In celebration of the Persian New Year, also known as Nowruz, the Library of Congress has digitized and made available online for the first time the Rare Persian-Language Manuscript Collection, which sheds light on scientific, religious, philosophical and literary topics that are highly valued in the Persian speaking lands.
This collection, including 150 manuscripts with some dating back to the 13th century, also reflects the diversity of religious and confessional traditions within the Persian culture.
From the 10th century to the present, Persian became the cultural language for a large region stretching from West Asia to Central and South Asia. Today, Persian is the native language spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and some regions of Central and South Asia and the Caucasus.
The unique manuscripts feature beautifully illuminated anthologies of poetry by classic and lesser known poets, written in fine calligraphic styles and illustrated. It includes the Shahnamah, an epic poem that recounts the history of pre-Islamic Persia. Also, it contains the most beloved poems of the Persian poets Saadi, Hafez, Rumi and Jami, along with works of the poet Nizami Ganjavi.
One of the historic materials addresses the life of Shah Jahan (1592–1666), a ruler of India from the Mughal dynasty, during whose reign the Taj Mahal and other architectural wonders were built. Other items highlight a gold leaf map that clearly demonstrates how the world was viewed in the medieval Islamic period and Quran manuscripts with Persian explanations and elaborate calligraphy.
The collection was digitally preserved by the Library of Congress at https://www.loc.gov/collections/persian-language-rare-materials/
The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States – and extensive materials from around the world – both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office.