Firdausi’s Shahnama is a manual on kingship, wisdom, love, and magic


I’ve reached the end of this great history
And all the land will talk of me
I shall not die, these seeds I’ve sown will save
My name and reputation from the grave,
And men of sense and wisdom will proclaim,
When I have gone, my praises and my fame.

Extracted from Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings, translated by Dick Davis

The Shahnama (The Book of King), composed by the Persian poet Firdausi (940-1020) around the year 1000, comprises more than 60,000 rhyming couplets, telling the story of Persia (modern-day Iran) from the time of creation to its conquest by Muslims in the seventh century. Partly legend, partly historic, it is also a manual on kingship, a collection of heroic tales, and a long essay on wisdom, love, warfare, and magic, structured around four successive dynasties, each representing the various phases of human history, seen from the Iranian…

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Somali American Artists Create a Space All Their Own by Sheila Dickinson For Hyperallergic



The Enduring Power of Southeast Asia’s Traditional Shadow Puppets by Claire Voon – Hyperallergic


For centuries, shadow puppet theater not only captivated audiences across Southeast Asia but also held ritual significance for various local communities. Held outdoors at night, the performances unfolded around the simple setup of a stretched white cloth, lit by an oil lamp, on which the shadows of puppets would dance to orchestral music. Spectators would watch from both sides of the cloth; so rather than existing as simple black cutouts, many of these puppets boasted colorful, detailed designs, often crafted by the puppeteers themselves. The British Museum owns over 700 of these objects from Southeast Asia alone, and 85 from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand are now on view in an ongoing exhibition. Used to dramatize folktales, local traditions, and epic tales, these ogres, clowns, villagers, court figures, and other characters today represent some of the oldest relics of a community activity that has experienced great change in the last few decades.

“Once, shadow theater performances in Southeast Asia were exclusively ritual activities that also provided entertainment,” curator Dr. Alexandra Green told Hyperallergic. “Even today, they can retain ritual significance. Performances summon helpful spirits and dispel harmful ones, purify individuals and communities, ensure successful harvests, and offer blessings to all attending. During performances, puppeteers recite sacred incantations and make offerings.”