Red Rose and Red Wine: Rereading some Verses of Abu Nuwas’s Divan

Document Type : Research Paper


Assistant of Arabic language and literature department in Kosar university of Bojnord


Abbasid era is the golden time for the appearance of Iranian customs in Arabic culture and literature; the poets who were of Iranian origins or were familiar with Iranian civilization talked about Persian customs and traditions in their works. These references can lead researches to learn more about some Iranian rituals which have disappeared throughout the history. There are few literary scholars in this period who are not affected by Persian culture and customs. Abu Nuwas is among the poets who not only transformed the old Arabic poetic themes based on Iranian teachings but also mentions the old customs and traditions of his time in his divan. In five verses, he mentions drinking wine “on red rose”. In this study, the writer tries to demonstrate what he means by the phrase “on red rose” by arguing that it is a reference to “Shadgoli” (literal translation: happy with flowers) which is an Iranian tradition mingled with rose and wine and which, in Old Persian literature, is mentioned as “Golafshani.” As there is no trace of “Shadgoli” in old or contemporary Persian works, this paper primarily tries to introduce this tradition with the help of old Arabic references and then review and reread the aforementioned verses. Moreover, with the aim of clarifying the tradition of “Shadgoli,” the sanctity of red rose and the reasons behind it are discussed. The signs of holiness of red rose in Iranian religious references as well as the tales, beliefs, and folklore of pre- and post–Islam eras are surveyed. It should be noted that besides “Golafshani,” another tradition linked to “Shadgoli” is the “celebration of roses” which is mentioned in Persian works. This tradition is pointed out by Abu Rayhan Al-Biruni in the fifth century and, six centuries later, is observed by Pietro Della Valle during his trip to Isfahan and is described in his writings.


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Volume 11, Issue 2 - Serial Number 2
October 2019
Pages 209-229
  • Receive Date: 16 July 2018
  • Revise Date: 15 October 2019
  • Accept Date: 26 June 2019
  • First Publish Date: 23 September 2019