PAAIA and Library of Congress to Celebrate Persian Language and Literature

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October 1, 2013
Contact: Saghi Modjtabai
(202) 828-8370


WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 1, 2013) – The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) today announced that it will be sponsoring an exhibition showcasing the Persian language and Persian literature at the U.S. Library of Congress. This first-ever exhibition of its kind, One Thousand Years of the Persian Book, will open in March 2014. The exhibition will provide a glimpse into the library’s unique Persian collection and the important role the Persian language has played in world history.
Persian literature has a long tradition and a unique place in  history. It is one of the world’s oldest and best-known literatures – Persian having come into prominence as a literary language and a cultural lingua franca over a thousand years ago. As a literary and cultural language, Persian was used mainly in Central, South and West Asia; however, among cultural elite, its use  covered a vast area that reached from the bay of Bengal to the  east of   India, to  the Caucasus region reaching the borders of southern Russia (to the north of Persia), and from  Iraq and the Persian Gulf to the south to the  Ottoman lands of Anatolia, the Balkans and many parts of the eastern Mediterranean to the west. For nearly five centuries, Persian was the official language of the Indian court, used throughout the subcontinent and beyond.
Over the centuries, Persian literature has influenced the cultural and literary traditions of modern nations such as India, Pakistan, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Turkey. Persian is presently the official language of (or a major language in use in) Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Its impact on world literature and history cannot be underestimated, and should be celebrated.
About the Exhibition
The exhibition will open in March 2014 for a six month period.  It will feature, among many others, the poetry of Rumi, Sa’adi, Hafez, Omar Khayam, and Ferdowsi. The exhibit will showcase classic Persian masterpieces, such as Sa’adi’s Bustan and Gulistan, Jami’s ‘Uruz -i Jami, the Divan-i- Hafiz, Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, and Khayyam’s Rubaiyat. It will also feature a number of Qurans with Persian designs and decorative motifs, lithographs such as the Iskandarnameh (the Book of Alexander), ancient maps of Iran, and unique calligraphy texts. Unique in its breadth, it will also include a display of works from modern poets and writers, such as Sadegh Hedayat, Nima Yushij, Forough Farokhzad, and Sohrab Sepehri.
The exhibition will be curated by Dr. Mary-Jane Deeb, Chief of the African and Middle Eastern Division (AMED), Dr. Christopher Murphy, the head of the Near East Section, and Mr. Hirad Dinavari, the Iranian World Reference Librarian.  It will be prominently displayed in one of the library’s premiere spaces in the landmark Thomas Jefferson Building, across from the U.S. Capitol.
Several other programs are planned in conjunction with the exhibition, including a series of seminars and lectures developed by the University of Maryland. The exhibition will also be offered on the Library of Congress’ acclaimed website, free of charge, making it available to people across the nation and around the world, and will be linked to the library’s signature international effort, the World Digital Library, which features multilingual  scholarship on important Persian manuscripts.
The exhibition will provide a valuable educational venue for students, teachers and lifelong learners who wish to learn more about the Iranian world region and the rich history of the Persian cultural milieu over the last millennia.

Click here for more information on the exhibition and here to follow the Exhibition on Facebook. To watch the introductory video of the exhibition, click here.
The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nonsectarian, independent organization that represents the domestic interests of the Iranian American community before U.S. policymakers, opinion makers and the American public at large. PAAIA seeks to achieve its mission by focusing on three major areas of activities: Community Building, Image Building, and Influence Building.  
Visit www.paaia.org for more information.
About the U.S. Library of Congress
The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 151 million items in various languages, disciplines, and formats. The library seeks to spark imagination and creativity, and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs, publications and exhibitions. The Persian Section of the library’s African and Middle Eastern Division is one of the world’s foremost centers for the study of Persian literature and the Persian language.
For more information on the division and its holdings, visit http://www.loc.gov/rr/amed/div.html.

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