Accepted Paper:

Hasan Hodja Nisari's Collection of Biographies, Entitled Muzekkir-i Ahbab [Remembrance of Friends] and Central Asian Literature, Social Structure, Religious and Cultural Life in 16th Century  


Emrah Ilik (University of Pittsburgh)

Paper long abstract:

This paper focuses on Hasan Hodja Nisârî's collection of biographies, entitled Muzekkir-i Ahbab, which is one of the most important resources of the 16th-century literary environment and seminal due to the fact that it reflects the Central Asian literature, social structure, religious and cultural life. Penned in 1566 in Bukhara, this collection encapsulates valuable information concerning the lives and works of 278 poets and Sufis. This paper uses a document review method and is translated from Persian language to English. The document review is examined through the original manuscript that I found in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

This work is the first collection of biographies since Nevâî's which is entitled Mecâlisü'n-Nefâis.In Müzekkir-i Ahbâb collection, a host of historical incidents are narrated, and besides providing striking information regarding the then major cities such as Bukhara, Samarkand and Belh; emperors of the Sheybani State and historical personalities of that time, their births and deaths, places they visited and their works are elaborated as well.

Projecting to exist in the Eastern Islamic world not only with conquests but also with their cultural influence, Sheybanis and Uzbeks take the cultural tradition of Timurids as an example and modify it to fit their serai approach. To this end, it is known that they first received help from people who lived in the Timurid serai and were closely acquainted with it. Sheybani Khan patronizes in his own serai experienced artists, scholars, and pundits who had served serai but lost their positions due to the collapse of the Timurids. These people, in turn, give lessons to aristocrats in the Uzbek serais virtually as cultural consultants

In the 16th century in Central Asia, Ma Wara'un - Nahr and Khorasan, besides literary, scientific and artistic activities, a major element not to be forgotten is religious and Sufi life. Religion was practiced intensely in every segment of the society, and effects of religion were felt in art and literature as well.

Significant contribution to this collection, which can attract the attention of researchers, is made. Upon ascertaining these points, the significance of the work is highlighted. The work contains interesting and unique information concerning Central Asian social, cultural and religious life in the 16th century.


Central Asian Society in 16th Century, Hasan Hodja Nisari, Muzekkir-i Ahbab, Bukhara, Samarkand, Sheybanis

Panel CUL-03
Epics and Memory