Firdausi Shahnama

Firdausi’s Shahnama is a manual on kingship, wisdom, love, and magic


I’ve reached the end of this great history
And all the land will talk of me
I shall not die, these seeds I’ve sown will save
My name and reputation from the grave,
And men of sense and wisdom will proclaim,
When I have gone, my praises and my fame.

Extracted from Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings, translated by Dick Davis

The Shahnama (The Book of King), composed by the Persian poet Firdausi (940-1020) around the year 1000, comprises more than 60,000 rhyming couplets, telling the story of Persia (modern-day Iran) from the time of creation to its conquest by Muslims in the seventh century. Partly legend, partly historic, it is also a manual on kingship, a collection of heroic tales, and a long essay on wisdom, love, warfare, and magic, structured around four successive dynasties, each representing the various phases of human history, seen from the Iranian…

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Shop Cats: Photographer captures charming felines living in Hong Kong’s shops

When Dutch visual artist and photographer Marcel Heijnen moved to Hong Kong, he was immediately drawn to the fascinating culture of shop cats, and decided to capture the little feline emperors amongst…


Source: Shop Cats: Photographer captures charming felines living in Hong Kong’s shops

Somali American Artists Create a Space All Their Own by Sheila Dickinson For Hyperallergic



The Enduring Power of Southeast Asia’s Traditional Shadow Puppets by Claire Voon – Hyperallergic


For centuries, shadow puppet theater not only captivated audiences across Southeast Asia but also held ritual significance for various local communities. Held outdoors at night, the performances unfolded around the simple setup of a stretched white cloth, lit by an oil lamp, on which the shadows of puppets would dance to orchestral music. Spectators would watch from both sides of the cloth; so rather than existing as simple black cutouts, many of these puppets boasted colorful, detailed designs, often crafted by the puppeteers themselves. The British Museum owns over 700 of these objects from Southeast Asia alone, and 85 from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand are now on view in an ongoing exhibition. Used to dramatize folktales, local traditions, and epic tales, these ogres, clowns, villagers, court figures, and other characters today represent some of the oldest relics of a community activity that has experienced great change in the last few decades.

“Once, shadow theater performances in Southeast Asia were exclusively ritual activities that also provided entertainment,” curator Dr. Alexandra Green told Hyperallergic. “Even today, they can retain ritual significance. Performances summon helpful spirits and dispel harmful ones, purify individuals and communities, ensure successful harvests, and offer blessings to all attending. During performances, puppeteers recite sacred incantations and make offerings.”


Video Introduction: 2016 Aga Khan Award for Architecture Winners

The award was established by His Highness the Aga Khan in 1977 to identify and encourage building concepts that successfully addressed the needs and aspirations of communities in which Muslims have…

Source: Video Introduction: 2016 Aga Khan Award for Architecture Winners


Guru Nanak and the Monster Fish

The Heritage Lab

ObjWeek Guru Nanak & the Fish: left (Guler Pahari style); right (Murshidabad, West Bengali style)


This illustration is a page fromthe manuscript of the Janam-Sakhi ( Life Stories). While both illustrations above depict the same story, they are believed to find their origins in different artistic schools – Pahari (Guler), and Murshidabad and dates back to 1755-1770. In view of the size of the following that Nanak attracted, numerous anecdotes concerning the deeds of the Guru began to circulate within the community soon after his death. Many of these were borrowed from the current Hindu and Muslim traditions, and others were suggested by Nanak’s own works. These anecdotes were calledsakhis, or “testimonies,” and the anthologies into which they were gathered in rough chronological order are known asJanam-Sakhis.The interest of the narrators and compilers of theJanam-sakhis has largely concentrated on the childhood of…

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