Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

Papers Contributed

The Poetry of Shāh Ismā'īl I

V. Minorsky

MY interest in Shāh Ismā'īl's poetry was aroused thirty-six years ago, when from my Ahl-i aqq friends I learnt that the Khāu'ī mentioned in one of their hymns was no lessa person than the founder of the afavi dynasty: Khatā'ī-dä nāiq oldï, Türkistanïn pīri oldï “(Godhead) came to speech in the person of Khatā'ī, (who) became the pīr of the Turks (of Āzarbāyjān)”, according to the explanation given to me.

For some time I suspected the Ahl-i aqq doctrines to be identical with the arcana of the Safavids, but later came to the conclusion that the home of the former was in Kurdistan, in the region of Sulaymānī, and that only by a kind of alliance were they related to the afavi propaganda.

It was only in 1920, in Paris, that I could carefully study a copy of Khatā'ī's dīvān (Bibliothéque Nationale, sup. turc 1307). This time my attention was attracted by the autobiographical hintsof the crowned poet and by the dialectic peculiarities of his Turkish poems. I read a paper on Shāh Ismā'īl's poems before the Sociètè Asiatique (9th December, 1921), and started on the preparation of a selection from Khatā'ī's dīvān. My work was several times interrupted.