Shahnameh

Shahnameh

Overview
The Shahnameh or Shah-nama ( , "The Book of Kings") is a long epic poem written by the Persian poet
Persian literature
Persian literature spans two-and-a-half millennia, though much of the pre-Islamic material has been lost. Its sources have been within historical Persia including present-day Iran as well as regions of Central Asia where the Persian language has historically been the national language...

 Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi was a highly revered Persian poet. He was the author of the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran and related societies.The Shahnameh was originally composed by Ferdowsi for the princes of the Samanid dynasty, who were responsible for a revival of Persian cultural traditions after the...

 between c.977 and 1010 AD and is the national epic
National epic
A national epic is an epic poem or a literary work of epic scope which seeks or is believed to capture and express the essence or spirit of a particular nation; not necessarily a nation-state, but at least an ethnic or linguistic group with aspirations to independence or autonomy...

 of Iran and related societies
Greater Iran
Greater Iran refers to the regions that have significant Iranian cultural influence. It roughly corresponds to the territory on the Iranian plateau and its bordering plains, stretching from Iraq, the Caucasus, and Turkey in the west to the Indus River in the east...

. Consisting of some 60,000 verses, the Shahnameh tells mainly the mythical
Persian mythology
Persian mythology are traditional tales and stories of ancient origin, some involving extraordinary or supernatural beings. Drawn from the legendary past of the Iranian cultural continent which especially consists of the state of Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Central Asia, they reflect the...

 and to some extent the historical past of (Greater) Iran
Greater Iran
Greater Iran refers to the regions that have significant Iranian cultural influence. It roughly corresponds to the territory on the Iranian plateau and its bordering plains, stretching from Iraq, the Caucasus, and Turkey in the west to the Indus River in the east...

 from the creation of the world until the Islamic conquest of Persia in the 7th century.

The work is of central importance in Persian culture, regarded as a literary masterpiece, and definitive of ethno-national cultural identity of Iran.
It is also important to the contemporary adherents of Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

, in that it traces the historical links between the beginnings of the religion with the death of the last Zoroastrian ruler of Persia during the Muslim conquest.

Ferdowsi started his composition of the Shahnameh in 977 A.D and completed it on 8 March 1010.
The Shahnameh is a monument of poetry and historiography
Historiography
Historiography refers either to the study of the history and methodology of history as a discipline, or to a body of historical work on a specialized topic...

, being mainly the poetical recast of what Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi was a highly revered Persian poet. He was the author of the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran and related societies.The Shahnameh was originally composed by Ferdowsi for the princes of the Samanid dynasty, who were responsible for a revival of Persian cultural traditions after the...

, his contemporaries, and his predecessors regarded as the account of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

's ancient history.
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Encyclopedia
The Shahnameh or Shah-nama ( , "The Book of Kings") is a long epic poem written by the Persian poet
Persian literature
Persian literature spans two-and-a-half millennia, though much of the pre-Islamic material has been lost. Its sources have been within historical Persia including present-day Iran as well as regions of Central Asia where the Persian language has historically been the national language...

 Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi was a highly revered Persian poet. He was the author of the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran and related societies.The Shahnameh was originally composed by Ferdowsi for the princes of the Samanid dynasty, who were responsible for a revival of Persian cultural traditions after the...

 between c.977 and 1010 AD and is the national epic
National epic
A national epic is an epic poem or a literary work of epic scope which seeks or is believed to capture and express the essence or spirit of a particular nation; not necessarily a nation-state, but at least an ethnic or linguistic group with aspirations to independence or autonomy...

 of Iran and related societies
Greater Iran
Greater Iran refers to the regions that have significant Iranian cultural influence. It roughly corresponds to the territory on the Iranian plateau and its bordering plains, stretching from Iraq, the Caucasus, and Turkey in the west to the Indus River in the east...

. Consisting of some 60,000 verses, the Shahnameh tells mainly the mythical
Persian mythology
Persian mythology are traditional tales and stories of ancient origin, some involving extraordinary or supernatural beings. Drawn from the legendary past of the Iranian cultural continent which especially consists of the state of Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Central Asia, they reflect the...

 and to some extent the historical past of (Greater) Iran
Greater Iran
Greater Iran refers to the regions that have significant Iranian cultural influence. It roughly corresponds to the territory on the Iranian plateau and its bordering plains, stretching from Iraq, the Caucasus, and Turkey in the west to the Indus River in the east...

 from the creation of the world until the Islamic conquest of Persia in the 7th century.

The work is of central importance in Persian culture, regarded as a literary masterpiece, and definitive of ethno-national cultural identity of Iran.
It is also important to the contemporary adherents of Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

, in that it traces the historical links between the beginnings of the religion with the death of the last Zoroastrian ruler of Persia during the Muslim conquest.

Sources and composition


Ferdowsi started his composition of the Shahnameh in 977 A.D and completed it on 8 March 1010.
The Shahnameh is a monument of poetry and historiography
Historiography
Historiography refers either to the study of the history and methodology of history as a discipline, or to a body of historical work on a specialized topic...

, being mainly the poetical recast of what Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi was a highly revered Persian poet. He was the author of the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran and related societies.The Shahnameh was originally composed by Ferdowsi for the princes of the Samanid dynasty, who were responsible for a revival of Persian cultural traditions after the...

, his contemporaries, and his predecessors regarded as the account of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

's ancient history. Many such accounts already existed in prose, an example being the Shahnameh of Abu-Mansur Daqiqi. A small portion of Ferdowsi's work, in passages scattered throughout the Shahnameh, is entirely of his own conception.

The Shahnameh is an epic poem of over 50,000 couplet
Couplet
A couplet is a pair of lines of meter in poetry. It usually consists of two lines that rhyme and have the same meter.While traditionally couplets rhyme, not all do. A poem may use white space to mark out couplets if they do not rhyme. Couplets with a meter of iambic pentameter are called heroic...

s, written in early Modern Persian. It is based mainly on a prose work of the same name compiled in Ferdowsi's earlier life in his native Tus. This prose Shahnameh was in turn and for the most part the translation of a Pahlavi (Middle Persian
Middle Persian
Middle Persian , indigenously known as "Pârsig" sometimes referred to as Pahlavi or Pehlevi, is the Middle Iranian language/ethnolect of Southwestern Iran that during Sassanid times became a prestige dialect and so came to be spoken in other regions as well. Middle Persian is classified as a...

) work, known as the Xvatāynamāk "Book of Kings", a late Sassanid
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

 compilation of the history of the kings and heroes of Persia from mythical times down to the reign of Khosrau II
Khosrau II
250px|thumb|Khosrau II 250px|thumb|Khosrau II 250px|thumb|Khosrau II (Khosrow II, Chosroes II, or Xosrov II in classical sources, sometimes called Parvez, "the Ever Victorious" – (in Persian: خسرو پرویز), was the twenty-second Sassanid King of Persia, reigning from 590 to 628...

 (590–628). The xvatāynamāk contained historical information on the later Sassanid period, but it does not appear to have drawn on any historical sources for the earlier Sassanid period (3rd to 4th centuries).
Ferdowsi added 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 the Pahlavi chronicle was Abu-Mansur Daqiqi, a contemporary of Ferdowsi, poet at the court of the Samanids, who came to a violent end after completing only 1,000 verses. These verses, which deal with the rise of the prophet Zoroaster
Zoroaster
Zoroaster , also known as Zarathustra , was a prophet and the founder of Zoroastrianism who was either born in North Western or Eastern Iran. He is credited with the authorship of the Yasna Haptanghaiti as well as the Gathas, hymns which are at the liturgical core of Zoroastrianism...

, were afterward incorporated by Ferdowsi, with acknowledgment, in his own poem. The style of the Shahnameh shows characteristics of both written and oral literature. Some claim that Ferdowsi also used Zoroastrian nasks, such as the now-lost Chihrdad
Chihrdad
Čihrdād nask is one of the lost nasks of the Avesta and survives only as a summary preserved in Dēnkard 8.13.In the summary, the text is said to have been a history of mankind from the beginning down to the revelation of Zoroaster, and it was an important source for later works like the Šāhnāmeh of...

as sources as well.

Many other Pahlavi
Pahlavi scripts
Pahlavi or Pahlevi denotes a particular and exclusively written form of various Middle Iranian languages. The essential characteristics of Pahlavi are*the use of a specific Aramaic-derived script, the Pahlavi script;...

 sources were used in composing the epic, prominent being the Kārnāmag-ī Ardaxšīr-ī Pābagān, which was originally written during the late Sassanid era, and gave accounts of how Ardashir I
Ardashir I
Ardashir I was the founder of the Sassanid Empire, was ruler of Istakhr , subsequently Fars Province , and finally "King of Kings of Sassanid Empire " with the overthrow of the Parthian Empire...

 came to power which, because of its historical proximity, is thought to be highly accurate. Besides, the text is written in the late Middle Persian, which was the immediate ancestor of Modern Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

. Hence, a great portion of the historical chronicles given in Shahnameh are based on this epic and there are in fact various phrases and words which can be matched between these two sources according to Zabihollah Safa
Zabihollah Safa
Zabihollahhh Safa was a scholar and professor Emeritus of Iranian Studies at the University of Tehran....

.

Content synopsis


The Shahnameh recounts the history of Iran
History of Iran
The history of Iran has been intertwined with the history of a larger historical region, comprising the area from the Danube River in the west to the Indus River and Jaxartes in the east and from the Caucasus, Caspian Sea, and Aral Sea in the north to the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and Egypt...

, beginning with the creation of the world and the introduction of the arts of civilization (fire, cooking, metallurgy, law) to the Aryans (in the sense of Iranians) 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 but most have normal life spans. There are many shāh
Shah
Shāh is the title of the ruler of certain Southwest Asian and Central Asian countries, especially Persia , and derives from the Persian word shah, meaning "king".-History:...

s
who come and go, as well as heroes and villains, who also come and go. The only lasting images are that of Greater Persia itself, and a succession of sunrises and sunsets, no two ever exactly alike, yet illustrative of the passage of time.

The work is divided into three successive parts: the mythical, heroic, and historical ages.

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
Evil
Evil is the violation of, or intent to violate, some moral code. Evil is usually seen as the dualistic opposite of good. Definitions of evil vary along with analysis of its root motive causes, however general actions commonly considered evil include: conscious and deliberate wrongdoing,...

 is external (the devil
Devil
The Devil is believed in many religions and cultures to be a powerful, supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the enemy of God and humankind. The nature of the role varies greatly...

). In the second cycle, we see the beginnings of family hatred, bad behavior, and evil permeating human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

 nature. Shāh Fereydūn's
Fereydun
Fereydūn also pronounced Farīdūn or Afrīdūn , also called Apam Napat, "Son of the Waters", is the name of an Iranian mythical king and hero who is an emblem of victory, justice and generosity in the Persian literature.-Etymology:All of the forms of...

 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
Phaedra (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Phaedra is the daughter of Minos and Pasiphaë, wife of Theseus and the mother of Demophon of Athens and Acamas. Phaedra's name derives from the Greek word φαιδρός , which meant "bright"....

-like story of Shāh Kay Kāvus, his wife Sūdābeh
Sudabeh
Sudabeh is a character in Persian epic Shahnameh. She was princess of Hamavaran kingdom and later, she becomes the wife of Kay Kāvus, shah of Iran, and stepmother of prince Siyavash. She is most famous for her role in Siyavash choosing exile...

, and her passion and rejection by her stepson, Sīyāvash
Siyâvash
Siavash or Siyāvush, from Avestan Syāvaršan, is a major figure in Ferdowsi's epic, the Shahnameh. He was a legendary Persian prince from the earliest days of the Persian Empire...

.

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 Sasanid Iran
Islamic conquest of Persia
The Muslim conquest of Persia led to the end of the Sassanid Empire in 644, the fall of Sassanid dynasty in 651 and the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia...

, and a reflection of the last days of Persian Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

.

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. All of Ferdowsi's characters are complex. None of them are 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 Persian empire and its subsequent rule by Arabs and Turks. The Shahnameh is largely his effort to preserve the memory of Persia's golden days and transmit it to a new generation so that they could learn and try to build a better world. Though formally Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

, the Shahnameh nevertheless has a certain anti-Arab and anti-Turk bias.

The mythical age


After an opening in praise of God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 and Wisdom, the Shahnameh 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
Hushang
Hushang or Hōshang , older Persian Hōšang, was the second Shāh to rule the world according to Ferdowsi's Shāhnāma. Hushang is based upon the legendary figure Haošyaŋha in the ancient Zoroastrian scripture of the Avesta....

, son of Sīyāmak
Siamak
Siāmak or Siyamak is the beloved son of Keyumars, the first human, in the Persian language epic, the Shahnameh.Ferdowsi's great epic poem begins with the story of Keyumars, the first king to arise among humans, who at that time lived in mountain caves and wore the skins of leopards. God granted...

, accidentally discovered fire and established the Sadeh
Sadeh
Sadé or Sada Jashn-e Sada/Sadé , also transliterated as Sadeh, is an ancient Iranian tradition celebrated 50 days before Nowruz. Sadeh in Persian means "hundred" and refers to one hundred days and nights past the end of summer...

 Feast in its honor. Stories of Tahmuras
Tahmuras
Tahmuras or Tahmures , New Persian transliteration ', older Persian Tahmurat or Tahmurath, from Avestan Taxma Urupa, is the third Shāh of the world according to Ferdowsi's Shāhnāma. He is considered as the builder of Merv; we have no proof for his existing as an earlier Aryan chief.-Tahmuras in the...

, Jamshid
Jamshid
Jamshid is a mythological figure of Greater Iranian culture and tradition.In tradition and folklore, Jamshid is described as having been the fourth and greatest king of the epigraphically unattested Pishdadian dynasty . This role is already alluded to in Zoroastrian scripture Jamshid (Middle-...

, Zahhāk
Zahhak
Zahhāk or Zohhāk is an evil figure in Iranian mythology, evident in ancient Iranian folklore as Aži Dahāka, the name by which he also appears in the texts of the Avesta...

, Kawa
Kaveh
Kāveh the Blacksmith, also known as The Blacksmith of Isfahan or Kaveh of Isfahan is a mythical figure in Persian mythology who leads a popular uprising against a ruthless foreign ruler, Zahhāk. His story is narrated in the Epic of Shāhnāma, the national epic of Iran by the 10th century Persian...

 or Kaveh
Kaveh
Kāveh the Blacksmith, also known as The Blacksmith of Isfahan or Kaveh of Isfahan is a mythical figure in Persian mythology who leads a popular uprising against a ruthless foreign ruler, Zahhāk. His story is narrated in the Epic of Shāhnāma, the national epic of Iran by the 10th century Persian...

, Fereydūn
Fereydun
Fereydūn also pronounced Farīdūn or Afrīdūn , also called Apam Napat, "Son of the Waters", is the name of an Iranian mythical king and hero who is an emblem of victory, justice and generosity in the Persian literature.-Etymology:All of the forms of...

 and his three sons Salm
Salm (son of Fereydun)
Salm is a character in the Persian epic Shahnameh. He is the oldest son of legendary hero and king Fereydun. It is believed that his name was given to him by his father, after Salm chooses to seek safety and run instead of fighting the dragon that had attacked him and his brothers .When Fereydun...

, Tur
Tur (son of Fereydun)
Tur is a character in the Persian epic Shahnameh. He is the second son of the legendary Iranian king Fereydun and brother of both Salm and Iraj. His name, meaning "brave", was given to him by his father when the young prince bravely fights the dragon that had attacked him and his brothers. When...

, and Iraj
Iraj
Iraj is a Sri Lankan and Persian given name.Iraj may refer to:*Īrāj, a character in Shahnameh*Lord HanumanPeople with the given name Iraj:* Iraj Danaeifard, Iranian footballer* Iraj Ghaderi, Iranian actor...

, and his grandson Manuchehr
Manuchehr
Manūchehr , older Persian Manōčihr, Avestan Manuščiθra, is a character in Shahnameh. He is the first of the legendary Shāhs who ruled Iran after the breakup of the world empire of Manūchehr's great-grandfather, Fereydūn....

 are related in this section. This portion of the Shahnameh is relatively short, amounting to some 2,100 verses or four percent of the entire book, and it narrates events with the simplicity, predictability, and swiftness of a historical work.

The heroic age


Almost two-thirds of the Shahnameh 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 Saka
Saka
The Saka were a Scythian tribe or group of tribes....

 or Sistānī
Sistan
Sīstān is a border region in eastern Iran , southwestern Afghanistan and northern tip of Southwestern Pakistan .-Etymology:...

 heroes who appear as the backbone of the Persian Empire. Garshāsp
Garshasp
Garshāsp is the name of a monster-slaying hero in Iranian mythology. The Avestan form of his name is Kərəsāspa and in Middle Persian his name is Kirsāsp.-Kərəsāspa / Kirsāsp in Zoroastrian literature:...

 is briefly mentioned with his son Narimān
Nariman (father of Sām)
Nariman is an ancient Persian name meaning "faith and brightness." The name was first referred to in the historic Shahname of Ferdowsi as son of Gorshtasb, and father of Sām who himself is grandfather of Rostam the hero ....

, whose own son Sām
Saam
Sām , also transliterated Saam, is a mythical hero of ancient Persia, and an important character in the Shahnameh epic. He was the son of Nariman, grandson of Garshasp and father to Zāl. He was Iran's champion during the rule of Fereydun, Manuchehr and Nowzar. He was appointed by Manuchehr to rule...

 acted as the leading paladin of Manuchehr while reigning in Sistān in his own right. His successors were his son Zāl
Zal
Zāl , also transliterated Zaal, is a legendary Persian warrior from the old Persian "The Book of Kings/ The king of books" or Shahnameh.-Background:...

 and Zal's son Rostam
Rostam
Rostam is the national hero of Greater Iran from Zabulistan in Persian mythology and son of Zal and Rudaba. In some ways, the position of Rostam in the historical tradition is parallel to that of Surena, the hero of the Carrhae. His figure was endowed with many features of the historical...

, the bravest of the brave, and then Farāmarz.

Among the stories described in this section are the romance of Zal and Rudāba
Rudaba
Rūdāba or Roodabeh is a Persian mythological female figure in Ferdowsi's epic Shahnameh. She is the princess of Kabul, daughter of Mehrab Kaboli, and later she becomes married to Zal, as they become lovers. They had two children, including Rostam, the main hero of the Shahnama.-Etymology:The word...

, the Seven Stages (or Labors) of Rostam, Rostam & Sohrāb
Rostam and Sohrab
Rustam and Sohrab is a tragedy from the Persian epic Shahnameh. It tells the tragic story of the heroes Rustam and his son, Sohrab.-Plot:...

, Sīyāvash
Siyâvash
Siavash or Siyāvush, from Avestan Syāvaršan, is a major figure in Ferdowsi's epic, the Shahnameh. He was a legendary Persian prince from the earliest days of the Persian Empire...

 & Sudāba
Sudabeh
Sudabeh is a character in Persian epic Shahnameh. She was princess of Hamavaran kingdom and later, she becomes the wife of Kay Kāvus, shah of Iran, and stepmother of prince Siyavash. She is most famous for her role in Siyavash choosing exile...

, Rostam & Akvān Dīv, the romance of Bižhan & Manížheh
Bijan and Manijeh
Bijan and Manijeh is a love story in Ferdowsi's Shahnameh . Bijan was the son of Giv, a great warrior of Iran during the reign of Kai Khosrow and Banu Goshasp, the heroine daughter of Rostam...

, the wars with Afrāsīyāb
Afrasiab
Afrasiab is the name of the mythical king and hero of Turan.-The Mythical King and Hero:According to the Shahnameh , by the Persian epic poet Ferdowsi, Afrasiab was the king and hero of Turan and an archenemy of Iran...

, Daqiqi's account of the story of Goshtāsp & Arjāsp, and Rostam & Esfandyār.

It is noteworthy that the legend of Rostam and Sohrāb
Rostam and Sohrab
Rustam and Sohrab is a tragedy from the Persian epic Shahnameh. It tells the tragic story of the heroes Rustam and his son, Sohrab.-Plot:...

 is attested only in the Shahnameh 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 Arsacid dynasty
Arsacid Dynasty
The Arsacid Dynasty may refer to:* Arsacid dynasty of Parthia, see List of Parthian kings*Arsacid Dynasty of Armenia*Arsacid dynasty of Iberia*Arsacid Dynasty of Caucasian Albania*List of rulers of Parthian sub-kingdoms...

 follows the history of Alexander and precedes that of Ardashir I, founder of the Sassanid Empire. After this, Sassanid history is related with a good deal of accuracy. The fall of the Sassanids and the Arab conquest of Persia
Islamic conquest of Persia
The Muslim conquest of Persia led to the end of the Sassanid Empire in 644, the fall of Sassanid dynasty in 651 and the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia...

 are narrated romantically.

The Shahnameh's message


Ferdowsi did not expect his readers to pass over historical events indifferently, but asked them 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 evils; instead one should strive for justice, honor, truth, order, and other virtues.

The singular message that the Shahnameh 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 Persian generations.

Role in culture



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-respecting 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), Vafadaari (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.

Ferdowsi wrote in the end of his Shahnameh:

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. Goethe was inspired by Persian literature, which moved him to write his famous "West-Eastern Divan". Goethe writes:

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 :

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

2) Dowlat Shah-i Samarqandi in his Tazkeret Al-Shu'ara (The Biography of poets)

3) Jami in his Baharestan.

4) Mohammad 'Awfi in his Lubab al-Albab.

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 Oregon University titled: "Ferdowsi: A Critical Biography"

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:.

1) Anvari
Anvari
Anvari , full name Awhad ad-Din 'Ali ibn Mohammad Khavarani or Awhad ad-Din 'Ali ibn Mahmud was one of the greatest Persian poets....

 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 we are his slaves".

2) Asadi Tusi
Asadi Tusi
Abu Mansur Ali ibn Ahmad Asadi Tusi is arguably the second most important Persian poet of the Iranian national epics, after Ferdowsi who also happens to come from the same town of Tus. He was a poet, a linguist and copyist of ancient manuscripts.- Life :The information on Asadi's lifetime is scant...

 was born in the same city as Ferdowsi. His Garshaspnama was inspired by the Shahnameh as he attests in the introduction. He praises Ferdowsi in the introduction
and considers Ferdowsi the greatest poet of his time

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 Mokhtari 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"

5) Sanai
Sanai
Hakim Abul-Majd Majdūd ibn Ādam Sanā'ī Ghaznavi was a Afghan Sufi poet who lived in Ghazna, in what is now Afghanistan between the 11th century and the 12th century. Some people spell his name as Sanayee. He died around 1131.-Life:...

 believes that in reality the foundation of poetry was established by Ferdowsi.

6) Nizami Ganjavi was influenced greatly by Ferdowsi and three of his five jewls had to do with pre-Islamic Persia. His Khosro-o-Shirin, Haft Peykar and Eskandar-nameh used the Shahnameh as a major source. Nizami remarks that Ferdowsi is "the wise sage of Tus" who beautified and decorated words like a new bride.

7) Khaghani of Shirvan who was the court poet of the Shirvanshah
Shirvanshah
Shirvanshah also spelled as Shīrwān Shāh or Sharwān Shāh, was the title in mediaeval Islamic times of an Arab in Ethnos but speedily Persianized dynasty within their culturally Persian environment. The Shirvanshah established a native state in Shirvan...

 has remarked about Ferdowsi:

8) Attar remarks about the poetry of Ferdowsi:

9) Sa'adi in a famous poem remarks:

10) Jami in his Baharestan 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-e Khoda o Rostam-e Dastan-am Arezoost" (The lion of God (Ali) and Rostam of Dastaan is what I seek) come to mind.

Persian historiography


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 historians who have praised the Shahnameh and Ferdowsi:

1) The unknown writer of the Tarikh Sistan (History of Sistan
Sistan
Sīstān is a border region in eastern Iran , southwestern Afghanistan and northern tip of Southwestern Pakistan .-Etymology:...

) (circa 1053 A.D.)

2) The unknown writer of Majmal al-Tawarikh wa Al-Qasas
Majmal al-tawarikh
Mojmal al-Tawarikh wa al-Qasas was a book written in Persia in 1126 CE by an unknown author. The title means "The Collection of histories and Tales"....

 (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
Ata al-Mulk Juvayni
Atâ-Malek Jovayni was a Persian historian who wrote an account of the Mongol Empire entitled Ta' rīkh-i jahān-gushā .He was born in Juvain, a city in Khorasan in northeastern Iran...

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

7) Hamdollah Qazwini also paid much attention to the Shahnameh and wrote his Zafarnameh 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
Ibn Athir
Ibn Athīr is the family name of three brothers, all famous in Arabian literature, born at Jazīrat ibn Umar in Cizre nowadays in south-eastern Turkey.-Majd ad-Dīn:...

 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".

Patronage of Shahnameh by different dynasties


The Shirvanshah
Shirvanshah
Shirvanshah also spelled as Shīrwān Shāh or Sharwān Shāh, was the title in mediaeval Islamic times of an Arab in Ethnos but speedily Persianized dynasty within their culturally Persian environment. The Shirvanshah established a native state in Shirvan...

 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 Leili o Majnoon. Nizami advises the king's son to read the Shahnameh and to remember the meaningful sayings of the wise.

According to the Turkish historian Mehmat Fuad Koprulu :

Shah Esmail Safavi was also deeply influenced by the Persian literary tradition
Persian literature
Persian literature spans two-and-a-half millennia, though much of the pre-Islamic material has been lost. Its sources have been within historical Persia including present-day Iran as well as regions of Central Asia where the Persian language has historically been the national language...

 of Iran, particularly by the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi was a highly revered Persian poet. He was the author of the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran and related societies.The Shahnameh was originally composed by Ferdowsi for the princes of the Samanid dynasty, who were responsible for a revival of Persian cultural traditions after the...

, which probably explains the fact that he named all of his sons after Shahnameh characters. Dickson and Welch suggest that Esmāil's "Shāhnāmaye Shāhī" was intended as a present to the young Tahmāsp. After defeating Muhammad Shaybāni's Uzbeks, Ismāil asked Hātefī, a famous poet from Jam (Khorasan), to write a Shahnameh 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.

Linguistic impact


After Ferdowsi's Shahnameh, 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 Shahnameh, but none of them could quite achieve the same degree of fame and popularity.

Some experts believe the main reason the Modern Persian language
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 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 Shahnameh which have had lasting and profound cultural and linguistic influence. In other words, the Shahnameh 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 Shahnameh in their works. This is also due to the fact that Ferdowsi went to great lengths to avoid any words drawn from the Arabic language
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 – which had increasingly infiltrated the Persian language following the Arab conquest of Persia in the 7th century. Ferdowsi followed this path not only to preserve and purify the Persian language, but also as a stark political statement against the Arab conquest of Persia. This assertion has been called into question by Mohammed Moinfar, who has noted that there are numerous examples of Arabic words in the Shahnameh which are effectively synonyms for Persian words previously used in the text. This calls into question the idea of Ferdowsi's deliberate eschewing of Arabic words.

The Shahnameh has 62 stories, 990 chapters, and some 60,000 rhyming couplets, making it more than three times the length of Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

's Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

, and more than twelve times the length of the German Nibelungenlied
Nibelungenlied
The Nibelungenlied, translated as The Song of the Nibelungs, is an epic poem in Middle High German. The story tells of dragon-slayer Siegfried at the court of the Burgundians, how he was murdered, and of his wife Kriemhild's revenge....

. According to Ferdowsi, the final edition of the Shahnameh 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
Nizami Arudhi Samarqandi
Ahmad ibn Umar ibn Alī, known as Nizamī-i Arūzī-i Samarqandī and also Arudi , was a Persian poet and prose writer who flourished between 1110 and 1161 AD. He is particularly famous for his Chahar Maqala , his only work to fully survive.Born in Samarqand, Aruzi spent most of his time in Khorasan...

 reports that the final edition of the Shahnameh sent to the court of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni
Mahmud of Ghazni
Mahmud of Ghazni , actually ', was the most prominent ruler of the Ghaznavid dynasty who ruled from 997 until his death in 1030 in the eastern Iranian lands. Mahmud turned the former provincial city of Ghazni into the wealthy capital of an extensive empire which covered most of today's Iran,...

 was prepared in seven volumes.

English translations


There have been a number of English translations, almost all abridged. James Atkinson
James Atkinson (Persian scholar)
James Atkinson was a surgeon, artist and Persian scholar - "a Renaissance man among Anglo-Indians" - Early life :Atkinson was born in Darlington, County Durham, England, the son of a woolcomber...

 of the Honourable East India Company's medical service was the first to undertake a translation into English in his 1832 publication for the Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland, now part of the Royal Asiatic Society
Royal Asiatic Society
The Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland was established, according to its Royal Charter of 11 August 1824, to further "the investigation of subjects connected with and for the encouragement of science, literature and the arts in relation to Asia." From its incorporation the Society...

.

In 1925, the brothers Arthur & Edmond Warner published the complete work in nine volumes, now out of print. A recent translation by Dick Davis has made this epic poem accessible for English speakers. The translation is a combination of poetry and prose, although it is not a complete translation of the Shahnameh.

Influence beyond the Persian sphere


Professor Victoria Arakelova of Yerevan University states:

Professor Jamshid Sh. Giunshvili remarks on the connection of Georgian culture with that of Shahnama: Furthermore he remarks:

Matthew Arnold
Matthew Arnold
Matthew Arnold was a British poet and cultural critic who worked as an inspector of schools. He was the son of Thomas Arnold, the famed headmaster of Rugby School, and brother to both Tom Arnold, literary professor, and William Delafield Arnold, novelist and colonial administrator...

 used a famous episode from the epic as the basis of his poem Sohrab and Rustum
Sohrab and Rustum
Sohrab and Rustum: An Episode is a narrative poem with strong tragic themes first published in 1853 by Matthew Arnold. The poem retells a famous episode from Ferdowsi's Persian epic Shahnameh relating how the great warrior Rustum unwittingly slew his long-lost son Sohrab in single combat...

(1853).

Shahnama and Georgians


Georgian versions of the Šāh-nāma are quite popular, and the stories of Rostam and Sohrāb, or Bījan and Maniža became part of Georgian folklore. Georgians consider the translations of the Shahnama as part of their native literature.

Shahnama and its influence on Turks and Mongol/Turk/Turcophone dynasties


Despite some popular belief, the Turan
Turan
Tūrān is the Persian name for Central Asia, literally meaning "the land of the Tur". As described below, the original Turanians are an Iranian tribe of the Avestan age. As a people the "Turanian" are one of the two Iranian peoples both descending from the Persian Fereydun but with different...

ians of Shahnama (whose sources are based on Avesta and Pahlavi texts) have no relationship with the ethno-liguistic group Turk
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

 today. The Turanians of Shahnama are an Iranian people
Iranian peoples
The Iranian peoples are an Indo-European ethnic-linguistic group, consisting of the speakers of Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family, as such forming a branch of Indo-European-speaking peoples...

 representing Iranian nomads of the Steppes and have no relationship to the culture of Turks . Turan or Persian for the areas of Central Asia beyond the Oxus up to the 7th century (where the story of the Shahnama ends) was generally an Iranian speaking land. According to Prof. Richard Frye: "The extent of influence of the Iranian epic is shown by the Turks who accepted it as their own ancient history as well as that of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

... The Turks were so much influenced by this cycle of stories that in the eleventh century AD we find the Qarakhanid dynasty in Central Asia calling itself the 'family of Afrasiyab' and so it is known in the Islamic history”. Turks, as an ethno-linguistic group have been influenced by the Shahnama since advent of Saljuqs. Toghrul III of Seljuq
Toghrul III of Seljuq
Toghrul III was the last sultan of the Great Seljuq Empire.The son of sultan Arslan Shah, he succeeded him in 1175 or 1176. In 1190 he tried to free itself from the tutelage of the Atabeg of Azerbaijan, Kizil Arslan, but he was overthrown and imprisoned by the latter, who proclaimed himself sultan...

s is said to have recited the Shahnama while swinging his mace in battle. The Saljuqs decorated the walls of Konya and Sivas with the verses of the Shahnama. According to Ibn Bibi, in 618/1221 the Saljuq of Rum Ala' al-Din Kay-kubad decorated the walls of Konya and Sivas with verses from the Shah-nama. Mehmed Fuad Kopruli has mentioned that:" 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 Khosrow
Kai Khosrow is a legendary king of the Kayanian dynasty and a character in the Persian epic book, Shahnameh. He was the son of the Iranian prince Siavash who married princess Farangis of Turan while in exile. Before Kai Khosrow was born, his father was murdered in Turan by his maternal grandfather...

, Kai-Ka us, and Kai-Qubad
Kai Kobad
Kai Kobad is a mythological figure of Iranian folklore and oral tradition. The 'Kai' stock epithet identifies Kobad as a Kayanian, a mythological dynasty that in tradition Kai Kobad was also the founder of....

; and that. Ala' al-Din Kai-Qubad I had some passages from the Shahname inscribed on the walls of Konya and Sivas.".

The Turks themselves connected their origin not with Turkish tribal history but with the Turan
Turan
Tūrān is the Persian name for Central Asia, literally meaning "the land of the Tur". As described below, the original Turanians are an Iranian tribe of the Avestan age. As a people the "Turanian" are one of the two Iranian peoples both descending from the Persian Fereydun but with different...

 of Shahnama. Specifically in India, through the Shahnama, they felt themselves to be the last outpost tied to the civilized world by the thread of Iranianism.

The great Mongol Shahnama is one of the most illustrative and important Shahnama's produced during the reign of the Ilkhanid Sultan Abu Sa'id. The Timurids continued this tradition. For the Timurids, it was considered de rigueur for the members of the family to have personal copies of the epic poem. Consequently, three of Timur’s grandsons—Bāysonḡor, Ebrāhim Solṭān, and Moḥammad Juki—each commissioned such a volume. Among these, the Baysonghori Shahnama manuscripted commissioned by the Timurid prince Ḡīāṯ-al-Dīn Bāysonḡor b. Šāhroḵ is one of the most voluminous and artistic of all Šāh-nāma manuscripts.

The production of illustrated Šāh-nāma manuscripts in the 15th century remained vigorous during the Qarā-Qoyunlu or Black Sheep (1380-1468) and Āq Qoyunlu or White Sheep (1378-1508) Turkman dynasties. Many of the extant illustrated copies, with more than seventy or more paintings, are attributable to Tabriz
Tabriz
Tabriz is the fourth largest city and one of the historical capitals of Iran and the capital of East Azerbaijan Province. Situated at an altitude of 1,350 meters at the junction of the Quri River and Aji River, it was the second largest city in Iran until the late 1960s, one of its former...

, Shiraz
Shiraz
Shiraz may refer to:* Shiraz, Iran, a city in Iran* Shiraz County, an administrative subdivision of Iran* Vosketap, Armenia, formerly called ShirazPeople:* Hovhannes Shiraz, Armenian poet* Ara Shiraz, Armenian sculptor...

, and Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 beginning in about the 1450s-60s and continuing to the end of the century

The Safavid era saw a resurgence of Shahnama productions. Shah Esmail I used the epic for propaganda purposes: as a gesture of Persian patriotism, as a celebration of renewed Persian rule, and as a reassertion of Persian royal authority. The Safavids commisioned elaborate copies of the Shahnameh to support their legitimacy. Among the high points of Shahnama illustrations was the series of 250 minatures which illustrated the Shahnameh commissioned by Shah Ismail for his son Shah Tahmasp.

The Qajar king of Iran, Agha Muhammad Khan recited verses of the Shahnama to encourage his troop.

Illustrated copies


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. The Bayasanghori Shâhnâmeh, an illuminated manuscript
Illuminated manuscript
An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented by the addition of decoration, such as decorated initials, borders and miniature illustrations...

 copy of the work (Golestan Palace, Iran), is included in UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

's Memory of the World Register
Memory of the World Programme
UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme is an international initiative launched to safeguard the documentary heritage of humanity against collective amnesia, neglect, the ravages of time and climatic conditions, and willful and deliberate destruction...

of cultural heritage items.

In honor of the Shahnama's millennial anniversary, in 2010 the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery joins the Freer Gallery of Art to form the Smithsonian Institution's national museums of Asian art. The Sackler celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary in 2012....

 of the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

 in Washington, D.C. hosted an exhibition of beautifully illustrated folios from the 14th through the 16th centuries. "Shahnama: 1000 Years of the Persian Book of Kings", on view October 2010 - April 2011, coincided with a museum celebration of Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

Editions


A handful of scholarly editions has been prepared of the Shahnameh. An early edition was prepared in 1829 in India by T. Macan. It was based on a comparison of 17 manuscript copies. Between 1838–78, an edition appeared in Paris by French scholar J. Mohl, who based it on a comparison of 30 manuscripts. Both editions lacked the critical apparatus and were based on secondary manuscripts that had appeared after the 15th century; much later than the original work. Between 1877 and 1884 the German scholar J. A. Vullers prepared a synthesized text of the Macan and Mohl editions, but only three of the excepted nine volumes of his edition were published during 1877–1884. The Vullers edition was later completed in Tehran by the Iranian scholars S. Nafisi, Iqbal and M. Minowi for the millennial jubilee of Ferdowsi, held between 1934 and 1936.

The first modern critical edition of the Shah-nameh was prepared by a Russian team led by E. E. Bertel, using the oldest known manuscript copies, dating from the 13th and 14th centuries, with heavy reliance on the 1276 manuscript from the British Museum and the Leningrad manuscript, dated 1333, of which the latter has now been considered a secondary manuscript. In addition to this, two other manuscripts used in this edition have been so demoted. It was published in Moscow by the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in nine volumes between 1960–71. Since 1971 a new edition of the Shahnameh has been undergoing republication in Tehran, however only excerpts were published and it reached a preliminary end at the same time of the Islamic Revolution.

For many years, the Moscow edition was the standard text. A new critical edition has been in preparation since 1990 by Dr. Djalal Khaleghi-Motlagh, using as its chief text the relatively recent discovery of the Florence manuscript in 1977, dated 1217, which makes it one of the earliest surviving ones, predating the Moghul invasion and the following destruction of important libraries and manuscript collections. The number of manuscript that were consulted during the preparation of Khaleghi-Motlagh edition goes beyond anything attempted by the Moscow team, and the critical apparatus is extensive and there is a large number of recorded variants of many parts of the poem. The last volume was published in 2008, bringing the eight volume enterprise to a completion. It is "by far the best edition of the Shahnameh available, and it is surely likely to remain such for a very long time" according to Dick Davis, professor of Persian at Ohio state University.

See also

  • Rostam and Sohrab (opera)
    Rostam and Sohrab (opera)
    Rostam and Sohrab is an opera by Loris Tjeknavorian. It is based on Shahnameh. Its composition took 25 years. In 1963, Professor Carl Orff granted Loris Tjeknavorian a scholarship, which allowed him to reside in Salzburg and to complete his opera in Austria....

  • Persian Trilogy
    Persian Trilogy
    Persian Trilogy is a set of three orchestral works composed by Iranian classical musician, Behzad Ranjbaran.All three works were inspired by stories from Shahnameh, the Book of Kings, the great Persian epic poem written by legendary Iranian poet Ferdowsi....

  • Shâhnameh Characters
  • Flying Throne of Kai Kavus
    Flying Throne of Kai Kavus
    Kay Kāvus is a mythological shah of Iran and a character in the Shāhnāmeh. He is the son of Kay Qobād and the father of prince Seyāvash. Kāvus rules Iran for one hundred and fifty years during which he is frequently though increasingly grudgingly aided by the famous hero Rostam...

  • Vis o Ramin (A similar book to Shâhnameh but deals with Parthia
    Parthia
    Parthia is a region of north-eastern Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire....

    n legendary stories)
  • Iranian festivals
    Iranian festivals
    - Iranian Festivals :* Nowruz: the word now means new and the word ruz means day, so nowruz means starting a new day and it is the Celebration of the start of spring...

  • Shahrokh Meskoob
    Shahrokh Meskoob
    Shahrokh Meskoob , was an outstanding Iranian writer, translator, scholar and University professor. He had been living in Paris, France for twenty years.-Works:...

  • Mir Jalaleddin Kazzazi
    Mir Jalaleddin Kazzazi
    Mir Jalaleddin Kazzazi is an outstanding master of Persian literature and a renowned Iranist.Kazzazi is known for his works on Shahnama. M.J...


Sources and references


Poet Moniruddin Yusuf (1919-1987) translated the full version of 'Shahnameh' into the Bengali Language (1963-1981). It was published by the National Organisation of Bangladesh 'Bangla Academy', in 6 volumes, in February 1991.

Persian text

  • A. E. Bertels (editor), Shax-nāme: Kriticheskij Tekst, 9 volumes (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo Nauka, 1960–71) (scholarly Persian text)
  • Jalal Khāleghi Motlagh (editor), The Shahnameh, in 12 volumes consisting of eight volumes of text and four volumes of explanatory notes. (Bibliotheca Persica, 1988–2009) (scholarly Persian text). See: Center for Iranian Studies, Columbia University.

Adaptations


Further reading

  • Hassan Anvari, Ancient Iran's Geographical Position in Shah-Nameh (Iran Chamber Society, 2004).
  • Shirzad Aghaee, Imazh-ha-ye mehr va mah dar Shahnama-ye Ferdousi (Sun and Moon in the Shahnama of Ferdousi, Spånga, Sweden, 1997. (ISBN 91-630-5369-1)
  • Shirzad Aghaee, Nam-e kasan va ja'i-ha dar Shahnama-ye Ferdousi (Personalities and Places in the Shahnama of Ferdousi, Nyköping, Sweden, 1993. (ISBN 91-630-1959-0)

External links