An Occasion for Commemorating the Composer of Shahnameh

The first day of month Bahman (January 19-21) is officially known as the birthday of Hakim Abul-Qasem Ferdawsi Tousi, born in Khorasan in a village near Tous in 940 CE. Ferdowsi is considered as the greatest Persian poet, author of the Shahnameh (The Epic of Kings), the Persian national epic, to which he gave its final and enduring form.
This work is one of the definite classics of the world, which tells hero tales of ancient Persia. The contents and the poet’s style in describing the events takes the readers back to the ancient times and makes he/she sense and feel the events. Ferdowsi worked for thirty years to finish this masterpiece.

Shahnameh is the history of Iran’s glorious past, preserved for all time in majestic verse. Though written about 1,000 years ago, this work is still considered the product of genius. This great work is a poem of nearly 60,000 couplets and one of its important features is that during the period when Arabic language was known as the dominant language of science and literature, Ferdowsi used only Persian in his masterpiece and he himself says “Persian language is revived by this work”.

Four elements, Iranian Nationality, wisdom, justice, and religion, were fundamental for Ferdowsi while he based Shahnameh in a square, each side of which expresses these elements and here he equals Iranian to freeman.
Shahnameh was completed in 1010 CE and was presented to the sultan Mahmoud of Ghaznavid, who by that time had made himself master of Ferdowsi’s homeland, Khorasan but this king did not praised the masterpiece.
According to the narrative of Nezami, some years later, Sultan Mahmoud had determined to make amends for his shabby treatment of the poet by sending him 60,000 dinars’ worth of indigo but Ferdowsi had just passed away in absolute poverty. Nezami does not mention the date of Ferdowsi’s death. The earliest date given by later authorities is 1020 and the latest 1026 CE; it is certain that he lived to be more than 80.

On this occasion, a number of commemorative ceremonies are held all over the world, including the International Seminar on Shahnama in Aligarh, inaugurated yesterday, during which Professor Charles Melville of Cambridge University, UK said that the Shahnameh has a very interesting life in India and several manuscripts of it are available in different Indian libraries.

In the official calendar of Iran, however, May 15 is marked as the World Day of Ferdowsi.