Tajik National Identity in the Context of the Shahnama: the Persian Book of...
The presentation gives an overview of manuscript and wall paintings from the Tajik Museum and archive collections that portray subject matter from the Persian Shahnama epic that chronicles the pre-Islamic history and myths of Iran and Central Asia. Full of battles and romances taking place across real geographical sites in the region, the stories and scenes are not merely illustrations of a text but have political significance when the context and period of their production are analysed. Their importance has carried over to the present day, and has been harnessed by Tajiks as a means to articulate their nascent national identity.
Ms. Comstock-Skipp’s Fulbright research investigates Tajik cultural and artistic history and heritage with regards to manuscript and wall paintings that portray subject matter from the Persian Shahnama epic. This Book of Kings chronicles the pre-Islamic history of Iran and Central Asia, comparable to Greek legends and Arthurian lore in the West in terms of its cultural significance. Its circulation in the manuscript arts has been well documented and researched with regards to Iran, but its significance to Tajik ideas of nationhood and identity in the context of a greater pan-Persianism that transcends modern borders has not.
About the speaker
Ms. Jaimee Comstock-Skipp holds a BA from the University of California, Berkeley in Near Eastern studies with a specialty in Islamic civilisations. She also holds an MA from the Williams College graduate programme in the History of Art (2012), and a second MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London (2015), where she studied Mongol through Safavid Persian book arts. She studied Farsi and Tajiki as part of the Critical Languages Scholarship and the Critical Languages Institute programmes in Tajikistan, and was the resident director of the National Security Language Initiative for the Youth Tajiki programme in 2013 and 2014.