Nishabur: The City of Turquoise
.گرایلی، فریدون. نیشابور شهر فیروزه. تهران: انتشارات خاوران، ١٣٧۴، چاپ سوم ، ۷۷۵ص

Girayili, Faridun. Nishabur, Shahr-i Firuzah. Tehran: Intisharat-i Khavaran, 1995, 3rd ed., 775pp.


Nishabur: The City of Turquoise

نیشابور شهر فیروزه

A significant time span separates the first publication of this book in 1978 during the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the only other work solely devoted to the city of Nishabur and its history. Apparently, since the year 1014, when Abu Abdullah Alhakem wrote a book called ‘The History of Nishabur’, no one had written on the topic. For this reason, this work is of great value. 

The book begins by chronicling Nishabur in terms of political and military conflicts. After tracing the bumpy trajectory of changes in the rule of Nishabur throughout its history, the book continues its account through the late Qajar period. In a separate chapter entitled ‘The Historical Geography of Nishabur’, the author attempts to draw a picture of the city by covering the transformation of its physical buildings and spaces throughout its tumultuous history of governance. The book goes on to provide a list and brief account about the architecture of the buildings that remain standing after the city’s periods of construction and destruction.

Faridun Girayili, whose university studies were in the field of history, has tried to be neutral and exact in his research. Whenever some sayings or writings excessively praise or vilify his native city, or they are too superstitious in nature, the author has included an opposing point of view. However, his orientation toward Twelver Shia Islam is apparent and cannot be easily overlooked in the book. 

Since the writer is a poet, the text is rich from a literary perspective and the language is refined. Thus, inevitably, given the author’s special interest in Persian literature, many of the sources and evidence in the book have been taken from poetry collections or literary texts. While this is an interesting approach, it has meant that a great portion of the chapter entitled ‘History Makers of Nishabur’ is limited to accounts of the city’s poets and writers and their characters. This same excessive attention to poetry and literature is repeated in the chapter entitled ‘Today’s Thinkers and Artists’. 

Ultimately, a small portion of the book has been devoted to the popular culture of Nishabur. Given the stature of the city, this segment appears particularly short and poor. As such, one should consider Nishabur, Shahr-i Firuzah better suited for researchers of history, Persian literature, and of course, of Nishabur itself, rather than a book that would appeal to anthropologists. The great amount of time Faridun Girayili has put into this work has resulted in a bibliography of over two hundred Persian and Arabic sources on the history of Nishabur, and consequently on the history of Khurasan as well. This makes the work a great resource for all researchers of culture and history. 

Iradj Esmailpour Ghouchani
Translated by Niki Akhavan
Esmailpour Ghouchani, Iradj. “English abstract of 'of Nishabur: The City of Turquoise'". Translated by Niki Akhavan. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi. 92. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Muslim Civilisations Abstracts - The Aga Khan University
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