Iran observes Persian Language Day, Ferdowsi commemoration day
Tehran, May 15 is considered a major cultural event for Iranians to both commemorate the great Persian poet Ferdowsi and celebrate Persian Language Day. The day will be celebrated with a miscellany of programs across Iran today.
The Academy of Persian Language and Literature is scheduled to organize a meeting at Tehran Book Garden in which several literati will deliver speeches.
Among the speakers, Iranian translator and Russian literature scholar Abtin Golkar will compare Persian and Russian epics while the 'Shahnameh' expert Farzin Ghafoori will assess the historical sources Ferdowsi used to compose the chapter in 'Shahnameh' which recounts the story of Khosrow I, the Sassanid king who ruled from 531 to 579.
In another program, Chameh, a cultural group based in Tehran, will organize several performances of naqqali a style of storytelling dedicated to epic stories from 'Shahnameh'.
The program is part of the Fourth Soldiers of Peace National Congress organized by Iran University of Medical Sciences to celebrate May 15.
'In 'Shahnameh', the Iranians have never initiated any wars and its heroes have always implored their rivals to peace, therefore Ferdowsi is always considered a pacifist poet,' Chameh leader said in a press release on Sunday.
Malek National Library and Museum Institution is also scheduled to observe the day by organizing an exhibition of reverse paintings on glass created by a group of students of Mehrnoush Besharat.
The paintings are based on the lithographic illustrations to Ferdowsi's 'Shahnameh' by Mirza Aliqoli Khoi (1815-1856). The rare copy of the 'Shahnameh' is preserved at the Malek National Library and Museum and the exhibition will run until June 14.
Another program organized for May 15, in Tous in Khorasan Razavi Province, the Baysonghor Shahnameh, one of the most important and famous illustrated manuscripts of 'Shahnameh' (Book of Kings), will go on display for the first time.
Work on this manuscript began in 1426 on the order of Baysonghor Mirza (1397-1433), grandson of the Central Asian leader Timur (1336-1405), and was completed four years later. The book which has been kept at in Tehran's Golestan Palace is regarded as a masterpiece of Persian miniature.
Value of the manuscript is not only because of its text, as it is one of the most complete manuscripts of Shahnameh, but also due to the art used in creating the work.
Written in nastaliq script, it has 346 pages and 21 miniatures of the Herat School and is one of the most important works of this school. Herat School is a 15th-century style of miniature painting that flourished in Herat, western Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, a conference on Ferdowsi and Homer was held in Iran and two cities in Cyprus. It is to be held in Iran and Cyprus every alternate year. Two cities of Cyprus � Nicosia and Larnaca � hosted the conference.
'Shahnameh' narrates 62 stories, told in 990 chapters with 50,000 rhyming couplets. It is divided into three parts the mythical, heroic, and historical ages. Written in modern Persian, 'Shahnameh' is a work of poetry, historiography, folklore, and cultural identity and is a continuation of the age-old tradition of storytelling in the Near East.
Ferdowsi began his epic poem in 977 and took 33 years to complete it. The result of his work is the world's longest epic poem written by a single author; it is twice as long as Homer's 'Iliad' and 'Odyssey' combined. It was written at a time when modern Persian had started to thrive and the structures and standards for the language were being set.
After its first appearance in 1010, the Persian epic directly impacted the epic and poetic works of all Persian speakers and writers for centuries. A number of scholars credit the continuity in modern Persian to the book. It influenced not just Persian speakers but also the cultures of Turkic peoples in Central Asia, Azerbaijan and the Ottoman Empire, as well as the Georgian, Kurdish and Pashto literary traditions.
Library of Congress owns the oldest 'Shahnameh' manuscript. It is based primarily on a prose translation of an earlier Pahlavi work, known as the 'Xvataynamak' (Book of Kings), from the pre-Islamic Sassanid era (224-651). The poet Daqiqi (942980), a contemporary of the poet Ferdowsi (940-1020), began rendering 'Shahnameh' in verse, and, in turn, Ferdowsi included many of Daqiqi's couplets in his version of 'Shahnameh'. Although the manuscript's place of publication is not noted, it is in an Iranian style with text written in the Persian nastaliq calligraphic style.
Indian 'Shahnameh' manuscript, available at Library of Congress, copied in India in a regional Indian provincial style, demonstrates the popularity of the epic throughout South Asia as well as in the central Persian lands. The manuscript has highly decorated illuminated chapter and section openings in gold ink and numerous illustrations and miniature paintings that fuse Persian, Mughal Indian, regional Indian, as well as European styles. Although the manuscript is not dated, the work reflects a late-17-century to early-18-century aesthetic prevalent in India. The text is written in the Persian nastaliq.
As communication and contact between Zoroastrian communities in Iran and India expanded throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the Indian Zoroastrian Parsi community began reconnecting to their ancestral homeland in Iran
Produced in the Iranian Qajar style, characterized by a more realistic treatment of portraiture, this 20th-century 'Shahnameh' includes an additional chapter introducing the notables of the Indian Parsi community to Persian speakers.
Source: Iran Daily (Tehran-based English language newspaper)