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al-, Balkhi

The Oxford Companion to World Exploration

Evangelos Venetis

al-, Balkhi, 

(fl. 1100),

the unknown author of the Persian geographical account Fars-nama. Fars-nama (The Book of the Fars Province) was composed in the late eleventh or early twelfth century c.e. Only a few details are known about Ibn al-Balkhi, all through his own account. His name is conventional and is related to Balkh in eastern Khorāsān, the city of his ancestors. During the sultanate of the Seljuq Barkiyaruq (1094–1105), his grandfather was chief accountant of the local governor of Fars, Atabeg Rukn al-dawla or Najm al-dawla Khumartigin. The author had often accompanied his grandfather in the latter's provincial travels.

The sultan Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad (d. 1118) appreciated Ibn al-Balkhi's thorough knowledge of Fars, and he acted as patron of the Fars-nama, which was completed before 1116. The account consists of two sections. The first deals primarily with the pre-Islamic kings of Iran, especially the Sasanians, with the rise of Islam, and with the subsequent conquest of Fars up to Ali's caliphate. The other section refers to a geographical and historical description of several districts of Fars under Islamic rule, mainly during the Buyid period. The account closes with a note about the last Buyids and the ascent of the Seljuqs in Fars.

Ibn al-Balkhi's local history of Fars had an impact on later local histories. The merit of the Fars-nama as a vital primary source for Iranian history derives from its valuable information on pre-Islamic Iran, material that often is not attested in other Arabic or Persian sources.

[See also Arabia.]

Evangelos Venetis


Bosworth, Clifford Edmund. Ebn al-Balkhi. In Encyclopaedia Iranica, edited by E. Yarshater. 2nd ed. New York: Eisenbrauns, 1998. Vol. 8, p. 4. Includes full bibliography.Find this resource:

    Ibn al-Balkhi. Fars-nama. Edited by Guy Le Strange and R. A. Nicholson. London: Cambridge University Press for the Gibb Memorial; London: Luzac, 1998. First published in 1962.Find this resource: