Baba Tahir (var. Baba Taher Oryan Hamadani; Persian: باباطاهر) was an 11th-century poet in Persian literature and an Iranian mystic. According to L. P. Elwell-Sutton he probably wrote in the local dialect, which "Most traditional sources call it loosely Luri, while the name commonly applied from an early date to verses of this kind, Fahlaviyat, presumably implies that they were thought to be in a language related to the Middle Iranian dialect Pahlavi. Roubène Abrahamian however found a close affinity with the dialect spoken at the present time by the Jews of Hamadan." According to The Cambridge History of Iran, Baba Tahir spoke a certain Persian dialect.
Baba Tahir is known as one of the most revered and respectable early poets in Iranian literature. Most of his life is clouded in mystery. He was born and lived in Hamadan, the capital city of the Hamedan Province in Iran. He was known by the name of Baba Taher-e Oryan (The Naked), which suggests that he may have been a wandering dervish. Legend tells that the poet, an illiterate woodcutter, attended lectures at a religious school, where he was not welcomed by his fellow-students. The dates of his birth and death are unknown. One source indicates that he died in 1019. If this is accurate, it would make Baba Tahir a contemporary of Ferdowsi and Pour Sina (Avicenna) and an immediate precursor of Omar Khayyam. Another source reports that he lived between 1000 and 1055, which is most unlikely. Reliable research notes speculate that Baba Tahir lived for seventy-five years. Rahat al-sodur of Ravandi (completed 603/1206), describes a meeting between Baba Tahir, and the Saljuq conqueror Togrel (pp. 98–99). According to L. P. Elwell-Sutton: He could be described as the first great poet of Sufi love in Persian literature. In the last two decades his do-baytis have often been put to music.
Legend has it that Baba Tahir was a very simple and innocent man whom everyone mocked and made fun of in his town. He was not a poet to begin with. One very cold winter day, people of the town decided to make a fool out of him just for fun. They brought him to a frozen fountain and told him if he swim in the icy water, he will become a poet. Being innocent, he believed them. He took off his clothes and entered the icy water. Everyone started laughing at him as he was swimming in the cold water. He realized he was made fun of and was heart broken. He came out and, to everyone's surprise, a "true poet" was indeed born out of the icy water on that day. Hence, he is called "the naked". His poetry has touched many souls.
Baba Tahir poems are recited to the present day all over Iran accompanied with setar (in Persian: Seh Tar), three stringed viol or lute. They say Pahlaviat to these kinds of poems and they are very ancient. Baba Tahir songs were originally read in Pahlavi (Middle Persian), as well as Luri and Hamadani dialects, taking their present form in the course of time. The quatrains of Baba Tahir have a more amorous and mystical connotation rather than philosophical. Baba Tahir's poems are of the do-bayti style, a form of Persian quatrains, which some scholars regard as having affinities with Middle Persian verses, Classical Persian Music is based on Persian literature and Baba Tahir's poems are the weight that carries a major portion of this music. Baba Tahir's poetry is the basis for Dastgahe Shoor and in particular Gooshe of Dashtestani, Choopani and Deylaman.
Attributed to him is a work by the name Kalemat-e qesaar, a collection of nearly 400 aphorisms in Arabic, which has been the subject of commentaries, one allegedly by Ayn-al-Qozμat Hamadani. An example of such a saying is one where Baba Tahir ties knowledge with gnosis: Knowledge is the guide to gnosis, and when gnosis has come the vision of knowledge lapses and there remain only the movements of knowledge to gnosis”; “knowledge is the crown of the gnostic, and gnosis is the crown of knowledge”; whoever witnesses what is decreed by God remains motionless and powerless.
His tomb is located near the northern entrance of the city of Hamadan in Western Iran, in a park, surrounded by flowers and winding paths. The structure consists of twelve external pillars surrounding a central tower. It was reconstructed in 1970.
- Encyclopædia Britannica, Baba Tahir
- "L. P. Elwell-Sutton, "BĀBĀ ṬĀHER ʿORYĀN" in Encyclopaedia Iranica". Iranicaonline.org. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
- Bosworth 1975, p. 610.
- "Pahlavi". Ancient Scripts. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
- Encyclopedia Iranica, [L. P. Elwell-Sutton, "BĀBĀ ṬĀHER ʿORYĀN" in Encyclopaedia Iranica  Baba Taher], L. P. Elwell-Sutton
- Encyclopædia Iranica, Baba Taher, L. P. Elwell-Sutton
- "Baba Tahir Oryan". Retrieved October 24, 2005.
- "A Research Note on Baba Taher Oryan". Retrieved November 27, 2005.: By Manouchehr Saadat Noury
- E.G. Browne. Literary History of Persia. (Four volumes, 2,256 pages, and twenty-five years in the writing). 1998. ISBN 0-7007-0406-X
- Jan Rypka, History of Iranian Literature. Reidel Publishing Company. ASIN B-000-6BXVT-K
- باباطاهر عریان , عارف و شاعر بلند آوازه ایران (in Persian)
- Bosworth, C. E. (1975). "The rise of the new Persian language". In Frye, R. N. The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 4: From the Arab Invasion to the Saljuqs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 595–633. ISBN 0-521-20093-8.
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- Khayyam's works in original Persian at Ganjoor Persian Library