The Paradisal Epistle


This manuscript is an anthology of works in prose by the Persian poet Tughra-yi Mashhadi (died before 1667−68). Risālah-ʼi Firdawsīya (The paradisal epistle) is the name of the first item in the anthology. It is both an evocation of the beauties of Kashmir and a panegyric to the Mughal ruler Shah Jahan (1592–1666). Nothing is known of Tughra’s childhood and youth, other than that he probably was born in Mashad (although Tabriz also has been proposed as his native town). Tughra moved to India and the court of Jahangir (reigned 1605–27) towards the end of the latter’s reign. During the reign of Jahangir’s successor, Shah Jahan, Tughra joined the court of one of Shah Jahan’s sons, Murad Bakhsh, and accompanied him on the Mughal campaign in Balkh (1646). Although unsuccessful, this campaign is nonetheless commemorated by the poet as a victory in his panegyric to Murad Bakhsh, Mir’āt al-futūḥ (Mirror of victories), which appears near the end of the present collection. Tughra subsequently settled in Kashmir, where he died. He is buried in Srinagar in a plot adjacent to that of Kalim Hamadani, one of the foremost Persian poets of the 17th century. Tughra composed verse in all the popular forms of Persian poetry, but he is most famous for his prose works known as risālahs (epistles) which include Risālah-ʼi Firdawsīya and Mir’āt al-futūḥ. More than 30 of these risālahs have survived in numerous anthologies, serving as a testament to the high esteem in which Tughra was held by succeeding generations as a prose stylist.

Last updated: September 30, 2016