Pahlavan Mahmoud (XIII century)

Category: VIII - XIII centuries Published: Monday, 03 September 2012

Kharezm, one of the most ancient cradles of human culture, gave the world a great many universal scientists and thinkers, skillful masters and national heroes such as Muhammad Kharezmi, Abu Rayhon Beruni, Abu Bakr Kharezmi, Mahmoud Zamakhshari, Jaloliddin Manguberdi, Suleyman Boqirghani, Sayfi Saroyi, Kharezmi, Qutb Kharezmi, Hafiz Kharezmi, Najmiddin Kubro, Mahmoud Chaghmini, Nasiriddin Rabghuzi, Haydar Kharezmi, Abulvafo Kharezmi, Husayn Kharezmi, Muhammdniyaz Nishati, Tabibi, Komil, Avaz Utar, Bola Bakhshi, Hojikhon Boltaev, Ojiza and Komiljon Otaniyozov.

Among the great sons of Kharezm, there is a deserving place of an invincible hero, sensitive poet and famous spiritual teacher, Pahlavan Mahmoud.
Pahlavan Mahmoud’s name was pointed in many pamphlets, anthologies and vocabularies prepared during XV-XXth centuries and his life, works and inventions were written with all due deference. This fact shows that Pahlavan Mahmoud was one of the great figures of the Muslim East. To make a study of this holy man’s biography, to search out his legacy, to translate and present it to people, distinguished scholars such as archeologist and academician Yahyo Ghulomov, literary critic and translator Tukhtasin Jalolov, as well as scholars, textual critics and philosophers Homidjon Homidiy, Yoqubjon Ishoqov, Najmiddin Komilov, Mahmoud Hasani, Hamidkhon Islomiy, Sadriddin Salim Bukhari, Yuldosh Jumaboev, Soli Hasanov, Matnazar Abdulhakim, Ergash Ochilov, I. Rahimov, K. Khudayberganov, elaborated noticeable works. Jasurbek Mahmoudov, a young talented scholar, has recently defended his dissertation on the subject “Logical research of the life of Pahlavon Mahmoud and his literary heritage”. Hero of Uzbekistan and national poet Abdulla Oripov wrote his poem “At the tomb of Pahlavan Mahmoud”, national poet Omon Matjon wrote a dramatic poem “Pahlavan Mahmoud” and writer Erkin Samandar wrote his novelette “A story of Pahlavan Mahmoud Puryovali”.
It is known that a lot of foreigners visit the ancient and flourishing city of Khiva all year long. Visitors attending the mausoleum of Pahlavan Mahmoud, an uncommon memorial of eastern architecture, are always interested in the person buried in this sacred place and ask questions about the life of this poet and his works. There is a great demand among the people to have such a book. To fill this gap as much as possible, distinguished archeologist and professor Sh. Matrasulov, photographer Kh. Yusupov and the author of this lines, decided to compile a book about Pahlavan Mahmoud, his life and works. The book consists of selected rubais (quatrains) of “Khayyam of Kharezm”, sights of repute of Khiva, hero and poet’s dome, photos of poet’s head-dress and beads, which are treasured in the house of Bakhtiyar Nazarov, in the village of Shikhlar in Khiva. We very much hope that this album will be a worthy present to lovers of Pahlavan Mahmoud throughout the world and to all admirers who are interested in our nation’s history, culture and literature.





When you think of Kharezm, you will call to mind great scientists such as Muhammad Kharezmi, Abu Rayhon Beruni and Mahmoud Zamakhshari, well-know spiritual masters of the Muslim world Najmiddin Kubro, Pahlavan Mahmoud, and Abulvafo Kharezmi, distinguished poets Nosiriddin Rabghuzi, Shermuhammad Munis, and Muhammadrizo Ogahi, and leaders of arts Hojikhon Boltaev and Komiljon Otaniyozov. Indeed, thanks to these great personalities Kharezm became famous throughout the world. Having glorified those predecessors, today’s son of Kharezm, national poet of Uzbekistan Omon Matjon wrote:
Do not tell there are no mountains in Kharezm,
The mountains of Kharezm -
Not to barrier the oasis from the sun -
Live in the figure of great people -
Sheikh Najmiddin Kubro,
Pahlavan Mahmoud,

Pahlavan Mahmoud, one of the spiritual mountains of Kharezm, an invincible hero, poet of distinction and notable spiritual supporter, was born in 1247. His father was originally from ancient Urgench. Because of destructive invasions of Moguls, when he was leaving for Khiva in search of refuge, his wife bears a child. They name the child Mahmoud. Mahmoud becomes a strong, clever and perfect person. Especially, he becomes famous for his heroism. He took part in kourash (wrestling) tournaments in eastern countries. He has never been defeated and was number one champion and the leader of wrestlers.
He is always called with some nickname. In Kharezm he is called “Pahlavan Mahmoud” or “Palvanpir”, in historical books he is noted as “Hazrat Pahlavan”, “Mahmoud Piryovali” or “Mahmoud Puryoyvaliy”. In “Otashkada” and “Qomus-ul-a’lom”, he is specified as “Qitoliy”, the meaning of which is “fighting”, “militant” and “bellicose”.
According to “Ghiyosul-lughat”, Puryoyvaliy is a nickname of Pahlavan Mahmoud Kharezmi and is sometimes used instead of “the leader of wrestlers” in a gym. Before entering the gym every wrestler shows respect to Pahlavan Mahmoud. The word “Puryoyvaliy” therefore is used instead of “sacred” and “dear”. This nickname was given to the head of a group of javonmards (men of courage). The name Puryoyvaliy confirms that Pahlavan Mahmoud was the head of men of courage. The name is put as penname in his rubais (quatrains), too.
Also, in “Charog’i hidoyat” the word “Puryoyvaliy” is commented as “the name of a teacher of heroes”. In connection with this source, T. Jalolov proposes to write Pahlavan Mahmoud’s nickname as not “Piryorvaliy” but as “Puryoyvaliy”. According to him, for the first time, this nickname, meaning the teacher of heroes, was given to Pahlavan Mahmoud from Kharezm. In Alibek Ozar’s research called “Otashkadai Ozari” (1881) there are some lines that he “was well-known with the nickname Puryoyvaliy and the whole world was aware of his heroism and he was the unique wrestler in his own period.”
Pahlavan Mahmoud’s nickname “Piryorvaliy” or “Puryorvaliy” is connected with his rank in Sufism. According to Jasurbek Mahmoud, who defended his dissertation on the life of the poet and his literary heritage, Pahlavan Mahmoud was given the name “Puryorvaliy”, which meant “a holy man (auliya) who overthrew his ego and was a son of holy men’s group”. He was the auliya who gained the title “qutb-ul-aqtob”, meaning the greatest of the great”. It seems that a nickname “Qitoliy” meaning a strong fighter is connected with his heroism, as he was an invincible wrestler and has never been overthrown.
Also, among people he was called Purboy, Bekyor, Bukiyor, Buriyor and Pakayor, but most of these names have not a reliable basis.
It is known that a slogan of people in tariqah (a spiritual way) was to eat food permitted by Shariah only and they aimed to earn money with their own strength. For each Sufi it was compulsory to deal with some useful work. Glancing at history of Sufism, one may see that the majority of well-known sheikhs had some certain profession. For instance, Zunnun Misri was chemist, Sari Saqati – tradesman, Abdusaid Harrov – shoemaker, Mahmoud Sakkoki – knife-maker, Abuhafs Haddod – blacksmith, Abulabbos Omili – butcher, Sheikh Abulhasan – grinder, Sheikh Bannon – carrier, and Mirchan Safolfurush – potter. Hoja Bahouddin Naqshband was pattern-maker. Though Pahlavan Mahmoud was hero, but he did not make this his profession, on the contrary, he continued his teachers’ tradition and dealt with robe-making and fur cap-making. No person was affiliated in a group of noble people. Pahlavan Mahmoud donated all those gifts and money he gained to poor people. They say that he even shared a piece of bread with the poor.
Pahlavan Mahmoud passed away in 1326 (in some sources it is 1322). According to his last will he was buried near his fur coat shop. Later on, a mausoleum was built on his grave and khans of Khiva of Qunghirat tribe were buried near it. In 1810 construction of the mausoleum was started by Muhammad Rahimkhon and Olloqulikhon finished it in 1835.
Pahlavan Mahmoud had a mausoleum built on graves of his countrymen, who fought against Moguls. After some centuries the poet and auliya’s mausoleum became a holy place for people. Khans of Kharezm such as Abulghozikhon, Shohniyozkhon, Muhammad Rahimkhon I, and Temurghozikhon laid to rest near Pahlavan Mahmou’d mausoleum.
The mausoleum, as an uncommon architectural monument, has been attracting millions of people for ages. Rubais of distinguished poets are engraved on the walls of the mausoleum. Visitors coming from all over the world made a visit to this holy place and take great spiritual power and support. For instance, Rizoqulikon Hidoyat, Iranian envoy to the palace of Muhammad Amin-khan in Khiva, wrote in his tour-diary: “It was Friday night. I wanted to make a visit to Pahlavan Mahmoud’s mausoleum. So did I, and felt his charm in my heart and became more generous”.


It is known that great people’s life is always full of legends and stories. The whole life of Pahlavan Mahmoud is also like this – from the time of his birth until his death, all his life is described in different legends. In many legends created in Kharezm, Pahlavan Mahmoud is seen as a national hero, great auliya, invincible wrestler and wise spiritual leader. One of the legends says that his father butcher Piryorvali was a disciple (mureed) of one spiritual leader (pir) of ancient Urgench. The pir was an old man and Gulimbibi, Piryorvali’s wife, cooked broth for him. Once she also went to see the pir along with her husband.
- My wife came with me, – says Piryorvali to the pir.
- May God give you a son, – blesses the pir.
- Thank you, teacher, but I am about eighty years, how can I have a child? – asks butcher Piryorvali.
- Thrust your stick in the ground! – orders the pir.
And the stick begins to green and sprout.
- I don’t think your heart is worse than this stick, – says the pir and gives his blessing to them three times:
- May God give you a son!
- May your son become hero!
- May your son become pir!
And all three blessings come true!
In pamphlets and books dedicated to spiritual leaders’ life and activity, there are many legends similar to this, that pahlavan Mahmoud was an innate auliya. One of those legends says that once Sheikh Najmiddeen Kubro leaves Khiva for Urgench, and population of Khiva entreats:
- Do not leave us here without leader.
Then Sheikh Kubro promises:
- I’ll send a leader to you, and he sends his disciple called Piryor baqqol.
- Go and save the people of Khiva from ignorance and call them to the right way. Know, that your wife soon will bear a child and your son will make Kharezm famous in the world. His name will be Mahmoud.
Mahmoud was really a strong man and was famous for his heroism. So many people do not know his true name and call him Pahlavan ota, meaning father Hero.
Thus Piryor-baqqol’s wife experiences birth pangs on the way to Khiva, in the village of Chanoshiq, when they leave Urgench because of destructions of Moguls. The child was born near the village Qiyat, in a slum close by the pilgrimage of Zoyir-khodja. They ask a woman having many children for aid, but she does not agree to help and another virgin girl in this home renders assistance. The child was given the name Mahmoud.
He spends his childhood in Khiva and becomes a very strong boy. While in childhood, once he pulls Sheikh Mukhtor Valiy’s donkey and stops it. Sheikh requests:
- You are really a strong boy, my son, please let my ass go.

Mahmoud was not only a strong boy but he was clever, skillful and intelligent boy as well and his parents give him to pir Sayyid Alauddin as his disciple.
Another legend says that once a copper-smith’s wife passes away. The copper-smith does not like to give his children to a step-mother’s fosterage and prefers to bring up his children himself. However, both carpentry and fosterage exhausts his patience and goes to Sayyid Alauddin to ask advice:
- What do you advise, should I get married to a widow, a virgin or a divorcee?
- If you wait in the street, a man who may answer your questions will come, – was the pir’s reply.
The copper-smith waits for the man in the street a long time but none passes by. Only a boy at the age of about eight or nine approaches and asks:
- Are you waiting for someone? Can I help you?
The copper-smith decides not deceive this little boy and speaks the truth:
- Should I get married to a widow?
- I know it myself, – answers the boy.
- Should I get married to a virgin?
- You know this yourself.
- Should I get married to a divorcee?
The boy says nothing and leaves saying “gee!”
The copper-smith waits till twilight. No one comes and he returns back to the pir and says that nobody came. The pir becomes surprised and asks again if anybody passed. The copper-smith tells that except a child no one passed. The pir smiles and says:
- You had all the answers for your questions then!
- How?
- When the boy replied “I know it myself” he meant that a widow always arrogantly tells that she know everything herself. The secret of the second reply is: a virgin respects her husband and always tells “you know everything yourself”. He did not answer your last question and left saying “gee-up!”, so as a divorcee can leave you at any time if there is a little quarrel or problem at home.
That clever boy’s name is Mahmoud.
Thus Pahlavan Mahmoud becomes well-known hero. He wrestles in Iran, Pakistan and India.
Once Indian King Ray Ropoi Chuna (Juna) invites kings, wrestlers, rope-walkers, magicians, musicians and dancers to a wedding ceremony from all over the world. The king of Kharezm also gets ready to go to India. A jeweler who comes from India invites Pahlavan Mahmoud to the ceremony but he rejects this. King of Kharezm gets angry to know about it. Sayyeed Alouddin, Pahlavan Mahmoud’s pir advises him to go to India and asks to bring back all hostages taken from Kharezm. The pir wishes him success and gives his blessings. Only after this Pahlavan Mahmoud gives his consent to go to India.
On the way to India they see a forest. To make the way nearer, Kharezmshoh (king of Kharezm) proposes to go through the forest. Pahlavan Mahmoud asks not to do this as there may be beasts of prey in the forest but Kharezmshoh does not listen to his words and enters the forest. They really come across with beasts of prey and lose many soldiers. Pahlavan Mahmoud goes along the forest.
After some days of walk he looks around and climbs on to a tree and sees a village nearby. He seeks refuge in the village. People show a harlot’s house and Mahmoud knocks at the door. A half-naked woman opens the door and at once she returns back and gets dressed. Then she invites the guest to enter the home and says that this place is not for him at all. In a short period of time she absolutely changes her intention. Pahlavan Mahmoud dries his clothes and leaves the house in the morning. The harlot totally gives up her old habit and from that day begins to follow the ways of spiritual leaders and becomes woman-auliya.
In Muslim world auliyas and sages are well-respected among people. Pahlavan Mahmoud also made a lot of visit to sacred places. One of his quatrains runs in this way:
Who will be in good odor with our broken heart?
Who will pay for our sins and faults at last?
We visited so many graves in our life,
Who’ll visit our grave when we turn to dust?

In India before wrestling with an Indian hero, through habit he makes a visit to great sages’ tomb and meets there his rival’s mother who is asking God to help his son in wrestling. This old woman entreats that his son works at Indian king Ray Ropoi Chunan’s palace and they have not any other source of earnings for their life. In particular she says:
- I heard that a very strong hero-wrestler came from Khiva. They say he is auliya, too. Tomorrow he will wrestle with my son. If he is auliya, he will definitely be victorious over my son.
Mahmoud listens to these words and says:
- Hero is that man who always helps people. One who hurts others and deprives them from their earnings is not a hero!
Then he reads the following rubai and sets her mind at rest:

Who is a king of his ego, he is a brave man,
He is a brave man, if he’s not a slave man.
It’s not bravery to kick a defeated one,
Who supports a poor man, he is a brave man.

The next day in a big contest he specially lets the Indian wrestler to overcome him. From that moment Puryo became such a great hero that his name was a symbol of kindness and sacrifice and he inspired people with good deed. Wrestlers always keep him in mind.
In pamphlets this case is considered as Sufi meaning that Pahlavan Mahmoud overcame his ego and connected with theological world. For instance, we read in “Majolis-un-ushshoq” the following lines: “They say that when Pahlvan Mahmoud sees the wrestler on his chest, all the curtains of the eyes of his heart raised and the sun of justice shone. In fact, ego is killed like this and the end of the transient world is the same. Pahlavan Mahmoud found everything what great auliyas possessed and he connected with divination. That is why people of his period called him Puriyo.” Alisher Navoi, great Uzbek poet and thinker also wrote that when Pahlavan Mahmoud’s shoulder touched the earth and he saw the sky, curtains lifted and a divine world opened in front of his eyes.
The next day king Chuna goes shooting with his people and takes Pahlavan Mahmoud as a distinguished guest. During the shooting Pahlavan Mahmoud who was chasing after the king saves his life when he was about to fall into abyss.
Astonished king asks him:
- You managed what is beyond men’s power. You have such a great strength but what was the reason that you were overcome by the young wrestler?
Pahlavan Mahmoud tells him the reason and the king likes his word and deed. He says:
- Tell me what you want.

Snatching at a chance, Mahmoud requests the king to free all people from Kharezm living in Indian land. The king fulfills his request and orders his people to prepare all the necessary things for the trip to return back.
When they reach the place called Tashsaqa, P. Mahmoud draws lines with his stick that “People needs land and water”. At present there is a channel in this line and it is called Polvonyop. When people reach another place, they again ask P. Mahmoud that they also need water. In response, P. Mahmoud draws with his stick and says:
- Here is the place for channel.

From that moment the channel is called Zeyop.
Peasants bring watermelon to Pahlavan Mahmoud and say that they will dig the rest of the channel themselves. The watermelon was very delicious and P. Mahmoud praises that it is a sweet head (qantli bosh). Now this channel is called Qantli bosh and the end of the channel is called Dashiq.
Kharezmshoh becomes aware of people’s return with P. Mahmoud and receives them gladly. The king and Pahlavan Mahmoud forget all troublesome situations they had before and make friends again.
Pahlavan Mahmoud showed examples of suchlike generous deeds during wrestling contests in Iran. According to a legend, Iranian king was interested in wrestling. There were three cockpits there. The first cockpit was for those wrestlers whose weight was the same with other wrestlers. The second cockpit was for those whose weight was heavier than their rivals. And the third cockpit was for wrestlers who could fight with people of any kind of weight. Pahlavan Mahmoud came and sat near the third cockpit.
- Do you know what kind of cockpit is this? – asked the Iranian king.
- For a master there is no difference, – P. Mahmoud replied. – I may fight with every hero.
Thus he overcame eight well-known heroes. Iranian king calls on a black hero whom he bought for thousand golden coins and says:

- If you overcome this wrestler from Kharezm, I will give you a thousand golden coins and set you free.

Having heard these words Pahlavan Mahmoud let that hero overcome him on purpose. And the king was very glad, gave a thousand golden coins and set him free. The black wrestler becomes aware of Pahlavan Mahmoud’s fun and brings the coins to him, but P. Mahmoud does not accept them and says:

- You were a slave and now became free. Take this money and go to your country.

Emir of Samarkand always wrote nonsense poems ad showed them to poets. Poets were afraid of him and praised their emir untruly.
Honest and brave Pahlavan Mahmoud says:
- Your poems have no taste at all.

Emir gets angry from these words and orders to take him to a dungeon. The next day he writes another quatrain and calls Pahlavan Mahmoud again thinking that Mahmoud likes this quatrain. However, Mahmoud listens to the quatrain and silently turns his steps to the dungeon and reads the following quatrain:

To pound three hundreds of Ko’hi Qof with a truncheon,
With the blood of heart – to draw – from nature,
Or to be left for ages in a dungeon
Is better than to have talks with immature.

According to “Scholars and poets’ last will in the shape of impromptu”, the eights chapter of Ali Safi’s “Latoyif-ut-tavoyif”, Mahmoud’s disciple Abul-Fuzuli asks him what is his last will when he is about to die. Pahlavan Mahmoud says: why do you ask me this? I don’t have any other will except assignation with my beloved, the Creator. It is enough for me if God does not avoid of me, I don’t care of other things.
These legends enable to write a good narrative about Pahlavan Mahmoud.


It is a subject of a separate research that Pahlavan Mahmoud is a follower of some spiritual way (tariqat) in Sufism. Information about his activity may be found in many pamphlets written on the subject of lives and wonders of auliyas and spiritual leaders such as Alisher Navoi’s “Nasoyim-ul-muhabbat” (Breezes of love), Kamoliddin Husayn Gozurgohi’s “Majolis-ul-ushshoq” (Conference of lovers”, Fakhriddin Ali Safi’s “Latoyif-ut-tavoyif”, Ja’far Badakshi’s “Khulosat-ul-manoqib”, Ollohyor Mahzun’s “Riyoz-uz-zokirin” (Garden of reciters), Rizoqulikhon Hidoyat’s “Safarnomai Kharezm” (Diary of travel to Kharezm), Sayyid Ali Hasan’s “Subhi gulshan” (Dawn in the garden), Oftobroy Lakhnavi’s “Riyoz-ul-orifin” (Garden of scholars), Shamsiddin Somibek’s “Qomus-ul-a’lom” (Encyclopedia of men of eminent), and Muhammad Ali Tabrizi’s “Rayhanat-ul-adab” (Basils of ethics). The creation of the series “Legends about Pahlavan-ota” shows that Pahlavan Mahmoud was one of the perfect sheikhs in the Muslim East. For instance, in his “Nasoyim-ul-muhabbat” Alisher Navoi notices him along with other famous auliyas and pirs of tariqat: “He is from Khevaq and has a nickname Puryorgha. Some people call him Pakkayor, however, according to a man from Kheva, he is basically called Pakkayor, which means “darling to everyone”. He is a butcher’s son. He is famous for his great ability in wrestling. He also has light in his heart from the world of fascination. He has a good character and writes poems.”
In a series called “Legends about Pahlavan Mahmoud” he is exalted as the sultan of auliyas, sheikh of the world’s sheikhs, hero of Adam’s generation, and sponsor and leader of Kharezm, sultan of pious men and king of open-hearted people, auliya of auliyas and so on. It is ended with the following poetic praise to poet and auliya:

He is the head of the land of Kharezm,
He is the leader of the entire world.
He is the chief of all auliyas,
And sultan of pious men.
He is a great hero from the beginning.
He became auliya and mentor while being
In his mother’s womb.
He is the king of all people of Kharezm,
He is the supporter of powerless people.

Though men of letter are generous to praise in the east, but not everyone is seen worthy to be praised like this.
It is known that Pahlavan Mahmoud was brought up by the spirit of sheikhs. In particular, he is dedicated to the tariqat of Kubraviya and his noble-mindedness is connected with this Kubraviya, along with his heroism. His moral pir was Najmiddeen Kubro and visible sheik was Sayyid Alouddin.
Reposing on the fact that in “Nasoyim-ul-muhabbat” P. Mahmoud was pointed out among the disciples of Najmiddeen Kubro, J. Mahmudov writes: “Pahlavan Mahmoud was a sheikh from the school of noble-heartedness of tariqat of Kubraviya”. At the same time, as an openhearted person, he supported other tariqats, too. For example, in “Nafahot-ul-uns” Abdurahmon Jami wrote that P. Mahmoud was a cotemporary of sheik Muhammad Khilvati, who belonged to tariqat of Khilvatiya, and they stand well, and P. Mahmoud was one of the disciples of Khilvati. According to this, J. Mahmudov writes: “The affect of tariqat of Khilvatiya might be the result that P. Mahmoud did not marry, because one of the requirements of this tariqat was loneliness. That is why in “Latoyif-ut-tavoyif” he is pointed out as “lonesome and single of his time”. Also, this may be connected with his ability in wrestling. Some sources say that he was free of marriage as he could lose his strength if he was married.
Many sources speak that he attended meetings of Sufis. For instance, Iranian scientist Abulhusayn Zarrinkub writes that P. Mahmoud accepted the tariqat of Khilvatiya and repented in seclusion.
Iranian scholars write: “Pahlavan Mahmoud was a person of reprimand, and sometimes he went to ruins and talked to people, recited words of penitence, cried bitter tears and thus they were free of their sins and gave up their bad habits”. Doctor Qosim Ansori says: “He forwarded ideas of reprimand and generosity together and showed a good ability in them both. Early in life he was a hero who wrestled with wrestlers. Further he became Sufi and went to school of generous people”. In a pamphlet called “Subhi gulshan” (1878) Sayyid Ali Hasankhon informs that in his old ages P. Mahmoud was famous for his spiritual ideas, enlightenment and piety. In “Otashkadai Ozari” Lutf Alibek Ozor writes that Pahlavan Mahmoud was a great Sufi in his old ages and reached high spiritual positions. This kind of information testifies that Pahlavan Mahmoud was not only spiritual but also official Sufi as well.
In “Riyoz-ul-orfin” Mirzo Rizoqulikhon writes that Pahlavan Mahmod is a perfect person, and in “Riyoz-uz-zokirin” Olloyor Mahzun writes a rubai, the meaning of which is: “Hey, beloved, be friend with us and cut the knot with others. Once in the morning come to us with sincere feelings. If you are not satisfied, then you may express your resentment”.
According to Khoja Ahror Vali, who said “Pahlavan Mahmoud was a person who found the truth of oneness”, “There is no poem better than this quatrain written by Pahlavan Mahmoud Piryor”. The meaning of this rubai is as follows: “Some friends reside in the world of wine-drinkers and they are in good relationship with honest people, too. This kind of people do not know the level of their own rank: they make fun of everything of the two worlds”. Then he says: “If a man knows the truth of the meaning of “La ilaha illalloh” (there is no God but Allah), Pahlavan Mahmoud’s truth is nothing to do with other notes”.


“One who reads Pahlavan Mahmoud’s poems feels spiritual pureness, moral lustiness and nobleness because this kind of spirit is absorbed in his quatrains, – writes scholar T. Jalolov. – This pure spirit is a grand program of a stream and social group called futuvvat or nobleness”.
The group of people, which aimed to ease people’s difficulties, to fight against oppressors and to support people from external forces, appeared in Xth century in Maveraunnahr and Khuroson. Consisted of generous people with different occupation, the group’s purpose was kindness and its quality was braveness. Their lifestyle was to devote one’s life to public service regardless race or credo, to help people in need, to sacrifice one’s life in honor of motherland, friends and relatives, to be pure and clean from inside and outside and to live in peace and friendship. In short, nobleness meant to possess all the good quality and use it in everyday life. Therefore “Qobusnoma” says: “Be close to nobleness so that to be one of the good people of the world”.
It is known that in general heroes were in the humor for generosity. Pahlavan Mahmoud was not only a hero who brought up wrestlers but he was also a great teacher who taught ethics of generous people as well. He was the leader of generous people and the head of noble-hearted people’s group. “Legends about this hero’s adventures and heroism testify this idea. Even nowadays Pahlavan’s name is esteemed as spiritual leader among Iranian wrestlers and his poems are always recited during competitions”. Peculiarities of the trend of futuvvat (nobleness) such as having good manner, possession of all religious and secular sciences, learning craftsmanship and eating pure food, easement of people’s difficulties and readiness for their service, aspiration to moral and ethical perfection, exaltation of clean subsistence, provision of peoples unity and friendship, which are too connected with real everyday life not only engages people’s attention, but also attracts men of literature and arts as well. Having been inspired by good ideas of nobleness such as humanism, enlightenment and justice, poets and writers began to write their creative works. In particular, Uzbek literature beginning from Xth century till XXth century cannot be learnt separately from the precept of nobleness, because great ideas of futuvvat were soaked in the roots of the works created in these centuries. Poems of our classics in the spirit of didactics are poetic expressions of those requirements and rules of Sufism and nobleness. For example, Pahlavan Mahmoud’s poems are also dedicated to propagation of ideas of nobleness. In his quatrains theoretical ideas of Sufism are mixed up with practical rules of tariqat of nobleness.
According to the fact that Pahlavan Mahmoud generally wrote rubais (quatrains), scholar T. Jalolov writes: “In terms of shrewdness, ability and power of observation, Pahlavan Mahmoud is Omar Khayyam of Kharezm. It is known that meaningful, tender and playful quatrains are called “of Khayyam”. From this point of view, Pahlavan Mahmoud’s quatrains are all of Khayyam. In a line it is difficult to differ which quatrain is of Khayyam and which is of Pahlavan Mahmoud”.
There is some exaggeration in these words but T. Jalolov adds: “Khayyam appertains to a certain problem from pure philosophical point of view and Pahlavan Mahmoud is interested in its real sensitive side”.
Indeed, as a quatrain writer, Pahlavan Mahmoud is also inspired by Omar Khayyam, the pir of rubai. He had great belief and love to his teacher and in one quatrain Pahlavan Mahmoud likens him to Omar Khayyam:

Let us follow now the beloved, my heart,
Knock at the door, look for every room, my heart.
Like Khayyam we are always drunken,
Hell’s waiting for us in the day of doom, my heart.

First of all, Pahlavan Mahmoud is near to Khayyam with his ideas on the world and a human being, life and death: they are proportionate in this point of view. P. Mahmoud also writes about faithlessness of the world and the passed one will never return back, time is temporal, and therefore it is necessary to live with joy.

Don’t be grievous for tomorrow, my deary,
Time presses, so every day make merry.
When we die, we also lie together
With a thousand years of our ancestry.

Poet writes about joyful life and people’s share in the world’s charisma as follows:

May flower be in hand and chink of bowl be in ear,
Leave this world’s sorrow, do not let it come near.
Under the noise of water and in the shadow of clouds
May a basin be in hand forever and a jug so near.

Pahlavan Mahmoud takes from his teacher symbols such as potter, wine-pourer, wine and drunkenness, ideas about the transient world, the reality of death, a human being is a toy in the hands of destiny, and improves motives such as dissatisfaction from period, disappointment from life and a feeling of sorrow from everyday life and he attaches a new value on them.

Fire which bursts into flame is my chest,
My face is that river waving so fast.
Look: the clay on potter’s hand, just yesterday
It was a human, lived with us, beloved was – that.

Such analogy in creative writing of Omar Khayyam and Pahlavan Mahmoud sometimes resulted in gathering quatrains of these poets in one collection, with partial differences. There are several quatrains called “sayyor rubais” (indefinite quatrains), which are considered both of Omar Khayyam and Pahlavan Mahmoud. In general, though P. Mahmoud followed Omar Khayyam, but in terms of essence of writing he has strong resemblance with Abdusaid Abulkhayr and we hope that this will be clarified in future researches.


Like many other poets of the east Pahlavan Mahmoud also impressed by Holy Koran and Hadith and his quatrains show that these two great sources inspired him very much. “Pahlavan Mahmoud’s quatrains may be divided into four categories, – says scholar Najmiddeen Komilov, – the first, rubais, where poet complained of people and expressed social injustice; the second – poems written on the subject of foundations of tariqat; the third – poems explaining a philosophy of oneness (vahdati vujud) and the fourth – rubais expressing love to Allah.
Poems, where the philosopher-poet complained of the time he lived differ from other poems written in different subjects with their meaningfulness, reality and closeness to heart. There are many rubais of Pahlavan Mahmoud that may compete with Omar Khayyam’s rubais and the essence of transient world and injustice period was found its high literary definition.

Day and night there is no salt now in the world,
Neither underground nor in the sky, what a fault?
Salt mines are non-saline as they have too much salt,
Oh, what time is this, there is no salt in the salt.

Is there any other blame for inappropriate time worse than this?

Pahlavan Mahmoud lived in time of mogul’s assaults when the whole Maveraunnahr was destroyed. Together with broken-hearted and tearstained people he suffered from the oppression of mogul rulers and their servants – local officials. Therefore the poet wrote:

I saw my eyes troubled from the sufferings of time,
I saw abundance of offence, misfortune and crime.
Noah saw one hurricane in a thousand years,
I’m not Noah, but I saw a thousand storms to come.

It is know that Noah (alayhissalam) lived 950 years long and appealed people to God’s way but people did not take his advice and God punished them with flood. Only those who obeyed Prophet Noah could save their lives. Pahlavan Mahmoud hints at this calamity and says “Noah lived a thousand years but saw one flood only, but I live a short life but I saw a thousand floods.” Indeed, there is an exaggeration in these words. However, one may understand that the poet experienced great difficulties and it was restless time and rulers were ruthless. These ill-mannered and uneducated rulers oppressed our nation. They did not content themselves with this, on the contrary, they tried to do away with culture and literature; thus they burnt historical manuscripts, mosques and madrasahs and did so many evil doings.
It is impossible to be off the society while living in the society. Pahlavan Mahmoud also could not close his eyes and ears for sorrows of his own time. Time and people afflicted him and he expressed his mournful feelings in his poems:

There isn’t any faithful person in this earth,
Heart feels sorrow finding not a loving faith.
Don’t expect devotion from people in earth,
A human being is unfaithful from the birth.

In his quatrains about fundamentals of tariqat P. Mahmoud expresses the main idea and rules of nobleness (futuvvat) and different meanings pertinent to this trend and the basic requirements of nobleness, such as generosity, zeal, goodness, truth, purity, patience, bravery, apology, grace, friendship, modesty, gentleness, respect and fidelity are extolled and badness, evil-doings, egotism, injustice, paganism, dullness, delusiveness, inexorability, hostility and envy are blackened.
Nobleness has close relationship with bravery. No man can be noble without courage. That is why bravery is the main requirement of entering the way of futuvvat, nobleness. It is purposeful that Pahlavan Mahmoud expressed this subject in high level. He writes about courage starting from different points and discovers a number of new sides of courage.
According to Husayn Voiz Koshifi, the essence of nobleness is incarnated in two qualities: generosity and zeal. Indeed, generosity and zeal makes a man to be the brave of the brave ones and none is able to stop him. He is the king of people. People in futuvvat were such great personalities. Therefore Y. Ishoqov says that the following rubai of Pahlvan Mahmoud attracting the main idea of nobleness “sounds like the anthem of people in nobleness”:

The world’s elephant cannot stop our zeal,
And from our fame the world will thrill.
Suppose, an ant takes a place in our midst,
It turns to a lion – in a blink – from our will.

The word ‘will” in this rubai means not wealth or riches, but it lifts a meaning of aggregate of all kind deeds. Each person living in this group was an owner of this spiritual wealth. The following rubai shows the main purpose of noblemen.

If you want to be a king, be a hearer of your nation,
Forget yourself at first and be adherer of your nation.
If you want people to put you on their head like a crown,
Kiss people’s hand, be sand and bearer of your nation.

It is important to note that P. Mahmoud’s quatrains considered as didactic poems are actually the poetic expressions of fundamentals and requirements of futuvvat. In particular, the following rubai expresses the main ideas of nobleness such as restraint from egotism and expectation of money or present from others, attendance in the meetings by invitation only, gratefulness and patience:

I tell you, never go to a person’s house,
Don’t take to eat his food to your mouth.
Your own dry bread and water is better
Than the requiring gratitude of stranger’s roast.

Warning heart against sins, hands against evil-doings and eyes against impure things is theoretical problem of futuvvat. This rubai runs in this way:

If you groan, look forward to having assistance,
When passing abyss, to be careful makes sense.
When you go to your friends’ house
Don’t break a manner of soul, eyes and hands.

In rubais explaining fundamentals of Sufism, theoretical rules and types of circumstances (hol) and ranks (maqomot) and feelings of a Sufi are reflected. It is stated that the best thing is to be God’s slave and many rubais call to be in the right way. Poems speak that a human being is the essence of the world and the greatest creation of Allah and people have to justify this high rank. According to Sufi philosophy, in the beginning a human being was a single whole with the Creator, but after birth he/she came apart. Now people strive for that unity all long life. However, this is a very long and difficult way: only those who can pass through the stages of Shariah, tariqat and haqiqat and those who can kill ego and can turn into nothingness (foniy) – those who stay with only divine qualities may reach this high point. A great number of wail and groan in the eastern poetry is the result of this situation. The purposes of falling in love, not allowing the beloved one to be seen by others, lover’s burn in parting and his preparation for the great rendezvous are also in that. The following rubai of Pahlavan Mahmoud is about this theme:

I am full with grief and distress, what can I do?
If I don’t deserve love and grace, what can I do?
To my deep regret I cannot see you now,
It will be in doomsday, seeing your face, what can I do?

God has existed from the beginning and will exist till the end. This world is his reflection, that is to say, he wanted to see himself and created the universe. Thus every bit in this world is the reflection of Allah’s qualities. He is always everywhere and in everything, but he is not seen with the naked eyes. At the same time, it is impossible to avoid of his sufferings and grief and of this love prepared with a human being’s clay.

To walk on the desert of love is difficult,
To sit and then to rise above is difficult.
It’s a pity that everywhere and every time
To see a determinate beloved is difficult.

“Pahlavan’s rubais on the subject of love are surprising with clearness of their idea, keenness of meaning, sincere attitude towards the beloved one, readiness of a lyrical personage for everything, for the sake of the beloved one, colorfulness of characters and unexpected conclusions.

When I call you to mind, my heart will be pure,
In a morning breeze a blossoming yard will be pure.
Your face is a holiday for me, when I see it
Memory’s good, soul’s glad, every part will be pure.

The following rubai is attractive with its folk character and simplicity:

My sweetheart asked: “Why are you so sad and weary?
Did you fall in love with any fairy?
I gave her a looking glass and replied:
The one in the mirror made me dreary.

In the XXth century, on the basis of research of P. Mahmoud’s mausoleum situated in Khiva, historians, art workers and folklorists presented brief information about the life and activity of this famous person. For example, well-known archeologist Yahyo Ghulomov in his book called “Historical sights of the city of Khiva” writes that in Khiva khanate Pahlavan Mahmoud’s dome was known from ancient times, it was a sacred place of khans of Kungirat dynasty and the man buried in this place was a great poet and wrestler. According to this source, P. Mahmoud made a collection of poems in Farsi and in his poems the poet followed Omar Khayyam. Also, it says that P. Mahmoud has a masnavi (poetic genre) called “Kanz-ul-haqoyiq (Quintessence of the truth) and he was called piryorvali or Mahmoudi Piryorvali. Three rubais of P. Mahmoud are published in that book.
Art workers G. A. Pugachenkova and L. I. Rempel in their book “Well known architectural monuments of Uzbekistan” talk about Pahlavan Mahmoud’s dome and present some information about him. For instance, they write that the eastern gate of Ichon-qal’a (Pahlvan-darvoza) and the biggest channel (Pahlavan yop) providing the town with water is also named after P. Mahmoud.
In Uzbekistan when talking about Pahlavan Mahmoud everybody calls to mind distinguished scholar and translator Tukhtasin Jalolov, because for the first time he introduced Pahlvan Mahmoud’s life and activity to Uzbek people. He sought the poet’s poems, translated them and published. T. Jalolov gathered information pertinent to biography of P. Mahmoud and clarified some facts. Thanks to this patriot scholar’s hard work a brief biography and 56 rubais of Pahlavan Mahmoud were published in 1962. In the book published in 1979 the quantity of rubais made 117 and along with T. Jalolov the rubais were translated by Muinzoda, Vasfi, Ulfat and Boqir. Original rubais in Farsi were also given in this collection. Also, the book comprises of articles about the life and activity of Pahlavan Mahmoud such as “In quest of the poets’ legacy”, “Tunes of bravery and humanism”, and “About indefinite rubais”.
During the past years gifted poet and translator Matnazar Abdulhakim, P. Mahmoud’s compatriot, found more detailed manuscript of his rubais, translated them and published in the collection called “If one is free” in 1992. The collection consists of 332 rubais. It was the next essential step to acquaint the people with the poet’s legacy.
And we also translated 116 rubais of Pahlavan Mahmoud in the form of a traditional style.
Later P. Mahmoud’s life and his works attracted attention of many literary critics, orientalists and philosophers and they wrote articles about this auliya poet. For example, in his articles called “Some opinions about Pahlavan Mahmoud” Yoqubjon Ishoqov researches the poet’s rubais with relation to studies and requirements of nobleness (futuvvat) and tries to clarify the poet’s views. He also gives his recommendations that it is necessary to elucidate the ideological meaning and writing style of definite rubais and to choose the right poems of Pahlavan Mahmoud among various quatrains.
“P. Mahmoud’s rubais are the works of the poet that are distributed among the population widely and they made P. Mahmoud famous. We do not know exact quantity of his rubais. The matter is that to date all the collections we know, which consist of Pahlavan Mahmoud’s rubais, were written in XIXth century and they include some other rubais in Farsi. Therefore it requires an essential scientific research to clarify the rubais related to Pahlavan Mahmoud”.
“He writes rubais. His rubais are famous in every region, in particular, in Kharezm and India” says one of the sources.
Many other scholars such as N. Mallaev, H. Homidi, N. Komilov, H. Islomi, M. Hasani, S.S. Bukhari, Y. Jumaboev, M. Abdulhakim, E. Ochilov, S. Hasanov, I. Rahimov and K. Khudayberganov researched the subject of Pahlavan Mahmoud, his life and works. One of the researches is the dissertation of J. Mahmudov called “Textual research of the life and works of Pahlvan Mahmud”. The scholar not only enriches the poet’s biography and researches a number of problems related to Sufism and tariqat, but also he classifies the poet’s poems according to their theme and analyses them in respect to ideological and artistic value. J. Mahmudov, on the basis of comparative studies of eleven manuscripts kept in the treasury of manuscripts at the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan named after Abu Rayhon Beruni, called “Pahlavan Mahmoud’s rubais”, defines 110 rubais of Pahlavan Mahmoud and appends them to his dissertation. Also, he collects P. Mahmoud’s masnavi “Kanz-ul-haqoyiq”, several qit’as and fards (poetic genres), altogether 480 lines of poems.
Almost all sources include the masnavi “Kanz-ul-haqoyiq”and some excerpts are given in them. However, according to T. Jalolov, Iranian scholar Sayyid Muhammad Ali Safir published this masnavi in 1967 on behalf of Mahmud Shabustari.
The researches made in the past years confirm that this masnavi was written 17 years prior to Mahmud Shabustari’s “Gulshani roz”. Perhaps, this work is written by Pahlavan Mahmoud, because these two poets were contemporaries. However, there is no source approving the fact that Shabustari wrote this masnavi, on the contrary, all authors confirm that P. Mahmud wrote “Kanz-ul-haqoyiq”.
Though P. Mahmud wrote many pamphlets on the subject of theory of religion, religious law, philosophy and logics, but they have not been discovered yet.
Exemplary life, many-sided activity and beautiful poems of Pahlavan Mahmoud have their special places in the history of mankind. It is important to note that detailed researches on his biography and creative works, translation of his poems should not be suspended not for a single moment.

Candidate of philological sciences

Hits: 16088