż, pp. 361-72, 486-93, 853-62.

Bosworth, Later Ghaznavids, p. 75.

J. T. P. de Bruijn, Of Piety and Poetry, Leiden, 1983, pp. 117, 149, 261.

M. Dabīrsīāqī, Ganj-e bāzyāfta I, Tehran, 1334 Š./1955, pp. 1-23.

B. Forūzānfar, Soḵan o soḵanvarān, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1350 Š./1971, pp. 198-202.

Ṣafā, Adabīyāt II3, pp. 398-402.

Sanāʾī, Dīvān, ed. M.-T. Modarres Rażawī, Tehran, 1341 Š./1962, p. 639.

Idem, Maṯnawīhā, ed. M.-T. Modarres Rażawī, Tehran, 1348 Š./1969, p. 163.

Storey/de Blois, V/1, pp. 64-65.

(J. T. P. de Bruijn)

Originally Published: December 15, 1998

Last Updated: January 19, 2012

This article is available in print.
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