Amorous Depiction of Love: Gender, Religion and Power in Classical Persian Poetry

By seyede khoshkhoosani
Submitted to Session P4237 (Rethinking Premodern Persian Texts: Poetry, Prose, and Theater, 2015 Annual Meeting
Iranian Studies;
LCD Projector without Audio;
Starting from the 16th century, poets were sometimes not as passionate as in earlier works about their beloveds; instead, they wrote verses threatening to leave their companions and choose a new one. Rejecting the beloved was seen in earlier Persian poetry, but as a sub-genre of ghazal, vasukht, (Rejecting the beloved) became dominant during the Safavid period. Vasukht, which literally means to “burn again”, is written in a vernacular language, and in according to some scholars, is “immoral” and “corrupted”. The scholars usually discuss the immoral and corrupted representation of sexual relationships in vasukht style the result of seeking innovation to produce a literature different from earlier years of Persian poetry.
In this paper, I demonstrate that the immorality which the scholars discuss, is due to a system of thought that dealt with gender and sexuality. During the Safavid rule, controlling the men and women’s sexual practices was reinforced. Sever surveillance of sexual practices imposed on both men and women. As a result, the poets found the opportunity to pour out their anger towards the beloved. They did not lament for a beloved irrationally and rejected a complete submission to the beloveds’ will. This gave rise to a more realist image of love relationships, which conveyed sexual scenes more than before.