Introduction by Gabrielle van den Berg

A great amount of the sung poetry of Badakhshan falls into the catagory of the ghazal, of which genre Allessandro Bausani gives the following description:

The ghazal is one of the most common instruments of Neo-Persian lyrics. In its present form it consists of a few bayts (verses or distichs), generally not less than five and no more than twelve, with a single rhyme (often accompanied by a radif); in the first bayt, called matla’, both hemistichs too rhyme together; the last bayt, called maqta’, contains the nom- de- plume (takhallus) of the author; the contents of the ghazal are descriptions of the emotions of the poet in front of love, spring, wine, God, etc., often inextricably connected”.

This description is valid for the majority of the ghazals in Badakhshan, but a number of ghazals which do not wholly answer to this description are also included.


In general ghazals do not have one major theme which is elaborated in the course of the ghazal, rather the ghazals contain allusions to a limited number of themes, connected with love, fate and religion, themes which are newly formulated again and again by choosing from a wide range of images and figures. The themes and the images used are in principle familiar to the audience; their origin is often either Quranic or from other religious sources, or related to the stock of love imagery. In the underlying examples the ghazals are selected according to their appearance in Performance genres and according to their themes

Ghazals selected according to their appearance in performance genres:

In madah:

  • At the beginning G4
  • In the middle G64
  • At the end G103

In Ghazalkhani/Folksinging: G17 and G81 (Shugni)

In Dafsaz: G94a

Ghazal selected according to their themes:

  • Ecstacy and divine love: G33
  • Earthly versus transcendental love: G60
  • Didactics, Sufism and Ismailism: G5
  • Transitoriness and bad times: G53
  • Praise of ‘Ali: G58
  • Praise of Nasir-i Khusraw: G55
  • Praise of Agha Khan: G66