Nezami must be depicted with his original Iranian identity: official 

February 23, 2022 - 18:44

TEHRAN – Iranian culture minister aide Mahmud Shalui said on Tuesday that Persian poet Nezami Ganjavi must be portrayed to the world with his original Iranian identity.

The Republic of Azerbaijan has made claims on Nezami, the greatest romantic epic poet in Persian literature, who lived during the 12th and early 13th centuries. He brought a colloquial and realistic style to the Persian epic. 

In addition, the State Museum of Oriental Art in Moscow organized an exhibition in 2021, showcasing artworks inspired by Nezami Ganjavi. The museum erroneously called Nezami an Azerbaijani poet. However, his masterpieces have been composed entirely in Persian, without even a single verse in the Azerbaijani language.

Shalui, who is also the director of a commemoration program for Nezami scheduled to be held in March, said, “Some countries have organized meetings to commemorate the great poet and we praise such movements, but he must be introduced with his original Iranian identity.”

Speaking in a press conference, he said, “Nezami is an important figure in the culture of Iran and the world, and he has had an influence on numerous cultural, literary and artistic works.”

He noted that little has been known about Nezami and added, “However, there are few people in Iran who have not heard of his poems; most Iranians have heard about his Leili and Majnun, Shirin and Farhad or a single verse from his poems.” 

The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance plans to commemorate Nezami in a weeklong program beginning on Esfand 21 in the Iranian calendar year (March 12), which is celebrated by Iran as Nezami Day every year.   

“A day is not sufficient to commemorate Nezami, therefore, we have allocated a week to honoring the great Iranian poet and its supplements will even continue until late April,” Shalui said.

The Iranian National Commission for UNESCO has also launched an international prize to celebrate studies from across the world on the Persian poet Nemazi Ganjavi.

The first edition of the prize will be presented on Nezami Day.

In line with the program, Iran’s cultural centers across the world will also be playing host to several meetings and celebrations.

Nezami Ganjavi (c. 1141-1209 CE) is mostly known for “Khamseh”, two copies of which are preserved in Iran were inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register list in 2011.

“Khamseh” is a pentalogy of poems written in Masnavi verse form (rhymed couplets) with a total of 30,000 couplets. 

These five poems include the didactic work Makhzan ol-Asrar (The Treasury of Mysteries); the three traditional love stories of Khosrow and Shirin, Leili and Majnun, and Haft Paykar; and the Eskandar-nameh, which records the adventures of Alexander the Great.

As part of the program, a rare copy of Nezami’s “Khamseh”, which is preserved at the library of the Shahid Motahhari School and Mosque in Tehran, will be showcased in an exhibition.

The copy and another edition, which is kept at the Central Library of the University of Tehran, are the ones that were registered by UNESCO.

Photo: Culture minister aide Mahmud Shalui attends a press conference at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art on February 22, 2022, to brief the media about a weeklong program for the commemoration of Nezami Ganjavi. (Honaronline/Gata Ziatabari)

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