JĀMEʿ AL-ḤEKĀYĀT (lit. Compiler of stories), one of the oldest and most common titles of mostly anonymous Persian story collections, dating from the 13th to the 19th century. Although various manuscripts of such collections have different titles, such as Jāmeʿ al-masāʾel and Jāmeʿ al-ḥekāyāt (Berlin, 1031; Pertsch, IV, p. 988), Jāmeʿ at-takāyāt (Blochet, Paris, Supp. Pers. 2039), Majmʿ al-ḥekāyāt (Dushanbe, Orientalistics 11.338; Dānešpa-žuh), Majmuʿa-ye ḥekāyāt (Dushanbe, Orientalistics 649), the title of most manuscripts is just Jāmeʿ al-ḥekāyāt.

Most of the comprising texts of Jāmeʿ al-ḥekāyāt are parables, a genre with a long tradition in the Persian literature, the record of which goes back to the Arsacids (Draxt ī asūrik) and Sasanid (Baḵtiār-nāma, Sindbād-nāmag) literature. For instance, one may mention “Ḥekā-yat-e dur oftādan-e Bahrām Gōr az laškar . . .” (Ṣafā, 1984b, V/3, p. 1531) and the story about Bahrām and his vizier Rāst Rowšan, related by Ḵᵛāja Neẓām-al-Molk (pp. 31-41) as relatively recent narrations and transcript of two episodes from the adventures of Bahrām V Gōr (q.v.; Ṣafā, 1984b, V/3, pp. 1531-32). Some of the parables of Jāmeʿ al-ḥekāyāt in the manuscript D327 in Saint Petersburg (Akimushkin et al., I, p. 139) are so similar to the stories found in the Marzbān-nāma of Saʿd-al-Din Varāvini that it led Breshovskii to believe that this copy was another version of Marzbān-nāma (Akimushkin et al., I, p. 11).

The striking similarity of the title of Jāmeʿ al-ḥekāyāt with Jawāmeʿ al-ḥekāyāt, the shortened form of the Jawāmeʿ al-ḥekāyāt wa lawāmeʿ al-rewāyāt of Sadid-al-Din Moḥammad ʿAwfi (late 12th-early 13th cent. C.E.; q.v.), has caused Jāmeʿ al-ḥekāyāt to be overshadowed by the latter and to remain relatively unknown.

The most prominent characteristic of Jāmeʿ al-ḥekāyāt that singles it out among all Iranian books of this genre, is the extensive divergence of different manuscripts, to the point that one hardly finds two manuscripts of this title that consist of similar parables or have the same number of parables. This obvious variety of the content is due to the fact that various collections bearing the same title were compiled by authors at different times since the 13th century; the most recent collection was compiled in the 19th century.

ʿAwfi compiled his Jawāmeʿ al-ḥekāyāt wa lawāmeʿ al-rewāyāt, using a variety of sources including Abu ʿAli Moḥassen Tanuḵi’s al-Faraj baʿd al-šedda, which he had translated into Persian (ʿAwfi, Moʿin’s Intro., p. 34; Nafisi, I, pp. 97-98; Ṣafā, 1984b, V/3, p. 1028). The next author to translate Tanuḵi’s book into Persian was Ḥo-sayn Asʿad Dahestāni, who carried out the translation during the years 1253-74 (ʿAwfi, Moʿin’s Intro., p. 35) and called his book Jāmeʿ al-ḥekāyāt fi tarjamat al-faraj baʿd al-sedda wa’l-żiqa (Ṣafā, 1984b, III/2. p. 1236; Dahestāni, editor’s intro., p. xiv). Of all the collections that were compiled after Dahestāni, forty-one manuscripts are known to exist in the libraries of Tashkent (11 MSS), Dushanbe (9 MSS), Saint Petersburg (4 MSS), Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris and Ketāb-ḵāna-ye melli-e Malek (3 MSS each), India Office and Berlin (2 MSS each), Āstān-e Qods in Mashad, Elāḥiyāt in Mashad, Marʿašī in Qom, Qāżi private collection in Tehran, Ganj-baḵs in Pakistan, Ann Arbor in Michigan, and Bengal Asiatic Society in Calcutta (1 MS each).

The oldest manuscript of Jāmeʿ al-ḥekāyāt is the manuscript A103 (902F; Akimushkin et al., I, p. 137) of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg. It was evidently compiled some time during the reign of ʿAlāʾ-al-Din Moḥammad Shah, the Ḵalji ruler of Delhi (r. 1295-1316), to whom the book is dedicated. The youngest collection is apparently the manuscript kept at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Supp. Pers. 2039 (Blochet, IV, pp. 374-78), which bears the date 1862 and also contains several stories in verse (for a sample of verses, see Ṣafā, 1984b, V/3, p. 1542).

Alongside the noticeable divergence that differentiates various manuscripts of Jāmeʿ al-ḥekāyāt, one also finds some clear points of similarity and even connection. The most evident sign of the texts being related to each other is the common use of some parables (e.g., “Dorudgar wa julā wa doḵtar-e pādšāh-e ʿOmmān,” “Shah Bahrām Gōr wa ʿāšeq šodan be Bānu Ḥosn doḵtar-e šāh-e pariān,” “Māni-e naqqāš wa šāhzāda-ye Boḵārā,” “Farroḵšāh wa Farroḵruz wa Farroḵnāz,” “Šāhzāda Moslem wa Maleka Hezār-gisu,” etc.; for the brief summaries of some stories, see Ṣafā, 1984b, V/3, pp. 1520 ff.). Some manuscripts also contain the stories of Baḵtiār-nāma attached to the end of the collection. In the view of Evagnĭ Eduardovich Berthels (q.v.), the purpose behind some of the late collections was to popularize the main tenets of the Shiʿite doctrine in a way that would be accessible to common folks (Berthels, pp. 83-84, apud Cejpek, p. 681).

The number of parables varies in different manuscripts of Jāmeʿ al-ḥekāyāt. The smallest volume in the India Office (India Office 798) contains only four parables and the largest one (India Office 797) fifty three (Ethé, I, pp. 524-26).

Unfortunately, most of Jāmeʿ al-ḥekāyāt collections remain anonymous, as the first and last pages, which might have contained the compiler’s name, are missing in many manuscripts, while some other manuscripts seem to have been compiled without recording any indication of the compiler’s name. A number of compilers, however, have mentioned their own names, for instance Shaikh Moḥam-mad- ʿAẓim Baldāsi (Bibliothèque nationale, Paris, Supp. Pers. 907; Blochet, IV, pp. 84-85; Ṣafā, 1984b. V/3, pp. 1535-36) and Mašhadi ʿAbd-al-Raḥim Beg Meʿmār Širāzi in Manuscript 42 (Petermann 718) in Berlin (Pertsch, IV, pp. 94-95).

The Jāmeʿ al-ḥekāyāt of Ketāb-ḵāna-ye melli-e Malek in Tehran (1044), apparently following suit the format of Jawāmeʿ al-ḥekāyāt wa lawāmeʿ al-rewāyāt of Moḥammad ʿAwfi, is divided into one hundred chapters, each one made of ten parables. This manuscript can be considered unique for the fact that it does not have any resemblance to the manuscripts of Saint Petersburg, Pakistan, or Mashad (Ḥojjati and Monzawi, p. 389). It consists of 998 parables written in nastaʿliq calligraphy (see CALIGRAPHY) on 414 sheets, which makes it an incomplete manuscript of Jāmeʿ al-ḥekāyāt with the largest number of parables.

There exists three translations of Jāmeʿ al-ḥekāyāt into Kāšḡari Turkish; the oldest one was done by Mollā Sanjar b. Ebrāhim Kāšḡari in 1849-50 and the most recent one by Ḥāji Yusof Safarbay in 1906-07 (Mughinuv, pp. 99-100).

The first edition of a Jāmeʿ al-ḥekāyāt manuscript, in which the first and the last pages are missing, was published by Abu’l-Fażl Qāżi in 1976 as Āvarda-and ke (ed. Qāżi). Roxane Haag-Higuchi chose the manuscript of Āstān-e Qods as the subject of her thesis (Afšār, p. 748); her study and German translation of the text was published in 1984 (Haag-Higuchi, pp. 117-200). A selection of nine parables of the copy of Āstān-e Qods was edited and published as Qeṣṣa-ye hezār-gisu by Sayyed ʿAli Rażawi Behābād in 2001.



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(Dariush Kargar)

Originally Published: December 15, 2008

Last Updated: April 10, 2012

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Vol. XIV, Fasc. 5, pp. 459-461