ḠAZNAVĪ, ABŪ RAJĀʾ, a poet at the court of the Ghaznavid sultan Bahrāmšāh b. Masʿūd III (r. 511-?522/1117-?1157). His dīvān, mentioned by Sadīd-al-Dīn ʿAwfī, has not survived, but a few of his poems are quoted by later anthologists and historians who refer to him under a variety of appellations and sobriquets. In Neẓāmī ʿArūżī Samarqandī’s Čahār maqāla, written in 550-52/1155-57, his name appears in the list of the Ghaznavid poets as Šāh Bū Rajāʾ with no further comments (ed. Qazvīnī, text, p. 44). The first major source of information on his poetry, repeated by later anthologists, is ʿAwfī’s Lobāb al-albāb, perhaps completed in 618/1221, where he is referred to as al-Ḥakīm Šehāb-al-Dīn ʿAlī Abū Rajāʾ al-Ḡaznavī (ʿAwfī, Lobāb II, p. 276). Two finely crafted panegyric poems (qaṣīdas) are quoted, both referring explicitly to Bahrāmšāh b. Masʿūd (pp. 277-81), with a possible allusion to his Indian campaigns (p. 280). ʿAwfī also cites a couplet and two pieces of occasional verse (qeṭʿa) on a frequent topic in both medieval Persian and Arabic poetry, the description of a phlebotomy (faṣd) performed usually on the poet’s patron, in this case Bahrāmšāh (pp. 281-22). However, verses very similar to those quoted by ʿAwfī are also attributed to other poets in other sources and in reference to different addressees (e.g. Sanāʾī, pp. 1052-53; Loḡat-e fors, ed. Dabīrsīāqī, p. 12 under šast, where they are attributed to ʿAsjadī). Another early source of reference to Abū Rajāʿ is Ebn al-Mojāwer, whose Taʾrīḵ al-mostabṣer, written in Arabic perhaps shortly after 626/1229 (EI2 III, p. 881), contains several interesting excerpts from Persian poetry. Two verses from “Ebn al-Rajāʾ” with their Arabic paraphrase are quoted by him (Ebn al-Mojāwer, pp. 84-85).
Later anthologies of the 18th and 19th centuries attribute additional verses to the poet which are not found in ʿAwfī. In one manuscript of Āḏar Bīgdelī’s (see ĀZAR BĪGDELĪ) Ātaškada-ye Āḏar,his date of death is given as 509/1115-16, and in other manuscripts as 558/1162-63 and 597/1200-1201 (Ātaškada II, p. 572, n. 9). In Reżāqolī Khan Hedāyat’s Majmaʿ al-foṣaḥāʾ (I, p. 148), the date of death is also given as 597 /1200-1201. This last mentioned date seems implausibly late and the other chronological suggestions, as well as the other additional poems, are perhaps all conjectural.
Ebn al-Mujāwer, Taʾrīḵ al-mostabṣer, ed. O. Löfgren as Descriptio Arabiae Meridionalis, 2 vols., Leiden, 1951-54; repr. as Ṣefat belād al-Yaman wa Makka wa baʿż al-Ḥejāz, Beirut, 1986.
Ṣafā, Adabīyāt II, pp. 615-18 (s.v. Šāh Bū Rajāʾ).
Abu’l-Majd Majdūd Sanāʾī Ḡaznavī, Dīvān, ed. M.-T. Modarres Rażawī, Tehran, 1341 Š./1962.
Storey/de Blois, V/2, pp. 534-55, (no. 286, Shāh Bū Rajāʾ).
Originally Published: December 15, 2000
Last Updated: February 3, 2012
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