Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, Alberuni's India (v. 1)

(London :  Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.,  1910.)



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  Page vii  


The literary history of the East represents the court o£ Mahmud
King Mahmud at Ghazna,the leading monarch of Asiatic dausi.
history between a.d. 997-1030, as having been a centre
of literature, and of poetry in particular. There were
four hundred poets chanting in his halls and gardens,
at their head famous Unsuri, invested with the recently
created dignity of a poet-laureate, who by his verdict
opened the way to royal favour for rising talents ; there
was grand Pirdausi, composing his heroic epos by the
special orders of the king, with many more kindred
spirits. Unfortunately history knows very little of all
this, save the fact that Persian poets flocked together
in Ghazna, trying their kasidas on the king, his minis¬
ters and generals. History paints Mahmud as a suc¬
cessful warrior, but ignores him as a Maecenas. With
the sole exception of the lucubrations of bombastic
Utbi, all contemporary records, the Makdmdt of Abii-
Nasr Mishkani, the Tabakdt of his secretary Baihaki,
the chronicles of Mulla Muhammad Ghaznavi, Mahmud
Warrak, and others, have perished, or not yet come to
light, and the attempts at a literary history dating from
a time 300-400 years later, the so-called Tadhkiras.,
weigh very light in the scale of matter-of-fact examina¬
tion, failing almost invariably whenever they are applied
to for information on some detail of ancient Persian
literature.    However this may be, Unsuri, the pane-
  Page vii