On some controversies regarding origin and nationality of Nezami Ganjavi

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The paper discusses one of problematic issues in Oriental studies. In the 18th century, one of the poems by the world-famous Azeri poet and philosopher Nezami Ganjavi was supplemented with lines in which Nezami allegedly mentions that he comes not from Azerbaijan but from Qom, a city in Iran. This very information gave rise to the opinion that Nezami was of Iranian origin, which was shared, beginning from the 18th century, by Orientalists all over the world.

Yet, in the first half of the 20th century, a renowned Russian/Soviet expert in Oriental studies Academician E.E.Bertels found out that the mentioned lines were not present in other manuscripts (including earlier versions). This testified to the fact that the above-mentioned later insertions made by the ideology-influenced copyists to one of Nezami’s poems were a gross falsehood. The discovery attracted the attention of other scholars (among them those from Azerbaijan) who supported and supplemented Bertels’ findings with their own investigations (e.g. Academician Y.N. Marr, Academician I.Y. Krachkovsky, Academician A.Y.Krymsky [author of the article on Nezami for The “Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary”], Azerbaijani scholars G.Arasly, J. Heyat, R. Aliev, and others).

After the revealing of the above-described scientific fact, all prominent Soviet Orientalists (including those who had theretofore considered Nezami a Persian poet) changed their opinion and stated, conclusively and unanimously, that the poet came from Azerbaijan.

However, the entire discussion was taking place just before World War II and only in Russian-language journals; up to now, there have been no articles at all on Bertels’ great discovery in Western scientific publications. Therefore, Western sources still continue to refer to Nezami as a Persian poet.

This paper dwells upon the abovementioned Qom Hypothesis and its conclusive refutation by Soviet and Azerbaijani scholars. The paper provides a number of arguments (including quotations from Nezami’s verses) in proof of the poet’s Turkish and Azerbaijani origin.

Keywords: Bertels, Qom hypothesis, nationality of Nezami Ganjavi, Azerbaijan poets, Eastern philosophers, Orientalism

  1. Introduction
  2. Part I: On the birth place of Nizami
  3. Part II: What nationalities have lived in the XII century. Ganja?
  4. Part III: On his nationality Nizami himself and sympathy for turkic in his works
  5. Part IV: Does Nizami's attitude toward Iran?
  6. Part V: Why Nizami wrote in Persian?

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