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04/12/2018 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Alexander to Iskandar

Paintings from Persian and Turkish Manuscripts

Ayşin Yoltar-Yıldırım, Ph.D.

This talk will trace the story of Alexander from the ancient Greek novel, the Alexander Romance, to its Persian and Turkish adaptations. A variety of Islamic literary texts, namely the 11th century Persian Shahnama of Firdawsi, the 12th century Iskandarnama of Nizami, and the 14th century Turkish Iskendername of Ahmedi, will be discussed. Both famous and rarely-known paintings from Islamic manuscripts dating from the 14th to the 17th centuries in various collections, including the Brooklyn Museum, will be featured. This visual journey will touch upon Alexander’s shift from a military hero/invader to a wise ruler and how the image of Alexander adapted to changing political contexts from the Ilkhanid Tabriz in Iran to Ottoman Amasya in Turkey. Even if the historical Alexander couldn’t conquer the entire world, Islamic traditions certainly imagined him as doing so in their development of his legendary persona.
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