Volume. 11973

New edition of Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp unveiled in Tehran
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A copy of the new edition of the Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp, which was published in Iran, is on display at the Iranian Academy of Arts on April 28, 2014. (Mehr/Masud Saki)
A copy of the new edition of the Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp, which was published in Iran, is on display at the Iranian Academy of Arts on April 28, 2014. (Mehr/Masud Saki)
TEHRAN -- A new edition of the Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp was unveiled during a special ceremony in Tehran on Monday.

The version was published by the Iranian Academy of Arts (IAA) and the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art.

A large group of literati and Shahnameh experts including Jalal Khaleqi and Mir Jalaleddin Kazzazi along with Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati, IAA Director Ali Mo’allem Damghani, and a number of other cultural officials attended the ceremony, which was held at the IAA.

“The Shahnameh is the national identity of Iranians and the report card for the religion of Shiism,” Mo’allem Damghani said during his speech at the ceremony.

“During the reign of sultan Mahmud of Ghazna, Ferdowsi gathered part of the Iranian myths with the help of Zoroastrian priests and with his divine skills, composed the legends in a book that is one of the best examples of an epic in the world,” he added.

In addressing the ceremony, Culture Minister Jannati said, “The Shahnameh has been a source of inspiration for artists, poets, writers, thespians, musicians and calligraphers over the past millennium.”   
“This version of the Shahnameh crossed the boundaries of the history and geography. American and European scholars and art experts spent years studying the work and expressed their sincere love for it,” he added.

The Shahnameh Shah Tahmasp, also known as the Shahnama-ye Shahi, is one of four historical copies of Ferdowsi’s epic masterpiece.
The edition, which is considered to be the most magnificently illustrated copy of the epic ever produced in the history of Persian painting, was commissioned by the Safavid king Shah Tahmasp in the 16th century.

Shortly afterwards, the Safavid royal court sent the manuscript to the Ottoman sultan Selim II (r. 1566–1574) as a gift to congratulate him on his accession to the throne.

The manuscript was kept at the library of the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. However, it surfaced in the private library of Baron Maurice de Rothschild, a rich French Jewish national, in Paris in the early 20th century.

He died in 1957 and the American collector Arthur Houghton acquired the manuscript from the Rothschild estate.

Houghton began gifting and selling individual pages of the manuscript to collectors and museums allegedly to escape from paying tax.

Only 120 Persian miniatures and the binding of the original remained in Houghton’s estate after he died in 1990. Subsequently, the miniatures and the binding were sold at auction for a price of $20 million. However, the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art acquired the manuscript in exchange for De Kooning’s “Woman III”.

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has 78 pages from the Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp in its collection.

Copies of the book, which was recently been published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Iranian publisher Vijeh Nashr, are on sale at the 27th Tehran International Book Fair.

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