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A Thousand Years of the Persian Book

A new exhibition at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC offers a glimpse into Persian language and its rich literary tradition. The exhibition titled "One Thousand Years of The Persian Book" showcases the Library's unique Persian collection that is among the world's most important outside of Iran. Persian gained prominence as a lingua franca about a thousand years ago, culturally uniting pre-Islamic dynasties from the Mughal empire in the east to the ottoman empire in the Mediterranean and the Balkans. Today Persian is spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan and also in some parts of Uzbekistan. The exhibition includes 75 items including a copy of the epic poem "the Shahnameh"(The Book of Kings) from 1618 and contemprary literary books from Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan including work by the father of modern Persian poetry Nimayoushij, Tajik intellectual Sadredin Ayni and Afghanistan foremost 20 century poet and historian Khalilullah Khalili. The exhibition has several sections including one on the Persian scripts and its evolution throughout the years and another on important literary work by women writers and poets including Forough Farokhzad and Zoya Pirzad. The lead curator of the exhibition, Hirad Dinavari, told RFE/RL that the goal of the exhibition was to introduce the Persian language to a Western and American audience, as well as help Persian speakers have a better understanding of their own heritage. "We're showcasing the diversity. We're showing the various faith traditions, various ethnicities that have contributed to the Persian book and also women and fields such as science, religion, history as well as the major portion, which is literature, "Dinavari said.

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