Reviews

The Editor proposes a selection and publication in Cyrillic script of ghazals extracted from the two identified manuscript diwans of the eighteenth-century Persian religious and mystical poet ignored by literary repertories of the nineteenth to early twentieth century, Mulla Yusuf b. Pir Muhammad (1155 q. [?]/1744-1230 q. [?]/1815), alias ‘Mazmun’ [مضمون] of Zarabad (now Zirabad, a small market town of the Falghar region in the higher Zerafshan Valley, locally reputed for the number of its pilgrimage places: mazars of Khwaja Mardan, Khwaha Mubarak, Khwaja Ghayib and Khwaja Kashghar). Interestingly enough, as in the case of many men of authority along the Zerafshan River Mazmun is said to have been originated from the Fergana Valley, and to have practiced the art of irrigation, contributing personally to the driving of the current main canal (juy) of Zarabad. The existing tradition on his marriage with a daughter of Mulla Nadir-Baqi, the mir of Maschah, confirms his status as a leading notable of Falghar. The first identified manuscript of his diwan, a very incomplete collection of his ghazals, was entrusted in 1997 by a close connection of the poet’s descendents to the Editor, and is preserved in the latter’s personal collection; the other, much more complete (though lacking its first and last pages), was discovered two years later, after intensive research initiated by the Editor among literary circles (mahafil-i nishast) of the Zarabad area, from the ‘ganjina’ (treasury) of a certain Mulla Yusuf Nazaroff, who still uses his manuscript in gatherings of literati. Both manuscripts are deprived of a colophon; according to local oral tradition, they have been copied by a certain Mulla Dust Riwadi, who is remembered nowadays as a close friend of Mulla Yusuf Mazmun. (Rewad [ریود] is an isolated village of Falghar, not exactly reputed in the region for the quality of its literacy.) Neglecting the sophistications of the ‘Indian manner’ (sabk-i hindi) then prevailing in Persian verse, especially in big Central Asian cities, Mazmun has been trying to revive the more sober tradition of poets like Hafiz, Sanayi and ‘Attar. (This did not prevent, one century later, another prominent poet from Falghar, Tughral Ahrari Zasuni [1856-1919], a strong proponent of the Indian manner, to create verses on Mazmun’s metre on the occasion of his visits to Zarabad, and of his participation in local assemblies.) Tough this aspect of the things has not been noted by the Editor, who does not deal at length with the religious and mystical aspects of Mazmun’s verse, the latter’s inspiration seems to have been very much influenced by the main commandments of the Naqshbandiyya mystical path. The very publication of this diwan is characteristic of the state of philological scholarship in Tajikistan since the turn of the twenty-first century, a period marked by the rehabilitation and systematic edition of religious and mystical authors of the pre-modern period. What is to be deplored in this process, beside the choice of the Cyrillic alphabet (though the latter favours a better diffusion in the local audience), is the exclusive reliance of Editors on local oral traditions, the strictly monographic stance adopted by most of them, who rarely show informed enough or simply anxious to relocate the authors of this past into their political and intellectual context. These reserves notwithstanding, one can only be very glad on the publication of such monuments, almost completely ignored till a recent date.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: II-5.2.B-448