Join Tessa Gratton and me as we read the Shahnameh by Abolqasem Ferdowsi. We’re using the Dick Davis translation (Penguin Classics).
If you haven’t already don’t forget to check out this AMAZING post by Rachel W in which she works out the complicated genealogy of our main and secondary characters.
This week we aren’t reading because Tessa has a deadline.
Next week: the first half of Rostam and Esfandyar.
Instead, a brief digression. I am reading POETICS AND POLITICS OF IRAN’S NATIONAL EPIC, THE SHAHNAMEH by Mahmoud Omidsalar. (Palgrave Macmillan)
I’m not far into it yet but basically he begins by examining, and refuting, the standard Western interpretations of the epic. I will give a report on what I’ve read on that aspect later.
For now: We’ve noted how translator Dick Davis has been skipping material, especially here in the middle. He gives some explanation of what and how he decided to abridge/leave out, and of course it is his decision to make as translator. But I was stunned to read this very emotional sequence in the introduction to Omidsalar’s book and am honestly puzzled why one would leave this out.
Seyavash, having foreseen his doom, takes his leave of Faragis, then goes to the stable and frees his favorite horse, Bihzad. This part is included, of course.
And we read (in synopsis) that the hero Giv finds Faragis and Kay Khosrow and escorts them to Iran. But what isn’t mentioned is this scene, which I will reproduce in its entirety (Omidsalar, p 4-5).
the princess tells her son to take Bihzad’s saddle and halter to a nearby meadow where herds of horses come to drink water at midday. . . . Giv accompanies the young prince into the pastures.
The valiant lord mounted
And Giv walked in front, leading the way
They set out for a [nearby] hill
Where they could survey the fields
When the herd came by
And the horses drank their fill
Bihzad looked up, saw the prince,
And sighed piteously
He saw that saddle of Seyavash, covered in leopard’s skin
Those long stirrup leathers and the fine pommel
Resolutely, he stood at the waterhole
And did not move from where he was
Seeing his calm, Kay Khosrow
Treaded toward him with the saddle
He caressed and laid his cheek upon his face
He ran his fingers through his mane and touched him gently
Then the prince haltered and saddled him,
And remembered his [slain] father [to him].
When he mounted and steadied himself in the saddle
The colossal steed stirred
And rose like the wind.
It flew and vanished from Giv’s sight.
And here an illustration of Kay Khosrow riding Bihzad for the first time: