Home Women Queens, Warriors, and Lovers: Women in Iran's Book of Kings
Queens, Warriors, and Lovers: Women in Iran's Book of Kings PDF Print E-mail


A program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Sunday, October 17, 2010 -- 2-3 pm, Remis Auditorium

Celebrate the 1,000-year anniversary of the Shahnama (Iran's Book of Kings) with art, storytelling, music, and dance. Laura Weinstein, curator of the exhibition "Romantic Interludes: Women in Firdawsi's Shahnama," discusses artistic traditions in the epic poem; scholar Olga Davidson explores stories about the poem's fascinating female characters; and Mesma Belsare performs a dance choreographed specifically for this event.

Reception follows.

Mesma Belsare, choreographer and dancer
Olga Davidson, visiting associate professor, Wellesley College
Laura Weinstein, Ananda Coomaraswamy Curator of South Asian and Islamic Art

The event is sponsored by Galleria Florentia

Firdawsi's "Shahnama": Manizha Entertains Bizhan
Persian, Timurid, Late 15th century
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
34.5 x 24.3 cm (13 9/16 x 9 9/16 in.)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Gift of John Goelet

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General admission $18
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Firdawsi's "Shahnama": 'Zal and Rudaba'
Indian, Sultanate, Sultanate period, late 15th century
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper Denman Waldo Ross Collection

The Shahnama, often called the "national epic" of Iran, was completed around the year 1010 by the Persian poet Abu'l Qasim Firdawsi. A vast and complex poem, it opens with the creation of the world and concludes with the Muslim conquest of Iran in the mid-seventh century, thus comprising myth, legend, and history. Some 45,000 lines are filled with a rich panoply of characters—kings, queens, princes, princesses, heroes, lovers, warriors, villains, and magical creatures. Copied and illustrated countless times over the centuries, the Shahnama's immense popularity and influence extend well beyond the borders of Iran.

The MFA, Boston, along with companion exhibitions at the Harvard Art Museum and the Houghton Library beginning in June 2010, marks a millennium of Shahnama inspiration by looking at different aspects of the poem. The MFA's exhibition explores the theme of women in the Shahnama. Although in Firdawsi's text stories about male heroes vastly outnumber those concerning women, women are at the heart of some of the poem's most famous and popular stories.  The paintings selected for this exhibition illuminate the stories of a number of resourceful and fascinating female characters.

Firdawsi's "Shahnama": Manizha Entertains Bizhan
Persian, Late 15th century Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
*Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Gift of John Goelet



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