Abu Abdulloh Rudaki, the founder of classic Tajik poetry, lived in the late 9th – early 10th centuries during the Samanid (Somoniyon) dynasty. He wrote his famous odes and poems in Dari, the classical Persian language.
A talented singer and musician (he played the chang – a harp-like musical instrument) Rudaki was invited by Nasr II bin Ahmad Somoni (914-943) to Bukhara, where he spent most of his life until he lost his patronage in 937.
Apart from his own poetical works, Rudaki also made an important contribution to literature by translating the Indian cycle of didactic short stories “Kalila and Dimna” from Arabic into Dari. The last days of his life were spent in poverty and he died in 941 in his native Panjrud village, not far from the town of Panjakent. The word Panjrud means “Five Streams” (panj=five, rud=stream). Much about the poet’s life still remains unknown, however we do know that he died blind. It is not clear where the “father of the Tajik poetry” was buried or even whether his tomb remained intact.
The founder of contemporary Tajik prose, Sadriddin Aini, and the famous Russian sculptor-anthropologist Professor Mikhail Gerasimov helped in the tedious work of clarifying many issues concerning Rudaki’s life. Having studied various historical manuscripts, Aini was able to determine the probable burial place of the great poet, and Gerasimov, with a group of Tajik scholars, found Rudaki’s tomb and, based on the remains, restored it.
In 1956, in conjunction with Rudaki’s 1,100th anniversary, the Tajik Government decided to open a grave in Panjrud village – the poet’s probable burial place. In order to ascertain whether it was in fact Rudaki who was buried there, Gerasimov, who was the first to develop the restoration of human faces based on the skull, was invited. At the heart of this methodology is the accurate measurement of the correlation between the flesh covering of the face and the skull imprint. A skeleton was found in the opened tomb and careful study showed that it belonged to a male who died at the age of about 85-87 years. He did not have any teeth (the poet mentioned this fact in one of his poems) and moreover, cervical bones showed peculiar changes which are typical for blind people who usually keep their heads in a slightly uplifted position different from that of a person who can see. Other items related to the poet’s time were also found in the tomb. Putting together the historical information and the actual findings, scholars concluded that the remains discovered do in fact belong to the renowned poet. The sculptor-anthropologist’s skill has also provided the world with a realistic image of Abu Abdulloh Rudaki.
In 1958 a mausoleum was erected at the poet’s burial place, which can be seen when visiting Panjrud village near Panjakent. The Rudaki monument decorates the capital of the country – Dushanbe and is situated near the building of the Tajik Agrarian University.