« Du ‘ayyār au šāṭer : l’évolution du personnage à travers le roman persan en prose », in : Michele Bernardini, Masashi Haneda and Maria Szuppe, eds., Eurasian Studies [Liber Amicorum : Études sur l’Iran médiéval et moderne offertes à Jean Calmard]. Vol. V/1-2, 2006, pp. 143-173.
Expanding her previous research on the literary representation of ‘ayyār, in this stimulating article the author offers a new insight into the evolution of this character type. M. Gaillard, who has already made important contributions to the study of the Samak-e ‘Ayyār (ca. 12 c.), here bases her investigation on a number of other works within the genre of Persian prose romance, namely, Qeṣṣe-ye Ḥamze (10-13 c.), Joneyd-nāme (ca. 15 c.), Dārāb-nāme-ye Bīġamī (14-15 c.), and ‘Ālam Ārā-ye Nāderī (after 1747).
Through a detailed analysis of these texts, she suggests that the character and the profession of the šāṭer could have evolved from that of the ‘ayyār in the course of time. Her hypothesis is founded on a close examination of the distinctive physical qualities of these characters, and of the functions they carry out, as well as the tools of their trade and their garment. Particularly fascinating are the meticulous descriptions of their professional clothing (pp. 158-164), which she compares with accounts from historical works such as the Badāye‘ al-vāqaye‘ by Vāṣefī, or reports by European travelers.
Since she discusses five works in parallel, at some points one becomes confused about who belongs to which story. Perhaps a simple table with the title, date, and names of the main characters may have made it easier for the reader to follow the author’s line of reasoning.
The author furthermore gives an outline of the evolution of the character on the moral level. Analyzing a few of the ‘ayyār and/or šāṭer’s roguish behavior, she argues that in some texts where the ideal of javānmardī is absent, the humorous dimension of the character is in turn more prominent, and that the growing emphasis on this trickster aspect may reflect certain socio-historical developments. This is a highly interesting point to be further correlated with historical studies.