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Love and Devotion: From Persia and Beyond

Love and Devotion: From Persia and Beyond


The 13th-century poet Saʿdi was one of the foremost practitioners of the art of the ghazal. A native of Shiraz, his pen name refers to his eventual patron, Prince Saʿd ibn Zangi.

The poet's earlier life was marked by extensive travel outside Iran; like many others at that time, he fled the invading Mongols. He travelled as far as Baghdad, Egypt and Mecca, and was reputedly imprisoned by Crusaders. More than 20 years later he returned to his hometown and his most productive years as a writer.

His Gulistan (The rose garden) and its companion work Bustan (The orchard) are regarded as prime examples of the literary genre of andarz, or 'moral tales'.

Saʿdi wrote both works in Shiraz, and they consist of pious stories in the form of fables addressed to princes. The tales are infused with Sufi mystic ideas and imagery, widely accepted and understood in literary and intellectual circles in Iran at this time.

These two poems, along with Saʿdi's lyrical works, are revered to this day in Iran. Since Saʿdi's death in 1292 his tomb in Shiraz has become a shrine for literary pilgrims.

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.

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