Two rare manuscript copies of Nezami’s Khamseh showcased at Mashhad exhibit

March 8, 2022 - 18:58

TEHRAN – Two rare manuscript copies of Persian poet Nezami Ganjavi’s Khamseh dating back to almost 650 years ago were showcased in an exhibition in Mashhad on Sunday.   

The exhibition underway at the Astan-e Qods Razavi Museum and Library is a prelude to a massive program Iran plans to organize next week to commemorate the greatest romantic epic poet in Persian literature, who brought a colloquial and realistic style to the Persian epic.

One of the copies has been written in thulth style calligraphy on 268 folios in 27 lines on each. Titles of the chapters have been calligraphed with golden and lapis lazuli inks. The two opening pages have been fully decorated with illuminations.

The other copy has been inscribed by Ahmad ibn Mohammad in naskh, which is melded perfectly with the taliq style of Iranian calligraphers. The opening folio of each chapter has been embellished with illuminations. 

Nezami’s reputation rests on the Khamseh which is a pentalogy of poems written in masnavi verse form (rhymed couplets) and totaling 30,000 couplets.

The collection includes the didactic work Makhzan ol-Asrar (The Treasury of Mysteries), 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.

Rare copies of the Khamseh are kept in Iranian libraries, but the two versions kept at the Central Library of the University of Tehran and the library of the Shahid Motahhari School and Mosque in Tehran were added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register list in 2011.

Speaking during the opening ceremony of the exhibition, Iranian culture minister aide Mahmud Shalui, who is also the director of the commemoration program for Nezami, said, “Nezami Ganjavi is one of the guardians of Persian literature and language, and many programs should be organized every year to commemorate the great poet.”

He pointed to the modern society’s necessity for spirituality and noted, “In all his works, this world-renowned Persian poet is presenting spiritual thoughts, which can be useful for the world.”  

Iran plans to commemorate Nezami Ganjavi 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.

Photo: An expert (L) briefs a group of cultural officials visiting an exhibition of artworks and books on poet Nezami Ganjavi at the Astan-e Qods Razavi Museum and Library in Mashhad on March 6, 2022.


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