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Obeid Zakani
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By: Abbas Aryanpur (Kashani), Tehran, November 1, 1970

Nezameddin Obeid Zakani was born in Qazvin (1371) and received his early education there. Later on, he moved to Shiraz, where he continued his studies and became known as an outstanding scholar and writer of his age. His stay in Shiraz coincided with the reign of “Shah Abu Es-hagh”, a generous patron of writers. It is reported that during his middle years, Zakani returned to Qazvin, where he served as magistrate and tutor to a group of noble youths. He may have also served as the vizier to the local ruler there. The place of Zakani’s death is not definitely known. Isfahan and Baghdad are both mentioned by various authorities as final resting place. It is, however, reported that Zakani died in poverty and left behind heavy debts. Further reports on the life of Zakani are scant and generally unreliable.

Zakani wrote many books of poetry and prose, among which the most notable are the following:
1- Collection of Poems, edited in 1942 by the late Abbas Eghbal
2- A Mathnavi, written in 1951
3- Rare Proverbs, in Arabic prose
4- Akhlagh-ol-Ashraf, in Persian prose, written in 1340
5- A Book nof Beards, a small treatise in prose and poetry
6- A Hundred Pieces of Advice, written in 1340
7- A Satirical Treatise of Definitions, written in Persian prose
8- Delgosha Treatise, a collection of fine Persian and Arabic anecdotes
9- Qalandars’ Writings, a criticism on the style of dervishes
10- Auguries on Constellations, in prose and poetry
11- Auguries on Beasts and Birds
12- Maghamat
13- Book of the Stone Cutter
14- Treatise on Semantics
15- The Story of Mice and Cat

The small book of “Mice and Cat” is a political allegory, describing in metaphors, the military campaign of “Shah Es-hagh” in Kerman against “Amir Mobarez”. Shah Es-hagh was the ruler of Shiraz, while Amir Mobarez ruled over Kerman. Obeid nicknamed Amir Mobarez “the ferocious cat” in the story of “Mice and Cat”. When Shah Es-hagh moved his troops toward Kerman, Amir Mobarez collected armies from other cities. In Fars the two armies met. But Shah Es-hagh could not defeat Amir Mobarez and he fled and was wandering around.

So Obeid writes the bottom of his history:
Learn a lesson from the story O’ boy,
So that you may live in this world with joy.
Read between the lines my beloved son,
What’s meant by mice and cat, by way of fun.

Zakani was contemporary with the following rulers and dignitaries:
1- Khajeh Allaedin Mohammad Mostofi
2- Shah Abu Es-hagh Injoo
3- Rokn-edin Amid-ol-molk, vizier of Shah Abu Es-hagh
4- Soltan Oveis Jalayer
5- Shah Shoja, the ruler of Kerman

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