Autobiography of Ibn-i Qari Makhdum Pulad-Khan Gharmi, 2004, by Stéphane Dudoignon

Figures 1 & 2: Verso of the printed one-sheet Persian-language autobiography in prose and verse of Hajji Pulad-Khan b. Qari Khwaja, collected by his pupil Asrar al-Din Bakhtari, Qurghan-Teppa, 2004, with portraits of the author at two different ages and a poem by Sa‘di; photographic portrait of the same with a calligraphy textbook of his, in his study of ‘Adilabad (Odilobod), Qurghan-Teppa area, 4 August 2004, photo S. A. Dudoignon.

 


Latin Transcription of the prose passages

[Recto:]
Sāl-i dū hazār u siyūm būd ki man Asrār al-Dīn Bāḫṭarī [sic] yakī az šāgirdān-i Ḥājjī Pūlād-Ḫān ibn-i Qārī Ġarmī az īšān pursān šudam az tarjuma-yi aḥwāl[.] Guftand:

Man Ibn-i Qārī sāl-i hazār u nuhṣad u sī dar qariya-yi Šūlānak-i nāḥiya-i Ġarm-i Qarātīgīn badunyā čašm kušādam[.] Padaram ba‘d-i čand sāl dar Buḫārā ʿilm āmūḫta bar īn qariya āmada ba taʿlīm-i qirāʾat wa ḫaṭṭāṭī-i ṭālibān-i dū madrasa-i Dāmullā Na[ṣ]r al-Dīn mašġūliyat dāšta[.] Wa baʿd-i pahn šudan-i dawlat-i šūrawī dar hama-i Tājīkistān[,] man dar nazd-i padaram taʿlīm-i ḫaṭṭāṭīrā az āwān-i yāzdah sālagī šurūʿ kardam[.] Az bas ki padaram yakī az ḫaṭṭāṭān-i Buḫārā wa anwāʿ-i ḫaṭṭ-i nasṭaliqī [sic] wa kūfī wa ḫaṭṭ-i taʿlīq wa ṯulṯ wa tawqīʿ wa nasḫ wa rayḥānī wa ruqāʿ wa sunbulīrā az īšān taʿlīm giriftam[.] Tā bist [sic] sālagiyam čand Čahār Kitāb wa bayāż wa Bīdil wa Ḥāfiẓ wa ġayra nawištam[.] Baʿd az ān dar sālhā-yi muhājir šudan-i mardum-i Qarātīgīn basū-yi šahr-i Qūrġan-Tappa [sic] mā nīz awwalīn šuda āmadīm dar qariya-i ʿĀdil-ābād, šuʿba-yi čahārum-i suwḫāz ba nām-i ḥālā-i Fayż-ʿAlī-i nāḥiya-i Bāḫṭar [sic] panjāh sāl šuda ki istiqāmat dārīm[.] Darīn muddat šāgirdān-i bisiyārī ḫaṭṭāṭ namūdīm ammā taʿlīm-i ḫaṭṭ-i qurānī-i [sic] ʿabd al-wāḥīdīrā [sic] čand sāl-i baʿd az āmadan ba šahri-i Qūrġan-Tappa wa šākird-i bisiyār paydā kardan[.] Rūzī marā šākirdān-i nāḥiya-i Yāwān ba mihmānī burdand[,] man az lab-i ṭāq-i ḫāna-i īšān yak Haftyak ba ḫaṭṭ-i ʿabd al-wāḥīdī dar waraqhā-yi zamān-i šūrawī nawīšta [sic] dīdam[,] bisiyār ḫaṭṭ-i zībā[.] Man taʿlīm-i ḫaṭṭ-i qurānī-i ʿabd al-wāḥīdīrā namīdānistam[.] Banābarān az īšān pursān šudam[.] Guftand īn ḫaṭṭ-i Mullā Murādī Buḫārī[,] sākīn-i [sic] nāḥiya-i Kūktāš mībāšad[.] Man surāġa-i ūrā nawīšta giriftam[.] Baʿd-i bāzgašt dū rūz pas az ḫāna bā qalam wa dawāt wa čand fatar wa yak bayāż-i nawīštaamrā dar jāmadān andāḫta basū-yi Kūktāš āmadam[,] baʿd justujū kardam. Ḫāna-i Mullā Murād [sic] Buḫārīrā yāftam[.] Čūn bā īšān dar suḫan šudam baʿd-i dar ḫānaaš nišastan wa az taʿlīm-i ḫaṭṭ-i qurānī suḫan āġāz kardam, īšān guftand[: ‘]Man yakī az ḫaṭṭāṭān-i Buḫārā būdam. Baʿd az inqilāb-i Buḫārā dawlat-i jadīdān ki bā Šūrawī būdīm mārā muʿallim taʿyīn kardand[.] Baʿd-i sālī bāz marā hamčūn muʿallim az Buḫārā ba Samarqand firistādand[.] Čand sāl dar Samarqand muʿallimī kardam[.] Baʿdahu bā maṣlaḥat-i Ṣadr al-Dīn ʿA[y]nī ke bā ū sābiq šināsāgī [sic] dāštam ba Tājīkistān āmadam wa baʿd bist [sic] u panj sāl muddat-i muʿallimiyamrā tamām kardan ba nafaqa barāmadam[.’] Walī dar īn muddathā-yi maḏkūr yakum bār dīdam wa šunīdamki šumā az man umīd-i taʿlīm-i ḫaṭṭāṭ šudan dārīd’ gufta, nāḫāst [sic] āb-i čašm rīḫt wa qiṣṣa-yi bisiyārī bayān kard ki dar īnjā gonjāyiš nadārad wa guft[: ‘]Haftād u haft sāl bāz īn ḫaṭṭ rafīq-i man ast walī tā ḥāl yak šāgird nabarāwardam wa šumā ham bāšīd biyāyīd īn ārazūrā az dil barāy[ī]d čūnki dawriya-yi šabāb-i šumā ham guḏašta ast šumā ba īn ḫaṭṭ māʾil namīšawīd wa āḫīr partāfta mīrawīd[.] Na manrā sargardān kunīd wa na ḫūdrā.’ Duʿā kardand wa jawāb dādand[.] Man jāmadānamrā girifta barḫwāstam ki nāgah bayāż-i nawīštaam bayādam rasīd ūrā az jāmadān-i ḫūd girifta ba dast-i īšān dādam[.] Čūn kitābrā kušāda dīdand ki dar waraqhā-yi dawr-i šūrawī [sic] wa čand waraq gardāndand wa ḫūb naẓar kardand wa baʿd az ān guftand[: ‘]Īn ḫaṭṭ-i padaratān ast[.’] Guftam[: ‘]Īn bayāżrā baʿd-i taʿlīm giriftam-i [sic] anwāʿ-i ḫaṭṭhā-yi fārsī-i niyāgānrā ba dast-i ḫūd wa čand kitāb-i dīgarrā nawīštaam. Īšān kamī tabassum karda[, ‘]āfarīn[,] āfarīn[‘] gufta[,] baʿd az ān marā ba šāgirdī qabūl karda[,] dar muddat-i dū māh taʿlīm-i ḫaṭṭ-i qurānīrā az īšān āmūḫtam wa baʿdahu bašahr-i Qūrġan-Tappa bāz gaštam[.] Wa tā ḥāl qarīb panjāh tā haftād kitāb wa risāla wa dū Haftyak-i ʿabd al-wāḥīdī wa yak Qurʾān wa yak Dalāyil wa ġayra nawīštam wa ḥālā Dalāyil badastam hast wa dīgarānrā ba ṭālibān dādaam[.] Wa baʿżī nāmhā-yi kitābhāyam ānhā hastand: Kanz al-humāyun [sic], Ġarīb-nāma, Ḥajj-nāma, Majmaʿ al-ṣāliḥīn ʿalà radd-i ġilmat-i [sic] muḫālifīn, Ġazaliyāt-i kull, Rubāʿiyāt-i tanhāʾī, Tarīḫ-i wahhābiyūn-i tarjuma az kitāb-i Ḫulāṣat al-kalām, Risāla dar tafsīr-i sūrahā-yi [sic] Qiṣā[ṣ], Risāla dar fażilat-i [sic] ʿilm wa farhang, Jāmiʿ al-aṣlāḥ, Anwāʿ al-ḫuṭūṭ, Jāmiʿ al-riwāyāt, Risāla-yi sabab-i jang-i Tājīkān, Ḥikāyat-i jawān-i ʿāšiq, Tārīḫ-i buzurgān-i ʿaṣr-i nā [sic], Tārīḫ-i maḏhab-i qarmaṭī, Tārīḫ-i Dāmullā Ḫūja-i Qarātigīnī, Nuh pand-i padarāna, Guldasta-i adabiyāt, Tārīḫ-i Qūrġan al-Waḫš, bāqī az kitāb-i buzurgān miṯl-i Maẓhar-i kull wa Nūr al-yaqīn wa ʿunwān al-bayān wa kitāb-i Ḥājjī Ḥusayn wa ġayrarā tā čihil tā barā-yi mašq-i ḥaṭṭ-i ḫūb šawad gufta [sic] nawīštaam.

[Verso:]
Ṣāḥib-i īn ʿaks Qārī Nazrīzāda ibn-i Dāmullā Ṣafī padar-i īn kātib Ibn-i Qārī Ġarmī. Īšān sāl-i hazār u sīṣad u haždah dar qariya-i Šulānak-i [sic] tābiʿ-i ġarmī-i Qarātigīn badunyā āmadand wa dar āwān-i hafdah sāligī pā-yi piyāda bā hamrāhī-i barādaraš Mullā Mīrzā Ḫwāja ba Buḫār[ā]-yi šarīf rafta qarīb yāzdah sāl-i ʿāmūḫtan[.] Čūn inqilāb dar Buḫārā wāqiʿ šud dū sāl-i dīgar nīz būdand[.] Baʿd-i jawāb dādan-i dawlat bāz ba qariya-i ḫūd ba Qarātigīn āmadand wa zindagī-i ḫūdrā dawām mīdādand[.] Dar sāl-i hazār u čahār ṣad u šiš-i hijrī dar ʿumr-i haštād u hašt sālagī čašm az jahān pūšīdand[.] Īšān mīguftand dar waqt-i āmadan dar Samarqand bā Naqīb Ḫwān [sic] Ṭuġral hamṣuḥbat šudam[.] Īšān az inqilāb-i Buḫārā dar iżṭirāb būdand[.] Qarī Nazrī Ḫwāja čand kitāb nawīšta and[,] azānjumla Maktūbāt al-rijāl al-ḥaqīqat-i ḥāl wa dar ān Buḫārā raftan wa āmadšud baṭarīq-i bayān karda ast īn ast. . . .

(A transcription and translations of the passages in verse are forthcoming.)

Figure 3: Ibn-i Qari in a lecture room of his hujra of ‘Adilabad, 4 August 2004 (photo Dudoignon)

Traduction française des passages en prose

[Recto :]
C’est en 2003 que moi, Asrār al-Dīn Bāḫṭarī [sic], élève de Ḥājjī Pūlād-Ḫān ibn-i Qārī Ġarmī, lui demandai un récit de sa vie. Il me dit :

Moi, Ibn-i Qārī, suis venu au monde en 1930 dans le village de Šūlānak, de la région de Gharm au Qarategin. Mon père, après quelques années d’études à Boukhara, revint y enseigner la lecture et la calligraphie aux étudiants des deux madrasas de Dāmullā Na[ṣ]r al-Dīn. Après que l’ordre soviétique fut étendu à tout le Tadjikistan, j’entamai à onze ans l’étude de la calligraphie auprès de mon père. Formé à Boukhara, celui-ci était rompu au nastaʿlīq, au coufique, au thulth, au tawqīʿ, au naskh, au rayānī, au ruqāʿ et au sunbulī, que j’appris de lui. À vingt ans, j’avais déjà copié plusieurs Čahār Kitāb, bayāż, Bidel, Hafez et ainsi de suite. Plus tard, lorsque les gens du Qarategin furent déplacés vers Qurghan-Teppa, nous arrivâmes les premiers au village de ʿĀdil-ābād (quatrième section de l’actuel sovkhoze Faizali, dans le district Bokhtar), où cela fait cinquante ans que nous résidons. J’avais alors formé beaucoup de calligraphes mais le style coranique dit ʿabd al-wāḥidī, [je ne l’appris que] plusieurs années après notre arrivée à Qurghan-Teppa, alors que j’avais déjà beaucoup d’élèves. Un jour que j’étais l’hôte d’élèves de Yavan, j’aperçus depuis le seuil un Haft Yak copié en ʿabd al-wāḥidī sur du papier de fabrication soviétique, dans une très belle calligraphie. Or je n’avais pas étudié ce style. Je les interrogeai et ils me dirent que c’était l’écriture de Mullā Murādī Buḫārī, de Koktash. Je m’empressai de prendre ses coordonnées et deux jours seulement après mon retour, jetai dans une valise calame et encrier, ainsi que quelques provisions et un album écrit de ma main pour prendre le chemin de Koktash, où je trouvai rapidement la demeure de Mullā Murād [sic] Buḫārī. Lorsqu’installé chez lui, je me mis à lui parler d’apprendre le coranique, sa réponse fut : « Je faisais partie des calligraphes de Boukhara. Après la révolution de Boukhara, le gouvernement des Jadids, qui était avec les soviets, m’a nommé maître d’école. Un an plus tard, ils m’envoyaient, toujours comme enseignant, à Samarcande, où j’ai professé pendant plusieurs années. Ensuite, sur les conseils de Sadr al-Din ‘Ayni, que je connaissais depuis un moment, je suis venu au Tadjikistan, où j’ai continué à enseigner pendant un quart de siècle jusqu’à ma retraite. Depuis tout ce temps cependant, c’est bien la première fois que j’entends parler de quelqu’un qui veut apprendre la calligraphie. » Sur ce, il se mit à pleurer et me raconta des histoires trop longues pour figurer ici, avant de poursuivre : « Cela fait soixante-dix-sept ans que la calligraphie me tient lieu de compagne mais je suis resté sans aucun élève et il faut que vous veniez m’en exprimer le désir à un moment où votre jeunesse est déjà loin et où, déçu par cette calligraphie, vous laisserez tomber. À quoi bon vous donner cette peine, et à moi-même ? », avant de conclure sur une prière. Je me levai et repris ma valise mais me rappelai l’album calligraphié, que je sortis pour le lui tendre. Sitôt qu’il l’eut ouvert, il vit que le papier était d’époque soviétique et se mit à le feuilleter avec attention, avant de déclarer : « Ça, c’est l’écriture de votre père. » Je lui répondis : « Cet album, et bien d’autres encore, je les ai copiés moi-même après avoir appris les styles de la calligraphie persane de nos ancêtres. » Avec un léger sourire, il s’exclama : « bravo, bravo ! » avant de m’accepter finalement comme élève. En deux mois, j’appris le coranique auprès de lui avant de revenir à Qurghan-Teppa. Et depuis ce temps, c’est bien une cinquantaine, une soixantaine d’ouvrages que j’ai copiés en coranique, dont un Coran et deux Haftyak, ainsi qu’un Dalāyil que j’ai d’ailleurs encore : les autres, je les ai donnés à mes élèves. Parmi les titres de mes livres on trouve : le Kanz al-humāyūn, un Ġarīb-nāma, un Ḥajj-nāma, un Majmaʿ al-ṣāliḥīn ʿalà radd-i ġilmat-i [sic] muḫālifīn, des Ġazaliyāt-i kull, des Rubāʿiyāt-i tanhāʾī, un Tarīḫ-i wahhābiyūn traduit du livre Ḫulāṣat al-kalām, un Risāla dar tafsīr-i sūrahā-yi [sic] Qiṣā[ṣ], un Risāla dar fażilat-i [sic] ʿilm wa farhang, un Jāmiʿ al-aṣlāḥ, un Anwāʿ al-ḫuṭūṭ, un Jāmiʿ al-riwāyāt, un Risāla-i sabab-i jang-i Tājīkān, les Ḥikāyat-i jawān-i ʿāšiq, un Tārīḫ-i buzurgān-i ʿaṣr-i nā [sic], un Tārīḫ-i maḏhab-i qarmaṭī, un Tārīḫ-i Dāmullā Ḫūja-i Qarātigīnī, les Nuh pand-i padarāna, un Guldasta-i adabiyāt, un Tārīḫ-i Qūrġan al-Waḫš[.] Le reste consiste en livres de grands auteurs comme le Maẓhar-i kull, le Nūr al-yaqīn, le livre de Ḥājjī Ḥusayn et d’autres encore, une quarantaine en tout, que j’ai copiés pour m’exercer à la calligraphie.

[Verso :]
Sur cette photographie figure Qārī Nazrīzāda ibn-i Dāmullā Ṣafī, père du copiste, Ibn-i Qārī Ġarmī. Venu au monde en 1318 dans le village de Šulānak, du district de Gharm dans le Qarategin, à dix-sept ans il partit à pied pour Boukhara la Vénérable en compagnie de son frère aîné Mullā Mīrzā Ḫwāja, pour y étudier quelque onze années. Lorsque la révolution a éclaté à Boukhara, ils y restèrent encore deux ans. Une fois l’État renversé, ils revinrent vivre dans leur village du Qarategin. En 1406 de l’hégire, à l’âge de quatre-vingt-huit ans, il quitta ce monde. Il racontait qu’à Samarcande, il était devenu le commensal de Naqīb Ḫān Ṭuġral. La révolution de Boukhara l’avait mis sens dessus dessous. Qarī Nazrī Ḫwāja avait écrit plusieurs livres, parmi lesquels des Épîtres des maîtres de la vérité de l’extase, où il évoquait ainsi son départ à Boukhara et son retour […].

English Translation of the prose texts

[Recto:]
It was in 2003 that I, Asrār al-Dīn Bāḫṭarī [sic], a pupil of Ḥājjī Pūlād-Ḫān ibn-i Qārī Ġarmī, asked him for an account of his life, which is this:

I, Ibn-i Qārī, came into the world in 1930 in the village of Šūlānak, from the area of Gharm in Qarategin. My father, after a few years of study in Bukhara, returned there to teach reading and calligraphy in the two madrasas of Dāmullā Na[ṣ]r al-Dīn. After the Soviet order was extended to the whole of Tajikistan, I began studying calligraphy with my father at the age of eleven. Trained in Bukhara, he was well versed in Nastaʿlīq, Kufic, Thulth, Tawqīʿ, Naskh, Rayḥānī, Ruqāʿ and Sunbulī, which I learned from him. By the time I was twenty, I had copied several Čahār Kitāb, bayāż, Bidel, Hafez and so on. Later, when the Qarategin people were moved towards Qurghan-Teppa, we arrived first in the village of ʿĀdil-ābād (the fourth section of the present Faizali Sovkhoz, in the Bokhtar District), where it has been fifty years since we resided. I had trained many calligraphers by then, but the Qur’anic style known as ʿAbd al-Wāḥidī, [I did not learn it until] several years after our arrival in Qurghan-Teppa, when I already had many students. One day when I was the guest of students from Yavan, I saw from the threshold a Haft Yak copied in ʿAbd al-Wāḥidī on Soviet-made paper, in a beautiful calligraphy. Now I had not studied this style. I questioned them and they told me that it was the handwriting of Mullā Murādī Buḫārī, from Koktash. I hastened to take his particulars and two days only after my return, I threw into a suitcase calamus and inkwell, as well as some supplies and a handwritten volume to take the road to Koktash, where I soon found the house of Mullā Murād [sic] Buḫārī. When I began to talk to him about learning the Qur’anic style, he replied: ‘I was among the calligraphers of Bukhara. After the Bukhara revolution, the Jadid government, which was with the Soviets, appointed me as a schoolmaster. A year later, they sent me, still as a teacher, to Samarqand, where I taught for several years. Then, on the advice of Sadr al-Din ‘Ayni, whom I had known for some time, I came to Tajikistan, where I continued to teach for a quarter of a century until my retirement. In all this time, however, this is the first time I have heard of anyone wanting to learn calligraphy.’ With that, he began to cry and told me stories too long to be included here, before continuing: ‘I have had calligraphy as a companion for seventy-seven years, but I have not had a single pupil, and you have to come and tell me about it at a time when your playfulness is already long gone and when, disappointed by this calligraphy, you will give up. What is the use of giving me and yourself this trouble?’ — before concluding with a prayer. I got up and took back my suitcase, but remembered the volume of calligraphy, which I took out and handed to him. As soon as he opened it, he saw that the paper was Soviet-made and began to leaf through it carefully, before saying: ‘This is your father’s script.’ I replied: ‘This album and many others I copied myself after learning the Persian calligraphy styles of our ancestors.’ With a slight smile, he exclaimed, ‘Bravo, bravo!’ before finally accepting me as a student. Within two months, I learned Qur’anic from him before returning to Qurghan-Teppa. And since then, I have copied about fifty, sixty books in Qur’anic, including a Qur’an and two Haftyaks, as well as a Dalāyil, which I still have: the others I gave to my students. Among the titles of my books are: the Kanz al-humāyūn, a Ġarīb-nāma, a Ḥajj-nāma, a Majmaʿ al-ṣāliḥīn ʿalà radd-i ġilmat-i [sic] muḫālifīn, some Ġazaliyāt-i kull, some Rubāʿiyāt-i tanhāʾī, a Tarīḫ-i wahhābiyūn translated from the book Ḫulāṣat al-kalām, a Risāla dar tafsīr-i sūrahā-yi [sic] Qiṣā[ṣ], a Risāla dar fażilat-i [sic] ʿilm wa farhang, a Jāmiʿ al-aṣlāḥ, an Anwāʿ al-ḫuṭūṭ, a Jāmiʿ al-riwāyāt, a Risāla-i sabab-i jang-i Tājīkān, the Ḥikāyat-i jawān-i ʿāšiq, a Tārīḫ-i buzurgān-i ʿaṣr-i nā [sic], a Tārīḫ-i maḏhab-i qarmaṭī, a Tārīḫ-i Dāmullā Ḫūja-i Qarātigīnī, the Nuh pand-i padarāna, a Guldasta-i adabiyāt, a Tārīḫ-i Qūrġan al-Waḫš[.] The rest consists of books by great authors such as the Maẓhar-i kull, the Nūr al-yaqīn, the book of Ḥājjī Ḥusayn and others, about forty in all, which I copied to practise calligraphy.

[Verso:]
In this photograph is Qārī Nazrīzāda ibn-i Dāmullā Ṣafī, father of the copyist, Ibn-i Qārī Ġarmī. Born in 1318 in the village of Šulānak, Gharm District in the Qarategin, at seventeen he set out on foot for Bukhara the Venerable in the company of his elder brother Mullā Mīrzā Ḫwāja, to study there some eleven years. When the revolution broke out in Bukhara, they stayed there for another two years. Once the state was overthrown, they returned to live in their village of Qarategin. In 1406 AH, at the age of eighty-eight, he left this world. He related that in Samarqand he became the commensal of Naqīb Ḫān Ṭuġral. The Bukhara revolution had turned him upside down. Qarī Nazrī Ḫwāja had written several books, among them the ‘Epistles of the Masters of the Truth of Ecstasy’, in which he thus spoke of his departure to Bukhara and his return [. . .].

Commentary

Celebrated along the Wakhsh River Valley as a key transmitter of Islamic learning through the Soviet period, Makhdum Pulad-Khan Gharmi b. Qari Nadhri Khwaja (b. 1930), alias Ibn-i Qari, held a hujra (teaching unit of the classical madrasa system) in a kolkhoz, then sovkhoz village of the cotton plain of Qurghan-Teppa, in the southwest of the Tajik SSR. His family had settled down in this lowland of the Wakhsh River in 1953, in the wake of the massive resettlement of the population of the Qarategin (now Rasht) upper valley, from 1947 onwards. Ibn-i Qari himself, however, preserved close relations with his native mountain village of Shulanak, and continued for long his activity as a copyist and teacher thanks to his appointment as the warden of eight orchards of the local kolkhoz. (As we shall see in other Documents of the RedGold Project’s blog, the guarding of productive sites and warehouses quickly became, in post-WWII Central Asia, a major sinecure for the ‘informal’ religions personnel of Islam.) Near the orchards was a cemetery with several tombs of renowned ulama, which Ibn-i Qari helped turn into a local pilgrimage, according to his testimonies. Overall, these testimonies insist on the role of Ibn-i Qari as a relay of an ‘ancestral’ Central Asian Sunni Persian tradition, through decisive meetings with masters and spiritual guides. Among these, that of a son of the Naqshbandi guide Ishan Sayyid of Qurghan-Teppa, who is said to have brought him a ‘letter of blessing’ (nāma-i tabarruk) from Ishan Sultan, a legendary figure in the resistance of Qarategin against the Red Army in the early 1920s. The letter was ultimately endowed to Ishan ‘Abd al-Rahman-Jan b. Parsa Khwaja (1920–91), a major Naqshbandi Sufi master of Qarategin who himself practiced calligraphy (Hotam 2015, p. 148).

Ibn-i Qari has largely structured the biographic traditions who, in the evening of his life, presented him as a major relay for the transmission of the symbolic attributes and contents of the Hanafi Sunni teaching and of the Naqshbandi spiritual tradition, of which the Qarategin became a reservoir in the 20th century. Significantly, when a pupil of his, a certain Asrar al-Din ‘Bakhtari’, allegedly asked him for an account of his life in 2003, Ibn-i Qari answered with a short text in verse and prose, copied by him, that focuses on two occurrences of his contacts with a master: first, with his father himself; second, with the Bukhara-trained calligrapher Mirza Murad ‘Bukhari’. Both connect him with the ‘revolution of Bukhara’ which, in September 1920, had overthrown the last Emir of the Manghit dynasty. They rely him, too, with the ‘Jadid’ government of the Bukhara People’s Republic of 1920–24 and with the early Soviet Tajik intelligentsia personified, here, by the founding figure of Sadr al-Din ‘Ayni (1878–1954). More generally, the system of reference developed by Ibn-i Qari, and taken up by his biographers and commentators, takes care to link his work to the composite heritage of a wide range of authors and figures of the past of Persian-language Central Asia, either belonging to the pantheon of the Tajik SSR or extracted from different limbos since the end of the Soviet era. Among these, one finds them the late-sixteenth–early-seventeenth-century theologian and didactic poet Mawlawi Jami-i Thani Qarategini, the author of a Mazhar-i kull copied by Ibn-i Qari at the age of seventy; the early modern southern lyric poet Hajji Husayn Kangurti (1868–1917); or, still, the Basmachi leader Ishan Sultan and the Naqshbandi shaykh of Dahbidi ascent Ishan ‘Abd al-Rahman-Jan b. Parsa Khwaja (the hero of the abovementioned anecdote about Ishan Sultan’s letter).

Significantly, however, the geographical scope of this genealogy conforms to the territory of the Tajik SSR, with special insistence on the role played by the upper valleys and the cotton growing lowlands of the Wakhsh River basin, from Qarategin to Qurghan-Teppa, united by the population resettlements of the mid-twentieth century, as a conservatory par excellence of Sunni Persian high culture throughout the turmoil of the Soviet period. If such more transversal classics as Hafez of Shiraz (d. 1389/90) or the Hindustani poet Bidel (d. 1721) are evoked in passing, it is through a special approach to them as part of an ‘ancestral’ legacy, coined by Soviet cultural practice: the Persian term niyāgān, ‘ancestors’ or ‘ancestral’ (as in adabiyāt-i niyāgān, ‘ancestral literature’), is a literal translation of the Russian term otechestvennyi which, in the post-Stalinist era, used to oppose local, national and, by extension, Soviet heritages to more recent imports from the outside, from the West notably. It is against the official background of ethnicisation of national identities in ex-Soviet Central Asia that must be resituated the valorisation of an axial figure such as Ibn-i Qari. At the same time, the latter’s celebration during the 2010s by a generation of specialists of local lore of the Qarategin upper valley suggests how religious literature, submitted in Tajikistan to heavy censorship since 2009, could take refuge and develop in the columns of local historiography — this evolution shedding light on the intrinsically ambiguous nature of the hagiographic process as a whole.

Sources

Interviews of the authors with Ibn Qari Hajji Pulad Khan Gharmi, ‘Adilabad, 4 August 2004 and 6 October 2005; Stéphane A. Dudoignon, ‘From Revival to Mutation: The Religious Personnel of Islam in the Tajik SSR, from De-Stalinization to Independence (1955–1991)’, Central Asian Survey 29/4 (2011), pp. 53–80; Muhtaram Hotam, ‘Makhdumi Pulodkhon’, in Mullojon Amirbekov, ed., Farzonagoni Rashtonzamin [The Sages of the Land of Rasht], Dushanbe: R-graf, 2015, pp. 147–9, ill.



Cite this blog post
Red Gold (2022, January 11). Autobiography of Ibn-i Qari Makhdum Pulad-Khan Gharmi, 2004, by Stéphane Dudoignon. RedGold. Retrieved June 18, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.58079/te58

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