February 26, 2014 "A Thousand Years of the Persian Book" Exhibition Opens at Library of Congress March 27

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Hirad Dinavari (202) 707-4518
Contact: Images available; contact Donna Urschel | View the exhibition online.

An exhibition at the Library of Congress will explore the rich literary tradition of the Persian language over the last millennium, from illuminated manuscripts to contemporary publications. The exhibition 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.

“A Thousand Years of the Persian Book” will open on Thursday, March 27 in the South Gallery on the second level of the Library’s 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 close on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014.

The exhibition’s 75 items are drawn primarily from the outstanding Persian collection in the Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division. 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), Ambassador Hushang Ansary, Jawad Kamel, Nazie Eftekhari and other generous donors.

The Persian language gained prominence as a literary and common cultural language about a thousand years ago. Since then, a rich and varied written and spoken heritage has developed in the Persian language, elevating the visibility of the Persian civilization among world intellectual traditions. That tradition is particularly strong in the fields of storytelling, poetry, folklore, and literature, with important contributions in historiography, science, religion, and philosophy.

The exhibition will look at the Persian language and earlier writing systems and scripts; the seminal 10th-century “Shahnameh” (Book of Kings); and works in the fields of religion, science and technology, history, literature, classical Persian poetry, 18th- and 19th-century literature, modern and contemporary literature, women writers, and storytelling and children’s literature. The exhibition will also demonstrate the continuity of the written word as a unifying cultural force in Persian-speaking lands.

The lead curator of the exhibition is Hirad Dinavari, reference specialist for the Iranian World Collections in the Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division (AMED). The exhibition director is Cynthia Wayne of the Library’s Interpretive Programs Office.

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.

The Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division is the center for the study of 78 countries and regions from Southern Africa to the Maghreb and from the Middle East and the Caucasus to Central Asia. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/rr/amed/.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 158 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at www.loc.gov.


PR 14-037
ISSN 0731-3527