The National Library of Iran unveils a rare manuscript of the Divan of Hafez

TEHRAN — A 300-year-old manuscript of the Divan of Hafez was unveiled last week at the National Library and Archives of Iran (NLAI).

The library recently purchased the rare manuscript from a private collector, Noshad Rokni, an expert with the NLAI Committee on Rare Manuscripts, said at the book’s unveiling ceremony.

It contains 322 sheets and each page has Indian-style illuminations and 12 lines inscribed in Nastaliq script.

“Compared to other rare editions of the Divan of Hafez, this manuscript has a unique characteristic; other rare manuscripts don’t have many illustrations, while this edition has 92 illustrations,” Rokni said.

“This book was made of Termeh paper, which is generally vulnerable to environmental factors, however, this edition is still intact and it shows that it has been properly preserved,” he added.

“Therefore, the library can provide researchers with an opportunity to thoroughly examine the rare manuscript,” Rokni noted.

The unveiling of the manuscript was a prelude to a program the library held on Tuesday to celebrate Hafez Day, which fell on October 12 this year.

Shams ad-Din Mohammad, the famous Persian lyric poet better known as Hafez, is commemorated every year on Mehr 20 of the Iranian calendar.

Hafez is best known for his divan, and among the many partial English translations of this work are those by Gertrude Bell and H. Wilberforce Clarke.

Hassan Anvari, a permanent member of the Academy of Persian Language and Literature, was among the literary and cultural figures who attended the unveiling ceremony.

In a brief speech, he said that the Divan of Hafez was not compiled by the Persian poet, but Shams ad-Din Mohammad Golandam, a close friend of Hafez, collected his poems after his death.

“Hafez is considered a mystic and it is not at the moment. A mystical interpretation was written on his couch in the past, but, based on the poems he left behind, he rejects that idea,” Anvari said.

“It can be said that, like philosophers, Hafez has a systematic way of thinking, because his poems contradict each other,” he added.

“He lived in the 14th century and today we live in the 21st century. There are problems today that he could never even have imagined, so we can never expect him to give solutions to our current problems,” Anvari asserted.

However, he added, “We can learn some things from Hafez, Sadi and other poets that are still practicable. For example, we can use love to build ourselves, our families and our society.

Photo: Scholars unveil a rare manuscript of the Divan of Hafez at the National Library and Archives of Iran in Tehran on October 11, 2022. (NLAI)

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