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Persian art lecture reveals beautiful birds on spiritually enchanting quest

By Leslie King | Emory Report | April 8, 2015

A medieval masterpiece of mystical birds and magical symbols is the topic of the Persian Art Lecture on Monday, April 13, at 7:30 p.m. in the Reception Hall of the Michael C. Carlos Museum.

Michael Barry, professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, will follow the story of “The Canticle of the Birds” by Persian Muslim poet Farid ud-Din 'Attar, considered to be one of the most beautiful mystical poems about the universal quest for love, truth and unity.

This masterpiece of 13th-century Persian literature tells a tale of the journey beyond seven valleys by the world’s birds in search of the magical Simorgh, a symbol of the human soul in search of the Supreme Being.

Barry will follow the birds’ quest through extraordinary illustrations of `Attâr's poem in medieval Persian, Central Asian, Turkish and Indian art.

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Aga Khan Council for the Southeastern United States.

The new and lavishly illustrated edition of “The Canticle of the Birds,” published in Paris by Éditions Diane de Selliers, will be available for purchase at the lecture. Originally $295, it is now priced at $185 and will be available for a limited time. Contact the museum bookshop at 404-727-2374 to reserve a copy.