Image above: The marriage of Yusuf and Zulaykha, from Jami, Yusuf u Zulaykha, 1595. Bodleian Library, University of Oxford / Courtesy State Library of Victoria
Love and Devotion: From Persia and Beyond, an exhibition developed by the State Library of Victoria in partnership with the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, will feature more than 60 rare Persian, Mughal Indian and Ottoman Turkish illustrated manuscripts from the 13th to 18th century, as well as, editions of European literature, travel books and maps.
These visually stunning works come from one of the richest periods in the history of the book and give a fascinating insight into the great artistic and literary culture of Persia and its timeless stories. The exhibition showcases classic Persian tales and reveals the extent to which Persian language and culture spread into neighbouring empires as well as parallels in the work of European writers dating back to Shakespeare, Chaucer and Dante.
‘Love and Devotion’ will show the many representations of human and divine love within the great narratives and poetry of Persian literature. Classic love stories by writers such as Nizami and Jami, as well as Firdausi’s Shahnama, or Book of Kings, Persia’s great literary epic, will be exhibited. Visitors will see works from the great Sufi poets such as Rumi and Hafiz, as well as the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyamand 1001 Nights, which have been enormously popular in the West as well as the East.
A prince and princess feasting on a terrace, from Hafiz, Divan, before 1717. Bodleian Library, University of Oxford / Courtesy State Library of Victoria
The State Library of Victoria is Australia’s oldest public library, founded in 1854. The State Library is Victoria’s largest public reference library housing a globally significant collection of printed material, ephemera, photographs, artworks and manuscripts. The Library maintains permanent exhibitions in the Cowen and Dome Galleries and displays temporary exhibitions, such as Love and Devotion in the Keith Murdoch Gallery. The Library receives 1.6 million visitors a year.
Bahram Gur visits the lady of Khwarazm in the Blue Pavilion, from Nava’i, Sab‘a Sayyara, 1553. Bodleian Library, University of Oxford / Courtesy State Library of Victoria
The Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford form the largest university library system in the United Kingdom. They include the principal University library—the Bodleian Library—which has been a library of legal deposit for 400 years; major research libraries; and libraries attached to faculties, departments and other institutions of the University. The combined library collections number more than 11 million printed items, in addition to 30,000 e-journals and vast quantities of materials in other formats. The Old Bodleian is also a major visitor attraction, drawing over 300,000 visitors a year.
The marriage of Yusuf and Zulaykha, from Jami, Yusuf u Zulaykha, 1595. Bodleian Library, University of Oxford / Courtesy State Library of Victoria
A full program of events and activities will support the exhibition, including lectures, musical performances, community days and a conference. A lavishly illustrated publication based on the exhibition will also be available.
‘Love and Devotion’ will only show in Melbourne while in Australia. It will then be exhibited at the historic Bodleian Libraries, the University of Oxford, England in late 2012.
Love and Devotion: From Persia and Beyond
Friday 9 March 2012 - Sunday 1 July 2012
State Library of Victoria, Keith Murdoch Gallery