The reciprocal influence between the Indian and Persian literatures is undeniable. A major part of Persian literature, prose and poetry, has been formed and developed through the support of the Moslem governors who settled in the Indian North during the 12th century CE. When speaking of fables or tales, one inevitably thinks of India. Indian culture enjoys a vast and ancient tradition of narration. In the pre-modern era this tradition was flourishing both at court, where professional poets and narrators were always in the search of new stories, and in the oral lore of the population. Thus many accounts and narratives of Persian origin were developed and presented in several Indian versions, and a great quantity of Indian stories were borrowed and translated into Persian. The Persian and Indian narratives became especially popular during the 17th and 18th centuries. One can mention Hamze-Nâmeh and Abou Moslem-Nâmeh as examples, which were quickly propagated in the sub-continent and became a source of inspiration for other stories conceived on their model.
The Persian stories can be studied and compared according to various criteria, such as their geographical dissemination or the socio-cultural factors of their formation. One major branch of studying the stories can be the narrators’ resort to metaphor and symbolism, since most of these stories comprise mythical paradigms, anthropological information, popular beliefs and character prototypes.
One interesting area of study can be the representation of guiles and tricks and their role in narratives. What function do deceit and dishonesty have in the relationships among the characters? What value judgment is attached to deceitful acts in view of the social values of the times? Considering the story as a source of anthropological knowledge, what symbolic signs are used to present historical and socio-cultural routes of deceitfulness in the field of imagination? These are the questions to which I’ll try to answer by focusing on Touti-Nâmeh, a Sanskrit story translated into Persian in the 14th century by Ziâ al-Din Nakhshabi.