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Smithsonian Shows Persian Manuscripts

The Washington Post

Ali Baba’s fabulous cave had nothing on the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler galleries. The museums are displaying three treasure troves that represent a prince’s, a queen’s and a king’s ransom.

The Freer is offering the first full exhibition ever of its “Haft Awrang” (“Seven Thrones”) manuscript from 16th-century Persia. Said to be one of the most celebrated of all Persian texts, the book was recently unbound for conservation, allowing the first display of all the 28 exquisite paintings and myriad illuminated folios among its 304 pages.

From the Mallside Freer, it’s only a few stair steps down to the underground Sackler’s paired exhibits of art, jewels and manuscripts executed for Shah Jahan (“King of the World”), the Mughal prince best known for the Taj Mahal.

One show features a unique example of the “Padshahnama,” the Chronicle of the King of the World, which Shah Jahan had made for England’s King George III and is on loan from the Royal Library at Windsor Castle. The other exhibit centers on the gorgeous “Taj Mahal” emerald and a superb example of “Rose Garden,” by the 13th-century Persian poet Sadi.

The Seven Thrones: A Princely Manuscript From Iran, through March 29 at the Freer Gallery of Art (202) 357-2700.

King of the World: A Mughal Manuscript from the Royal Library, Windsor Castle, through Oct. 13. The Jewel and the Rose: Art for Shah Jahan, through Jan. 25. Both at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (202) 357-2700.

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