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New Digital Exhibition: Shahnameh by Ferdowsi

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Published: 27 Jul 2011

The Shahnameh by Ferdowsi is celebrating 1000 years since its inception. In recognition, the Islamic Studies Library is exhibiting 16 specimens from the Islamic Studies and Rare Books collections. The Shahnameh has become without a doubt one of the foremost literary works to encapsulate the breadth and depth of Iran's historical trajectory. First composed by Ferdowsi to preserve Iran's cultural, linguistic and historical heritage, the Shahnameh, meaning 'the book of kings,' details the history of Iran prior to the Arab invasion in the 7th century.

This literary work, a national epic composed in 52, 000 couplets tells the story of heroes, villains, monsters and offers sage advice on moral lessons in governance. Legendary are the stories of its famous kings and heroes, especially of Rustam who so fearlessly defended the Persian kingdom in many spectacular battles against the hostile Turanians from the North. The epic also relates the important features of ideal kingship. It narrates the battle between Good and Evil, and is a constant reminder that life is just a transitory memento.

The ISL exhibition offers the visitor an opportunity to experience some of the heroes and villains of this remarkable epic poem. With 16 miniature paintings on display, the exhibition offers the viewer a diverse overview of this celebrated text as well as the magnificence of Persian painting.

Visit the digital exhibit at http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/shahnameh/index.php

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