Interesting read !!!
On Monday, March 7th we discussed Kalila wa Dimna (Kalila and Dimna), a bestseller for almost two thousand years in countless languages (first written in Arabic in 750 AD – the first work of literary prose narrative in Arabic). These charming and humorous animal fables have found their way into the folklore of every major culture and tradition.
Author’s Discussion: We were joined by the author Hooda Shawa Qaddumi, whose latest book, The Animals vs the Humans at the Court of the King of the Jinn, is an ecological tale inspired by an offshoot of the Kalila wa dimna tales – the Epistles of the Brethren of Purity and the animal fable genre, and beautifully illustrated by the calligrapher Hassan Musa.
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Sir Aga Khan III, the 48th Imam of Ismaili Muslims, whose birth anniversary is being commemorated today (Friday), was a staunch advocate of education, particularly for women. His contributions in the sectors of political rehabilitation, health, education and social development of Muslims around the world are unprecedented.
Acknowledging his commitment to the educational development of Muslims, Sir Aga Khan III was nominated as a member of the Imperial Legislative Council by Viceroy Lord Curzon in 1902 when he was 25 years old.
The foundation of the current education and health system being run under the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) was laid by him and is being currently administered by His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan…
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(15th November – 11th December 2010)
Ranked with some of the world’s greatest literature like the Mahabharata and the Iliad, the Shahnama or ‘Persian Epic of Kings’ is at the heart of an exhibition being held at The Prince’s Foundation Gallery, London. The ‘Contemporary Shahnama Millennium Painting Exhibition’ celebrates the importance of the epic poem a thousand years after the great Iranian poet Firdausi composed it in 1010 CE.
Invoked over the centuries as “a political statement against power and tyranny”, Shahnama’s concern with universal values and deepening of human conscience makes it an enduring text for all times.
There is much that is groundbreaking in the new readings of the Shahnama and this is exemplified in the essays and images of the exhibition. Representations of the epic’s main hero Rostam, for example, range from his traditional depictions as heroic warrior, to comical de-gendered macho, digital war machine, and Talibanic demon. Likewise, some of the Catalogue essays unveil a surprising facet of Shahnama women. Bold and confident, these women show remarkable perseverance as individuals, taking a stand especially when it comes to choosing their lovers, or raising sons as single parent.
In addition, the illustrations and essays of the exhibition Catalogue examine the epic’s importance in a turbulent region spanning Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran—a region that largely constitutes the poem’s theatre of action and is the epicentre of extremist Islamic insurgencies today that are both a product and response to the ‘global war on terror’. A vibrant array of artists and academics from Afghanistan, Australia, Britain, France, Iran, India, Pakistan and Russia who created this exhibition are testament to Shahnama’s relevance in a nascent global culture where the creation of new consciousness is a heroic act.
Originally designed to accompany the exhibition of Shahnama manuscripts and paintings that opened in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge (11 September 2010 – 9 January 2011), the exhibition at Prince’s Foundation is curated by miniature painter Fatima Zahra Hassan-Agha. She organized the exhibition in association with Charles Melville, Director of the Cambridge Shahnama project, The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts and the National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan .