Javahir al-Akhbar: A Rare Manuscript on the Safavid Period
There has been a growing interest in the west in recent years in the study of the Iranian society and history during the Safavid period. Unfortunately, some of the most important sources of this period are still in manuscript form and await critical edition and publication. Some of the most important of these sources are: Kitab-i Javahir al-Akhbar by Munshi Budaq Qazvini, Kitab-i Futuhat Shahi by Ibrahim Heravi, Tarikh-i Ilchi-ye Nezam Shahi by Khorshah ibn Qubad Husayni Afzal al-Tavarikh by Fazil ibn Zayn al-Abidin Khuzani Isfahani and Khold-i Barin by Muhammad Yusef.
Javahir al-Akhbar, which is the subject of this article, is undoubtedly the rarest of all manuscripts dealing with the Safavid period. The only known copy of this work was found a few years ago by Professor Roger Savory among the manuscript collection of St. Petersburg library in Russia. Munshi Budaq Qazvini was born circa 1509 into a bureaucratic family in Isfahan and received his education in that city. At the age of 14 he entered into government service and began a long and rewarding career. He retired at the age of 68 around 1577.
Javahir al-Akhbar is a general history of Iran and the world. The author wrote the book by the order of Shah Isma'il. It begins with the creation of Adam and ends with the events of the year 1577. The book is distinguished by the accuracy of its information and detailed accounts of events. In contrast to many sources of the same period, it is written in clear and simple persian. Moreover, in discussing the events of each year, the Author often recites verses of the Qur'an and hadith, as well as classical Persian poems which enriches the book with a literary flavor absent in other sources such as Tadhkirat al-Muluk or Dastur al-Muluk. The information contained in the book is based both on the author's personal observations as well as other sources and as such it is a valuable source for understanding the formative years of the Safavid dynasty.
* Abstract prepared by the author.