Who is Rudaki,
Singer, Musician,
and Poet?

Take a look at the life of this Persian legend, and you can see why he is so revered in Tajikistan and further afield. 

Abu 'Abd Allāh Ja'far ibn Muḥammad al-Rūdhakī was a Singer, Musician and Poet,  known as the Adam of poets and the founder of classical Persian literature.

Take a look at the life of this Persian legend, and you can see why he is so revered in Tajikistan and further afield. 

Rudaki the Poet

Rudaki lived during a turbulent period in the history of the central Asian region Persian political power was in Decline while Iranian intellectual power growing.

Rudaki was to play a crucial role during this transitional period. The Poet was to create an atmosphere in which great future poets like Ferdowsi, Umar Khayyam, Rumi, and Hafiz could flourish.   

Abu Abdollah Jafar ibn Mohammad Rudaki was born to an impoverished family in 858 in the village of Rudak close to today's town of Panjikent.

Not too much is known about Rudaki's early life. Some biographers from the time do mention that he was born blind.

Rudakis blindness has been contested using his poetry as an example some scholars saying he was too precise in the use of colours and vivid description.

Whether blind or not, Rudaki was to produce some beautiful, unforgettable verses during his life.

“The sweet fragrance of the Muliyan brook,

Recalls memories so long ago forsook.

Rough sands of the Oxus beneath my feet,

Caress them as would silk, soft and sweet.

Enjoy life everlasting, always full of cheer,

Your guest's the Amir, ever joyous and dear.

Tumultuous Oxus, full of joy and mirth,

Greet's us and leaps warmly to our girth.

O Bukhara!

Thou art the Sky, brilliant Moon is He,

O mighty Sky, embrace Thy Moon with glee.

Thou art the Mead, stately Cypress He,

Receive Thee anon, Thy beloved Cypress tree.

Adulation and praise by the Ordinary sought,

Applied to Thee, O Treasure, are but Naught.”

Rudaki the Singer

Rudaki was said not only to be a poet but a talented singer and musician, he was to serve as a court poet to the then ruler Naṣr II in the city of Bukhara. Rudaki was among one of the first to write in modern Persian language.

Since Sassanian rule in 224 AD, Persian was the official language of the region even to continue after later Arab conquests. Persian endured as the official language of successive Muslim dynasties, although written in the Arabic script it was to be called "New Persian." New Persian was to spread outside the old Persian-speaking borders reaching Central Asia and even permeating into northern India. Rudaki is a pioneer of the Tajik-Persian language (an ancient figure claimed by a modern state).

Rudaki was to pen many thousands of verses in his lifetime. Unfortunately, most were to be lost.

Since he died in 941 only, a few hundred of his poems remain.  Aside from his masterful precise poetry, one of his most important contributions to literature is his translation from Arabic to Persian of Kalilah wa Dimnah, a collection of fables of Indian origin, which earned his fame in Persio-Islamic literature.

Rudaki's life is a real rags to riches and back again story. In his passing in 941 he had very little.

He had returned from the Silk Road metropolis of Bukhara to his roots in Panjikent. Here his poetry was to become poignantly melancholy.

Stories swirl around his death saying that in his later years he was blinded and tortured. While others contest that he returned to his roots after falling out of favour with the Amir. Whatever the reason the area of his birth and death has a majesty all of its own and one could imagine a humble poet arising from this region. 

Since his passing, Rudaki has achieved greater fame than he can ever of imagined. Adopted as the national hero of a nation, Tajikistan now has streets, schools parks awards and libraries named after this ancient legend. Statues of the Poet from Panjikent adorn most cities throughout the country. 

Western scholars have called him the Homer of Iran and Tajikistan's Chaucer, even reminding us that at the time Rudaki penned his mightly masterpieces, Europe was struggling through the dark ages.

We leave you with an example of Rudakis simple yet great genius: 

"No ordinary teacher will ever reach,

 Those whom time has failed to teach.”

Koryo Tours
Tajikistan Tours


Rich Beal

Rich Beal is our International Tours Manager.

Rich is one of our most experienced tour leaders. He has led tours worldwide since 2004, specialising in Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the surrounding area. Currently living in Mongolia, he leads multiple specialised trips annually and has over 20 years of experience running and designing tours of the region. 

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