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. On recto and verso the author includes an essay on the Persian language, its dialects, a summary of its grammar, and a list of the 44 earlier farhangha and kutub-i lughat (books of words) he consulted for his work. These are listed in a grid format on this page, and continue on the fragment's verso. The dictionaries include, among many, the Farhang-i Shāhnāmah (Dictionary of Firdawsi's Shahnamah [Book of Kings]) and the Farhang-i Ibrāhīmī (Abraham's dictionary), and a Persian dictionary compiled by Ibrahim Qivam al-Din Faruqi in 1448 for the ruler of Bengal, Barbak Shah. The text frame is illuminated with panels of interlacing flowers, and the folio's borders include a number of putti, birds, and grapes painted in gold ink. Unfortunately, the marginal decoration suffers from a number of worm holes. 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