Susan Scollay is an art historian specializing in the Islamic world. She is guest co-curator of the 'Love and Devotion: From Persia and Beyond' exhibition.
Tales of earthly and spiritual love were recounted and reinterpreted by Persian poets from the 11th century onwards. Stories of lovers such as Yusuf and Zulaykha, Khusrau and Shirin, and Layla and Majnun were embraced not only in Iran but also in the neighbouring Mughal and Ottoman empires. In courtly settings versified epics and lyrical couplets were copied into illustrated manuscripts for elite patrons in the eastern Islamic world, for whom poetry was a key component of cultural life from the 14th to the18th centuries. Parallels and echoes of these timeless tales and the masterful words of poets such as Sa'di, 'Attar, Hafiz and Rumi intersect with European literature from the time of Dante and Shakespeare up to the present day. In this book leading specialists in literature, art history and philosophy reveal new perspectives on the evocative world conjured up by these stories of love and devotion from Persian poetry and the exquisitely-coloured miniature paintings that embellish them.The book presents full-page reproductions of more than 130 folios from illustrated manuscripts and works from the collections of the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, and from the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, many reproduced here for the first time. Published to coincide with landmark exhibitions in Melbourne and Oxford, this volume will appeal to both specialist and general readers.