The cartoon conference of the birds

The British Library is busy digitising their Persian manuscripts (with help from IHF), and are starting to show off the results. Maybe I should confess that my favourite Mantiq al-Tayr manuscript is the one in the  Metropolitan Museum. This was finished in 1487; with more illlustrations added by Shah Abbas in the early seventeenth century, …

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Blowing someone else’s huge metal trumpet

Every day at dawn and dusk (and whenever a sick pilgrim gets healed), kettle-drums are beaten and long metal trumpets are blown in Mashhad. The 1910 photo here shows the naqqāra-ḵāna: the name used for the ensemble of musicians as well as the place where the performance takes place. Click here (and then on ‘live …

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Eating pearls and the lucky woodlouse for a great New Year

Percy Sykes is best known as spy, consul and military man in Eastern Persia. But, with a Persian author, Khan Bahadur Ahmad Din Khan, he also wrote a “second Haji Baba, which would serve as a true picture of Persia [in around 1900], before constitutional reform appeared on the horizon”. This book is an important …

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