News & Events

News
10 Jun 2014

On Saturday, May 24th, Global philanthropist Bita Daryabari and speakers from around the globe gathered to celebrate the official opening of the Shahnama Centre for Persian Studies ( http://persian.pem.cam.ac.uk ) at Pembroke College in Cambridge, England. At the opening event, Daryabari spoke passionately about the Shahnama Centre, noting, "We can offer the world a more accurate image of Iran." The benefaction will fund the continued study of the Persian national epic, the Shahnama or The Book of Kings by Abu'l-Qasim Hasan Firdausi and its crucial role in the formation of the Iranian cultural identity throughout the ages to present day.

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News
2 Jun 2014

It is hard to imagine another modern culture more in thrall to its distant literary past than Iranians with their Shahnama, the national epic composed by the poet Ferdowsi in the eleventh century. With its luminous array of villains, heroes, and demons, and stories probing the struggle of love against betrayal and good against evil, the Book of Kings is at once a retelling of Persian history before the Arabic conquest and a repository of literary myths that places Ferdowsi alongside Shakespeare and Homer as one of the great giants of storytelling. The Shahnama exerts a profound emotional and psychological hold over Iranians to this day, and the epic remains central to contemporary Iranian identity, a perennial cultural refuge in turbulent political times.

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News
27 May 2014

“Being originally from Russia, working on this project with the British, I realise we are sort of the worst possible candidates from the Iranian point of view to organise the preservation of Persian culture.” Dr Firuza Abdullaeva gives a self-deprecating smile to a chorus of knowing chuckles. As Head of Pembroke College’s Shahnameh Centre for Persian Studies, inaugurated this Saturday, Dr Abdullaeva has every reason to smile.  The Shahnameh Centre is the culmination of a project founded by Professor Charles Melville in 1999, and despite the superfluous ghosts of old wrongs, any misgivings could be formed only in error. In their passion, neither Melville nor Abdullaeva could be doubted (the latter named at least three paintings from the ‘Time Forward’ exhibition as her favourites, and may well have elucidated more had she had time). Both are giants in their field, and continue the impressive tradition of research into Persian culture which has existed in Pembroke since at least the 1880s, and which has included such eminent...

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News
25 May 2014

The donation means that the College’s “phenomenal tradition” of Oriental and Persian studies can continue. Pembroke alumnus E.G. Browne was famously one of the first Western scholars to publish works on Persia, even having a street named after him in Tehran.

The centre will acquire an extensive library of books and publications on Persian literature and culture.

The Shahnama Centre is a development of The Shahnama Project, founded by Professor Charles Melville in 1999. It has an online database of illustrated manuscripts of the Shahnama, Book of Kings...

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