Ja'far ibn Yahya

Ja'far ibn Yahya Barmaki, Jafar al-Barmaki (Persian: جعفر بن یحیی برمکی‎, Arabic: جعفر بن يحيى‎, Ja`far bin yaḥyā) (767–803) also called Aba-Fadl, was a Persian vizier of the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid, succeeding his father (Yahya ibn Khalid) in that position. He was a member of the influential Barmakid family, formerly Buddhist leaders of the Nava Vihara monastery. Along with the rest of the Barmakids, he was executed in 803 at the orders of Harun al-Rashid. It is said that his execution was for allegedly having had an affair with Harun's sister Abbasa, although historical sources remain unclear.

He had a reputation as a patron of the sciences, and did much to introduce Indian science into Baghdad.[1] He was credited with convincing the caliph to open a paper mill in Baghdad, the secret of papermaking having been obtained from Tang Chinese prisoners at the Battle of Talas (in present-day Kyrgyzstan) in 751.[2]

In fictionEdit

Ja'far also appears (under the name of Giafar in most translations) along with Harun al-Rashid in several Arabian Nights tales, often acting as a protagonist. In "The Three Apples" for example, Ja'far is like a detective who must solve a murder mystery and find the culprit behind the murder, whereas in "The Tale of Attaf", Ja'far is more of an adventurer. In Glenn Pierce's novel The Tyrant of Bagdad, Ja'far's story is told through a fictional account of Charlemagne's ambassador's travel to meet with Harun al-Rashid.

However, more recent media inspired by the Arabian Nights has portrayed Ja'far as both a villain and a sorcerer:

  • In the 1940 version of The Thief of Bagdad, Conrad Veidt plays the grand vizier Jaffar, a sorcerer who overthrows the king and tries to seduce the princess.[3]
  • In the movie The Golden Blade (1952), Harun Al-Rashid (Rock Hudson) battles Jafar (George Macready), vizier to the caliph of Baghdad who tries to usurp the throne.
  • In the book The Grand Vizier of the Night (1981) by Catherine Hermary-Vieille, he is the Caliph Harun Al Rashid's lover.
  • In 1989 the video game Prince of Persia featured a scheming magician named Jaffar who seized power from the Sultan and tried to force the Princess to marry him. In the later Prince of Persia games, an unnamed 'Vizier' is the main villain and is based on the Jaffar character from the original game.
  • In 1992 the Disney film Aladdin featured an evil vizier and sorcerer called Jafar, who is a combination of an (unnamed) vizier and an evil magician from the original Aladdin tale.
  • In the French cartoon series Iznogoud by René Goscinny and Jean Tabary, he is portrayed as an incompetent usurper who never gets to usurp the throne of good Caliph Haroun al Poussah.
  • In the Japanese manga of Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Ja'far is a young general working under Sinbad, the king of Sindria.

Family treeEdit


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ van Bladel, Kevin (2011). "The Bactrian Background of the Barmakids". In A. Akasoy, C. Burnett and R. Yoeli-Tlalim (ed.). Islam and Tibet: Interactions along the Musk Routes. London: Ashgate. pp. 43–88.
  2. ^ Reference needed.
  3. ^ Rovin, Jeff (1987). The Encyclopedia of Supervillains. New York: Facts on File. pp. 168–169. ISBN 0-8160-1356-X.

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