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Arthur Houghton- Travels in Iran by a citizen of the Great Satan

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

11:30 AM - 1:30 PM

Luncheon at the Sailfish Club

I went to Iran at the invitation of Mahdi Hojat, former deputy minister of culture, and at the instance of Nariman Hamed, an Iranian -American film producer-director, who is working on the story of the return of the Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp. 

 As you know the Shannameh -- "Book of Kings" -- is Iran's (Persia) national treasure, an epic poem of 50,000 couplets, created between 977 and 1010 by Abu'l Qasim Ferdowsi It tells of the mythical and historical past of the Persian Empire from the creation of the world until the Arab conquest of Iran in the 7th century. The work is of central importance in Persian culture and Persian language, regarded as a literary masterpiece, and definitive of the national identity of current-day Iran. The Shahnameh of Shah Tamahsp is the most sumptuously illustrated version known of Ferdowsi's epic poem. Completed in the 1530s, it included 759 folios, 256 of which were painted by the greatest court artists of the time. It was presented by Tamahsp to Sultan Selim II in 1568, and disappeared into the Ottoman Library for over three hundred years. It reappeared mysteriously in the hands of the Rothschild family, disappeared again, was taken among other Rothschild possessions by the Nazis, then restored to the family after World War II. Maurice de Rothschild consigned it to Rosenberg and Steibel in 1953.  My father was persuaded to buy it, and did so in 1959, for $350,000, a high sum at the time. 

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