Epic of the Persian Kings
the Art of Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh
Author(s): B. Brend
Reviewed by: Sean Swanick, McGill University, Canada
The book under review was written by two of the foremost scholars of the Shahnameh text and (Persian) illustrations, Dr Charles Melville of Cambridge University and Dr Barbara Brend, an independent scholar. This work commemorates 1000 years of the Shahnameh with a particular focus on the illustrations that came to define Persian art from the Timurid to the Qajar periods and even up to the present. Furthermore, this publication works in conjunction with an exhibition currently on display at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.
The work itself is well-conceived. The authors have made a conscientious effort to bridge the gap between an overly scholarly work and the general audience for whom this work may be their first introduction to Persianate culture and society. With this in mind, the work commences with an introductory note on the Shahnameh. This is followed by four essays and then the illustrations which are the centrepiece of this latest Shahnameh publication.