Encylopedia Brittanica and Nizami Ganjavi
19-Nov-2008 (2 comments)

Greetings to All,

The following letter was sent to the Encyclopedia Brittanica for its recent revision to the biography of Iranian poet Nizami Ganjavi (the draft of that letter now posted in link below):


recommended by Maryam Hojjat



Letter's content was found at Google's cache

by kishbeach on

Archive for November 13th, 2008 Encylopedia Brittanica and Nizami Ganjavi

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

Dear Distinguished Members of the Encyclopedia Brittanica,

It has coe to my humble attention that you have changed your citation of Nizami Ganjavi
from that of a Persian Poet to Persian “language” poet. This ivery
designation (Persian “language” poet) is a term that has origins by the
propagandists of of the former Soviet Union, and especially Joseph

It was Soivet dictator Joseph Stalin who stated that Nizami Ganjavi “…must not be surrendered to Iranian literature, despite having written most of his poems in Persian.” (Kolarz, 1952). The statement was meant to distort that fact Nizami was not Turkic in origin and that wrote ALL of his works Persian. Post-Soviet Russian historians do acknowledge that Nizami was “one of the famous Persian poets…” and “…wrote exclusively in Persian
(From the Brockhaus and Efrona Encyclopedia (as cited by HOEB article
of Moscow, Russia). Historical documents pertaining to Persian
historical figures in the Caucasus were deliberately falsified by the
Soviets (see Tiwali, 1984): one of their revisions entailed the
portrayal of Nizami as being of “Caucasian nationality”. Other distortions involved theb narrative that Nizami’s original poetry was composed in Turkic languages which was only later followed by “Farsi [Persian] translation”. None of these statements any basis in historical facts.

Long before Soviet Russia, Czarist Russia had been working
vigorously to promote pan-Turkism in the region to eliminate the
Persian literary, cultural and historical legacy in the Caucasus. As
you may know, Iran was forced to cede her possessions in the Caucasus
(everything above the Araxes River just above Azarbaijan) to
Russia. Hostler has noted that Czarist Russian, despite herr victory in
the Caucasus, was very worried of the power of the Persian culture and
language Iran over Arran (renamed Republic of Azarbaijan in 1918 - this
is historically distinct from Azarbaijan in Iran): Hostler has noted

This cultural link between the newly conquered country [modern-day Republic of Azerbaijan, historically known as Arran until May 1918] and its still strong Persian neighbor annoyed Russia who tried to destroy it by supporting local Turkish cultural developments”(Hostler, 1957, p.22).

Indeed, the local authorities in the khanates were either
Persian-speaking or of aristocracies who spoke Persian. The Shiite
clergy who held considerable influence over the local courts and
schools, helped maintain the influence of Iranian culture in the
Caucasus. Professor Swietochowski notes that The hold of Persian as the chief literary language in [the current Republic of ] Azerbaijan
was broken, followed by the rejection of classical Azerbaijani, an
artificial, heavily Iranized idiom that had long been in use along with
Persian, though in a secondary position. This process of cultural
change was initially supported by the Tsarist authorities, who were
anxious to neutralize the still-widespread Azerbaijani identification
with Persia.
” (Swietochowski, 1995, p.29). This
policy was consistent with Czarist policies with respect to other
recently conquered non-Russian nationalities of the empire (1995,
p.29). These policies were continued by teh succeeding Soivet Empire,
especially in the Caucasus. Professor Nazrin Mehdiyova, herself a historian from the modern Republic of Azerbaijan has astutely reported that:

“…the Soviet authorities falsified documents and re-wrote history books.” (Mehdiyova, 2003, p.280).

While a plethora of other references may be cited for you, the above
citaitons serve to illustrate the misconcenption of the term “Persian
language Poet”. Please fee free to correspond with me anytime at your
convenience. Your attention to this matter is greatly appreciated

My Best Regards

Dr. Kaveh Farrokh

Historian – University of British Columbia Continuing Studies Division

Winner of WAALM’s Best History Book Award of 2008

Nominated for Top Three History Books of IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Award

Member of Stanford University’s WAIS (World Association of International Studies)

Advisor of Iranian Studies for The Society for Hellenic-Iranian Studies

Historical Advisor for the History Channel

Academic Advisor of the Persian American Society

Director of the Archaeological Department of the Pasargard Heritage Foundation

Advisory Committee Member of the Dabiri Foundation

Member of the Iranian-Canadian Congress

Member of Iran Linguistics Society

Member of Persian Gulf Preservation Society


Correct URL please?

by kishbeach on

Could you correct the URL? Error 404 is returned when hitting: