This coffee table book is the result of my deep fascination for one of the greatest masterpieces of world literature - the Shahnameh (also known as the Book of Kings); and the history of the ancient Persian dynasties starting with the Pishdadian Dynasty, believed to be in and around 4500 BCE, all the way to the Sasanian Dynasty, which lasted until 651 CE and the one that still influences Persian identity to this day. This book deals with the period which is considered pre-historic. Information on the Pishdadian Dynasty is virtually non-existent, with the exception of the Shahnameh, and the ancient Avesta and Pahlavi literature. The portrayal of rulers and the occurring events under this dynasty is, therefore, considered mythical. Yet, it is interesting to note that the names of a few of the kings and heroes of this period are referenced in the Zoroastrian holy scriptures - the most important being the Gathas – the divine hymns composed by the Prophet Zarathushtra, Himself.
The Shahnameh by Hakim Abolqasem Firdausi Tusi, which is composed of 60,000 couplets, beautifully covers a huge panorama of conflict and epic adventures of the ancient Persian Empires. Through its poetic language, the reader readily gains a compelling sense of emotion arising from a myriad of heart-wrenching episodes. This mammoth work by the legendary poet was completed in March 1010 CE, marking over a millennium that this epic has been thoroughly enjoyed and admired by millions across the globe. Firdausi’s text is centered on the reigns of fifty monarchs, and acts as a royal chronicle.
This book addresses the episodes of the Shahnameh, during the reigns of the Pishdadian Kings. I have attempted to abbreviate these stories through an illustrative flow for each episode, with relevant short text. These famous illustrations originated between the 14th and 18th century CE, from the miniature paintings - some of which are among the most magnificent masterpieces of Persian art.