Shahnama Studies II

The reception of Firdausi’s Shahnama


This volume explores different aspects of the reception of Firdausi’s Shahnama or ‘Book of Kings’, both within Iran and in neighbouring lands. Later poets and writers not only looked to Firdausi’s work for a model, but supplemented its stories with other narratives or absorbed the characters and the moral values of the poem into their own works. Several chapters focus on the literary traditions fed by the Shahnama, including reports of the continuing oral performances of its more popular stories. Others discuss Firdausi’s impact on the creative imagination of the miniature painters who illustrated manuscript copies of the Shahnama in the courts of the Ottoman Empire, Moghul India, and the Central Asia Khanates up till the seventeenth century.

Contributors include Gabrielle van den Berg, Francesca Leoni, Farhad Mehran, Bilha Moor, Adeela Qureshi, Ravshan Rahmoni, Julia Rubanovich, Karin Ruehrdanz, Jan Schmidt, Ivan Steblin-Kamenski, Zeren Tanindi, Lâle Uluç, Evangelos Venetis, Olga Yastrebova, and Marjolijn van Zutphen.

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Charles Melville is Professor of Persian History at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Pembroke College. He is currently director of the Shahnama Project and president of The Islamic Manuscript Association (TIMA), both based in Cambridge. Recent publications include Epic of the Persian Kings. The Art of Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, with Barbara Brend (London, 2010).

Gabrielle van den Berg, Ph.D. (1997), is lecturer in Persian at Leiden University. She has published on classical Persian literature, Tajik poetry, Ismailism and oral traditions of Central Asia. She is the author of Minstrel Poetry from the Pamir Mountains: A Study on the Songs and Poems of the Ismailis of Tajik Badakhshan (Wiesbaden, 2004).
All those interested in Persian literature and epic poetry, the expansion of the Persianate culture and arts of the book into neighbouring lands, and the oral transmision of legend.