Shahnameh: The Epic of the Persian Kings

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    Hamid Rahmanian (Iranian, b. 1968). 'The White Demon Attacks.' Digital print. Courtesy of the artist.

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    Hamid Rahmanian (Iranian, b. 1968). 'Zaul and the Simorgh' (detail), digital print. Courtesy of the artist.

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    Hamid Rahmanian (Iranian, b. 1968). 'The Nightmare of Siavosh.' Digital print. Courtesy of the artist.

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    Hamid Rahmanian (Iranian, b. 1968). ‘Ahreman Kills Siamak’ (detail). Digital print. Courtesy of the artist.

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    Hamid Rahmanian (Iranian, b. 1968). ‘Birth of Shoghad’ (detail). Digital print. Courtesy of the artist.

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    Hamid Rahmanian (Iranian, b. 1968). ‘Sam Dreaming’ (detail). Digital print. Courtesy of the artist.

  • Exhib_slideshow_exhibition_zahhakinvadespersia

    Hamid Rahmanian (Iranian, b. 1968). ‘Zahhak Invades Persia’ (detail). Digital print. Courtesy of the artist.

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April 02, 2015 - July 26, 2015
Honolulu Museum of Art

Exhibition Overview

During Doris Duke’s Shangri La: Architecture, Landscape, and Islamic Art, Shangri La The Center for Islamic Art’s residency program welcomes Iranian filmmaker and graphic designer Hamid Rahmanian. As part of the residency, the Honolulu Museum of Art presents Shahnameh: The Epic of the Persian Kings, an exhibition of Rahmanian’s innovative illustrations of the Shahnameh, or Epic of the Persian Kings, one of the great classics of world literature. Consisting of some 50,000 verses, the Shahnameh was composed by the poet Ferdowsi in the late 10th to early 11th centuries, but its origins trace back much earlier, and it follows the history of the Persian empire from its mythical origins to the end of the Sassanian period in the 7th century.

In 2013, after thousands of hours of work over more than five years, Rahmanian published a critically acclaimed newly illustrated edition of the Shahnameh, reviving once again its significance for a contemporary audience. Intended to make the epic accessible to a new generation of readers, the bold, dynamic illustrations seamlessly update the traditional aesthetics of historic Shahnameh imagery. Rahmanian brilliantly took 15th- to 19th-century Iranian, Mughal Indian, and Ottoman miniature paintings as his source material, transforming them through digital editing into an entirely novel way of illustrating the text.

The exhibition is part of a larger series of events promoting arts and culture from the Islamic world, presented in conjunction with Doris Duke’s Shangri La: Architecture, Landscape and Islamic Art.

Hear the NPR story 'Heart' of Iranian Identity Reimagined for a New Generation

Read The Atlantic story Shahnameh, Re-Imagined: A Colorful New Vision of Old Iranian Folklore

Read The Guardian's article Epic Iranian Tale Gets Intimate Upgrade

Presented by

Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute is registered as a private nonprofit foundation sponsoring activities and programs with a primary focus of preservation, transmission, and instruction of Persian culture. The Institute develops initiatives in support of cultural and educational activities that bring to light the richness and diversity of Persian culture.