"The Pictorial Representation of Shiite Themes in Lithographed Books of the Qajar Period"
Ulrich Marzolph, Georg-August-University, Germany


Oct
17
2011

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  • Host Department: History of Art
  • Date: 10/17/2011
  • Time: 4:00PM - 6:00PM

  • Location: 180 Tappan Hall, 855 S. University, Ann Arbor  (Show map)

  • Ulrich Marzolph
  • Description: The Qajar period witnessed a strong resurgence of Shiite religious sentiment that is particularly visible in the areas of drama and literature. While the “Shiite passion play,” the ta‘ziye, experienced its formative period during the early days of the Qajar dynasty, the phenomenon went together with a rising popularity of a specific genre of Shiite literature. Works of this genre follow in the vein of Hosein ebn Vâ‘ez Kâshefi’s fifteenth-century compilation, Rouzat al-shohadâ’,and are commonly known as books of rouze khvâni. Profiting from the newly invented technique of lithographic printing that had been introduced to Iran in the early decades of the nineteenth century, works compiled by contemporary authors – such as Jouhari’s Tufân al-bokâ’ (The tempest of mourning) – gained a tremendous popularity in the Qajar period. Besides presenting literary versions of the early days of Islam and the pivotal Shiite experience of Hosein’s martyrdom at Karbala, the lithographed editions of this genre often contribute to the popularization of pivotal Shiite concepts by making use of illustrations, thus at the same time drawing on popular imagery and furthering the common representation of themes lying at the core of Shiite self-consciousness.

    This presentation is to discuss those scenes that are illustrated with a certain frequency in different books, focusing in particular on the iconic character of lithographic illustrations.
    Ulrich Marzolph is professor of Islamic studies at the Georg-August-University in Göttingen, Germany, and a senior member of the editorial committee of the Enzyklopädie des Märchens, a research and publishing institute associated with the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen. He specializes in the narrative culture of the Near and Middle East, with particular emphasis on Arab and Persian folk narrative and popular literature. His major publications include Typologie des persischen Volksmärchens (1984); Arabia ridens: Die humoristische Kurzprosa der frühen adab-Literatur (1992); Narrative Illustration in Persian Lithographed Books (2001); and The Arabian Nights Encyclopedia (2004; with Richard van Leeuwen). His other research interests include the history of printing in the Near East and the visual culture of the Muslim world, especially in Iran.