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Shahnameh - The Epic of Persian Kings

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A gorgeous rendition of  Shahnameh that invites everyone to discover the rich and diverse traditions of the Persian culture.

Shahnameh: The Epic of the Persian Kings is a new illustrated edition of the classic work written over one thousand years ago by Abolqasem Ferdowsi, one of Persia’s greatest poets. This new prose translation of the national epic is illuminated with over 500 pages of illustrations and will be published in April 2013.

The lush and intricate illustrations in this edition have been created by award-winning graphic artist and filmmaker Hamid Rahmanian, incorporating images from the pictorial tradition of the Persianate world from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries. The new translation and adaptation by Ahmad Sadri, retells the mythological and epic stories of the original poem in prose format. This Shahnameh is an extraordinary literary and artistic accomplishment.

Published by The Quantuck Lane Press, distributed by W. W. Norton & Company
Hardcover with slipcase, 592 pages, 500+ four-color illustrations
ISBN 978-1-59372-051-3

 

Limited Editions

We have created a sumptuous limited edition of this Shahnameh especially for collectors, book lovers and Shahnameh aficionados. This red leather-bound beauty comes enclosed in a stunning printed, black cloth-bound box. The book has gilded edges, a ribbon marker and the book cover is embossed in gold. It is numbered and signed by the artist.

This edition of 299 will sell out quickly, so be sure to place your order early. It will make an enduring gift for close friends, family and colleagues and will be treasured for generations to come.

Swipe through the slideshow.

About Shahnameh

A little over a thousand years ago a Persian poet named 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 (The Book of Kings). This monumental tome is one of the most important literary works of Iran and like other great epics, such as Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, Nibelungenlied and Ramayana, it is a record of the human imaginative consciousness. It is well known and has been adapted through out the Near East, Central Asia and India but is mostly unknown in the West.

The stories of the Shahnameh tell the long history of the Iranian people. It begins with the creation of the world and the origin myths of the arts of civilization (fire, cooking, metallurgy, social structures, etc.) and ends with the Arab conquest of Persia in the seventh century, A.C.E. A mix of myth and history, the characters of Shahnameh take the readers on heroic adventures filled with superhuman champions, magical creatures, heart-wrenching love stories, and centuries-long battles.

Ferdowsi was grieved by the fall of the Persian Empire. Shahnameh was meant to harbor the Persian collective memory, language, and culture amidst a turbulent sea of many historical storms and to preserve the nostalgia of Persia’s golden days.

Heroes of Shahnameh are often torn between incompatible loyalties: moral duty against group obligations, filial piety against national honor, etc. Some Iranian kings and heroes appear in Shahnameh as shining examples of courage and nobility. Others are portrayed as flawed human beings who lose their divine “charisma,” their loved ones, and even their own lives to pettiness and hubris. 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 order, justice, honor. truth and other virtues.

Shahnameh has survived as the embodiment of the pre-Islamic Persian soul, but it is much more than a national treasure. As a document of human collective consciousness, it reflects the dilemmas of the human condition as it confronts us with the timeless questions of our existence.

The present version covers the brief mythological opening of Shahnameh as well as the main bulk of its epic stories. The last one third of the book that is dedicated to the tales of the last pre-Islamic dynasty of Iran and the Arab conquest is not part of this version of Shahnameh.

 

Team

Hamid Rahmanian – Project Creator, Illustrator, Designer

Hamid Rahmanian is an award-winning filmmaker and graphic artist whose work has been exhibited in international competitions and publications. His narrative and documentary films have premiered at Venice, Sundance, Toronto, Tribeca, and IDFA film festivals. He has won numerous international awards and his works have been televised on international networks, including PBS, Sundance Channel, IFC, Channel 4, BBC, DR2, and Al Jazeera. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. For more information visit:www.hamidrahmanian.com

Dr. Ahmad Sadri, Translation and Adaptation

Ahmad Sadri is professor of Sociology and Anthropology and James P. Gorter Chair of Islamic World Studies at Lake Forest College. He is the author of Max Weber’s Sociology of Intellectuals published by Oxford University Press and selected as the 1993 academic book of the year by Choice, the publication of American Library Association. He has written two books in Persian, Reviving the Concept of Civilizations and An Apocalypse Soon, and his published translations include Saddam City (from Arabic) and Reason, Freedom and Democracy in Islam (from Persian). He lives in Gurnee, Illinois.

Melissa Hibbard, Editorial Director

Melissa Hibbard is an independent writer and producer. Her latest film, THE GLASS HOUSE (2008), produced in association with the Sundance Channel received several awards including the prestigious Human Rights Award (OSCE). Her films have been well received by critics and audiences and have been part of Sundance, Tribeca, Venice, IDFA and Toronto film festivals and been broadcast on international networks around the world.  She lives in Brooklyn New York.  For more information visit www.fictionvillestudio.com

Sheila Canby, Foreword

Sheila Canby is the Curator in Charge of the Islamic Art Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Previously she was Curator of Islamic Collections at the British Museum. Her publications include Persian Painting and The Golden Age of Persian Art. She lives in New York City.

Jim Mairs, Publisher – Quantuck Lane Press

Jim Mairs has been an editor at Norton for over forty years. The critically acclaimed RED BOOK of Carl Jung is one of his recent accomplishments. Ten years ago he started his own company, The Quantuck Lane Press, where he specializes in beautifully produced books on art and other imaginative subjects.

This book is a production of Fictionville Studio
Fiscal Sponsorship provided by Rattapallax
Website developed by Mani Nilchiani

 

 

 

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Events

Upcoming Events:

We’ll be all over the place this spring, including John Hopkins University, Library of Congress and Pasfarda
Check back for more details.

Previous Events:

  • September 25: New York University, Jerry H. Labowitz Theatre for the Performing Arts > more info
  • July 20, 21: Tirgan Festival, Toronto, Canada > more info
  • April 30: Halsey Institute for Contemporary Art, Charleston, SC
  • April 2: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles > more info
  • April 6: Levantine Cultural Center, Los Angeles > more info
  • April 11: Stanford University, San Francisco
  • April 19: Lake Forest College, Chicago
  • APril 20: DePaul Museum, Chicago
  • March 20: Library of Congress, DC - 12:00 -2:00 PM  |  The African Middle Eastern Reading Room
  • March 6: Asia Society, NYC - 6:30 – 8:00 PM  |   725 Park Avenue, New York, NY > more info
  • March 9: Asia Society, Houston - 2:00 – 3:30 PM  |  1370 Southmore Blvd.  Houston, TX > more info
  • Dec 7: A Public Space, Brooklyn – A book preview, sponsored by Rattapallax and the New York Council for the Humanities
  • Sept 13: Columbia University, Department of Iranian Studies, NYC

Press

“Epic Iranian tale gets intimate upgrade… For all of its many adaptations, [Shahnameh] has remained largely unknown in the west except in scholarly circles and among Iranians. But New York–based artist Hamid Rahmanian’s recent illustrated rendition with translator Ahmad Sadri of, Shahnameh: The Epic of the Persian Kings could change that.” — The Guardian

“This edition is simply breathtaking: 600 illustrations dance across every page, each telling a story in a thousand intricate and beautiful artistic flourishes. Accompanied by a translation of the text that is charming, accessible, and rich in the nuances of the Persian language, it is a treasure that will be cherished and handed down to subsequent generations.” Huffington Post

“The illustrations of this Shahnameh, while totally dependent on the art of the past, most closely evoke the fantasy literature of today in visual form. Thanks to the dramatic dynamism of Ferdowsi’s epic, its contemporary interpretation in images is a vibrant feast for the imagination, making this a Shahnameh for the digital age.”  — Sheila Canby, Curator in Charge of the Department of Islamic Art at the MET Museum; formerly Curator of Islamic Art and Antiquities at The British Museum

“An Iranian epic for the masses”CNN international

“Shahnameh, a Persian Masterpiece, Still Relevant Today.” — The Wall Street Journal

“This  illustrated tome will bring new, vivid life to the epic tales of the ancient Persian kings.”
The Atlantic

“Your efforts will help in furthering the public recognition of Shahnameh and the ancient culture of Iran.  You have thus made a work that pleases the mind as well as the eye.”
— Dr. Jalal Khaleghi Motlagh, author and editor of the most critical version of Shahnameh in eight volumes (2011)

“A magnificent book both conceptually and technically… Extraordinary combinations of diverse styles from across the centuries.”   — Charles Melville, University of Cambridge

“…An outstanding literary and artistic job that pleases the ordinary reader while remaining attractive to the experts among us.” —Dr. Mahmoud Omidsalaar, Author of “Politics of Iran’s National Epic, the Shahnameh”

Press Kit Downloads:

Press Release  |  Press Release in Persian

Hamid Rahmanian – Photo  |  Full Bio
Ahmad Sadri – Photo  |  Full Bio

Short Bios  |  Shahnameh Factoids

Download images for press and publicity.

Contact Us:

For other inquiries, please contact us.

Coverage:

CNN
NPR
Huffington Post
The Guardian
The Wall Street Journal
The Atlantic
Reorient
BBC (Persian)
VOA (Persian)
Al Monitor
Asia Society A video presentation of the book event on March 6th, 2013, moderated by Sheila Canby.

Process

The images of this edition of Shahnameh are comprised of thousands of single elements taken from hundreds of miniatures, illuminations, and lithographs. The visual elements used in this book were collected from the pictorial world of Iran, Mughal India, and the Ottoman Empire and span four (from the fifteenth to the mid-nineteenth) centuries. The sources of these images are diverse and they include a vast array of folios, not only from the Shahnameh but from other tales as well.

Swipe through the slideshow.


Listen to an interview with Ahmad Sadri as he discusses the unique qualities of this new translation and adaption of the Shahnameh.

Watch as Hamid Rahmanian explains how the images are produced in the three short videos below:

Order

Shahnameh: The Epic of the Persian Kings goes is now on sale.

Purchase your copy of the book below. Orders will be filled and shipped immediately.

The Limited Edition will be shipping out on May 15th.

If you would like to order more than two books and for international orders, contact us directly