Shahnameh: The Epic of the Persian Kings

  • Exhib_slideshow_exhib_shahnameh

June 15, 2019 - March 08, 2020
Honolulu Museum of Art

Exhibition Overview

Consisting of some 50,000 verses, the Shahnameh, or Epic of the Persian Kings, follows the history of the Persian Empire from its mythical origins, and is one of the great classics of world literature. The Shahnameh’s stories provided inspiration for many of Asia’s most impressive artistic masterpieces, with an impact that lasted centuries beyond its creation. 

This exhibition will display new illustrations of Shahnameh episodes by Iranian designer Hamid Rahmanian (b. 1968). Intended to make the epic accessible to the next generation of readers, Rahmanian’s bold and dynamic works seamlessly update the traditional aesthetics of historic Shahnameh imagery. Rahmanian takes 15th–19th century Iranian, Mughal Indian, and Ottoman miniature paintings and transforms them through digital editing into an entirely novel way of illustrating the text. In addition to these contemporary works, historic paintings from the Shangri La Museum of Art, Culture & Design will be on view, showing not only how the Shahnameh was depicted in classical Persian painting, but also how Rahmanian’s work offers a remarkable reinterpretation of original source material.

This exhibition is a collaboration with


Hamid Rahmanian (b. 1968)
The Night Attack, 2013
Digital Print
Purchase with Funds from the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, 2015