TOḤFAT al-AḤBĀB (Gift for friends), a Persian dictionary of the early Safavid period, compiled by Ḥāfeẓ Solṭān-ʿAli Owbahi Heravi in 936/1529-30. Owbahi was born in Owba, a village near the city of Herat in present-day Afghanistan (on Owba see Gazetteer of Afghanisan III, pp. 320-24). He was a poet, calligrapher, and singer. He dedicated this dictionary to the vizier of Khorasan, probably Ḵᵛāja Karim-al-Din Ḥabib-Allāh of Sāva, who is not, however, mentioned by name (Ṣafā, Adabiyāt V, p. 374). The dictionary contains 2,483 words from everyday life and includes words found in early Persian poetry.

Owbahi says he was led to compile his dictionary when he noticed that the works of early poets were being neglected because many Persian terms used by them had become obsolete. His stated aim was to explain those Persian words, which actually form the majority of the entries. His dictionary, however, contains also many dialectal terms, especially from Transoxania, as well as names of persons, geographical locations, professional terminology, and a number of Arabic and Turkic words. It is organized in twenty-five chapters (bāb) in alphabetical order, each one containing words with a particular initial letter. Each chapter is divided into sections (faṣl), which are in order, each one containing words with a particular final letter. The work also contains an introduction, written in both poetry and prose, and ends with a brief extra chapter, “Bāb al-mostaʿārāt,” in which twenty-six metaphorical expressions are explained.

The work contains also 2,483 words cited from Persian poetry. The poems are mostly from the period of the Samanids, the dynasty that ruled over Transoxania and Khorasan between 819 and 1005. The author had at his disposal two earlier dictionaries, Asadi Ṭusi’s Loḡat-e fors and Meʿyār-e jamāli of Šams-e Faḵri, of which the former was apparently more important to him. In general, Toḥfat al-aḥbāb contains the same vocabulary found in Loḡat-e fors, but adds interpretations and expands definitions; it also contains entries not found in Loḡat-e fors The author changed the definitions of some words.

Toḥfat al-aḥbāb was an important dictionary that served as source for subsequent dictionaries such as Farhang-e rašidi, Farhang-e Soruri, and Farhang-e jahāngiri.


Edition. Farhang-e Toḥfat al-aḥbāb, ed. Feridun Taqizāda Ṭusi and N oṣrat-al-Zamān Riāżi Heravi, Mashhad, 1986.

Studies: A. K. Arends, “Tadzhiksko-persidskiĭ glossary Khafiza Obekhi,” in Trudy Instituta Vostokovedeniya Akademii Nauk Uzbekskoĭ SSR III, Tashkent, 1954, pp 83-106.

Solomon I. Bayevsky, Opisanie persidskikh rukopisei Instituta narodov Azii (Description of the Persian manuscripts in the Institute of the Peoples of Asia), fasc. 4, Moscow, 1962, pp. 22-26.

Idem, Rannyaya persidskaya leksikografiya, XI-XV vv. (Early Persian lexicography, 11th–15th centuries), Moscow, 1989.

H. Blochmann, “Contributions to Persian Lexicography,” J(R)ASB 37/1, 1868, p. 4.

Moḥammad Dabirsiāqi, Farhanghā-ye fārsi wa farhang-gunahā, Tehran, 1989, pp. 78-80.

Idem, Farhanghā-ye fārsi be fārsi, Tehran, 1996, pp. 82-85.

V. A. Kapranov a, Lugat-i furs Asadi Tusi i ego mesto v istorii tadzhikskoĭ-farsi leksikografii (The Loḡat-e Fors of Asadi Ṭusi and its place in the history of Tajik-Persian lexicography), Dushanbe, 1964.

Paul Anton de Lagarde, Persische Studien, Göttingen, 1884, pp. 27-28.

Monzawi, Nosḵahā III, pp. 1925-26. Rieu, Persian Manuscripts II, pp. 494-95.

Carl Salemann, “Bericht über die Ausgabe des Miʿjāri Jamālī,” Mélangesasiatiques 9, St. Petersburg, 1888, p. 523, n. 47. Storey,III/1, p. 18.

(Solomon Bayevsky)

Originally Published: July 20, 2005

Last Updated: July 20, 2005