Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Treasure: Shahnamah

If you've got any interest in Central Asian stuff, go out of your way to the Asia Society Museum in New York City before May  2 to visit Muhammad Juki's Shahnama.   That would be 30-odd lovingly illustrated text-pages from the Iranian Book of Kings (King-Shah, get it?), created around the beginning of the 15th Century (jn what is now Afghanistan, but forget that).   It's a masterpiece in its own right, but more: when Babur, later in the same line,descended into the Ganges Valley and created the Mughal Empire, he took it with him; it generated a tradition of Mughal painting that extends virtually to this day.  There are some marvelous online resources (here is "Rustam slaying the White Div"), but there is nothing like a trip to the museum itself.  It's a small show and the pictures are small (they provide complimentary magnifiers), and while I can't pretend to have seen everything, this is surely one of the best in town.

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