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Tales of Persia


a radio feature produced by Michael Shirrefs

This week, a Creative Instinct illuminated by the poetry of Persia, and the exquisite work of ancient Persian artists and calligraphers.


Over the past few months, Australia’s been the fortunate beneficiary of an exhibition driven by some quite original scholarship from local curators, and by the deep knowledge and finest treasures from the Bodleian Library in Oxford. And the result has been a rare glimpse into some of the earliest and most beautiful Persian manuscripts—lush works of art and literature.


The exhibition, at the State Library of Victoria, is called Love and Devotion, and on show are works that illustrate the writings of familiar Sufi poets, like Rumi and Hafiz, and grand storytellers like Omar Khayyám and Abu’l Qasim Firdausi.


And this story really begins with Firdausi, because his epic verse tales of rulers and heroic deeds are the earliest example we have in book form. It’s called the Shahnama—The Book of Kings—and Charles Melville, Professor of Persian History at the University of Cambridge, sees the creation of the Shahnama as a crucial moment.

Listen to the program here …

Creative InstinctTales of Persia

© 2012, Michael Shirrefs & ABC RN

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