Persian inscriptions from Ghazni: the links with the poetic tradition

Abstract : This paper presents some preliminary analyses concerning Persian epigraphic documentation from Ghazni and its links with the poetic production. Within the large repertoire of Ghaznavid monumental epigraphy, official and religious texts are mostly executed in Arabic, although occurrences dating from the 11th century onwards attest to the epigraphic use of Persian, especially in poetic texts. The most extraordinary example of this early epigraphic production in the Persian language is the monumental inscription originally located in the Ghaznavid royal palace. It was carved in floriated kufic in the upper part of a marble dado adorning the whole perimeter of the inner courtyard. The surviving sections of the inscription - first studied by Alessio Bombaci in 1966 – allow us to identify a versified masnavi poem in Persian praising the majesty of the Ghaznavid rulers, and their support for the Islamic faith. The author of this poem is unknown, but the themes and style are consistent with the tradition of Persian panegyrics developed at the Ghaznavid court from Mahmud’s reign (388-421/998-1030) onward. My current research compares the form and content of the palace’s inscription to the poetic production of the same period in order to trace lexical and stylistic similarities between them. The result of this comparison of the epigraphic text with the Ghaznavid literature could assist in dating the poem’s composition or, at least, in defining its genre and content. Other scattered evidence proves the association of the Persian language with poetic texts occurring in 11th-12th centuries’ epigraphic production. Among some fragmentary inscriptions, we will mention a poetical epitaph in Persian carved on a tomb from Ghazni and two versified foundation texts on Qarakhanid monuments in Central Asia. This tradition of adorning palaces and mausoleums with texts in Persian seems to find its origin in Ghaznavids times, to become well established in the Eastern Islamic lands from the 13th century on. The attempt of drawing a parallel between Persian inscriptions from Ghazni and the poetry of the time is complicated by the particular nature and function of monumental texts in comparison to literary production proper. Yet this comparative study contributes to the better understanding of the function of Persian inscriptions in civilian buildings and in funerary monuments, as well as to the link between Persian poetry and royal patronage in Medieval Iran. My research will certainly define the Ghaznavid contribution to the development of the literary and artistic traditions in this region.
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Contributor : Viola Allegranzi <>
Submitted on : Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 12:51:12 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, June 4, 2019 - 6:58:01 PM

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Viola Allegranzi. Persian inscriptions from Ghazni: the links with the poetic tradition. 10th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Iranian Studies, Aug 2014, Montreal, Canada. ⟨halshs-01187671⟩

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