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Nizami (Ganjavi)
Rug depiction of Nizami Ganjavi (1939). Ganja Museum, Azerbaijan.
Rug depiction of Nizami Ganjavi (1939). Ganja Museum, Azerbaijan.
Born 1141 (approximate) (Earlier date around c. 1130 has also been suggested)
Ganja (Seljuk Persia, modern-day Azerbaijan)
Died 1209
Ganja (Shirvanshah dynasty, modern-day Azerbaijan)
Period 12th century
Genre Romantic Persian epic poetry, Persian lyrical poetry, wisdom literature
Notable works The Five Jewels (Panj Ganj)

Nizami Ganjavi (Persian: نظامی گنجوی) (1141–1209), Nizami Ganje'i, Nizami, or Nezāmi, whose formal name was Jamal ad-Dīn Abū Muḥammad Ilyās ibn-Yūsuf ibn-Zakkī, was a 12th-century Persian Sunni Muslim poet. Nezāmi is considered the greatest romantic epic poet in Persian literature, who brought a colloquial and realistic style to the Persian epic. His heritage is widely appreciated and shared by Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, the Kurdistan region and Tajikistan.

Influence and legacy

Persian culture

The influence of Neẓāmi's work on the subsequent development of Persian literature has been enormous and the Khamsa became a pattern that was emulated in later Persian poetry (and also in other Islamic literatures). The legacy of Nezami is widely felt in the Islamic world and his poetry has influenced the development of Persian, Arabic, Turkish, Kurdish and Urdu poetry amongst many other languages.

In Persian miniature, the stories in Nezami's poems alongside those of Ferdowsi's Shahnama have been the most frequently illustrated literary works. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica: Nezami is admired in Persian-speaking lands for his originality and clarity of style, though his love of language for its own sake and of philosophical and scientific learning makes his work difficult for the average reader. Nezami composed his verses in Persian and Western Encyclopedias such as Encyclopedia of Islam, Encyclopædia Iranica, Encyclopædia Britannica and orientalists of many countries consider Nezami as a significant Persian poet and hail him as the greatest exponent of romantic epic poetry in Persian literature.

Amongst the many notable poets who have taken the Five Treasures of Nezami as their model may be mentioned Amir Khusro, Jalal Farahani, Khwaju Kermani, Mohammad Katebi Tarr-Shirini, Abdul Rahman Jami, Hatefi Jami, Vahshi Bafqi, Maktabi Shirazi, Ali-Shir Nava'i, Abdul Qader-e Bedel Dehlavi, Fuzûlî, Hashemi Kermani, Fayzi, Jamali and Ahmad Khani. Not only poets, but historians such as Rawandi were also influenced by Nezami's poetry and used his poem in rendering history. Besides these, scores of poets have started their composition with the first line of the Makhzan al-Asrar.

According to Dr. Rudolf Gelpke: Many later poets have imitated Nizami's work, even if they could not equal and certainly not surpass it; Persians, Turks, Indians, to name only the most important ones. The Persian scholar Hekmat has listed not less than forty Persians and thirteen Turkish versions of Layli and Majnun.

According to Vahid Dastgerdi, If one would search all existing libraries, one would probably find more than 1000 versions of Layli and Majnun.

Jami in his Nafahatol Ons remarks that: Although most of Nezami's work on the surface appear to be romance, in reality they are a mask for the essential truths and for the explanation of divine knowledge.

Jami in his Baharestan mentions that: Nezami's excellence is more manifest than the sun and has no need of description. Hashemi of Kerman remarks: The empire of poetry obtained its law and order from Nezami's beautiful verses and To present words before Nezami's silent speech is a waste of time.

Amir Khusro writes:
"The ruler of the kingdom of words, famed hero,
Scholar and poet, his goblet [glass] toasts.
In it – pure wine, it's drunkingly sweet,
Yet in goblet [glass] beside us – only muddy setting."

Soviet Union

The Soviet ballet produced a film, Leili and Medjnun, named after a poem by Nizami Gandjevi. The ballet "Seven Beauties" by Azerbaijani composer Gara Garayev, based on Nezami's famous poem, won an international acclaim.

A minor planet 3770 Nizami, discovered by Soviet astronomer Lyudmila Chernykh in 1974 is named after him. The Museum of Azerbaijan literature in Baku is named after Nezami.


AzerbaijanP19b-500Manat-(1993) f-1
Depiction of Nizami on Azerbaijani manat (1993)

Nezami was depicted on the obverse of the Azerbaijani 500 manat banknote of 1993–2006. In 2008, coinciding with the 800th anniversary of his death, the National Bank of Azerbaijan minted a 100 manat gold commemorative coin dedicated to his memory.

The Nizami Museum of Literature is located in Baku, Azerbaijan. One of the Baku Metro stations is also named after Nizami Ganjavi. There is Institute of Literature named after Nizami and Cinema named after Nizami in Baku. One of the districts of Baku is called Nizami raion. The life of Nizami Ganjavi is shown in the Azerbaijani movie "Nizami" (1982), in which the leading role, role of Nizami Ganjavi, was played by Muslim Magomayev. The Nizami Mausoleum, built in honor of Nizami, stands just outside the city of Ganja in Azerbaijan. It is a tall cylindrical building, surrounded by gardens. To one side, there is a metal statue commemorating Nizami's epic poems. The mausoleum was originally built in 1947 in place of an old collapsed mausoleum, and rebuilt in its present form after Azerbaijan Republic regained its independence after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Monuments to Nezami are found in many cities of Azerbaijan and Iran, as well as in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Udmurtiya (Russia), Kiev (Ukraine), Beijing (China), Tashkent (Uzbekistan), Marneuli (Georgia), Chişinău (Moldova), Rome (Italy).

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