Monday, March 6, 2023


Khajeh Shamsoddīn Moḥammad Hafez’e Shirazi, (خواجه شمس‌‌الدین محمّد حافظ شیرازی) known by his pen name Hafez, was a Persian lyric poet whose collected works are regarded by many Iranians as a pinnacle of Persian literature. His works are often found in the homes of people in the Persian-speaking world, who learn his poems by heart and use them as everyday proverbs and sayings. Hafez is best known for his Divan of Hafez, a collection of his surviving poems probably compiled after his death. In his poems he deals with love, wine and taverns, all presenting ecstasy and freedom from restraint, whether in actual worldly release or in the voice of the lover. October 12th is celebrated as Hafez Day in Iran. The immortality and popularity of his Divan has caused a unique reflection in the culture and art of Persian speakers and has been reflected in the works of many calligraphers, painters, carpet weavers and artists.

Hafez was born in Shiraz in 1325. At an early age, he memorized the Quran and was given the title of Hafez, which he later used as his pen name. He is said to have known by heart the works of Rumi, Saadi, Faridoddin, and Nezami. His father who was a coal merchant died, leaving him and his mother with much debt. Hafez and his mother went to live with his uncle. He left day school to work in a drapery shop and later in a bakery. While delivering bread to a wealthy quarter of the town. There, he first saw Shakh’e Nabat, a woman of great beauty, to whom some of his poems are addressed. Ravished by her beauty but knowing that his love for her would not be requited, he allegedly held his first mystic vigil in his desire to realize this union. Still, he encountered a being of surpassing beauty who identified himself as an angel, and his further attempts at union became mystic; a pursuit of spiritual union with the divine. In pursuit of reaching his beloved, Hafez kept a forty day and night vigil at the tomb of Baba Kohi.

The question of whether his work is to be interpreted literally, mystically, or both has been a source of contention among western scholars. One of the figurative gestures for which he is most famous is artful punning. Thus, a word such as gohar, which could mean both "essence, truth" and "pearl", would take on both meanings at once as in a phrase such as "a pearl/essential truth outside the shell of superficial existence". Hafez often took advantage of the aforementioned lack of distinction between lyrical, mystical, and panegyric writing by using highly intellectualized, elaborate metaphors and images to suggest multiple possible meanings. Many Iranians use Divan’e Hafez as an oracle for fortune telling. On occasions such as Norooz or Yalda, a reader asks Hafiz for advice when facing a difficulty or at an important juncture in their life before they open the Divan to a random page and read the poem on it, which they believe to be an indication of things that will happen in the future.

Hafez died in the year 1390. Many semi-miraculous mythical tales were woven around Hafez after his death. Twenty years after his death, a small, dome-like structure, the Hafezieh, was erected to honor Hafez in the Mosalla Gardens in Shiraz. A much more substantial memorial was constructed in the gardens in 1773, during the reign of Karim Khan Zand. The tomb was restored in 1857, by a governor of Fars, and a wooden enclosure was built around the tomb in 1878, by another governor of Fars. The current mausoleum was designed by André Godard, a French archeologist and architect, in the late 1930s. The tomb is raised up on a dais encircled by five steps amidst rose gardens, water channels, and orange trees. Eight columns, each ten meters tall, support a copper dome in the shape of a dervish's hat. The underside of the dome is an arabesque and colorful mosaic. The tomb, its gardens, and the surrounding memorials to other great figures are a focus of tourism in Shiraz. 

No comments:

Post a Comment