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Exhibition -- Epic of the Persian Kings: The Art of Ferdowsi's Shahnameh

An exhibition of works from British collections dedicated to the Shahnameh: manuscripts and single detached folios, ceramics, metalwork and textiles.

11 September 2010 - 9 January 2011
The Mellon Gallery, Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street
Cambridge CB2 1RB

Giv chides Bizhan for failing to defeat Forud
Copyright The Fitzwilliam Museum

Organised by

The Fitzwilliam Museum and presented with support from Iran Heritage Foundation.

Curated by

Dr. Barbara Brend, Independent scholar supported by Prof. Charles Melville, University of Cambridge and Director of the Shahnama Project.


This landmark exhibition explores the monumental artistic legacy of one of the world's greatest literary epics: the 1000 year-old Persian 'Book of Kings', or Shahnameh.

Completed by the poet Ferdowsi in 1010 AD, this vast narrative poem telling the 'Iranian version' of the history of the world is an icon of Persian culture, inspiring some of the world's most exquisite manuscripts. To mark the passing of a millennium since its completion, this exhibition brings together nearly one hundred paintings from these lavishly illustrated manuscripts spanning 800 years, in the most comprehensive exhibition of Shahnameh art yet mounted in this country.

Drawing from public and private collections in the UK including the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle, the British Museum, the British Library, the V&A, the Royal Asiatic Society, The Bodleian Library and collections within Cambridge, Epic of the Persian Kings presents a captivating literary and artistic tradition little known to many in the West.

Exhibition Catalogue

A fully illustrated academic catalogue edited by Professor Charles Melville and Dr Barbara Brend, with introductory essays by several leading specialists on Ferdowsi and The Shahnameh is published by I.B. Tauris and available in the Museum shop.

Admission Free

Related Events

For a review of associated talks, lectures, courses, films, public debate, literary evenings, music and children's events click here.


The Iran Heritage Foundation, 5 Stanhope Gate, London W1K 1AH 
Tel: +44 20 7493 4766, Fax: +44 20 7499 9293

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