Pata Khazāna (Pashto: پټه خزانه – „The Hidden Treasure“, alternative transcriptions: Peta Khazāna, Pota Khazana, Pata Xazāna) is the title of a disputed manuscript written in Pashto language. According to its supposed discoverer Abdul Hay Habibi, the script contains an anthology of Pashto poetry, which precedes the earliest known pieces of Pashto literature by a couple of hundred years. The claimed discovery of the script caused a controversy about its genuineness. The manuscript could not be authenticated and is considered forgery by most scholars of Iranian Studies.
The Afghan scholar Habibi claimed to have discovered the manuscript in 1944. He professed that the script be a 19th-century copy of an anthology of Pashto poetry written in 1729 in Kandahar by Shah Hussain Hotak. The anthology is a compilation of works of hitherto unknown poets dating back to the eighth century. Habibi published the manuscript as a facsimile in 1975 but did not make the original document available to the public.
The earliest known document written in Pashto is dated to the sixteenth century. The poems compiled in the Pata Khazana therefore extend the history of Pashto literature by about 800 years. The claimed discovery of the manuscript thus caused a controversy, its authenticity was disputed from the beginning. The first translation into a European language, with a detailed critical commentary, only appeared in 1987, written by the Italian iranologist Lucia Serena Loi. The most intensive critical occupation with the manuscript among Pashto scholars was published by the Pakistani scholar Qalandar Mohmand in 1988.
As the original manuscript is not available to the public, the authenticity of the document could only be checked by analysing the orthography and style of the facsimile. Due to the large number of errors and anachronisms found in the script, the authenticity of the manuscript is widely excluded among scholars of Iranian studies. Some scholars, however, do not want to rule out completely an authenticity of at least parts of some poems compiled in the manuscript.
There is no consensus on the time of fabrication. Loi considers the manuscript a forgery of the late 19th century, while the Iranologist David Neil MacKenzie concludes from the anachronisms that the document was fabricated only shortly before its claimed discovery in 1944. MacKenzies central argument refers to the use of the modern Pashto letters Dze (ځ [dz]) and Nur (ڼ [ɳ]) throughout the script. These letters were only introduced into the Pashto alphabet in 1936 when the Afghan government reformed the Pashto orthography. The two letters have never been found simultaneously in any genuine manuscript before 1935.
- Khushal Habibi (translator): Hidden Treasure (Pata Khazana). University Press of America 1997, ISBN 0-7618-0265-7
- Lucia Serena Loi: Il tesoro nascosto degli Afghani. Il Cavaliere azzurro, Bologna 1987, ISBN 88-85661-21-1 (in Italian)
- Qalandar Mohmand: Pata khazāna fi'l mīzān. Da chap jae, Peshawar 1988 (in Pashto)
- Lucia Serena Loi: Il tesoro nascosto degli Afghani. Il Cavaliere azzurro, Bologna 1987, p. 33
- David Neil MacKenzie: David N. Mackenzie: The Development of the Pashto Script. In: Shirin Akiner (Editor): Languages and Scripts of Central Asia. School of Oriental and African Studies, Univ. of London, London 1997, ISBN 978-0-7286-0272-4. p. 142