Ferdowsi's epic poem Shahnameh is part myth, part history-it begins with the legend of the birth of the Persian nation and its tumultuous history. It contains magical birds, and superhuman heroes, and centuries-long battles. Written over 1,000 years ago, it was meant to protect Persian collective memory amdist a turbulent sea cultural storms. Originally written in couplets, the new translation and adaptation by Ahmad Sadri retells the mythological tales in prose format. The spectacular illustrations in this edition were created from elements culled from thousands of illuminated manuscripts, lithographs, and miniatures dating from the thirteenth through nineteenth centuries, each panel becomes a new work of art, an exquisite collage of traditional forms.
A little over a thousand years ago the Persian poet Ferdowsi of Tous collected and put into heroic verse the millennium-old mythological and epic traditions of Iran. It took him thirty years to write the sixty thousand verses that comprise the Shahnameh or The Book of Kings . This monumental work begins with legends of the birth of the Persian nationhood and ends with the Arab conquest of Iran. Written in the aftermath of that national trauma, Shahnameh was meant to harbor the Persian collective memory, language, and culture in a turbulent sea of many historical storms. Hamid Rahmanian is a 2014 John Guggenheim Fellow, filmmaker, and graphic artist whose work has been exhibited in international competitions and publications. His narrative and documentary films have premiered at festivals such as Sundance, Toronto, Tribeca, and Venice, and have gained international recognition for their socially conscious storylines. He also worked for Disney. Ahmad Sadri is currently professor of Sociology and Anthropology and James P. Gorter Chair of Islamic World Studies at Lake Forest College. He has written two books in Persian: Reviving the Concept of Civilizations, and An Apocalypse soon. Sheila Canby is the Patti Cadby Birch Curator in Charge of the Department of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She lives in New York City.