Ferdowsi's Shāhnāma: Millennial Perspectives

Publication Year



Edited by Olga M. Davidson, Ph.D. 1983

Ferdowsi's Shahnama: Millennial Perspectives celebrates the ongoing reception, over the last thousand years, of a masterpiece of classical Persian poetry. The epic of the Shahnama or Book of Kings glorifies the spectacular achievements of Iranian civilization from its mythologized beginnings all the way to the historical time of the Arab Conquest, when the notionally unbroken sequence of Iranian shahs came to an end. The poet Hakim Abu'l-Qasim, who composed this epic, was renamed Ferdowsi or "the man of Paradise" in recognition of his immortalizing artistic accomplishment. Even now, over a thousand years after his death in 1010 CE, the impact of Ferdowsi's epic poetry reverberates in the intellectual and artistic life of Persianate cultures all over the world. Ferdowsi's Shahnama: Millennial Perspectives undertakes a new look at the reception of Ferdowsi's poetry, especially in the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries CE. Such a reception, the contributors to this book argue, actively engages the visual as well as the verbal arts of Iranian civilization. The paintings and other art objects illustrating the Shahnama over the ages are as vitally relevant as the words of Ferdowsi's poetry


Interweavings of Book and Performance in the Making of the Shāhnāma of Ferdowsi: Extrapolations from the Narrative of the So-Called Bāysonghori Preface / Olga M. Davidson -- Ferdowsi's Dāstān: An Autonomous Narrative Unit? / Anna Krasnowolska -- The Legend of Siyāvosh or the Legend of Yusof? / Firuza Abdullaeva -- The Story of Furūd in the Shāhnāma and Elsewhere and the Apportionment of Blame / Charles Melville -- Shāhnāma Images and Shāhnāma Settings in Medieval Iran / Marianna Shreve Simpson -- The Production of Mughal Shāhnāmas: Imperial, Sub-Imperial, and Provincial Manuscripts / Sunil Sharma

Series Title
Ilex Foundation Series
Ilex Foundation; Center for Hellenic Studies, Trustees for Harvard University; K.R. Cama Oriental Institute
Boston, MA; Washington, D.C.; Mumbai, India