Dīvān-i of the Chain of Gold


Dīvān-i Silsilah va al-Ẕahab (literally, The collection book of the chain of gold) is a work of Persian literature in verse. It forms volume one of a seven-volume literary collection of Mowlana Nur al-Din Abd al-Rahman Jami (1414−92), the famous Persian scholar, poet, and Sufi. The entire collection is known as Haft awrang (The seven thrones) and was one of Jami’s first major works. Volume one is the longest volume, composed sometime between 1468 and 1486. This manuscript copy seems incomplete, as the final narrative of verses on scholars and perfectionists finishes suddenly and awkwardly. This copy has more than 100 pages paginated in Indo-Arabic numerals. Each verse narrative has subheadings rubricated in blue, gray, and red. This copy lacks preface and epilogue notes, making it difficult to establish the place, date, and contributor of the publication. A black ink hand-written line on the first blank page reads “Silsilah-i zahab, 28 Rabi Al-Awwal, 1246,” being the title and the Islamic date (September 16, 1830), possibly the publication date. However, one of three seals on the same page gives the Islamic year as 1210 (1795−96); thus the correct date for this manuscript is uncertain. The author’s name, Mowlana Abd al-Rahman Jami, appears on the second page. The complete Dīvān-i Silsilah has three sections; the first deals with ethical and didactic themes and includes short anecdotes and criticisms of contemporary society. Section two is of similar structure and deals with carnal and spiritual love. The third section is the conclusion. This copy is structured around religious and ethical themes and various heroic, historical, and sententious stories. Several narratives, such as the first verses, are in praise of God, his divinity, and supremacy. Page six praises the Prophet Muhammad. The verses on page 11 are on righteousness and justice. Ethical stories include one on pages 28−31 of a king and his son or perhaps a question-and-answer session of a king and a slave; on page 39 a story of a teacher and his student; and on pages 90−91 the tale of a village boy who reverses his decision to sell his old donkey after he hears that the broker wants to sell it as a young donkey in the market. Jami had direct connections with the Timurid court and its rulers in Herat and in Khorasan, particularly at the court of Sultan Husayn Baiqara. Jami’s many works in poetry and prose include interpretive and religious commentaries, Persian poetry of different genres, mystical treatises, works on Arabic grammar, and elegies. He was influenced by Sufi mystical discourses, particularly of the Naqshbandi order, and by earlier Persian classic literary authors, including Sadi, Sanai, and Nizami. Scholars consider Jami’s work as representative of a shift from the classical to the neoclassical Persian literary era, and regard Jami as one of the last great traditional Persian poets.

Last updated: September 30, 2016