This year’s MELCOM (Middle East Libraries Committee) ‘UK’ meeting is being held in Dublin on 25 June. To celebrate this, an exhibition featuring some of the Manuscripts & Archives Research Library’s Middle-Eastern materials has been installed in the Long Room, accompanied by a virtual exhibition online.
Chief among the exhibits is a 19th-century copy of the ‘Shahnameh’ (alt. ‘Shahnama’) or the Book of Kings. Written by the 11th-century poet Firdausi, the Shahnameh, completed in eastern Iran in March 1010, is a work of mythology, history, literature and propaganda; a living poem that pervades and expresses many aspects of Persian culture. The Shahnameh contains approximately 50,000 verses and is generally divided into mythical, legendary and historical sections.
Another even older copy of the work forms part of the Preservation & Conservation: What’s That? exhibition also on display in the Long Room, along with some clay tablets from modern-day Iraq. The cuneiform script on these artefacts is the earliest-known form of script.
Included in the Book of Kings exhibition is an Iman’s wooden staff, of uncertain age, which is inscribed with verses from the Koran; an eighteenth century Arabic manuscript from Yemen, with a decorated leather satchel; and a copy of a thirteenth-century Syriac grammar from South-East Turkey, dating from 1578.
Take a look at M&ARL’s Asian, Middle Eastern and Ethiopic manuscripts website for more information about the Middle-Eastern collection.
Caoimhe Ní Ghormáin