Baba Fighani (Shirazi)

Baba Faghani Shirazi (d. 1517 or 1519), an outstanding poet hailing from Shiraz flourishing in the second half of the 15th and early 16th centuries. He is regarded as the ghazal versifier par excellence praised for his strong and fluent poetry. His father and brother were knife makers and he embarked upon a similar career and wrote poetry as well having chosen the nom de plume Sakkaki, though he later wrote poetry under the nom de plume Faghani. He spent about thirty years in his hometown, but he departed for Khurasan and then stayed in Herat for a while where he joined the audience of Jami and met with some other poets. However, he was not well received in Herat and departed for Azerbaijan and was welcomed by poets in Tabriz who introduced him to the Aq Quyunlu Sultan Ya’qub, son of Uzun Hasan. He became attached to the court of the Sultan who granted him the title Baba-yi Sha’iran (Father of Poets). He accompanied the Sultan on his journeys and it is said that his divan (collection of poetical works) was lost or plundered on one of these travels. Azerbaijan fell into instability following the Sultan’s demise and the decline of the Aq Quyunlu reign. Baba Faghani was contempory with the sultans Baysunqur ibn Ya’qub, Rustam ibn Maqsud Beyg, Ahmad ibn Urghulu, Alwand Beyg ibn Yusuf, and wrote eulogies of them. Consequent to the instability in Azerbaijan, Baba Faghani returned to Shiraz and stayed there for a while. Then, he traveled to Khurasan in the early reign of the Safavid Shah Isma’il and stayed briefly in Abiward and then in Mashhad. He repented his vain and unbefitting deeds late in life and having lived more than sixty years he died in that city and was buried in a place called Qadamgah, though his grave is not known. His divan includes fine poems in the genres of qasida, tarkib-band, tarji’-band, mustazad, ghazal, and quatrain. His qasidas mainly treat of the virtues and merits of the pure Imams, particularly ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib and ‘Ali Musa ibn Musa al-Riza, and also eulogies of the Aq Quyunlu Sultan Ya’qub for whom he composed an elegy in the genre of tarkib-band. Further, he eulogized the Aq Quyunlu Sultan Rustam and Sultan Baysunqur. He also eulogized the Safavid Shah Isma’il in one of his late qasidas devoted to the merits of Sibtayn. All thse qasidas have been accorded significance for their simple and fluent language when some other poets followed in the steps of their predecessors in composing qasidas in highly ornate and florid styles. Pleasant fluency and simplicity are reflected in his ghazals, though the latter intertwine a coherent and exalted diction abounding in novel themes, compositions, and waves of passionate feelings as a consequence of which later critiques termed him as the Lesser Hafiz. Faghani is the vanguard of the 16th century poets in terms of their style, namely the style in which realism and attention toward details and delicacies went to extremes, giving birth to a novel style in Persian poetry termed the Indian style whose founders indubitably include Faghani. In composing qasidas, Baba Faghani employs a simple and fluent diction devoid of the highly ornate diction of qasida composers. He also avoids hyperboles in his eulogies. His particular style in composing ghazals is marked by simplicity and fluency, employment of novel themes, similes, and metaphors, and also purely sentimental and affectionate feelings unimpressed by the Sufi tinge. His particular style in composing ghazals differs from the styles prevalent at the time, but the same style came into prevalence in later times affecting poets like Wahshi, Naziri, ‘Urfi, Zamiri, and even Sa’ib who includes a poem praising Faghani’s poetry and regards it obligatory to follow Faghani’s style of poetry. Faghani’s poetry clearly reflects the earliest manifestations of the School of Wuqu’ and the style which was later known as the Indian Style, though Faghani’s poetry reflects novel themes, imaginativeness, and employment of novel similes in a moderate fashion devoid of the extreme dictions of the poets belonging to the Indian style. Faghani’s divan has been published in Lahore, though it was later edited by Ahmad Suheyli Khwansari (Tehran 1937) and different editions of the latter have appeared with further additions. A selection of Faghani’s poetry was translated into French by Husayn Azad (Paris 1903). Paul E. Losensky wrote a monograph on Fighani in English. Welcoming Fighani Imitation and Poetic Individuality in the Safavid-Mughal Ghazal.


Asarafarinan (2, 3-4); Tarikh-i Adabiyyat dar Iran (4, 411-417); Haft Iqlim (1, 219-220).