Nizami Ganjavi, the greatest representative of the Eastern Renaissance, was born in 1141 in Ganja, one of the ancient cultural centres of Azerbaijan and the capital of the Azerbaijani Atabey’s state. His birthplace is reflected in his name because Ganjavi means “from Ganja”.
Nizami Ganjavi combined philosophy and poetry with history and legend to create a literary legacy that resonates to this day. Nizami received an exemplary education that included science, mathematics, Islamic theology, history, philosophy, ethics, and Persian and Arabic literature. His education is often reflected in his poetry, which he began to write at the age of thirty.
Nizami is best known for his Khamsa, or “Quintet” (five poems) – Treasury of Mysteries” (1175), Khosrow and Shirin (1180), Leyli and Majnun (1188), Seven Beauties (1197) and Isgandarname consisting of two parts – “Iqbalname” and “Sharafname” (1203). Each of the five epics composing his Khamsa are written with a unique meter. They laid a strong foundation for the great Nizami school of literature which continues to exert its influence nowadays. His works, with their unique poetic innovations and universal themes, have transcended borders to influence the literature of distant lands.
Known as a poet, scholar, and philosopher, Nizami is recognized for using his poetry to examine the development of mankind in society. His romantic epic poems are full of passionate emotion and philosophical commentary on humanity.
Nizami was not satisfied with just the deep intellect and poetic talent. Throughout his lifetime he pursued knowledge diligently and doubled his experience with his poetic talent; these two great attributes contributed to his scientific and philosophical research into the happiness of the human being.
Nizami’s influence on literature lasted long after his death. He was a major proponent in the use of vernacular language in poetry, introduced new style concepts, and founded a new literary form. His literary impact spanned Iran, Turkey, Central Asia, and India, where poets imitated Nizami’s Khamsa in form and theme. Later poets such as Jami, Amir Khusro, Alisher Navoi, and Fuzuli were all heavily influenced by Nizami.
The works of Nizami Ganjavi have been translated into many languages. The rare manuscript copies of his works are kept and preserved like precious pearls in famous libraries, museums and literary foundations in cities such as Moscow, St. Petersburg, Baku, Tashkent, Tabriz, Tehran, Cairo, Istanbul, Delhi, London, Paris and others. His masterpieces have been translated into English, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Japanese and other foreign languages and his lifetime and creative output have been thoroughly studied.
Nizami Ganjavi passed away in 1209 in his native city Ganja. A grandiose tomb was raised over his grave. Monuments to Nizami are found in many cities of Azerbaijan, as well as in Moscow, Rome, St.Peterburg, Kyiv, Beijing, Tashkent, Chisinau.