The Reluctant Sovereignty of Sultan Ahmad Jalayer: Some Reflections on the Relations between Persian Poetry and the Thesis of the Iranianization of Alien Conquerers

Ali Ferdowsi


There is a manuscript of the Divan of Sultan Ahmad Jalayer (r. 784/1382 – 813/1410) in the Freer Gallery of Arts, in Washington DC, which is celebrated as “one of the great masterpieces of Persian painting” for its eight marginal compositions. Massumeh Farhad, Chief Curator and Curator of Islamic Art at the Smithsonian Institution, and I are collaborating to prepare this manuscript for publication; and consequently, as part of my tasks in this effort, I have had the mixed pleasure of pouring over this divan, and another copy of it, for hundreds of hours over the past several years. I say mixed pleasure, not only because the Sultan’s poems, as justly pointed out, are “pedestrian at best,” but because of the industrial scale of his production.