State Library of Victoria \ Exhibitions \ Love and devotion
Skip to main content
Love and Devotion: From Persia and Beyond

Love and Devotion: From Persia and Beyond


Abuʾl Qasim, known as Firdausi (meaning 'from Paradise'), lived 940–circa 1020. He was a native of Tus, near Mashhad in Khorasan, in north-eastern Iran, and a member of that region's landed aristocracy, which was much diminished by this time.

Firdausi dedicated his life to the writing of the Shahnama (Book of kings), his epic history and account of the legends of ancient Persia. Completed in the year 1010, the Shahnama, a lengthy poetic work of almost 60,000 couplets, is considered the longest poem ever written by a single person.

Firdausi wrote his verses in the final years of the culturally significant Samanid Dynasty, just before the Central Asian Turkic leader Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna (r 999–1030) overran Persian rulers. He eventually presented his epic to this new foreign ruler, to whom he is reported to have felt enormous resentment at not being adequately rewarded for his lifetime’s work.

Love & devotion in the UK

The Bodleian Libraries is showing its own presentation of the Love and devotion exhibition at the Exhibition Room, Bodleian Library, in Oxford, England, between 29 November 2012 and 28 April 2013.

Learn more about how you can visit this exhibition on the Bodleian Libraries website.


Love and devotion: Persian Cultural Crossroads

This two-day conference held in April 2012 featured distinguished international guests and Australian specialists exploring cultural convergences in literature, the arts and architecture, history and philosophy within Persia's cultural sphere and Europe, from the 11th century to the present day.

For information on keynote speakers & topics discussed, visit our conference page

Visit the exhibition

The Love and devotion exhibition took place from 9 March to 1 July 2012. In-depth information about the exhibits and themes can be found on this website.

State Library of Victoria, 328 Swanston Street,
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, Tel +61 3 8664 7000