British Institute of Persian Studies

In the Early New Persian literary tradition, especially during the Ghaznavid period (11th c. CE), feasting and fighting (bazm-u razm) were two activities that poets celebrated in a fashion that symbolized the gamut of ideals and practices that shaped courtly life. The cultural complexity of literary representations of fighting and feasting can be better understood through the way Persian authors described another princely activity, the royal hunt, as a ritualized practice that belonged to both the sphere of erotic celebrations and that of warfare. This paper shows how hunting descriptions in verse by the famed Ghaznavid poet Farrukhī Sīstānī drew upon imagery and ideals that belonged to the art of bazm and razm. These poems combine stylistic features of the Abbasid hunt poetry tradition with echoes of Sasanian hunting practices, ideals of Islamic good governance, and geopoetic allusions to the Ghazanvid rhetoric of imperialistic expansion. Even more interestingly, these previously unstudied qasidas (that is, praise odes) stage a symbolic homoerotic connection between the poet and his young prince, Sultan Mahmud's son, Muhammad, mediated by gift exchanges that involve metaphors of human and animal beauty. By relying on close reading of these texts, my analyses will show how Farrukhī depicted his young patron's hunting expeditions as rituals of erotic and martial training.

About the Speaker
Domenico Ingenito is an Associate Professor of Persian Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles, and incoming Bahari Fellow in the Persian Arts of the Book, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford (Spring 2023). His research interests center on medieval Persian poetry, visual culture of Iran and Central Asia, gender and translations studies, and manuscript culture. His most recent articles are: “Hafez’s ‘Shirāzi Turk’: A Geopoetical Approach (Iranian Studies)” and “‘A Marvelous Painting’: The Erotic Dimension of Saʿdi's Praise Poetry” (Journal of Persianate Studies). His most recent book is Beholding Beauty: Saʿdi of Shiraz and the Aesthetics of Desire in Medieval Persian Poetry (Brill, 2020). His Italian translation of Forugh Farrokhzad’s collected poems, along with all original texts, will be published in 2023 by Bompiani. He is currently working on an English translation of a selection of Saʿdi’s poems (University of California Press) and a monograph on kingship, poetic creativity, and homoeroticism in the context of Ghaznavid praise poetry.