Exhibition - “A Thousand Years of the Persian Book”

Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building,
10 E. First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.

Free and open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

The exhibition  will explore the rich literary tradition of the Persian language over the last millennium, from illuminated manuscripts to contemporary publications. It will bring attention to the literary achievements of Iran and the greater Persian-speaking regions of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Central and South Asia and the Caucasus.

The exhibition’s 75 items are drawn primarily from the outstanding Persian collection in the Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division (http://www.loc.gov/rr/amed/). The Library’s Persian collection is among the most important in the world today outside of Iran.

The exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA: see http://www.paaia.org/CMS/loc-exhibition.aspx), Ambassador Hushang Ansary, Jawad Kamel, Nazie Eftekhari and other generous donors.

The exhibition will feature, among many others, the poetry of Rumi, Sa’adi, Hafez, Omar Khayam, and Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh. The exhibit will showcase classic Persian masterpieces such as Sa’adi’s Bustan and Gulistan, Jami’s ‘Uruz -i Jami, the Divan-i Hafiz, and Khayyam’s Rubaiyat. It will also feature a number of Qurans with Persian designs and decorative motifs, lithographs such as the Iskandarnameh (the Book of Alexander), ancient maps of Iran, and unique calligraphy texts. Unique in its breadth, it will include a display of works from modern poets and writers, such as Sadegh Hedayat, Nima Yushij, Forough Farokhzad, and Sohrab Sepehri.

In conjunction with the exhibition, a series of lectures at the Library of Congress will take place from April through September, organized by AMED and cosponsored by the Roshan Institute for Persian Studies at the University of Maryland, with the generous support of the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute based in Hawaii. A schedule of the lectures will be forthcoming.

Persian language and literature has a long tradition and a unique place in the history of world literature. It is one of the world’s oldest and best-known literatures - its use coming into prominence as a literary language and a cultural lingua franca over a thousand years ago. As a literary and cultural language, Persian was used mainly in Central, South and West Asia; however, among cultural elite, the use of Persian covered a vast area that reached the bay of Bengal to the east of India, throughout the Caucasus region reaching the borders of southern Russia to the north, in Iraq and the Persian Gulf to the south and in Ottoman lands of Anatolia, the Balkans and many parts of the eastern Mediterranean to the west. For nearly five centuries, Persian was the official language of the Indian court used throughout the subcontinent and beyond.

Over the centuries, Persian literature has influenced the cultural and literary traditions of modern nations such as India, Pakistan, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Turkey. Presently, Persian is the official language or a major language spoken and in use in nation states of Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Its impact on world literature and history cannot be underscored and should be celebrated.

For more information:

Office of Communications
Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave., S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20540-1600


Voice: 202.707.2905
Fax: 202.707.9199
Email: pao@loc.gov

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