ŠĀH-NĀMA nn. The Šāh-nāma as a historical source

ŠĀH-NĀMA
nn. The Šāh-nāma as a historical source

Broadly speaking, Persian histories may be divided into three groups: universal (e.g. Jāmeʿ al-tawāriḵ-e rašidi), dynastic (e.g., Tāriḵ-e Bayhaqi), and local (e.g., Tāriḵ-e Bayhaq).  Abu’l-Qāsem Ferdowsi’s Šāh-nāma falls outside this general scheme because to the extent that it is concerned with the history of the Iranian people, it is an ethnic history, and although it has elements of dynastic and local histories its primary focus remains the Iranian people as a whole. The most incontestable fact about this ethnic history is that it is not a chronicle of factual events but an ethnopoetic narration of Iran’s story. As such, the Šāh-nāma is literature not history. But literature, as Morton Bloomfield observes, “is partially really true, and history is partially imaginary,” and thus, literature and history make use of one another (Bloomfield, 1988, p. 311). 

The Šāh-nāma has assumed the mantle of historicity; and is often confused with history by the general public partly because of the nature of its sources, and partly because its narrative is chronologically ordered and relates stories of identifiable historical personages. Many readers fail to understand that the historical kings of the Šāh-nāma are historical only in the sense that Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and his Richard III may be viewed as historical. Ferdowsi was a poet, not a historian, and those who try to “fetter his feet in the shackles of a historian,” as Sir William Davenant (1606-1668) wrote in another connection (Preface to Gondibert: An Heroick Poem, 1651, §19), lose “much pleasure.” His Šāh-nāma, even if of some historical significance, is primarily an epic poem.

Heda Jason discusses the characteristics of the epic genre and outlines several sub-genres. Her main sub-genres are mythic epic in which positive forces struggle with negative forces in the creation of the world order; carnivalesque epic, a kind of parody of the epic, and heroic epic, which tells of a struggle against a family, tribal, or national enemy, real or fabulous. Heroic epic, which is our concern here, has several sub-types: historical epic, national epic, and universal epic. A final subdivision is romantic epic that may be classed as a sub-group of either historical or national epic. Ferdowsi’s Šāh-nāma can be assigned to this category. National epics are organized on a relatively high level of symbolization, and depict characters and events, which are poetic generalizations of the national experience (Jason, p. 31). Viewed in this light, the narrative of the Šāh-nāma is merely a poetic generalization of the story of Iran and Iranian struggles against non-Iranians. The poem, therefore, is focused on symbolic events and personages rather than on historic particulars, and even when a specific historic event is depicted in the Šāh-nāma, it is portrayed in literary terms and is infused with such symbolism that facilitates its integration into the poem’s artistic structure.

The Šāh-nāma, although quintessentially a national epic, also incorporates elements of the “heroic,” the “historic,” and the “romantic” varieties of the genre. It does so in order to express some national purpose or ideal in literary terms. For instance, the overthrow of the Parthian dynasty by Ardašir I (r. ca. 224-42 CE) the founder of the Sasanian dynasty – undoubtedly a historical fact – is symbolically expressed by the narrative of Ardašir’s escape from Ardavān’s court (Šāh-nāma, VI, pp. 142-64); and the historical account of his unification of Iran and legitimization of his rule are imaginatively re-told as his victory over the Kurds, his slaying of Haftvād’s dragon, his marriage to a Parthian princess, and the births of his son and grandson from Parthian mothers (VI, pp. 170-89 and 207-14). Despite this, Šāh-nāma’s authority as a compendium of literary, poetic, legendary, didactic, and moralistic narratives has endowed it with historical authority by generalizing from its aesthetic and moral values to its truth value. In view of these facts, the assessment of the Šāh-nāma’s historical aspects must be made cautiously. 

Ferdowsi preferred symbolic interpretations of the narrative of his poem to its literal interpretations because he considered his Šāh-nāma to be a work of art rather than one of history (I, p.12, vv. 113-114; III, p. 289, vv. 16-18). Indeed, the word tāriḵ in its different senses is used only five times in the poem. In two of these instances the word has the general sense of “era” rather than “history”: in praise of Maḥmud (IV, p. 172, v. 48, foruzān šod āṯār-e tāriḵ-e u, “his era’s events became famous”) and in a eulogy addressed to Bahrām (VI, p. 463, v. 602, čo guyanda tāriḵ-e ruz-e to ḵᵛānd,“when readers read aloud the history of your era”). It is used a third time in the sense of the “date of a specific event” (VI, p. 198, v. 72, nebešta bar ān ḥoqqa tāriḵ-e ān, “written upon that vessel was its date”). However, using the narrator’s voice, Ferdowsi also employs it twicein the sense of “history, record of past events,” (VI, p. 139, v. 82 naguyad jahān-dida tāriḵešān,“a worldly wise person would not [attempt to] narrate their history”; VIII, p. 486, v. 878, ba tāriḵ-e šāhān niyāz āmadam, “I came to need [to make money] from [my] history of the kings”). All of this, of course, does not mean that the poet believed none of his work to be historical. 

The Šāh-nāma does have some value in historical research for several reasons. First, its prose archetype, which was considered authoritative by classical authors, relied on written sources that were endowed with both traditional and archival authority. Second, the Šāh-nāma introduced order and chronology into Iran’s mythical past. Third, it either provides or corroborates information about imperial administration of the late Sasanians. Fourth, it serves as a window through which a vast body of pre-Islamic lore and customs may be examined; and if used judiciously, it is a goldmine of data on cultural histories of pre-Islamic Iran as well as the social history of the Samanids (cf. Baymetov). Fifth, it was of great didactic value as a handbook of kingship and practical politics, and was especially valued by rulers who considered the conduct of the ancient monarchs as worthy of emulation.

A narrative genre that mixed genealogical information and fiction about kings and heroes of ancient Iran existed from very early on. Certain Avestan books have preserved considerable, if fragmentary, parts of this narrative (e.g., Yašts V, XIX). This system of mythical lore was considered historical by ancient Iranians as early as the time of the compilation of the Avesta (Nöldeke, 1930, p. 5 and cf. Boyce, Zoroastrianism I, pp. 92-108; Gershevitch, p. 23; Yarshater, 1983). This genre was developed enough under the Achaemenids to be noticed by classical authors who came into contact with Iranians. Several of these, such as Ctesias and others, refer to it in their compositions (e.g., Strabo, 15.3.18; Diod. Sic., 2.32-34; see also Nöldeke, 1930, pp. 5-9). In the early sixth century CE, Agathias (536-580) includes a summary of Iranian history between Alexander and Ḵosrow I (r. 531-79) that was translated for him by his friend, Sergius, who was a skilled interpreter (2.27; 4.30; Nöldeke, 1930, pp. 22-23). However, he tells us that Sergius transcribed an abbreviated version of the information from the royal annals during a visit to Persia (Agathias 4.30; Cameron, pp. 69-70). Some scholars believe that this chronicle, called the Xwadāy-nāmag in Middle Persian, was either compiled or updated during the reign of Ḵosrow I (Shahbazi, 1990, p. 214; Nöldeke, 1930, p. 23). This information is supported by the testimony of Armenian and Georgian sources. Sebeos mentions a matean zhamanakean rendering the “tale of the ariakan,” i.e., Iranians, which was a “Royal History” of these people (tr. Thomson, p. 13). The story of Ferēdun and Żaḥḥāk (Aždahā) is mentioned in the 8th century in the Georgian chronicle The History of the Kings of Kartli (Thomson, p. 16, n. 55). 

There can be no doubt that a body of literature by the general title of the Xwadāy-nāmag, meaning “The Book of Lords/Kings” existed under the Sasanians, which contained an account of Iran’s kings and heroes. The problem is with the way this information is interpreted. Most scholars assume that the Xwadāy-nāmag was the title of a specific book that was compiled sometime between the 5th to the 7th centuries CE, probably under Ḵosrow I (e.g., Nöldeke, pp. 23-26, 28-29). It is generally believed that this book was translated into Arabic in the 8th century CE as the Siar al-moluk (The Chronicle of Kings) by Ebn al Moqaffaʿ (d. ca. 757 CE), which served as the main source of Ferdowsi’s Šāh-nāma.

There are several problems with this scenario. It is difficult to believe that there was only one Xwadāy-nāmagunder the Sasanians because such an assumption would also require us to believe that the Sasanian aristocracy that employed a highly literate scribal class did not use their ancient epic tradition for political or propaganda purposes. In the light of all that we know about aristocratic behavior, this is quite unlikely. Iranian aristocracy must have patronized the development of a heroic literature that connected the great aristocratic families to the country’s epic lore by creating genealogies that traced their lineage back to great kings and heroes of the ancient times. This practice was quite popular among the Persian nobility of Iran even after Islam, and we can be quite certain that the pre-Islamic nobility was also fond of it. Examples of the practice among the Muslim Iranian aristocracy abound in early sources. For instance, the Samanid princes of Khorasan claimed descent from the Sasanian general Bahrām VI Čōbin (Balʿami, 1995, I, p. 2), and Abu Manṣur Moḥammad b. ʿAbd al-Razzāq, the governor of Tus during the first twenty years of the Ferdowsi’s life, and his vizier, Maʿmari, traced their lineage to king Manučihr and to Kanārang (Qazvini, II, pp. 73-90; Biruni, p. 45). Even rulers whose humble origins were commonly known were connected to heroes, or kings of ancient Iran by means of spurious genealogies, created for them by the literati who were in their employ. For instance, Yaʿqub b. Layṯ’s lineage is traced all the way back to the primordial king, Gayōmart, through the legendary kings of the Šāh-nāma (Tāriḵ-e Sistān, pp. 200-202). Even the buffoon general of Yaʿqub’s court, Azhar “the ass,” (Azhar-e ḵar) is connected to Ḵosrow II (r. 590-628; Tāriḵ-e Sistān, pp. 204-5). Members of the lesser nobility were also inclined to connect themselves to the kings and heroes of yore by means of spurious genealogies (e.g., Qābus-nāma, pp. 4-5; Tāriḵ-e Sistān, pp. 328-29).

It is more reasonable to assume that different aristocratic families in pre-Islamic Persia must have produced different Xwadāy-nāmags which glorified their ancestral achievements and legitimated their dominion. These Xwadāy-nāmags, the narratives of which must have been conflated both before and after Islam, were later translated into Arabic and Persian. Of course, this assumption does not rule out that Ḵosrow I may have commissioned a great Xwadāy-nāmag sometime during his reign. It also does not exclude the possibility that his Xwadāy-nāmag, perhaps due to its royal character, was considered the best or the most prestigious specimen of the genre. One outcome of this situation was that the real histories of the reigning local aristocracies were grafted unto the mythical history of Iran in these Xwadāy-nāmags, which formed the interface between the real and the legendary histories of Iran.

The formation of the Pre-Islamic Iranian epic literature. Bits and pieces of Iran’s legendary history have survived in Persian and Arabic sources. These fragments strongly imply that three types of narratives contributed to the formation of the pre-Islamic Iranian epic literature. First, local histories, for instance those about different cities of Fārs which Masʿudi (896-956) claims were compiled in books (dawwanat-hā al-fors, see Moruj, II, p. 400; and cf. his reference to stories in local histories of Fārs and Kermān, I, p. 282). Some of these have survived as parts of classical Persian and Arabic local histories (e.g., histories of Sistān and Ṭabarestān; see also Balʿami, 1962, I, pp. 346-47). Second, literary epics such as those about Bahrām VI Čōbin and Garšāsp (Karšāsp) to which certain classical authors refer (see Jāḥeẓ, VII, pp. 53, 179; al-Bayzara, pp. 29-30;Masʿudi, Moruj, I, pp. 229, 267-68, 289, 318; Masʿudi, Tanbih, pp. 94, 102, 106; and Asadi in the Garšāsp-nāma; cf. Balʿami, 1962, I, pp. 132-33; Ebrāhim Bayhaqi, II, p. 202). Third, a national epic that told the ethnic history of Iran from her mythical beginnings to sometime during the Sasanian rule. To assume that Ḵosrow I patronized the preparation of the most complete form of this national narrative in a royal redaction is plausible. However, as mentioned before, other great aristocratic houses must have commissioned their own versions of it in their territories for their own purposes. These various compilations of the national epic, like the Four Gospels of the New Testament in Western Christian tradition, told the same story in different versions. The Iranian narratives were in conversation with one another and with Iran’s oral tradition. They differed from one another not because they were divergent textual versions of the same textual archetype, but because they were different books about the same national narrative, but written by different authors for different reasons. Omidsalar believes such a scenario better explains the vast divergence in the manuscript tradition of the Xwadāy-nāmag reported by Bahrām the priest and other translators to whom Ḥamza of Eṣfahān refers (see Ḥamza, p. 19; for a detailed account of this see Omidsalar, 2011, pp. 33-46). Therefore, the Xwadāy-nāmag – like the early Šāh-nāmas themselves – must be considered as several texts belonging to the same literary genre rather than consisting of a single book (Omidsalar, 1984, pp. 44-54).
A large number of Xwadāy-nāmags and other independent epic tales must have existed between the 3rd and mid-7th centuries CE. Many of these must have survived after the advent of Islam and must have been available in Arabic or Persian translations. The wording of classical Arabic and Persian authors who speak of “books of history” (kotob al-siar) leaves little doubt about this (see Ebn Qotaiba, pp. 28, 320, 312; Biruni, pp. 45, 133-34, 144; Balʿami, 1995, II, p. 764). The agreement of the accounts of early Muslim historians with respect to the general narrative of the pre-Islamic Iranian history confirms that these translations were used extensively by early Muslim historians for constructing the pre-Islamic sections of their works. This also explains the general similarity between the works of these historians and the narrative of the Šāh-nāma (cf. Khaleghi-Motlagh, 2007-8, pp. 22-23; cf. Zaryāb, pp 84-89). 

Another interesting implication of this situation is that it has led a number of authorities to the conclusion that “the idea of historical composition on a grand scale” was introduced into Muslim historiography under the influence of the Xwadāy-nāmag through its various Arabic translations (e.g., Nicholson, p. 348; Zaidan, II, p. 222; cf. Rosenthal, p. 180, n. 4 and Bosworth, pp. 494-95). Furthermore, the classical Muslim authors’ belief in the “historicity” of the Šāh-nāma’s main source, namely the Xwadāy-nāmag, via the Abu Manṣur’s prose Šāh-nāma, is evident from Ḥamza’s statement that the Xwadāy-nāmag came to be known by the title of “The Book of the History of the Persian Kings” or by other similar titles (Ḥamza, pp. 9, 15; cf. Qazvini, 1984, II, pp. 54-5; Mojmal, ed. Bahār, 1939, pp. 31, 38).

Although by the 10th century CE, Arab and Persian historiographers routinely drew upon the available epic sources and in effect converted epic to history, they also tended to leave out the material that appeared outlandish, unbelievable, or otherwise irrelevant to their projects. The editorial license that Muslim authors allowed themselves is clearly stated in their works (e.g., Ṯaʿālebi, pp. xlvii-l; Mojmal, p. 38). 

Several additional factors contributed to the process of the conversion of a literary genre into history. The most important of these was the desire on the part of the Iranian converts to incorporate their native traditions into the universal history of Islam. These men speculated on which ancient kings and heroes were the contemporaries of which prophets of the Muslim tradition, and managed to find a niche for their mythological characters within the universal history of Islam (e.g., Mojmal, pp. 23, 47; Balʿami, 1995, I, pp. 102, 107, 251, Zamaḵšari, I, p. 322, etc.). Other pre-Islamic narratives, such as the foundation legends of cities and buildings were also incorporated into Islamic historiography via the sources of the Šāh-nāma. The effect of this shared body of sources has contributed on the one hand to the perception of the Šāh-nāma as history, and on the other to the influence of the Šāh-nāma’s narrative on Muslim historiography in general.

The didactic function of the Šāh-nāma. A strong didactic and practical strand existed in Muslim historiography from the beginning (see Sajjādi and ʿĀlemzada, pp. 14-19). The Šāh-nāma and its archetypes were considered efficacious in this respect because they served as manuals of rule and as means of conveying the practical experiences of the ancients to the generations that followed. Reports of Muslim rulers who followed the example of Persian kings abound in classical texts of the Islamic civilization (e.g., Ebrāhim Bayhaqi, I, pp. 445, 478-79, 561; Zamaḵšari, I, pp. 343-44, etc.). For instance, Moʿāwiya is said to have been fond of listening to histories of Persian kings (siar al-ʿajam) both for entertainment and for edification (Mohammadi, p. 129). This is also reported of the Umayyad Caliph, Marwān (Masʿudi, Moruj, IV, p. 80), Hārun al-Rašid and a number of other Abbasid rulers (Masʿudi, Moruj, IV, p. 110; idem, Tanbih, p. 106;Dānešpažuh, p. 1; Anzabi Nezhad and Kalantari, pp. 11-2). The tradition of consulting the histories/stories of ancient rulers for didactic or entertainment purposes may be traced to pre-Islamic Persia. According to the Šāh-nāma (VIII, p. 6, ll. 31-32), after he was deposed, blinded, and imprisoned, Hormozd IV (r. 579-90 CE) asked his successor to send him someone who could read stories of Iran’s ancient kings to him from a book. Earlier, during the reign of Bahrām V (r. 420-38 CE), the king is entertained by listening to those who read stories to him from the “ancient book” (Šāh-nāma, VI, p. 442, l. 319; p. 445, l. 357). Both the facts that notable deeds of kings were recorded in books and the fact that the custom of consulting the actions of the ancient monarchs for didactic purposes are specifically stated in the Šāh-nāma (e.g., VI, p. 463, l. 603; I, p. 301, l. 245; VI, p. 250, l. 108). Ferdowsi even alludes to this practice in the narrator’s voice (V, p. 441, ll. 22-26), as do some of his contemporaries (e.g., Nāṣer-e Ḵosrow, p. 317, l. 9; Farroḵi, p. 12, l. 238). Kings continued to follow the practices of their pagan predecessors in this respect during the Muslim period of Iran’s history. For instance, the Ghaznavid Sultan Maḥmud ordered a captured onager to be branded by his brand and turned loose because “they had read to him that such was the practice of Bahrām Gōr” (Abu’l-Fażl Bayhaqi, 1977, p. 660). The same king faults a defeated adversary for not having learned from the behavior of the earlier monarchs as described in the prose Šāh-nāma that served as Ferdowsi’s archetype (Ebn al-Aṯir, IX, pp. 371–72; cf. Mirḵᵛānd, IV, p. 168). 

For the reasons to which we alluded above, and many others, although not a historical source in the strict sense of the word, the Šāh-nāma is not devoid of value for historical research. Its scattered references to events and personalities of the Samanid and the Ghaznavid period have been used as corroborating evidence in historical scholarship (e.g., Khaleghi-Motlagh, 2002, pp. 59-92; Dabirsiāqi, pp. 671-74). But more importantly, a great deal of cultural details, pertaining to the Sasanian administrative practices, are included in the poem’s various parts. These are ubiquitous in the ascension speeches of the kings and in the texts of the royal decrees addressed to princes and subjects alike (e.g., Šāh-nāma, VI, pp. 214-37; VII, pp. 92-101, 389-403). Khaleghi-Motlagh has provided a long list of such pieces with their analogues in Persian and Arabic sources (Khaleghi-Motlagh, 2007-8, pp. 72-115).

Iranian dynasties in the Šāh-nāma. The information provided by the Šāh-nāma about Iranian dynasties before the Sasanians is overlaid with lore and legend. Very little from the earlier dynasty of the Achaemenids is preserved in the poem or its ancillary texts except for such that is taken from accounts in Syriac, Greek or other languages (Yarshater, 1976; cf. Yarshater 1985). Nöldeke claims that even the title of derāz-dast, “long of reach/arms,”for King Bahman, son of Esfandiār, who is usually identified with Artaxerxes I Longimanus (r. 465-64 to 424-23 BCE), and who is considered the ancestor of the Sasanians, is not mentioned in the Šāh-nāma (pp. 21-22; cf. Yarshater, 1983, pp. 470-71). The fact is that both the title, and even an explanation for it, are clearly referred to in the Šāh-nāma where we are told that Bahman was called Ardašir (V, p. 437, l. 1661) and also that he had such long arms that čo bar pāy budi sar-angošt-e u // ze zānu foru tar bodi mošt-e u, “while standing, his fingertips reaches the length of a fist below his knees” (V, p. 437, l. 1663). 

Muslim historians knew the names of some Achaemenid kings, whom they mention in their works (e.g., Balʿami, 1962, II, pp. 648, 671-72; Meskawayh, I, p. 28; cf. Moʿin, II, pp. 57-88). However, the Šāh-nāma refers only to Bahman, his daughter and successor Homāy Čehrzād, her son Dārāb, and the king who was defeated by Alexander, Dārā (V, pp. 473-565). Of these, the rule of Dārāb, whose name is also shortened to Dārā in the Šāh-nāma and is usually referred to as Dārā I by scholars, has certain similarities with the rule of Darius I (Yarshater, 1983, p. 472), especially in his establishment of the post (Gardizi, p. 16). Both Bahman and his son, Dārāb must have entered Iran’s literary and folk epic traditions relatively early. We have an epic poem in over ten thousand verses about Bahman (Irānšah; see BAHMAN-NĀMA) and two long prose epics about the adventures of Dārāb and his children (Ṭarsusi; Biḡami) in addition to the Šāh-nāma. The stories of Dārāb, however, are intertwined with that of Alexander, both in the Šāh-nāma and in other folk and literary sources. 

As far as the enemies of Iran are concerned, two remarkable changes happened in the Šāh-nāma account: the role of Turan became more important than that of Rum, possibly a result of the disastrous invasions of Hepthalites and Turks; and, the pseudo-callisthenic Alexander in Iranian shape supplemented the Alexander as destroyer of Iranian greatness that appears to have been translated into Middle Persian towards the end of the Sasanian period (Nöldeke, 1930, p. 8 n.4, and pp. 29-30). Parts of the story, especially the account of Alexander’s pilgrimage to Mecca (Šāh-nāma, VI, pp. 48-50) must have been grafted on to the narrative after Islam, and must have entered Ferdowsi’s prose archetype from the Muslim version (Khaleghi-Motlagh, 2007-8, p. 30).

The Seleucid period of Iranian history is completely bypassed in the Šāh-nāma, and from the Parthian rulers, only the last, namely, Ardavān IV (216-224 CE; Artabanus IV), is mentioned in any detail. However information about him is placed in the context of the early adventures of Ardašir I. The other Parthian kings are only named in a brief list (VI, p. 138 vv. 74-79). Some scholars believe that the scantiness of reference to the Parthians resulted from a conscious effort by the Sasanian aristocrats to eliminate all reference to the dynasty that they replaced (Yarshater, 1983, pp. 471-72) and others are of the opinion that Ferdowsi has summarized the little information about them that existed in his prose archetype (Khaleghi-Motlagh, 2007-8, pp. 39, 55). However, drawing on the reading of two manuscripts in the verse often quoted in this regard, Omidsalar believes that Ferdowsi’s archetype included only the names of the Parthian kings rather than any details about them whatsoever: az irā joz az nām našnida am // ke dar nāma-ye ḵosravān dida am (“For this reason, I have not heard but names of them that I have seen in the Book of Kings”), and that he did not interfere with the wording of his prose archetype (see his note on verse 83 of this section in Khaleghi-Motlagh, 2009, III/IV, p. 45).

The last section of the Šāh-nāma, namely the part that deals with the history of the Sasanians is largely a literary recreation of this dynasty’s rule. It is full of such detail that cannot fall in the domain of history proper. An example is the account of the life of Šāpur II which is a mixture of the wars of his time and those of the time of Šāpur I.

However, because such detail must have been obtained from Sasanian literary sources, it can function as a window into the cultural history and ideals of the Sasanians. For instance, the ascension speeches that begin the reigns of each of these monarchs, even if not representative of how specific kings may have ruled, characterize how the society expected ideal kings to behave. Other bits of information about the Sasanians, such as those pertaining to the relationship of the nobility with the common folk (e.g., the story of Bahrām Gōr), of kings with priests, and of various classes of people with one another, may also be adduced from the Šāh-nāma. This is valuable because all but a very small part of the poem is based on literary pre-Islamic sources, and this information helps us deduce certain trends and tendencies of the upper classes of that society. 

The final part of the poem, namely the account of Iran’s fall to the Muslim armies must have been added after the fall of the Sasanian empire. This section which includes the details of the fate of Yazdegerd III and the apocalyptic letter of the Sasanian general, Rostam b. Farroḵ-Hormozd to his brother, is a later insertion to the Xwadāy-nāmagafter the fall of the Sasanians (Khaleghi-Motlagh, 2007-8, p. 30).

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(Mahmoud Omidsalar and Touraj Daryaee)

Cite this article:

Mahmoud Omidsalar and Touraj Daryaee, “ŠĀH-NĀMA nn. The Šāh-nāma as a historical source,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2017, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/sah-nama-nn-historical-source (accessed on 09 August 2017).