Charles Melville on the ‘arts of the book’ and diffusion of Persian culture

Speaker(s): Charles Melville

  • Date recorded: 3 Jul 2012

  • Duration: 48:59

'There is a great significance of gardens in Persian literature and the prevalence of symbolism surrounding natural forms – trees, streams, meadows and, above all, roses.'

- Charles Melville

About this video

Travel back to the ancient land of Persia with Professor Charles Melville.

Professor Melville shares how the celebrities of Persian culture were its monarchs and mystics, princes and poets, and how their lives and deeds were favoured subjects in the country’s poetry and literature.

The Professor is clearly moved by the rarity and splendour of these beautifully illustrated books as he describes how they became the absolute jewels in the crown of the Royal Persian court.

He tracks the diffusion of Persian culture via its literature from Iran to Central Asia across the Middle East and finally to Europe as books attained valuable social, political and diplomatic currency.


Professor Charles Melville is Professor of Persian History and Director of the Shahnama Project at the University of Cambridge.