This work consists of the critical edition in Arabic script of a manuscript of a significant pre-modern Persian literary repertory of Transoxiana by Maliha-yi Samarqandi (1053/1643-after 1112 q./1700). This publication comes after the (re-edition of manuscript works by Sadr al-Din ‘Ayni, preserved for long from public interest in his youngest son Kamal al-Din’s library (like his “Anthology of Tajik Literature”: see the review supra) and the printing of other Bukharan tadhkiras of the pre-Soviet period (on contributions to this genre by Ziya, a protector of ‘Ayni, see Central Eurasian Reader 1: review No. 555 pp. 454-5). Studied first from the early 1940s to the mid-1960s by ‘Abd al-Ghani Mirzayeff (1908-76), a founding figure of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan in Dushanbe, the text was long known through five manuscripts preserved in varied public and private libraries of the former USSR (four in Tashkent, two in St Petersburg, one in Dushanbe), and three copies from Tajikistani private collections (of Sadr al-Din ‘Ayni, ‘Abd al-Ghani Mirzayeff, and Habib Yusufi).
As stressed in the foreword by Editor Kamal ‘Ayni (b. 1928), a leading researcher at the Institute of the Manuscript Heritage & Oriental Studies of Dushanbe, the manuscript that comes from the library of his father, the arch-famous Tajik polygraph from Bukhara Sadr al-Din ‘Ayni (1878-1954), was copied by the latter from a version belonging to the publicist and political activist ‘Abd al-Ra’uf Fitrat (1886-1938). The edition has been based on this version, compared with four other ones (the three from Dushanbe, and one of the manuscripts preserved in the Biruni Institute of Oriental Studies of Tashkent). It is preceded by two articles by Kamal ‘Ayni: a reprint of his “Literature in Persian” in Chahriyar Adle & Irfan Habib, eds., History of Civilisations of Central Asia, 5: Development in Contrast: From the Sixteenth to the Mid-Nineteenth Century, Paris: UNESCO, 2006, and an article in Russian: “Literatura na farsi (dari-tadzhikskii), xvi-xvii vv. [Literature in Persian (Tajik Dari), Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries],” 4-20. The latter, unfortunately and inexplicably devoid of a critical apparatus, provides insights on the life and work of the jurist Maliha Samarqandi, and on the specificities of the anthology elaborated by him in the last decade of the seventeenth century.
K. ‘Ayni notably insists on the work’s originality, Maliha having included into his repertory the result of his own personal observations and travels, notably through Safavid Iran, and refused the traditional, Timurid and post-Timurid classification of poets according to their respective estates and professional profile. The reader can only regret that, given the means that have been invested in this undertaking, notably by the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Tajikistan, more time has not been taken for enlarging the critical edition to the manuscript versions known through catalogues, and for refining the very poor critical apparatus. Further questions are raised by the very principle of this very gradual edition of manuscript texts preserved in Sadr al-Din’s personal library, among which significant unicae for which the rapid establishment of a catalogue of easily accessible facsimiles seems the only alternative to growing concerns and speculations by the scientific community.