Rudaki depicted as a blind poet, here on this Iranian stamp.
Abu Abdollah Jafar ibn Mohammad Rudaki.
Abu Abdollah Jafar ibn Mohammad Rudaki (Persian: ابوعبدالله جعفر ابن محمد رودکی, Tajik:Абӯабдуллоҳ Ҷаъфар Ибни Муҳаммад, entitledآدم الشعرا Ādam ul-Shoara or Adam of Poets), also written as Rudagi (858 - ca. 941), was a Persian poet, and is regarded as the first great literary genius of the Modern Persian, who composed poems in the "New Persian" alphabet. Rudaki is considered as a founder of Persian classical literature.
He was born in 858 in Rudak (Panjrud), a village located in Panjakent, Tajikistan. Even though most of his biographers assert that he was completely blind, some early biographers are silent about this or do not mention him as being born blind. His accurate knowledge and description of colors, as evident in his poetry, renders this assertion very doubtful. He was the court poet to the Samanid ruler Nasr II (914–943) in Bukhara, although he eventually fell out of favour; his life ended in poverty.
At the Samanid court
Early in his life, the fame of his accomplishments reached the ear of the Samanid Nasr II ibn Ahmad, the ruler of Khorasan and Transoxiana, who invited the poet to his court. Rudaki became his daily companion, amassed great wealth, and become highly honored. It is claimed that he well deserves the title of the father of Persian literature, or the Adam or the Sultan of poets even though he had various predecessors, because he was the first who impressed upon every form of epic, lyric and didactic poetry its peculiar stamp and its individual character. He is also said to have been the founder of the diwan, or the typical form of the complete collection of a poet's lyrical compositions in a more or less alphabetical order, which all Tajik-Persian writers use even today.
Statue of Rudaki in Panjakent, Tajikistan
The common opinion was that Rudaki was born blind or was blind from his childhood. However, some of early biographies, like Samani and Nezami Aruzi do not emphasis his blindness as natural-born. Ferdowsi just mentions in his Shahnameh that they recited Kelileh o Demneh to him and he rendered it into poem. Also using some of his poems we can see that he had sight:
- پوپک دیدم به حوالی سرخس
- بانگک بر بُرده به ابر اندرا
- چادرکی رنگین دیدم بر او
- رنگ بسی گونه بر آن چادرا
- I saw a bird near the city of Sarakhs
- It had raised its song to the clouds
- I saw a colorful chador on it
- So many colors on its chador
The great contemporary Iranian scholar, Said Nafisi, has a book about Rudaki called Biography, Environment and Time of Rudaki. In pages 394-404, he refers to historical events and references in Persian books and poems, as well as the forensic findings of Russians in early 20th century including Mikhail Gerasimov (who reconstructed Rudaki's face based on his bones found in his tomb, see above picture), concludes that Rudaki and Amir Nasr Samani were Ismailis and there was a revolt against Ismalis around 940, a few years before Rudaki's death. This revolt led to the overthrow of the Samanid king and Rudaki, as his close companion, was tortured and blinded and his back was broken while they were blinding him. After this, Rudaki went back to the small town where he was born and died shortly after that. He was buried there.
Of the 1,300,000 verses attributed to him, only 52 qasidas, ghazals and rubais survived; of his epic masterpieces we have nothing beyond a few stray lines in native dictionaries. However, the most serious loss is that of his translation of Abdullah Ibn al-Muqaffa'sArabic version of the old Indian fable book Kalila and Dimna (Panchatantra), which he put into Persian verse at the request of his royal patron. Numerous fragments, however, are preserved in the Persian lexicon of Asadi Tusi (the Lughat al-Furs, ed. P. Horn, Göttingen, 1897). In his qasidas - all of which are devoted to the praise of his sovereign and friend - unequalled models of a refined and delicate taste, very different from the often bombastic compositions of later Persian encomiasts, have survived. His didactic odes and epigramsexpressed in well-measured lines a type of Epicurean philosophy of life and human happiness, and more charming still are the purely lyrical pieces that glorify love and wine.
There is a complete edition of all the extant poems of Rudaki which were known at the end of the 19th century, in Persian text and metrical German translation, together with a biographical account, based on forty-six Persian manuscripts, in Hermann Ethé's Rudagi der Samanidendichter (Göttinger Nachrichten, 1873, pp. 663–742); see also:
- Neupersische Literatur in Wilhelm Geiger's Grundriss der iranischen Philologie (ii.
- Paul Horn, Geschichte der persischen Literatur (1901), p. 73
- E. G. Browne, Literary History of Persia, i. (1902)
- C. J. Pickering, A Persian Chaucer in National Review (May 1890).
More recently, in 1963, Saʻīd Nafīsī identified more fragments to be attributed to Rudaki and has assembled them, together with an extensive biography, in Muḥīṭ-i zindagī va aḥvāl va ashʻār-i Rūdakī.
CelebrationsFor the 1100th anniversary of his birth, the Iranian government published a series of stamps showing his picture. An international seminar was held at Vahdat Hall, Tehran, Iran on 21 December 2008, to mark his 1150th birth anniversary, with President Ahmadinejadand "Culture minister" of Tajikistan in attendance. In this seminar, Rudaki was celebrated as the father of the Modern Persian literature.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Rudaki".
- Tehran Times
- E.G. Browne. Literary History of Persia. (Four volumes, 2,256 pages, and twenty-five years in the writing). 1998. ISBN 0-7007-0406-X
- Jan Rypka, History of Iranian Literature. Reidel Publishing Company. 1968 OCLC 460598. ISBN 90-277-0143-1
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Rūdagī". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.