Connections: Shahnama Centre for Persian Studies – Pembroke College (University of Cambridge), Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Sir Isaac Newton Trust, Iran Heritage Foundation, British Academy.

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Shahnama or The Book of Kings by Abu’l-Qasim Hasan Firdausi and its crucial role in the formation of the Iranian cultural identity throughout the ages to present day. The text of the Shahnama, based on the ancient Iranian mythology, was completed in 1010 and is the longest poem ever written by a single author in the whole history of humankind.

"The enthronement of Hurmuzd,” folio from an early 14th century “CAMA” Shahnama manuscript. On temporary loan to the Shahnama Centre from the collection of the late Dr. Mehdi Gharavi. Image courtesy Ameneh Gharavi and Dean Entekabi “The enthronement of Hurmuzd,” folio from an early 14th century “CAMA” Shahnama manuscript. On temporary loan to the Shahnama Centre from the collection of the late Dr. Mehdi Gharavi. Image courtesy Ameneh Gharavi and Dean Entekabi

Global philanthropist Bita Daryabari and speakers from around the globe gathered to celebrate the official opening of the Shahnama Centre for Persian Studies at Pembroke College in Cambridge, England. (Pembroke College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England.) The $2 million (US) endowment by Daryabari ensured the creation of the Centre…

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The Aga Khan Museum’s collection includes a folio from the epic Persian poem, Shahnama

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Folio from the Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp (ca. 1532).Image: Archnet Folio from the Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp (ca. 1532).
Image: Archnet

The Shahnama was composed by the Persian poet Firdausi (d. 1020) around the year 1000. It tells the story of ancient Iran (Persia) from the time of Creation to the conquest of Islam in the seventh century. The history of Iran is divided into three successive dynasties: the Pishdadiyan (the early legendary shahs, who established civilization and fought against the forces of evil),  the Kayanids, and the Sassanians (the last glorious dynasty to rule Iran before the advent of Islam).*

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. The epic poem helped preserve Persian traditions, folklore, and oral literature — becoming the Persian literary standard — and it retains considerable influence in the storytelling tradition of Iran, even today.It was customary for every king…

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Metalwork revealed the creativity of the medieval Islamic artisans

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Copper inlaid incense burner dated 11th century, eastern Iran. Aga Khan Museum Copper inlaid incense burner dated 11th century, eastern Iran. Aga Khan Museum (AKM602)

Metalwork has enjoyed great prestige in the Islamic world. Although most metalwork objects had utilitarian purposes and served the everyday requirements of their owners, many were regarded as status symbols. As in ancient times, household items made from bronze were valued for their durability and natural beauty. The early vessels used in Muslim societies were based on ancient models and were mostly cast, and their forms embellished with simple grooves; the shiny surfaces and colour nuances of the metals depended on the alloys used.

A variety of bronze alloys based largely on copper, but also using large proportions of tin, lead or zinc were widely used. Subsequently, these items particularly those regarded as status symbols, were inlaid with silver and gold rendering them significantly more valuable.

Pen box, dated  1300, Northwester Iran. Aga Khan Museum (AKM609) Pen box, dated 1300, Northwestern Iran
Aga Khan Museum (AKM609)

Metalwork…

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Karima: A Day In The Life Of A Henna Girl – Interview with Hassan Hajjaj – From Art Radar

Art Radar speaks to the London-based Moroccan artist about swagger, escapism and the theatre of life.

Following the world premieres of Karima: A Day In The Life Of A Henna Girl at LACMA and Art Basel, Art Radar delves into the mind of the astonishingly versatile artist Hassan Hajjaj.

Hassan-Hajjaj-Photo-credit-Zahed-Sultan

More: http://artradarjournal.com/2015/07/15/karima-interview-with-hassan-hajjaj/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=karima-interview-with-hassan-hajjaj&from=feedblitz_403966_4985605

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LACMA’s ground-breaking “Islamic Art Now” – in pictures from Art Radar

LACMA’s first exhibition of their contemporary Middle Eastern art collection charts the expanding parameters of Islamic art.

With a collection of Islamic art spanning from the Early to the Medieval and Late Islamic periods, LACMA in Los Angeles has recently been expanding into the contemporary arena. The first showing of its contemporary art collection from the Middle East has marked a milestone in the understanding of the region’s art history – as welll as triggering debate.

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More: http://artradarjournal.com/2015/07/17/lacmas-ground-breaking-islamic-art-now-in-pictures/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=lacmas-ground-breaking-islamic-art-now-in-pictures&from=feedblitz_403966_4985605

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Arabic Literature in Persian, Persian Literature in Arabic

Kalila Wa Dimna – Original text was written nearly 2,500 years ago in Sanskrit and translated to Pahlavi Farsi and Greek to Farsi and Arabic. My interest is in the wide varied illustrated manuscripts of Kalila Wa Dimna.

Arabic Literature (in English)

Last week, Iranian journalist Farahmand Alipour (@FarahmandAlipur) had a fascinating interview with Farsi-Arabic translator Ghassan Hamdan:

Kalila w Dimna, a text that traveled from Persian to Arabic. Kalila w Dimna, a text that traveled from Persian to Arabic.

In a wide-ranging talk, the two addressed Hamdan’s personal history, the growing interest in Iranian novels in Arabic, the particular difficulties in distributing novels published in Iraq, and what sorts of Arabic novels are published in Persian.

On that topic:

 According to research conducted a few years ago about Persian and Arabic novels, only 2% of the novels that have been translated into Persian in modern time were Arabic novels. Those Arabic novels that have been translated into Persian usually have historical and religious themes — for example, works of Jurji Zaydan, who is also popular because he has a simple writing style and uses an easy and understandable language. Gibran Khalil Gibran is also popular among Iranians, because the mystic theme in his…

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Singapore’s Huge National Gallery Will Open with Pompidou and Circumstance by Allison Meier on June 24, 2015

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Exterior of National Gallery Singapore (courtesy National Gallery Singapore, via Flickr)

The largest public collection of modern Southeast Asian art is opening this October, and the institution that will house it just announced a collaborative exhibition with the Centre Pompidou in 2016. National Gallery Singapore (NGS) joins two historic buildings — the city-state’s former Supreme Court and City Hall — with an adaptive reuse design by studioMilou Architecture. A gold roof of 15,000 aluminum panels sweeps between the neoclassical structures, with a light-strewn courtyard constructed in the center.

More: http://hyperallergic.com/217173/singapores-huge-national-gallery-will-open-with-pompidou-and-circumstance/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NYC+Public+Libraries+Get+Largest+Funding+Increase+Ever&utm_content=NYC+Public+Libraries+Get+Largest+Funding+Increase+Ever+CID_e20561a0f8e40d06a00c00e0a5b8e37f&utm_source=HyperallergicNewsletter&utm_term=Singapores%20Huge%20National%20Gallery%20Will%20Open%20with%20Pompidou%20and%20Circumstance