Shahnameh

Shāhnāmé, or Shāhnāma (PerB|شاهنامه )(alternative spellings are "Shahnama, Shahnameh, Shahname, Shah-Nama", etc.), "The Book of Kings" ", is an enormous poetic opus written by the Iranian poet Ferdowsi around 1000 CE and is the national epic of the Persian-speaking world. The Shāhnāmeh tells the mythical and historical past of Greater Iran from the creation of the world up until the Islamic conquest of Iran in the 7th century.

Aside from its literary importance the Shâhnameh, written in almost pure Persian, has been pivotal for reviving the Persian language subsequent to the influence of Arabic. This voluminous work, regarded by Persian speakers as a literary masterpiece, also reflects Greater Iran's history, its cultural values, its ancient religions (Zoroastrianism), and its profound sense of nationhood. Ferdowsi completed the Shâhnameh at the point in time when national independence had been compromised. While there are memorable heroes and heroines of the classical type in this work, the real, ongoing hero is Iran itself. It's thus an important book for all Persian speakers of the Iranian world, including Afghanistan and Tajikistan, to other Persian speakers of Central Asia, as well as the many Iranians living abroad all around the world since the Revolution of 1979.

This book is also important to the remaining 200,000 Zoroastrians in the world, because the Shâhnameh traces the beginning of Zoroastrian religion to the defeat of the last Zoroastrian king by Arab invaders.

Illustrated copies of the work are among the most sumptuous examples of Persian miniature painting. Several copies remain intact, although two of the most famous, the "Houghton Shahnameh" and the "Great Mongol Shahnameh", were broken up for sheets to be sold separately in the 20th century. A single sheet from the former (now Aga Khan Museum) was sold for £904,000 in 2006. [ [http://www.finebooksmagazine.com/issue/0502/expensive-1.phtml Fine Books Magazine, Item 7] ] The "Bayasanghori Shâhnâmeh", an illuminated manuscript copy of the work (Golestan Palace, Iran), is included in UNESCO's "Memory of the World Register" of cultural heritage items [ [http://portal.unesco.org/ci/photos/showgallery.php/cat/793 Six pages from the Bayasanghori Shâhnâmeh", Unesco website] [ [http://www.mg.co.za/articlepage.aspx?area=/breaking_news/breaking_news__international_news/&articleid=311824 News story] ] .

The sources

There is an ongoing controversy among scholars about the sources of the Shâhnameh. Ferdowsi's epic is probably based mainly on an earlier prose version which itself was a compilation of old Iranian stories and historical facts and fables. However, there is without any doubt also a strong influence of oral literature, since the style of the Shahnameh shows characteristics of both written and oral literature. Some of the characters of the Epic are of Indo-Iranian heritage, and are mentioned in sources as old as the ancient Avesta and even the Hindu Rig Veda. The Shâhnameh itself was written in Pahlavi Persian, which at the time was looking towards a bleak end. The Shâhnameh of Ferdowsi, an epic poem of over 60,000 couplets, is based mainly on a prose work of the same name compiled in the poet's earlier life in his native Tus. This prose Shâhnameh was in turn and for the most part the translation of a Pahlavi work, a compilation of the history of the kings and heroes of Iran from mythical times down to the reign of Khosrau II (590-628), but it also contains additional material continuing the story to the overthrow of the Sassanids by the Arabs in the middle of the 7th century. The first to undertake the versification of this chronicle of pre-Islamic and legendary Persia was Daqīqī-e Balkhī, a poet at the court of the Samanids, who came to a violent end after completing only 1000 verses. These verses, which deal with the rise of the prophet Zoroaster, were afterward incorporated by Ferdowsi, with due acknowledgments, in his own poem.

The work itself

Ferdowsi started his composition of the Shahnameh in the Samanid era in 977 A.D and completed it around 1010 A.D. during the Ghaznavid era. [Encyclopedia Iranica, [http://www.iranica.com/newsite/articles/v9f5/v9f541a.html] , Ferdowsi, Djalal Khaleghi-Motlagh ] .

The Shâhnameh recounts the history of Iran, beginning with the creation of the world and the introduction of the arts of civilization (fire, cooking, metallurgy, law) to the "Aryans" and ends with the Arab conquest of Persia. The work is not precisely chronological, but there is a general movement through time. Some of the characters live for hundreds of years (as do some of the characters in the Bible), but most have normal life spans. There are many "shāhs" who come and go, as well as heroes and villains, who also come and go. The only lasting images are that of "Greater Iran" itself, and a succession of sunrises and sunsets, no two ever exactly alike, yet illustrative of the passage of time.

"Father Time", a Saturn-like image, is a reminder of the tragedy of death and loss, yet the next sunrise comes, bringing with it hope of a new day. In the first cycle of creation, evil is external (the devil). In the second cycle, we see the beginnings of family hatred, bad behavior, and evil permeating human nature. Shāh Fereydūn's two eldest sons feel greed and envy toward their innocent younger brother and, thinking their father favors him, they murder him. The murdered prince's son avenges the murder, and all are immersed in the cycle of murder and revenge, blood and more blood.

In the third cycle, we encounter a series of flawed shahs. There is a Phaedra-like story of Shāh Kay Kāūs, his wife Sūdāba, and her passion and rejection by her stepson, Sīyāvash.

In the next cycle, all the players are unsympathetic and selfish and evil. This epic on the whole is darker over all than most other epics, most of which have some sort of resolution and catharsis. This tone seems reflective of two things, perhaps: the conquest of the Persians by the Arabs, and a reflection of the last days of Persian Zoroastrianism. The old religion had been fraught with heresies, and somehow Zoroaster's optimistic view of man's ability to choose had become life denying and negative of this world. There is an enormous amount of bad luck and bad fate in the stories.

It is only in the characterizations of the work's many figures, both male and female, that Zoroaster's original view of the human condition comes through. Zoroaster emphasized human free will. We find all of Ferdowsi's characters complex. Nobody is an archetype or a puppet. The best characters have bad flaws, and the worst have moments of humanity.

Ferdowsi was grieved by the fall of the Iranian empire and its subsequent rule by Arabs and Turks. The Shahnameh is largely his effort to preserve the memory of Iran's golden days and transmit it to a new generation so that they could learn and try to build a better world. [A. Shapur Shahbazi, "Ferdowsi: A Critical Biography", Hardvard University Center For Middle Eastern Studies, Distributed by Mazda Publishers, 1991. pg 49] . Though formally Muslim, the Shahnameh nevertheless has a certain anti-Arab and anti-Turk bias [Igor M. Diankonoff. "The Paths of History", Cambridge University Press, 1999, p. 100, ISBN 0521643988] .

hâhnameh and its impact on Modern Persian

After Ferdowsi's Shâhnameh, a number of other works similar in nature surfaced over the centuries within the cultural sphere of the Persian language. Without exception, all such works were based in style and method on Ferdowsi's Shâhnameh, but none of them could quite achieve the same degree of fame and popularity.

Some experts believe the main reason the Modern Persian language today is more or less the same language as that of Ferdowsi's time over 1000 years ago is due to the very existence of works like Ferdowsi's Shâhnameh which have had lasting and profound cultural and linguistic influence. In other words, the Shâhnameh itself has become one of the main pillars of the modern Persian language. Studying Ferdowsi's masterpiece also became a requirement for achieving mastery of the Persian language by subsequent Persian poets, as evidenced by numerous references to the Shâhnameh in their works.

The Shâhnameh has 62 stories, 990 chapters, and contains 60,000 rhyming couplets, making it more than seven times the length of Homer's "Iliad", and more than twelve times the length of the German Nibelungenlied. There have been a number of English translations, almost all abridged. Mathew Arnold produced one of the first English translations of the story of Rostam and Sohrab [http://www.azargoshnasp.net/famous/ferdowsi/matthewarnold.htm] .

In 1925, the brothers Arthur and Edmond Warner published the complete work in nine volumes, now out of print. A recent translation by Dick Davis [Shahnameh:a new translation by Dick Davis, Viking Adult, 2006. [www.amazon.com/Shahnameh-Persian-Kings-Abolqasem-Ferdowsi/dp/0670034851] ] has made this epic poem accessible for English speakers. The translation is combination of poetry and prose, although it is not the complete translation of the Shahnameh.

ynopsis

The Shâhnameh is an impressive monument of poetry and historiography, being mainly the poetical recast of what Ferdowsi, his contemporaries, and his predecessors regarded as the account of Iran's ancient history. Many such accounts already existed in prose, an example being the Shâhnameh of Abu Mansur Abd-al-Razaq. A small portion of Ferdowsi's work, in passages scattered throughout the Shâhnameh, is entirely of his own conception. Added to the vivid descriptions of various scenes and phenomena, these occasional comments expresses his reflection on life, his religious and ethical beliefs and his admiration of virtue, his praise for his patrons, and his references to the sources he used. The rest of the work is divided into three successive parts: the "mythical", "heroic", and "historical" ages.


=The mythical age= After an opening in praise of God and Wisdom, the Shâhnameh gives an account of the creation of the world and of man as believed by the Sasanians. This introduction is followed by the story of the first man, Keyumars, who also became the first king after a period of mountain dwelling. His grandson Hushang, son of Sīyāmak, accidentally discovered fire and established the Sadeh Feast in its honor. Stories of Tahmuras, Jamshid, Zahhāk, Kawa or Kaveh, Fereydūn and his three sons Salm, Tur, and Iraj, and his grandson Manuchehr are related in this section. This portion of the Shâhnameh is relatively short, amounting to some 2100 verses or four percent of the entire book, and it narrates events with the simplicity, predictability, and swiftness of a historical work. Naturally, the strength and charm of Ferdowsi's poetry have done much to make the story of this period attractive and lively.


=The heroic age= Almost two-thirds of the Shâhnameh is devoted to the age of heroes, extending from Manuchehr's reign until the conquest of Alexander the Great (Sekandar). The main feature of this period is the major role played by the "Sagzi" (Saka) or Sistānī heroes who appear as the backbone of the Persian Empire. Garshāsp is briefly mentioned with his son Narimān, whose own son Sām acted as the leading paladin of Manuchehr while reigning in Sistān in his own right. His successors were his son Zāl and Zal's son Rostam, the bravest of the brave, and then Farāmarz.

The feudal society in which they lived is admirably depicted in the Shâhnameh with accuracy and lavishness. Indeed, the Masters' descriptions are so vivid and impressive that the reader feels himself participating in the events or closely viewing them. The tone is significantly epic and moving, while the language is extremely rich and varied. Among the stories described in this section are the romance of Zal and Rudāba, the Seven Stages (or Labors) of Rostam, Rostam and Sohrāb, Sīyāvash and Sudāba, Rostam and Akvān Dīv, the romance of Bižhan and Manížheh, the wars with Afrāsīyāb, Daqiqi's account of the story of Goshtāsp and Arjāsp, and Rostam and Esfandyār. It is noteworthy that the legend of Rostam and Sohrāb is attested only in the Shâhnameh and, as usual, begins with a lyrical and detailed prelude. Here Ferdowsi is at the zenith of his poetic power and has become a true master of storytelling. The thousand or so verses of this tragedy comprise one of the most moving tales of world literature.

The historical age

A brief mention of the Ashkānīyān dynasty follows the history of Alexander and precedes that of Ardashir I, the founder of the Sassanid dynasty. After this, Sassanid history is related with a good deal of accuracy. The fall of the Sassanids and the Arab conquest of Iran are narrated romantically, and in very moving poetic language. Here, the reader can see Ferdowsi himself lamenting over this catastrophe and over what he calls the arrival of "the army of darkness".

According to Ferdowsi, the final edition of the Shâhnameh contained some sixty thousand distichs. But this is a round figure; most of the relatively reliable manuscripts have preserved a little over fifty thousand distiches. Nezami-e Aruzi reports that the final edition of the Shâhnameh sent to the court of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni was prepared in seven volumes.

The Shâhnameh's message

Ferdowsi's style is that of a superb poet. His epic language is rich, moving and lavish. Personal touches in the Shâhnameh prevent it from falling into a dry reproduction of historical narratives. No history has been so eagerly read, so profoundly believed, and so ardently treasured in Iran as has the Shâhnameh of Ferdowsi. If a history were ever to influence its readers, the Shâhnameh has done and still does so in the finest way. Where many "Tājīk" military and religious leaders failed, Ferdowsi succeeded.An example of Ferdowsi's works illustrates his mastery of poetry and brings to the reader's imagination vivid pictures through the power of language: e.g.

Bah roozah nabard Aan yalah arj-mand,Bah Shamshier, Khanjar, bah Gorz-o-Kamand,Deried-o-Boried-o-Shekasst-o-Basst,Yallan-raa Sarr-o-Sienah-o-Paa-o-Dasst.

Ferdowsi, instigated many formats of poems; beginning the foundations of literature.

(Translation)On the day of battle that grandiose warrior,By Sword, Dagger, by Mace and Rope,Severed, slivered, shattered, and tied,warrior's heads, chest, legs, and hands.

If my countrymen find that the bold mastery of Ferdowsi's writings are lost in this poor man's translation, I ask for your indulgence and forgiveness of my humble translation to their own honorable selves.

Thus, to such an extent Ferdowsi is confident of his masterpiece's endurance and immortality that he versifies in the following couplets:

بناهاى آباد گردد خراب
ز باران و از تابش آفتاب

پى افكندم از نظم كاخي بلند
كه از باد و باران نيابد گزند

"'از آن پس نميرم كه من زنده‌ام
"'كه تخم سخن را پراكنده‌ام

هر آنكس كه دارد هش و راى و دين
پس از مرگ بر من كند آفرين


"Banāhāye ābād gardad kharāb "
"ze bārānō az tābeshē āftāb"

"pay afkandam az nazm kākhī boland "
"ke az bādō bārān nayābad gazand"

"az ān pas namiram ke man zendeh'am "
"ke tokhme sokhan rā parākandeh'am "

"har ānkas ke dārad hosh o rāy o din"
"pas az marg bar man konad āfarin"

"Magnificent Buildings will be destroyed"'
From rain and the radiation of the sun."'

"I founded a great palace of verse so high [The Shahnameh]
That is impervious to the wind and the rain"

'"Thus I won't die that I am the eternal lord
"'As I've spread the seed of the word"

"Whoever who has intelligence, vision and belief
Even after my death will praise me."

Ferdowsi did not expect his reader to pass over historical events indifferently, but asked him/her to think carefully, to see the grounds for the rise and fall of individuals and nations; and to learn from the past in order to improve the present, and to better shape the future. Ferdowsi stresses his belief that since the world is transient, and since everyone is merely a passerby, one is wise to avoid cruelty, lying, avarice, and other traditional evils; instead one should strive for justice, honor, truth, order, and other traditional virtues. The singular message that the Shâhnameh of Ferdowsi strives to convey is the idea that the history of Sassanid Empire was a complete and immutable whole: it started with Keyumars, the first man, and ended with his fiftieth scion and successor, Yazdegerd III, six thousand years of history of Iran. The task of Ferdowsi was to prevent this history from being lost to future Iranian generations.

Shahnameh, its praises and influence

Modern Persian has existed as a living language for around 1100 years, and the Shahnameh, despite being more than 1000 years old, is read by Persian speakers throughout the world in its original form. This makes the Shahnameh different from other epics which are written in languages that are now dead. As an example, Beowulf, an important epic in its own right, can not be understood by the modern English speaker. Because it is a living language, and because it has sustained Persian poetry throughout the centuries, the Shahnameh has had a tremendous influence in shaping the modern identity of its Iranian, Afghan and Tajik readers. Beside being a epic book, Ferdowsi has decorated his book with many universal virtuous and moral concepts. According to the expert Dr. Jalal Khaleghi Mutlaq, the Shahnameh teaches: Yekta-Parasti (Worship of one God), Khoda Tarsi (Fear of breaking the commandments of God-respeting God), Din Dari (Religious Uprightness), Mihan Doosti (patriotism), Mehr beh Zan o Farzand (love of wife, family and children), Dastgiryeh Darmandegaan (Helping the poor), Kheradmandi (Pursuit of Wisdom), Dad-Khahi (Pursuit of Justice), Door-Andishi (Long term thinking), Miyaneh Ravi (Seeking and Acting in Equilibrium-moderation), Adaab Daani (Acting and Knowing correct manner-courtesy), Mehman Nawazi (Seeking the happiness of Guests-hospitality), Javanmardi (Chivalry), Bakhshesh (Forgiveness), Sepasgozari (Thankfulness), Khoshnoodi o Khorsandi (Being content and Happy with existence), Kooshaayi (Hard Work), Narmesh Yaa Modaaraa (Being Peaceful and Kind), Wafadaari (Being faithful), Raasti o Dorostkari (Truth and opposing anything that is against the Truth), Peymaan Daari (Keeping covenants), Sharm o Ahestegi (Shame at committing immoral acts and also control over one's self), Khamooshi (Not acting loud-modesty), Danesh Amoozi (Pursuing Knowledge-education), Sokhan Dani (Knowledge of Wise Words) and many other moral qualities [ Jalal Khaleqi Mutlaq, "Iran Garai dar Shahnameh" (Iran-centrism in the Shahnameh), Hasti Magazine, Vol 4. 1993. Tehran, Bahman Publishers. ] .

Ferdowsi wrote in the end of his Shahnameh proclaims:

"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." [ (Shahnameh:a new translation by Dick Davis, Viking Adult, 2006.]

This prediction of Ferdowsi has come true and many Persian literary figures, historians and biographers have praised him and his Shahnameh. The Shahnameh is considered by many to be the most important piece of work in Persian literature. Western writers have also praised the Shahnameh and Persian literature in general. Persian literature has been considered by such thinkers as Goethe as one of the four main bodies of world literature [Von David Levinson, Karen Christensen, Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, Charles Scribner's Sons. 2002 pg 48] . Goethe was inspired by Persian literature, which moved him to write his famous "West-Eastern Divan". Goethe writes: "When we turn our attention to a peaceful, civilized people, the Persians, we must -- since it was actually their poetry that inspired this work -- go back to the earliest period to be able to understand more recent times. It will always seem strange to the historians that no matter how many times a country has been conquered, subjugated and even destroyed by enemies, there is always a certain national core preserved in its character, and before you know it, there re-emerges a long-familiar native phenomenon. In this sense, it would be pleasant to learn about the most ancient Persians and quickly follow them up to the present day at an all the more free and steady pace." [Josef Wiesehofer, "Ancient Persia". I. B. Tauris; New Ed edition (August 18, 2001). Introduction page] .

Saint - Beuve, when he observed the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, proclaimed: "If we could realize that great works such as the Shahnameh exists in the world, we would not become so much proud of our own works in such a silly manner." [ Farideh Motakef, Iranian art and poetry in the works of European [http://www.iranchamber.com/literature/articles/iranian_poetry_european_poets.php] ] .

Biographers

Sargozasht-Nameh or Biography of important poets and writers has long been a Persian tradition. Some of the biographies of Ferdowsi are now considered apocryphal, nevertheless this shows the important impact he had in the Persian World. Among the famous biographers are [ Doctor Mahdi Nurian, "Afarin Ferdowsi az Zaban Pishinian"(The praises of Ferdowsi from the tongue of the ancients), Hasti Magazine, Vol 4. 1993. Tehran, Bahman Publishers. ] :

1) Nezami 'Arudi-i Samarqandi in his Chahar Maqaleh (Four Articles).

2) Dolat Shah-i Samarghandi in his Tazkeye-Al-Shu'ara (The Biography of poets)

3) Jami in his Baharestan.

4) Muhammad 'Awfi in his Lobab al-Lobab.

5) Natayej al-Afkar by Mowlana Muhammad Qudrat Allah

6) 'Arafat Al-Ashighin written by Taqqi Al-Din 'Awhadi Balyani

A modern biography in English is written by the late Professor Abdullah Shapur Shahbazi of Eastern Oregan University titled: "Ferdowsi: A Critical Biography" [A. Shapur Shahbazi, "Ferdowsi: A Critical Biography", Hardvard University Center For Middle Eastern Studies, Distributed by Mazda Publishers, 1991.]

Poets

Famous poets of Persia and the Persian tradition have praised and eulogized Ferdowsi. Many of them were heavily influenced by his writing and used his genre and stories to develop their own Persian epics, stories and poems: [ Doctor Mahdi Nurian, "Afarin Ferdowsi az Zaban Pishinian"(The praises of Ferdowsi from the tongue of the ancients), Hasti Magazine, Vol 4. 1993. Tehran, Bahman Publishers. All the verses are taken from this article.] .

1) Anvari a famous poet in his own right remarks about the eloquence of the Shahnameh:"He was not just a Teacher and we his students. He was like a God and were his slaves". [actual Persian: آفرين بر روان فردوسی

آن همايون نهاد و فرخنده

او نه استاد بود و ما شاگرد

او خداوند بود و ما بنده]

2) Asadi Tusi was born in the same city as Ferdowsi. His Garshaspnama was inspired by the Shahnameh as he attests in the intrdoction. He praises Ferdowsi in the introduction [

که فردوسی طوسی پاک مغز

بدادست داد سخنهای نغز

به شهنامه گیتی بیاراستست

بدان نامه نام نکو خواستست] and considers Ferdowsi the greatest poet of his time [ که از پیش گویندگان برد گوی]

3) Masud Sa'ad Salman, originally from Persia, was a poet of the Ghaznavid courts of India. Showing the influence of the Shahnameh only 80 years after the composition of the Shahnameh, he recited its poems in the Ghaznavid court.

4) Othman Mukhtari another poet at the court of the Ghaznavids of India remarks: "Alive is Rustam through the epic of Ferdowsi, Else there would not be a trace of him in this World" [ زنده رستم به شعر فردوسی است

ور نه زو در جهان نشانه کجاست؟]

5) Sanai believes that in reality the foundation of poetry was established by Ferdowsi. [

چه نکو گفت آن بزرگ استاد

که وی افکند نظم را بنیاد]

6) Nezami Ganjavi was influenced greatly by Ferdowsi and three of his five jewls had to do with pre-Islamic Persia. His Khosro o Shirin, Haft Paykar and Eskandarnameh used the Shahnameh as a major source. Nezami remarks that Ferdowsi is "the wise sage of Tus" who beautified and decorated words like a new bride. [ سخن گوی دانای پیشین طوسکه آراست روی سخن چون عروس]

7) Khaghani of Shirvan who was the court poet of the Shirvanshah has remarked about Ferdowsi:

"

The candle of the wise in this darkness of sorrow,

The pure words of Ferdowsi of the Tusi are such His pure sense is an angelic birth

Angelic born is anyone who's like Ferdowsi

شمع جمع هوشمندان است در دیجور غم// نکته ای کز خاطر فردوسی طوسی بود// زادگاه طبع پاکش جملگی حوراوش اند// زاده حوراوش بود چون مرد فردوسی بود//

8)
Attar remarks about the poetry of Ferdowsi: "Open eyes and through the sweet poetry see the heavenly eden of Ferdowsi" باز کن چشم و ز شعر چون شکردر بهشت عدن فردوسی نگر

9) Sa'adi in a famous poem remarks: "How sweetly has conveyed the pure natured Ferdowsi, May blessing be upon his pure resting place: Do not harass the ant that's dragging a seed, because it has life and sweet life is dear." [ چه خوش گفت فردوسی پاکزاد

که رحمت بر آن تربت پاک باد

میازار موری که دانه کش است

که جان دارد و جان شیرین خوش است]

10)Jami in his Baharistan remarks:"He came from Tus and his excellence, renown and perfection are well known. Yes, what need is there of the panegyrics of others to that man who has composed verses as those of the Shah-nameh?"

Many other poets can also be named. For example Hafez, Rumi and other mystical poets have used many imageries of Shahnameh heroes in their poetry. With this regard, the Saqinaameh of Hafez and the famous verse of Rumi: "Shir Khwoda o Rostam Dastanam Arezoost"(The lion of God (Ali) and Rostam of Dastaan is what I seek) come to mind.

Historians

The Shahnameh's impact on Persian historiography was immediate and some historians decorated their books with the verses of Shahnameh. Below is sample of ten important historian who have praised the Shahnameh and Ferdowsi [ Doctor Mahdi Nurian, "Afarin Ferdowsi az Zaban Pishinian"(The praises of Ferdowsi from the tongue of the ancients), Hasti Magazine, Vol 4. 1993. Tehran, Bahman Publishers. ] :

1) The unknown writer of the Tarikh Sistan (History of Sistan) (circa 1053 A.D.)

2) The unknown writer of Majmal al-Tawarikh wa Al-Qasas (circa 1126).

3) Mohammad Ali Ravandi the writer of the Rahat al-Sodur wa Ayat al-Sorur (circa 1206)

4) Ibn Bibi the writer of the history book Al-Awamir al-'Alaiyah written during the era of 'Ala ad-din KayGhobad

5) Ibn Esfandyar the composer of the Tarikh-e Tabarestan.

6) Muhammad Juwayni the early historian of the Mongol era in his "Tarikh-e Jahan Gushay" (Ilkhanid era)

7) Hamdullah Qazwini also paid much attention to the Shahnameh and wrote his Zafarnama based on the same style. (Ilkhanid era)

8) Hafez Abru (1430) in his Majma' al-Tawarikh

9) Khwand Mir in his Habab al-Siyar (circa 1523) has praised Ferdowsi and has given an extensive biography on Ferdowsi.

10) The Arab Historian Ibn Athir remarks in his book titled "Al-Kamil": "If we name it the Quran of 'Ajam, we have not said something in vain. If a poet writes poetry and the poems have many verses, or if someone writes many compositions, it will always be the case that some of their writings might not be excellent. But in the case of Shahnameh, despite having more than 40 thousand couplets, all its verses are excellent". [ see also: [http://www.qudsdaily.com/archive/1384/html/2/1384-02-25/page2.html] ]

Patronage of Shahnameh by different dynasties

The Shirvanshah dynasty adopted many of their names from the Shahnameh. The relationship between Shirwanshah and his son, Manuchihr, is mentioned in chapter eight of Nizami's Lili o Majnoon. Nizami advises the king's son to read the Shah-nama and to remember the meaningful sayings of the wise. [Dr. Ali Asghar Seyed Gohrab. "Layli and Majnun: Love, Madness and Mystic Longing",Brill Studies in Middle Eastern literature, Jun 2003. pg 276.]

According to the Turkish historian Mehmat Fuad Koprulu [(Mehmed Fuad Koprulu's , Early Mystics in Turkish Literature, Translated by Gary Leiser and Robert Dankoff , Routledge, 2006, pg 149)] :cquote| Indeed, despite all claims to the contrary, there is no question that Persian influence was paramount among the Seljuks of Anatolia. This is clearly revealed by the fact that the sultans who ascended the throne after Ghiyath al-Din Kai-Khusraw I assumed titles taken from ancient Persian mythology, like Kai-Khusraw, Kai-Kaus, and Kai-Qubad; and that Ala' al-Din Kai-Qubad I had some passages from the Shahname inscribed on the walls of Konya and Sivas. When we take into consideration domestic life in the Konya courts and the sincerity of the favor and attachment of the rulers to Persian poets and Persian literature, then this fact {i.e. the importance of Persian influence} is undeniable.

Shah Ismail Safavi was also deeply influenced by the Persian literary tradition of Iran, particularly by the "Shāhnāma" of Ferdowsi, which probably explains the fact that he named all of his sons after Shāhnāma-characters. Dickson and Welch suggest that Ismāil's "Shāhnāmaye Shāhī" was intended as a present to the young Tahmāsp [M.B. Dickson and S.C. Welch, "The Houghton Shahnameh" 2 vols (Cambridge Mmssachusetts and London. 1981. See: pg 34 of Volume I)] . After defeating Muhammad Shaybāni's Uzbeks, Ismāil asked Hātefī, a famous poet from Jam (Khorasan), to write a Shāhnāma-like epic about his victories and his newly established dynasty. Although the epic was left unfinished, it was an example of "mathnawis" in the heroic style of the Shāhnāma written later on for the Safavid kings [R.M. Savory, "Safavids", Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd edition] .

Impact of Shahnameh on local Iranian and Christian cultures

Professor Victoria Arakelova of Yerevan University states [See: [http://www.farhangiran.com/pdf/shahkurdarmen.pdf] [http://www.azargoshnasp.net/famous/ferdowsi/shahkurdarmen.pdf] ] :"During the ten centuries passed after Firdausi composed his monumental work, heroic legends and stories of Shahnameh have remained the main source of the storytelling for the peoples of this region: Persians, Kurds, Gurans, Talishis, Armenians, Georgians, North Caucasian peoples, etc."

Professor Jamshid Sh. Giunshvili remarks on the connection of Georgian culture with that of Shahnama [Encyclopedia Iranica, "Shahnama Translations in Georgian", Jamshid Sh. Giunshvili] :"The names of many Shahnama heroes, such as Rostam, Tahmine, Sam-i, or Zaal-i, are found in 11th- and 12th-century Georgian literature. They are indirect evidence for an Old Georgian translation of the Shahnama that is no longer extant.". Furthermore he remarks:"The Shahnama was not only translated to satisfy the literary and aesthetic needs of readers and listeners, but also to inspire the young with the spirit of heroism and Georgian patriotism. Georgian ideology, customs, and worldview often informed these translations because they were oriented toward Georgian poetic culture. Conversely, Georgians consider these translations works of their native literature. Georgian versions of the Shahnama are quite popular, and the stories of Rostam and Sohrab, or Bijan and Manizha became part of Georgian folklore.".

Shâhnameh scholars

* Dick Davis author of [http://mage.com/EAS.html "Epic and Sedition: The Case of Ferdowsi's Shahnameh"] and translator of [http://mage.com/SSC.html "Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings"]
* Shahrokh Meskoob
* Mir Jalaleddin Kazzazi
* Jalal Matini ("Editor of [http://www.iranshenasi.net/englishIndex.html Iran Shenasi"] )
* Jalil Doostkhah ("Center for Iranian Studies [http://www.iranshenakht.blogspot.com/ CFIS"] )


=See also=
* [http://www.iranica.com/newsite/articles/v9f5/v9f541a.html Ferdowsi, Encyclopedia Iranica, Jalal Khaleghi-Motlaq]
*Rostam and Sohrab (opera)
*Persian Trilogy
*Shâhnameh Characters
*Flying Throne of Kai Kavus
*Vis o Ramin (A similar book to Shâhnameh but deals with Parthian legendary stories)
*Iranian festivals
* [http://www.azargoshnasp.net/famous/ferdowsi/matthewarnold.htm Rostam & Sohrab by Arnold, Mathew(1822-88)]
* [http://www.iranica.com/newsite/articles/v4f1/v4f1a008.html Baysonghori Shahnameh in Encyclopedia Iranica]

ources and references

*Abolqasem Ferdowsi, Dick Davis trans. (2006), "Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings" ISBN 0-670-03485-1, modern English translation, current standard. See also
*Clinton, Jerome W. (translator) The Tragedy of Sohrab and Rostam: From the Persian National Epic, the Shahname of Abdol-Qasem Ferdowsi 2nd ed. (University of Washington Press, 1996) (abridged selection)
*Clinton, Jerome W. (translator) In the Dragon's Claws: The Story of Rostam and Esfandiyar from the Persian Book of Kings (Mage Publishers, 1999)
*Davis, Dick, (translator) Stories from the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi:Vol. 1, The Lion and the Throne, (Mage Publishers, 1998):Vol. 2, Fathers and Sons, (Mage Publishers, 1998):Vol. 3, Sunset of Empire, (Mage Publishers, 2003)
*Davis, Dick, (translator), The Legend of Seyavash, (Penguin, 2001, Mage Publishers 2004) (abridged)
*Levy, Reuben (translator), The Epic of the Kings: Shah-Nama, the National Epic of Persia, (Mazda Publications, 1996) (abridged prose version)
*Warner, Arthur and Edmond Warner, (translators) The Shahnama of Firdausi, 9 vols. (London: Keegan Paul, 1905-1925) (complete English verse translation)
* Hassan Anvari, "Ancient Iran's Geographical Position in Shah-Nameh" (Iran Chamber Society, 2004). [http://www.iranchamber.com/geography/articles/ancient_iran_geographical_position_shahnameh.php]
*Rostam: Tales from the Shahnameh (2005), "The Story of Rostam & Sohrab" ISBN 0977021319, modern English translation, Graphic Novel.
*Rostam: Return of the King (2007), "The Story of Kai-Kavous & Soodabeh" ISBN 0977021327, modern English translation, Graphic Novel.
* Jalal Khāleghi Motlagh, Editor, "The Shahnameh", to be published in 8 volumes (ca. 500 pages each), consisting of six volumes of text and two volumes of explanatory notes. See: [http://www.columbia.edu/cu/center-for-iranian-studies/programs-and-pubs/main/projects/shahnameh.html Center for Iranian Studies, Columbia University] .

Notes

External links

*Web Resources
** "Shahnameh", by Hakim Abol-Qasem Ferdowsi Tusi, the complete work (64 Epics), in Persian ( [http://www.parstech.org/detail.php?id=1261 ParsTech] ). This work can be freely downloaded (File size, compiled in the form of an HTML Help File: 1.4 MB).
** Iraj Bashiri, "Characters of Ferdowsi's Shahnameh", [http://www.iranchamber.com/literature/shahnameh/characters_ferdowsi_shahname.php Iran Chamber Society] , 2003.
** [http://www.theshahnameh.com "Rostam"] , English comic book adaptation of tales from the Shahnameh.
** [http://classics.mit.edu/Ferdowsi/kings.html "Shahnameh"] , English translation by Helen Zimmern.
** [http://www.iranchamber.com/literature/shahnameh/shahnameh.php "Shahnameh"] . Helen Zimmern translation.
** [http://www.greatworkspreserved.com/shahnama/ "Shahnameh"] , Arthur and Edmond Warner translation.
** [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5309016 New Translation of 'Persian Book of Kings' - March, 2006] from NPR, and [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/30/books/review/30aslan.html "The Epic of Iran" - April, 2006] , from the New York Times. Also, on 14 May 2006, Washington Post Pulitzer Prize winning book critic Michael Dirda reviewed Dick Davis's translation "Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings" [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/11/AR2006051101341.html "This marvelous translation of an ancient Persian classic brings these stories alive for a new audience."] . The illustrated three-volume slipcase edition of this translation is ISBN 0-934211-97-3
** Khosrow Nāghed, "In the Workshop of Thought and Imagination of the Master of Tūs" (Dar Kargāh-e Andisheh va Khiāl-e Ostād-e Tūs), in Persian, Radio Zamāneh, August 5, 2008, [http://radiozamaaneh.com/literature/2008/08/print_post_495.html] .

*Persian Sources
** [http://shahnameh.recent.ir/default.aspx?browse Complete Persian text]
** [http://www.shahnameh.com/ Shahnameh website]
** [http://www.theshahnameh.com/ Shahnameh comic book website]
** [http://www.mehrargham.com/dorjonline/shahnameh/parts.html Shahnameh online]
*Resources
** [http://shahnama.caret.cam.ac.uk/ Shahnama Image Collection]
** [http://tehran.stanford.edu/Images/Shahnameh/ Images from illustrated versions of Shahnameh]
** [http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/khan6/hd_khan6.htm Metropolitan museum on the shahnama]
** [http://asiasociety.org/arts/huntparadise/rustam/ch1-1.html The Asia Society; Illustrated Shahnameh]


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