Poetic Collection of Tarzi


Divan-i Ṭarzī (Poetic collection of Tarzi) contains verses by Ghulām Muḥammad Ṭarzī (1830−1900), mostly concerning piety, ethics, politics, and society in 19th century Afghanistan. Tarzi came from a distinguished background; he belonged to the Mohammadzai sub-lineage of the Durranis, one of two main Afghan Pashtun lineages, the other being Ghilzai. Because of their connections to Muḥammad Yaʻqūb Khān, Tarzi and his family were exiled from Afghanistan in 1882−83 by Abd al-Raḥmān Khān, a kinsman of Yaʻqūb Khān and a rival to the Afghan throne. The feeling of desolation occasioned by Tarzi’s exile pervades many of the poems. Each poem is specific in theme, meaning, and place. One poem, for example, extols the verse of Mirza ʻAbd al-Qādir Bīdil, the famous Persian poet and Sufi who was instrumental in the development of “Indian-style” Persian poetry in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. In another poem, Tarzi praises the wedding of Muḥammad Yaʻqūb Khān, who in 1879 was briefly amir of Afghanistan, after he signed the Treaty of Gandamak recognizing British control of Afghanistan’s foreign affairs. Each poem has a rubricated title that indicates where it was written and its purpose. On page 336, for example, it is stated that “this ghazal is written in Kandahar in response to Neamat Khan.” A few poems are not titled, but each is distinguished by its conclusion with the author’s pen name tarzi (stylist). The volume itself is not titled. The names and personal library stamps of several owners and readers, including that of Abdul Rauf Khan Tarzi, a descendant of the author, appear on the cover and last pages. The book is in two sections: the main one is of ghazal (lyric) verses, while the last 50 pages are in rubai (quatrain) form. The script includes several versions of Persian nastaliq, such as clear nastaliq, broken nastaliq, and uneasy nastaliq. The paper is of different qualities and colors; most text appears on plain cream paper laid down on a marbled backing. Pages have penciled Persian-Arabic numerals inserted by a reader. The marginal notes may be the author’s own or by anonymous readers. The final text is a prose piece, in which Tarzi emphasizes his virtue, sorrow, and loyalty.

Last updated: September 30, 2016