Baba Tahir

Baba Tahir of Hamedan
Mystic Poet
Born c. 11th century
Hamedan, Iran
Died c. 11th century
Hamedan, Iran
Venerated in Islam
Major shrine Hamedan, Iran
Influences Ferdowsi, Sanai, Khwaja Abdullah Ansari, Mansur Al-Hallaj, Abu-Sa'id Abul-Khayr, Bayazid Bastami
Influenced Rumi, Hafez, Jami, Omar Khayyam and many other later mystic poets
Tradition or genre
Mystic poetry

Baba Tahir (Persian: باباطاهر, or Baba Taher Oryan Hamadani) was an 11th-century Persian poet.[1] His poetry is written in Hamedani dialect of Persian language. According to L. P. Elwell-Sutton he probably wrote in the local dialect, which "Most traditional sources call it loosely Luri, while the name commonly applied from an early date to verses of this kind, Fahlaviyat, presumably implies that they were thought to be in a language related to the Middle Iranian dialect Pahlavi. Rouben Abrahamian however found a close affinity with the dialect spoken at the present time by the Jews of Hamadan."[2] According to The Cambridge History of Iran, Baba Tahir spoke a certain Persian dialect.[3]


Tomb of Baba Tahir in Hamadan
Old mausoleum of Baba Tahir in Hamadan

Baba Tahir is known as one of the most revered and respectable early poets in Persian literature. Most of his life is clouded in mystery. He was born and lived in Hamadan,[2] the capital city of the Hamedan Province in Iran. He was known by the name of Baba Taher-e Oryan (The Naked), which suggests that he may have been a wandering dervish. Legend tells that the poet, an illiterate woodcutter, attended lectures at a religious school, where he was not welcomed by his fellow-students. The dates of his birth and death are unknown. One source indicates that he died in 1019. If this is accurate, it would make Baba Tahir a contemporary of Ferdowsi and Pour Sina (Avicenna) and an immediate precursor of Omar Khayyam. Another source reports that he lived between 1000 and 1055, which is most unlikely. Reliable research notes speculate that Baba Tahir lived for seventy-five years. Rahat al-sodur of Ravandi (completed 603/1206), describes a meeting between Baba Tahir, and the Saljuq conqueror Togrel (pp. 98–99). According to L. P. Elwell-Sutton: "He could be described as the first great poet of Sufi love in Persian literature. In the last two decades his do-baytis have often been put to music".


Baba Tahir poems are recited to the present day all over Iran accompanied with setar (in Persian: Seh Tar), three stringed viol or lute. They say Pahlaviat to these kinds of poems and they are very ancient. Baba Tahir songs were originally read in Pahlavi (Middle Persian),[4] as well as Luri and Hamadani dialects, taking their present form in the course of time. The quatrains of Baba Tahir have a more amorous and mystical connotation rather than philosophical. Baba Tahir's poems are of the do-baytī style, a form of Persian quatrains, which some scholars regard as having affinities with Middle Persian verses.[2] Classical Persian Music is based on Persian literature and Baba Tahir's poems are the weight that carries a major portion of this music.


Attributed to him is a work by the name Kalemat-e qesaar, a collection of nearly 400 aphorisms in Arabic, which has been the subject of commentaries, one allegedly by Ayn-al-Qozμat Hamadani.[2] An example of such a saying is one where Baba Tahir ties knowledge with gnosis: "Knowledge is the guide to gnosis, and when gnosis has come the vision of knowledge lapses and there remain only the movements of knowledge to gnosis"; "knowledge is the crown of the gnostic, and gnosis is the crown of knowledge"; "whoever witnesses what is decreed by God remains motionless and powerless."


His tomb, designed by Mohsen Foroughi, is located near the northern entrance of the city of Hamadan in Western Iran, in a park, surrounded by flowers and winding paths. The structure consists of twelve external pillars surrounding a central tower. It was reconstructed in 1970.

See also


  1. Encyclopædia Britannica, Baba Tahir
  2. 1 2 3 4 L. P. Elwell-Sutton. "BĀBĀ ṬĀHER ʿORYĀN". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  3. Bosworth 1975, p. 610.
  4. "Pahlavi". Ancient Scripts. Retrieved 2013-10-31.


External links

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