Abolqasem Enjavi Shirazi


ENJAVĪ ŠĪRĀZĪ, SAYYED ABU’L-QĀSEM (b. Shiraz, 1921, d. Tehran, 25 Šahrīvar 1372 Š./16 September 1993), eminent Persian folklorist. He was born into an educated and clerical family. After receiving his early education in Shiraz he studied political science at Tehran University. Later he traveled to Geneva and visited other cities in Europe. He felt himself intellectually indebted to Ḥasan Waḥīd Dastgerdī, M oḥammad-Taqī Malek-al-Šoʿarāʾ Bahār (q.v.), and Jalāl Homāʾī (q.v.). Above all, he was influenced by his friendship with Ṣādeq Hedāyat (q.v.), which lasted until the latter’s suicide in Paris in spring 1951. In his youth, Enjavī was a member of the communist Tūda Party (see COMMUNISM i.). In 1331 he published the newspaper Ātašbār. Following the coup d’etat of 1332 Š./19 August 1953 (q.v.), he was arrested in summer of 1954 and exiled to Ḵārg Island because of his political activities and membership in the Tūda party. He was released fourteen months later (Ṣedāqat-kīš, p. 245). He later joined the circle around ʿAlī Daštī (q.v.).

Since his early years Enjavī had a strong interest in poetry, particularly the ḡāzals of Ḥāfeẓ. He compiled a selection of Rūmī’s Dīvān-e Šams Tabrīzī (Maktab-e Šams, Tehran, 1337 Š./1958) and an anthology of ḡazals (Safīna-ye ḡazal, Tehran, 1336 Š./1957; 2nd ed. 1977), as well as an edition of the Dīvān ofḤāfeẓ (5th ed., Tehran, 1363 Š./1984).

After the age of forty, Enjavī devoted all of his efforts to documenting and preserving Persian folklore. Like Fażl-Allāh Ṣobḥī Mohtadī, Enjavī started a radio program. In Farvardīn of 1341 Š./April 1962, he began to broadcast commentaries on folklore and to ask people all over Persia for their cooperation in sending him folklore material. With the cooperation of several thousand contributors nationwide, Enjavī put together an archive. This archive eventually contained an enormous number of manuscript texts on vastly diverse topics of folklore and folk culture, ranging from regional dialects to folktales and including numerous details of local customs.

While Ṣobḥī sometimes attempted to reconstruct original versions of specific tales, Enjavī stressed the preservation of folkloric statements in the “authentic” form received. Inspired by Ṣādeq Hedāyat’s Neyrangestān (Tehran, 1312 Š./1933), Enjavī compiled a small guidebook on the method of documenting folklore (Ṭarz-e neveštan-e farhang-e ʿāmīāna), which was sent from 1342 Š./1963 onward to prospective collectors of folklore. Based on the texts archived in the Mūza-ye farhang-e mardom, Enjavī founded the publication of Ganjīna-ye farhang-e mardom, a series including ten volumes on tales and local customs, which he himself edited.

Following the Revolution of 1978-79 Enjavī was forced to retire and his radio program was discontinued. Although still a source of inspiration for the people interested in folklore, he died in 1372 without publishing any further major work. He was buried in the cemetery of Ebn Bābūya, a shrine near Tehran.

Enjavī was a skillful orator, gifted with the charismatic power of exciting enthusiasm in his listeners. Until the Revolution of 1978-79 he used broadcasts, interviews, and published articles to stress the importance of preserving folklore. His strong feeling of responsibility for matters of historical and cultural concern and the ensuing sponsorship by the royal family made the new regime consider his activities as undesirable. However, the service he rendered to the collection and preservation of Persian folklore cannot be overestimated.



Works: Tamṯīl wa maṯal I, Tehran, 1352 Š./1973; 2nd ed. Tehran, 1357 Š./1978.

Jašnhā wa ādāb wa moʿtaqadāt-e zamestān, 2 vols., Tehran, 1352-54 Š./1973-75.

Bāzīhā-ye nemāyešī, Tehran, 1352 Š./1973.

Qeṣṣahā-ye īrānī, 3 vols, Tehran, 1352-55 Š./1973-76; 2nd ed., vol. 1 in two parts, 1357-59 Š./1978-80.

Mardom o Šāh-nāma, Tehran, 1354 Š./1975.

“Raveš-e gerd-āvarī-e farhang-e mardom” in Ḡ.-R. Sotūda, ed., Majmūʿa-ye maqālāt-e naḵostīn kongara-ye taḥqīqāt-e Īrānī III, Tehran, 1354 Š./1975, pp. 411-28.

Mardom o Ferdowsī, Tehran, 1355 Š./1976.

Mardom o qahramānān-e Šāh-nāma, Tehran, 1357 Š./1978; repr. as Ferdowsī-nāma, 3 vols., Tehran, 1369 Š/1990.

Goḏar-ī wa naẓar-ī dar farhang-e mardom, Tehran 1371 Š./1992.

Various obituaries and articles in Adabestān, no. 10, 1732 Š./1993; Ādīnā 8, nos. 84-85, 1372 Š./1993; Donyā-ye soḵan, no. 57, 1372 Š./1993; Gardūn 4, nos. 31-32, 1372 Š./1993; Kelk, nos. 43-44, 1372 Š./1993; and Rūzgār-e now 12, no. 144, Bahman 1372 Š./January 1994, pp. 13-15.

Ī. Afšār, “Sayyed Abu’l-Qāsem Enjavī,” Āyanda 19/10-12, 1372 Š./1994, pp. 1111-13.

U. Marzolph, “Seyyid Abolqāsem Enğavi Šīrāzi (1921-1993) und das iranische Volkskundearchiv,” Fabula 35, 1994, pp. 118-24; Per. tr. in Kelk 54, 1973 Š./1994.

Idem, “Folk Narrative and Narrative Research in Post-Revolutionary Iran,” The Middle East and South Asia Folklore Bulletin 12/1, 1995, pp. 8-13.

J. Moʾyyed Šīrāzī, “Ḵānadān o tabār-e Enjavī,” Kelk, no. 43-44, 1372 Š./1993, pp. 200-3.

J. Ṣedāqat-kīš, “Naḵostīn dīdār, āḵerīn talāš,” ibid., pp. 243-45.

(Ulrich Marzolph)

Originally Published: December 15, 1998

Last Updated: December 15, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VIII, Fasc. 5, pp. 452-453

  • Birthday: 1921
  • Death: 16 Sep 1993
  • Birthplace: Shiraz, Fars, Iran

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