Sanctum of Allusions and Rose Garden of Words


Shabistān-i nukāt va gulistān-i lughāt (Sanctum of allusions and rose garden of words) is a well-known work by the poet Muhammad Yahya ibn Sibak Fattahi of Nishapur (died 1448 or 1449). In the architecture of Iran, the word shabistan denotes a columned hall, generally an inner sanctuary of a mosque (the word has also been rendered into English somewhat incongruously as “bedchamber”). Its use in the title of this work is perhaps related to the idea of the mystery and esotericism associated with the many epigrams, metaphors, and witticisms collected therein, while the word gulistan (rose garden) is an allusion to the variety and beauty of the same. Fattahi expresses the date of completion of his work in an anagram at the conclusion: “zība shabistānī” (a lovely shabistan). This expression computes to 843 AH (1439‒40 AD). The edition presented here lists 853 AH (1449‒50) as the year of completion. Characterized by the constant play on words and heavy reliance on allegory, Fattahi’s popular work served as a standard of poetic competence in Iran for some time after its publication. The work, of which numerous copies survive, was the subject of several commentaries and has seen at least one modern edition. The title page of a second work that is appended to the end of the book has been removed, thus making its identification uncertain. This short work appears to contain three sections, with the first two containing aphorisms related to youth and old age, followed by a collection of more generic maxims. A poorly rendered Russian name in Persian on the title page of the volume suggests that the printing of this book was at the A. Ga. Yakovlev press. It was published in 1912‒13 in Tashkent.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

A. Ga. Yakovlev, Tashkent


Title in Original Language

شبستان نکات و گلستان لغات

Type of Item

Physical Description

192 pages ; 18 centimeters

Last updated: January 10, 2018