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Witchcraft and its types in the Nizami's Khamsa (Quintet).


The researchers have tried to define the meaning of magic and witchcraft and some of them defined it superstition and the other group considered it destructive for the communities and rational movements and introduced it illegal and unpleasant affair. The sociologists, the researchers on the religions and philosophers investigated on this scope and tried to indentify it.

It cannot be denied existence of magic and bewitch. Humans have referred to magic and supernatural forces and the employed rules and tools called the rules of witchcraft.

It means change in the nature and real form of something and converting it to imagery form and depicting it inverse form. Sometimes it covers secret forces that influence on the stars and the witch tries to trap the forces. The westerns define magic as penetration in the nature by reading words and inspiration for achieving supernatural results and they believed that magic and bewitch is undeveloped form of knowledge that could control the natural forces and covert them into the desired form.

In the old times bewitch was done for lengthening of life, fertility of humans and nature and elimination of the enemies and treatment of diseases and solving problems and paving the way to love.

There are many names concerning to magic and bewitch in the history it can be referred to the kings and politicians. In Iranian legends Jamshid and Fereidun were witches that predicted the fortunes. References can be found to talismans and magic in the history. The people referred to witches to eliminate anxiety , disappointment and wars that rooted in their beliefs and they sought refuge in the magic and they discovered the healing plants and eliminate pain and sorrow in the world.

There are different types of bewitch and magic in the history. The witches employed different ways in their conduct. They sometimes used symbols and signs and sometimes employed words and alphabets. Perhaps it cannot be offered correct classification of these tools since most of them were used for the same target.

Belief in magic and witchcraft has important place in the divan of Nizami. We encounter with astronomy and enchantment, evil eyes for elimination of the evils in his divan. He refers to amulet and seven figures that were used for prevention of some affairs. He also refers to magic and talisman, fortune telling and magical affairs like burning of wild rue and snake vertebrae for attraction of somebody and solving problems.


Witchcraft has a relationship with astrology and in the opinion of witchcrafts the first step is awareness on the fortune of the humans and their affairs. Even most of magical affairs depend on the astrology and movement of the moon [1]. Astrology is a method to awareness on the secret affairs and telling fortune. Astrology has important place in Persian literature. The kings and rulers had astrologists in their courts and they consulted with them.
   The astrologist and witch predicted him good fortune [2]
   At the dark night in the bed
   The fortune teller counted the stars
   Asked the fortune of this person by the stars


"Something that protects the person from damage of evil eye and poison of the animals and it is reading of the some words by the witches" [6,8].
   He picked a flower from the garden
   Read an enchant on that flower
   Suddenly the enchanting bird came
   He flew by the ritual of the Magi
   One brought a mirror and comb
   Trapped him by the incantation

Incantation and drawing incantation line around a snake was one of the affairs that Nizami has referred to it [4].
   The enchanter did not catch the snake in his hand
   You supposed that killed that snake man.


Amulet consisted of the Quran miracle and prayers written in a sheet to eliminate evil and it is tied in the neck and arm. The people used amulet to protect themselves against evils and misconducts. Even the goddess used amulets and they placed the drawing of the demons to protect themselves [1].

Amulets were used for prevention of evil eyes and amulets with the bone and horn of animals prevented dam age on the products.

Amulets were also employed for preventing events and treatment of the illness such as epilepsy and cholera and elimination of evil eyes.
   In Nizami Khamsa we read two cases of usage of amulet that was tied
      on the arm.
   Carry that writing like an amulet on my arm [2]
   I tie the writing of the king
   On my arm like amulet
   To protect myself


Witchcraft is the power to use mysterious forces for changing the shapes and imply effects by black and white witchcraft [9].

In Persian it means intermediate and incantation and in Pahlavi it means enchanting and magic and in European languages it is called magic that is originated from Greek word of Megeia. Some scholars believed that this Greek word is rooted in invisible affairs and then it was used as the meaning of witchcraft.

Indeed, witchcraft involves contacts with ghosts for demanding healing and attraction of kindness and domination on a person and human founds his ideology based on his imagination and employs witchcraft to dominate on other individuals and animals.

In the scholars' opinions, witchcraft controls the metaphysical world by the evil goals. Most of the communities have rituals for success in their affairs and they employ magic in order to increase their products and prevent events. So, it means usage of supernatural forces to control the natural events.

The poems of Nizmai contain concepts on witchcraft and magic such as witch, Indian witch and etc.

Most of the compounds of witchcraft are meant deceive and plotting and such application can be acceptable.
   The witchcraft woman brought
   A dragon from her body
   He read incantation and played role
   Stop that incantation speech
   Why you tell that words
   I heard that she is witch of India
   I did not read incantation of the Indian witch
   Do not join o, the enchanter
   Since your intent was clarified

Evil eye:

It means damage on the people and products when they experience praising of somebody and some people believe that evil eye is not harmful and it means result of kindness and praising. This category covers broad range of mental and psychical effects and it is considered as witchcraft to protection against the people who seek enchanting and plot to be successful [1].

Some group consider the evil eye with magical effects and there are many prayers for elimination of evil eye.

We read evil eye and its effect in Nizami poems that depict the effect of evil eye in that period.
   It was fresh fruit
   But fell down due to evil eye
   I missed you suddenly,
   My darling, as I saw evil eye
   I am sure that I saw evil eye
   I did good or evil.

In the past a bead made of blue earthenware was tied on the neck of the animals to prevent evil eyes and it contained priers and some words and it was tied on the neck of horses, cows and asses. A small bone of ass was placed in the houses and shops since the people believed that it brings fortune and eliminates negative forces. It was common in the cases such as demanding more providence, fortune, work relationship and etc.
   He brought the bead made of bone of ass
   To be good fortune
   He prepared the bead of bone of ass
   There was no darkness behind the veil
   By using the bead of bone


"It is rapid movement of the hand and basically it is done for deceive and plotting"[7].

"Magic history dates back east and in the past the alchemists made different colors with combining substances. Recently, magic is used for creating allusions and treatment of the disease. David Copperfield has constructed seventy hospitals in all over the worlds that employed magical affairs for remedy of the patients and these hospitals are highly productive.

The magicians did wonderful affairs by magic tricks and they used different beads and these beads are disappeared or sometimes they were converted into different forms" [8].
   The world cannot reach me
   Though it is constructor and magician [2]
   He place the trap like a magician
   The covered it with sand and thorn
   O, the blue sky you show wonders
   Eliminate the dust of the mirror


"In astrology terminology it is a grade that is considered at the time of birth or happening of an event and the astrologists predict the fame of the new born. Some newborns are predicted fortunate and some misfortunate" [8].

"In Persian literature most of the poets believe that the fame of human is determined before and the astrologist accepts this belief and puts his prediction based on that belief. There are poets that do not believe in horoscope and religious belief has let them to have such vision and in our mystical literature this vision is tied with determinant attitude.

The poets have complained about the misfortune and chance and they have dedicated their misfortune and failures to the movements of the stars [1].
   I was unlucky and became misfortunate
   I became the wayfarer of the wandering dervish alley
   The life shows a lion in my horoscopy
   Alas, that lion is old
   The astrologist and fortune teller
   Predicted well my fortune
   Since he was good fortunate
   He sat on the throne of kingship


Talisman is rooted in the Greek word of telesm and it means doing an act out of its original form and it is heavenly and earthly force that the person does extraordinary and supernatural affairs by that force. Talisman can be consisted of shapes or piece of writing and it is a technique that is used for doing strange affairs. The philosopher Belgians was famous for his talismans. According to the narratives he had made talismans in the cities for protection against snakes and rain and scorpions. We encounter with forts that their gates are enchanted by the witches and the hero breaks them by passing of several steps" [8].
   Nizami introduces his divan as a breaker talisman:
   The Ganj of Nizami is breaker of talisman
   It is a soft and aware heart [2]
   The world was talisman on the treasure
   And the key of the treasure wore out
   When he arrived at that talisman
   He entered and read an enchant


The future events are predicated and by divination it is carried out by interpretation and or opening of Quran or divan of Hafez or Masnavi and other divans. There are different forms of divination in Persian literature. By divination the human fate and events are predicated by divine signs. Ancient Iranians believed in the divination and they used different rituals for divination.

In the poems of Nizami we can find different titles of divination such as fortunetelling, good fortune, good omen, bad omen and divination from Quran.
   Thinking about the divination
   Read the secrets from your fortune [2]
   I began to divination like balloting
   Interpret the state to good fortune


Alchemy leads to perfection of mankind by combination of the soul and body and in it a metal is converted to silver and gold and this conduct is accompanied by fraud and deceitfulness [3].

The alchemists discovered the scientific facts and some of the alchemists were great philosophers. These individuals researched in the mines and even they produced substances like bone, hair and stool of the animals. The alchemists used specific terms and words and they had own secrets and they defined soul as elixir and body as the media.
   The king did not understand the secret of that alchemy
   He asked about that and ordered on it [2]
   When he returned from the drug seller shop
   He began to alchemy and witchcraft
   He found the secret of alchemy
   That was not less than jewelry

Limia (enchantment):

Limia discusses about the effect of the connection with the ghosts and elves and trapping of the spirits to force them to do some affairs and it is also called enchantment. This conduct is related to witchcraft and incantation done in order to be protected against the king and great men and enchanting them and eliminating hostility [1].
   I entered to the chain of enchanting [2]

Snake vertebrae:

In the past the people believed that the snake produces bead and if a person for example an ugly woman takes that bead she is attracted by others and apparently it is head of snake and it is vertebrae at the back of some snakes. It is believed that if this bead is stolen the snake seeks the owner and for this reason it is called that the beloved has stolen the snake vertebrae of the lover [8]. The people used the snake vertebrae and they believed that it has magical power that causes to peace of mind and calmness. Of the effects of this bead it can be referred to social relations, attractiveness, charming, fortune, and talisman for kindness, happiness and love and self reliance and peace of mind and wealth and solving the problems.

Nizami refers to snake vertebrae that depicts his belief in the positive effect of this bead. He also refers placing the snake vertebrae on the arm.
   Inform me to look
   If there is snake or snake vertebrae [2]
   He bought many vertebrae of snake
   He supposed it bead but see the snake
   Perhaps there is a snake on his treasure
   The snake vertebrae is not achieved free

Seven figures:

Nizami has referred to seven figures besides other amulets as solver of problems and protector against evil. With seven figures that the sky has Never bows to the sun.

Wild rue:

Wild rue is burned for prevention of the bad omen and evil eye and disenchanting and it is likened to dancing and apparently it was used for elimination of the fairies and the person stood under the walnut tree and wide rue was burnt [8].

In psychology evil eye is considered superstition. In contrary to what seems at the first glance there is no difference in belief and disbelief in evil eye and both of them can justify this phenomenon. The wild rue was burnt to reaching to peace and calmness [5].
   He ran away from the friend and enemy
   Like a wild rue and fairy from iron [2]


Witchcraft and its types have played an important role in the past and present in the different religions and beliefs. There are many types of witch crafting and different definitions have been offered in this regard. Astrology and divination have more effect in Persian literature. The people can gain forces to do some affairs by using amulet and talisman. The sociologists, scholars, psychologists and mythologists and philosophers have investigated on the witch craft and offered different viewpoints. Nowadays existence of witchcraft cannot be denied. Evil eye and belief in its effects can be found in the poems. Perhaps divination is a term with more application in the Persian literature and it has been used since the old times and there is no divan of poems without referring to divination. Divination has different types and it covers prediction from the signs.

Witchcraft and its types and its effect in Persian literature cover broad scopes and this research can be considered as the beginning of the new research in this scope from Persian literature perspective.


Article history:

Received 26 September 2014

Received in revised form 20 November 2014

Accepted 25 December 2014

Available online 2 January 2015


[1] Damavandi, M., 2009. Witchcraft in religions and its reflection in Persian Literature, 1st edition, Semnan: University of Semnan

[2] Dastjerdi, V., 2006. NizamiGanjavi divan, 1st edition, Tehran, Milad publication

[3] Dehkhoda, A., 1998. Dictionary, University of Tehran, Dehkhoda association

[4] Madankan, M., 1996. Glance on the world of Khaqani, 1st edition, Tehran, University press

[5] Mohammadzadeh, A., 1995. Psychology of witchcraft, 2nd edition, Marand,Qomri publication

[6] Niknam Arabshahi, M., 2006. Familiarity with unknown sciences, 1st edition, Tabriz, Moalef publication

[7] Salari, M., 2001. Research on witchcraft, 1st edition, Qom, Mashhur publication

[8] Shamisa, S., 2008. Persian literature dictionary of allusion, 1st edition, Tehran, Firdausi publication

[9] Solyiman, S., 2008. The nature of witchcraft, 1st edition, Tehran, Education and Assessment center

Behzad Ghari Hydari, Parvaneh Adelzadeh, Kamran Pashaei Fakhri

Department of Persian Literature and Foreign Languages, Tabriz Branch, Islamic Azad, Tabriz, Iran

Corresponding Author: Parvaneh Adelzadeh, Department of Persian Literature and College of Foreign Languages, Tabriz Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tabriz, Iran E-mail:
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Author:Hydari, Behzad Ghari; Adelzadeh, Parvaneh; Fakhri, Kamran Pashaei
Publication:Advances in Environmental Biology
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Dec 15, 2014
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