One Text, Many Interpretations: an Illustrated Overview of the Shahnama across Time and Materials

Date: 09 December 2015
9 December 2015, 17:00
Jaimee K. Comstock-Skipp, MA, Fulbright Researcher
The Persian Shahnama epic, or Book of Kings,  chronicles the pre-Islamic history of Iran and Central Asia. It is attributed  to the Persian poet Firdausi in the eleventh century although its tales come  from oral traditions that predate him, which can be seen on seventh-century  wall paintings from Panjekent. The talk will explore the artistic legacies  generated by the tales across ceramics, manuscripts, and contemporary comic  books, and then present a case study of sixteenth-century manuscripts from the  Safavid, Shaybanid-Uzbek, and Mughal realms. Firdausi’s text was used by these  rival political powers to suit their individual aims and economic interests.  Firdausi's narrations of battles between the Iranian and Turanian zones had  real parallels to historical battles in the regions. Despite the Shahnama text remaining more or less the same, Safavids, Shaybanids, and Mughals  interpreted the tales and their  characters differently based on their geographical locations and political  aims.
Jaimee obtained a BA from the University of California, Berkeley with a major in Near Eastern Studies specializing in Islamic Civilizations, an MA from the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art in 2012, and a second MA from The Courtauld Institute of Art in London in 2015 where she studied Mongol through Safavid Persian book arts. She learned Farsi and Tajiki in Tajikistan. Based in Dushanbe through June 2016, her Fulbright project investigates Tajik cultural and artistic history and heritage with regards to manuscript and wall paintings that portray subject matter from the Persian Shahnama epic.
The presentation will be conducted in English.
University of Central Asia, 47A Druzhba Narodov, Dushanbe, Conference Room.
Please RSVP to  with your name and affiliation. 
* The views presented in this lecture are those of the presenter and not necessarily those of the University of Central Asia or any of its staff


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