A Thousand Years of the Persian Book
Published 24 April 2014
A new exhibition at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., offers a glimpse into the rich literary tradition of the Persian language. Titled "A Thousand Years of The Persian Book," the exhibit showcases a unique Persian collection, one of the most important outside of Iran. It includes editions of the 10th-century epic poem "The Shahnameh" -- or "Book of Kings" -- as well as contemporary novels from Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. The head curator, Hirad Dinavari, told RFE/RL that the goal of the exhibition is to introduce the Persian language to a Western audience, and to help give Persian speakers a better understanding of their own heritage.
The exhibition looks at the Persian language, its early writing system, its modern script, and fields including history, religion, literature, poetry, works by women writers, and children's literature.
A visitor looks at the books displayed in the religion section of the exhibition.
A new edition of the epic poem "The Shahnameh," published in 2013, with illustrations by Hamid Rahmanian and a translation by Ahmad Sadri
Young visitors take cell phone pictures of the exhibit.
Curator Hirad Dinavari explains that Persian used to be the language of the elite in a vast area stretching from from the Moghul Empire in India to the Ottoman Empire. "It didn't necessarily tie in to a narrow ethnicity like it does today," he said. Dinavari said the exhibit is intended to showcase the diversity of Persian tradition across different faiths and ethnicities.
A 1565 manuscript titled "Marvels of Creatures and Oddities of Beings," by Zakariya ibn Muhammad ibn Mahmud Abu Yahya Qazvīnī
"The Book of Licit Magic," by Muḥammad Ahlī Shīrāzī, from 1545
"The Book of the King," by Muḥammad Amīn ibn Abī al-Ḥusayn Qazvīnī, from India, 1825
"The Gift of the Kings and Their Practices," from Tabriz, Iran, 1856–1857
Among the collection of women writers is "The Collected Poems of Āyisha Durrānī," from Kabul, published in 1881.
"The Hymns of The Holy Gathas," from Bombay, 1927
An embossed leather book cover from the 19th century
"The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam," a collection of 11th-century poetry, published in 1946 with a translation by Edward FitzGerald and illustrations by Arthur Szyk
"Shahnameh: The Epic of the Persian Kings," in a new 2013 edition illustrated by Hamid Rahmanian and translated by Ahmad Sadri