Territory Of Iran In Thought And Works Of Nizami Ganjavi

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By MAJIJ KAMRANI

In his works, Nezami-e-Ganjavi has paid a great deal of attention to the name of Iran and particularly mentions it as the most focal and apex of Alexander’s rule. In his viewpoint, Iran is pearl and the most important portion of the seven continents and holds that the conqueror of this territory has indeed owned the most fruitful land of the globe. The issue of seven continents and presence of its kings’ daughters in seven-domes beside to Bahram-e-Gore as the king of Iran territory is the overt indication of Nezami’s opinion towards the Iran’s centrality and dominance over other territories. Nezami-e-Ganjavi was living in Caucasus in where various ethnic groups with different cultures had gathered together and the affectation of the Turks and Arabs was also at work. More importantly, the Iranian political boundaries had long been destroyed and replaced with local governments. Given the relatively long period after composing Shah Nameh by Ferdowsi, Nezami obligated himself to renovate again the issue of the Iranian identity through legendary and romantic tales. In comparison with other works of Nezami-e-Ganjavi, the issue of territorial identity has gained a higher stress in Nezami’s Haft Peykar and Eskandar Nameh since in these works two foreign kings had dominated Iran. In the works of Nezami-e-Ganjavi, the issue of territorial identity has been rendered through both referring to cities, natural geographic places within Iran and naming Iran herself, seven continents and Ajam territory versus Arab one.

Living in Ganjeh, Elias Ebn Joseph-e- Nezami is amongst the greatest Iranian poets. Located in the boundaries of the Islam world, Ganjeh was a border town and the Islamic combatants of all regions were dispatched there for the case of defending Islam (Zarrinkub.1993,7).
Nezami’s lifespan was in line with Seljuk dynasty. Pretending to be defendant of the Iranian culture and language, Seljuk government was indeed composed of Turkish foreigners who had conquered and dominated ancestral Iran’s territory and borders. Seljuks expanded the Iranian borders through their conquests but never applied them as a return to the integrated pre-Islamic territory. After Seljuk’s demise and in coincidence with Nezami-e-Ganjavi, local governments and the Seljuk’s decomposed regimes ruled Caucasus and Azerbaijan regions. During this era, the presence of these local governments indicates the absence of political centrality and integration at Iran’s political borders. The attention of regional governments to poetry and literature led Nezami to make use of his potential in this field and renarrate the Iranian identity and culture through the past stories.
The importance of Caucasus and Azerbaijan for Nezami-e-Ganjavi lies within two reasons; firstly it was his own hometown and secondly it was among boundary territories of Iran and Minor Asia, so consequently it was under the effects of other cultures which in its turn caused cultural amalgamation and lastly diminished the characteristics of the Iranian identity in general and territorial identity in particular. In describing Azerbaijan and Erran in his works, Nezami-e-Ganjavi has implemented historical point of views. As instances he refers to Armenia within the story of Khosro- Shirin which during the governance of Khosro Parviz belonged to the Iranian territories for a while and by the same token he mentions cities and places in Azerbaijan and Caucasus regions which according to Eskandar Nameh all were conquered by Alexander. The poet has made use of Azerbaigan which is an archaic name. In Eskandar Nameh and during the distraction of fire temples by Alexander, Azerbaijan has been named as Azerbadgan (Nezami-e-Ganjavi, 1937:242).
In Eskandar Nameh and during poeticization of Alexander story, Nezami-e-Ganjavi has repeatedly mentioned the influences of Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh and considering himself as his disciple with a slight change in northwest direction, introduces all mentioned boundaries of Shahnameh as the dominance of Alexander who is the king of Iran and the vale. In Haft Peykar and Khosro Shirin, Nazami has also paid attention to the Iran’s importance and specifically in Haft°Peykar introduces Bahram-e-Gore as an Iranian worthy and patriotic defendant who has considerably specified the Iran’s borders versus other territories (Nezami-e-Ganjavi, 1936:89-99). In Ferdowsi’s words, his greatest end is poeticizing poems about Iranian territory and her position among the Iranian people but Nezami has pursued the same through legendary and romantic tales. Owing to this and compared with Ferdowsi, Nezami has much less applied the names of Iran, seven territories and seven continents.


Nezami holds that Iran territory is a place wherein other characteristics of Iranian identity is formulated. In considering Iran, the issue of seven countries or seven continents is amongst Nezami’s main concerns. Regarding his own time conditions shows that Iran is the most important portion of the globe and seven continents. In courting Roushanak, Nezami introduces Alexander as the king of seven continents. In fact by conquering Iran he earned the mentioned title (Nezami-e-Ganjavi 1937:256).
In relation to Iran, the most elegant and focal poems of Nezami have been declared in Haft Peykar through addressing Kerparsalan; the king of Aghnasanghori. Conceiving the world as a body, in this context , Nezami knows Iran as its heart and as an argument says that the best part of the vale is where Iranians reside there (Nezami-e-Ganjavi, 1937:31).
The poet makes use of Iranzamin term in his works for many times, specifically in and addressing letter written by Alexander to have Dara’s letter answered. Here, Nezami on the behalf of Alexander refers to Iranzamin and in a sense introduces Alexander as the Iran’s savior (Nezami-e-Ganjavi, 1938:158).
Nezami in some of his works has indirectly referred to the name of Iran and has made use of terms like Ajam’s territory (Nezami-e-Ganjavi, 1995:201).
Jayhun and Alborz mountain, regarding its crucial role in a vast body of epic and historical changes, have also been considered by Nezami as the elements of the Iranian territorial identity, especially in the course of time passage, Jayhun was understood to be natural borderline between Iran and Touran (Nezami-e-Ganjavi, 1937:320).
Compared with other works of Nezami-e-Ganjavi, the name of Iran has a higher frequency in Eskandar Nameh and this lies within the fact that one the one side, being an imitation of Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, Eskandar Nameh owns an epic intonation and on the other side, stressing the Iran’s position before the eyes of foreigners, Nezami has intended both to demonstrate interests of Macedonian Alexander towards Iran territory and defending her boundaries and justify Alexander’s invasion to Iran, through narrating the tales of Dara and Alexander. The well known couplets rendered at the beginning of Haft Peykar in which the whole globe is likened to a body and Iran is its innermost, are the apex of Nezami’s viewpoint towards the issue of the Iranian territorial identity and since these couplets have been appeared at the outset of Haft Peykar, so the reader is early faced with a book in which Iran has been faced against foreign territories and her important position is greatly stressed for the Iranian people.

Majid Kamrani is the
Cultural Consular,
Iranian Embassy, Abuja

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