[Apr 23, 2023] IAMCC Annual Distinguished Lecture: What Makes the Great Mongol Shahnama Great? feat Prof Robert Hillenbrand


Date: Sunday, April 23, 2 pm

Location: Aga Khan Museum

Price: $20 Regular, $18 Friends, $15 Students

Tickets include same-day Museum admission.


What makes the Great Mongol Shahnama great? Join Professor Robert Hillenbrand (University of Edinburgh) on this vivid exploration of one of the most renowned illustrated copies of Firdawsi’s epic “Book of Kings” ever produced.

This lavishly illustrated lecture will introduce the historical and artistic context from which this manuscript sprang before turning to the unprecedented innovations of its illustrations: the development of pictorial space, a hugely expanded range of emotional expression, exciting experiments in composition and format, a radical approach to colour, and above all, and unmatched fascination with the actual appearance of things. Professor Hillenbrand will explain impact of these dramatic changes in approach.  

This lecture will be followed by a reception and book signing of Professor Hillenbrand’s latest publication, The Great Mongol Shahnama (Ginko, 2023). Limited copies will be available at the Aga Khan Museum Shop.

About Professor Robert Hillenbrand

Professor Robert Hillenbrand was educated at Cambridge and Oxford and has spent most of his career teaching at the University of Edinburgh, with visiting professorships at Princeton, UCLA, Bamberg, Leiden, Dartmouth College, New York, Cairo and Groningen. He is currently an Emeritus Professor of Islamic Art at the University of Edinburgh and an Honorary Professor of Islamic art at the University of St Andrews. His scholarly interests focus on Islamic architecture, painting and iconography, with particular reference to Iran and early Islamic Syria. His thirteen books include Imperial Images in Persian PaintingIslamic Art and Architecture (revised and expanded edition, 2021); The Architecture of Ottoman Jerusalem: An Introduction; the prize-winning Islamic Architecture: Form, Function and MeaningThe Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. A landmark of modern Islamic architectureAn unknown masterpiece from Mongol IranIslamic Architecture in North Africa (co-author), The Great Mongol Shahnama and four volumes of his collected articles: Studies in Medieval Islamic Architecture I and II; Studies in the Islamic Arts of the Book; and Studies in the Islamic Decorative Arts. In addition, he has edited or co-edited thirteen books. He has also published some 200 articles on aspects of Islamic art and architecture and organized ten conferences. He has served as Slade Professor of Art at Cambridge and is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.