Nezami’s reputation rests on his Khamseh, which is a pentalogy of poems written in Masnavi verse form (rhymed couplets) and totaling 30,000 couplets.
These five poems include the didactic work Makhzan ol-Asrar (The Treasury of Mysteries), three traditional love stories of Khosrow and Shirin, Leili and Majnun, and Haft Paykar, and the Eskandarnameh, which records the adventures of Alexander the Great.
There are various versions of the Khamseh in Iranian libraries, but the two versions kept at the Central Library of the University of Tehran and the library of the Shahid Motahhari School and Mosque in Tehran were inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register list in 2011.
The copy published by the Iranian Academy of Arts dates back to the reign of Shah Tahmasp (1524–1576), the Safavid king who commissioned artists to inscribe and illuminate the book.
A large number of cultural officials, including manager of the academy, Alireza Esmaeili, Academy of Persian Language and Literature director Gholam-Ali Haddad- Adel, and Deputy Culture Minister for Artistic Affairs Seyyed Mojtaba Hosseini, came together for a ceremony in Tehran to unveil a copy of the book.
Speaking at the ceremony, Esmaeili said that out of the venerable Persian texts some received significant attention by calligraphers and illustrators during the Safavid era such as the Khamseh and the Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp.
“The publication of this copy can help revive, preserve and promote the precious, old tradition of book designing and act as a source of inspiration for contemporary artists of our country,” he added.
“This copy has been published in collaboration with the Tehran Municipality to revive the cultural identity of Iran, making more Iranian citizens interested in classic Persian literature,” he said.
Haddad-Adel expressed thanks to the academy over the publication of the book and said, “In older times, a group of calligraphers, illustrators, and miniaturists gathered to create such a precious book. This indicates the depth of the art and cultural activity of this land, and the fine cultural management of Iran in those days.”
Mojtaba Hosseini also offered his appreciation to the academy over the publication of the book, and said, “Art is the light and the mirror; a light to show the future, and as much as this light is bright we will have a brighter future, giving us hope for more beautiful days to come.”
Folios of the book bearing beautiful miniature paintings are on view in an exhibition at the academy.
Nezami Ganjavi, who lived during the 12th century, is the greatest romantic epic poet in Persian literature who brought a colloquial and realistic style to the Persian epic.