Page from the "Farhang-i Jahāngīrī"


This fragment is the last folio of the Farhang-i Jahāngīrī, a Persian lexicon purportedly executed in Agra in 1028 AH (1618‒19). A total of four folios of this work are held in the collections of the Library of Congress. The author of this Persian-language farhang (dictionary) was Jamal al-Din Husayn b. Fakhr al-Din Hasan Inju Shirazi (died 1626), a learned man from an old Persian sayyid (noble) family who came from Persia to Akbar’s court in India, where he held high offices. He began writing his dictionary in 1596‒97 at Akbar’s request, basing it on Persian poems and previous lexicographical works. Because of the scope of the work and his continuous revisions, he did not complete the dictionary until after Akbar’s death in 1605. Instead, he presented the work in 1608 to Akbar’s successor Jahangir. For this reason, Jamal al-Din’s Persian dictionary came to be known as the Farhang-i Jahāngīrī (Jahangir’s dictionary). Along with the Burhān-i Qāṭiʻ and the Farhang-i Rashīdī, it is one of the three most important Persian-language dictionaries produced in Mughal India. The recto of this folio includes a number of words and expressions beginning with the last two letters of the Arabic alphabet, namely hāʼ and yāʼ (h and y). This list of words ends on the folio’s verso, where a new series of az (expressions) immediately follows. Marginal glosses cross-referenced to the main text with numbers appear on the left and outside the dark-purple vertical text frame containing gold flowers and vines. These notes offer additional comments and poetical excerpts on the words listed in the main text. The folio’s recto margins are decorated with images of Mughal youths sitting in a landscape painted in gold ink. The folio’s verso margins are decorated with various birds (including a phoenix) in a landscape painted in gold ink. During the early 20th century, a section of the Farhang-i Jahāngīrī was acquired by the French art dealer Demotte, who cut out its pages and used the decorative margins as mounts for Safavid and Mughal paintings. In some cases, paintings remounted on margins originally intended for the dictionary retain the marginal glosses accompanying the main text.

Last updated: September 30, 2016