The Main Rubaiyat Videos

All the Omar and extensions one could ever need. 

First, the best two superb, action-figured, spoken/sung videos:
The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (3 parts):

Finally, everything kind of in one place!

(Charles, you could present these and the one below at one of your recitals.)
Austin’s Golden Rubaiyat (2 parts. My own quatrains that I like best. Upgraded to 4K.):

(to be continued)


Austin’s Video Series—Color Symbols, Elfin Legends, Spring Fever, and Life Explained

The Lore and Legends of the Colors:  Educational.

Spring Fever:  Catch it!

Elfin Legends:  Wild.

Life Explained:  Huh?

Elfin extra footage:  Wilder.

Elfin Moves:  Wildest.

Fairy Sightings:  Actual untouched original videos.

Enchanted Daydreams:  Lay back.

Enchanted Journey:  Long.

Next time: Rubaiyat II+I combined.

Nowruz Peeruz! from Michael Isenberg

Nowruz Peeruz!

Prosperous New Year!

03-19 jamshid

Tomorrow marks Nowruz, the Persian New Year, so it seemed like a good time to put together a few notes on the history of the holiday. Its celebration goes back some 3,000 years, its origins lost in the mists of time.

I suppose the version which attributes it to the mythical king Jamshid is as good as any. A Promethean figure, legend tells us Jamshid blessed humankind with metalworking, textiles, bricklaying, mining, perfume, medicine, shipbuilding, and (on the downside) the caste system. Then, according to Abu’l-Qasim Ferdowsi’s epic poem, the Shah-nameh (The Book of Kings, ca. 1000 AD),

Although Jamshid had accomplished all these things, he strove to climb even higher. With his royal farr* he constructed a throne studded with gems, and had demons raise him aloft from the earth into the heavens; there he sat on his throne like the sun shining in the sky. The world’s creatures gathered in wonder about him and scattered jewels on him, and called this day the New Day, or No-Ruz. This was the first day of the month of Farvardin, at the beginning of the year, when Jamshid rested from his labors and put aside all rancor. His nobles made a great feast, calling for wine and musicians, and this splendid festival has been passed down to us, as a memorial to Jamshid.
(The Shah-nameh is a fascinating work in its own right. One of these days I’ll have to post an entry about it).

In any case, over time the Persian calendar drifted out of synch with the seasons, just like the Julian calendar that was used in the west. There was need of someone like Pope Gregory to institute reforms. In his Al-Kamil fi’l-Tarikh (Complete History), the historian ibn al-Athir (1160-1232/33) tells us,

In this year [467 AH/1074-75 AD] Nizam al-Mulk and Sultan Malikshah assembled several leading astronomers, who fixed the start of the new year (Nayruz) at the starting point of (the House of) Aries (i.e. the vernal equinox). Previously the new year had been when the sun was halfway through Pisces. This initiative of the sultan provided the starting point for yearly calendars.

At the same time astronomical observations were undertaken for Sultan Malikshah. A group of astronomers gathered to carry this out, including Umar ibn Ibrahim al-Khayyami, Abu’l-Muzaffar al-Asfizari, Maymun ibn al-Najib al-Wasiti and others. A large sum of money was expended and observations lasted until the sultan died.

The leader of the team, “Umar ibn Ibrahim al-Khayyami,” is of course Omar Khayyam, known in the west as the poet who composed the Rubaiyat (And who’s also the hero of my new novel, The Thread of Reason, which, in honor of his calendar, launches tomorrow on!) Omar’s calendar, called the Jalali calendar, after one of the titles of Malikshah, is, with some modifications, still in use in Iran today. It is accurate to one day every 5,000 years—beating out the Gregorian calendar, which is “only” accurate to one day every 3,000 years.

So best wishes for a happy Nowruz. Celebrate with wine and musicians. I’ll leave you with some of the latter—some traditional Persian music. This is a recording I made on Saturday, at the Boston Museum of Fine Art’s annual Nowruz celebration. The violin-like instrument that Mr. Dehghan is playing is called a kamancheh. Descriptions of them are found as early as the il-Khanid (Mongol) dynasty (13th-14th century).

Michael’s music:

Michael Isenberg writes about the Muslim world, medieval and modern. His forthcoming novel, The Thread of Reason, is a murder mystery that takes place in Baghdad in the year 1092.

*-The royal farr is the power that God bestows upon a king, provided he’s worthy. It’s something like a cross between magic, glory, luck, and the Mandate of Heaven.

The quotation from Ferdowsi comes from Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings, New York: Penguin Books (2006), tr. Dick Davis, p. 7.

The quotation from ibn al-Athir comes from The Annals of the Seljuq Turks: Selections from al-Kamil fi’l-Tarikh of ‘Izz al-Din ibn al-Athir, London: RoutledgeCurzon (2002), tr. D.S.Richards, p. 189.

Photo credit: “Jamshid’s throne borne by divs,” illustration from the Shah-nameh, 15th century, Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, MS 22-1948, fol. 11v.

Jamshyd’s Super Bowl

The Cup of Jam

Jamshyd was said to have had a magical seven-ringed cup, the Jām-e Jam, which was filled with the elixir of immortality and allowed him to observe the universe.

Jamshyd ruled well for three hundred years, and during this time longevity increased, sicknesses were banished, and peace and prosperity reigned.

The Cup of Jamshyd (Persian: جام جم, jām-e Jam) is a cup of divination, which in Persian mythology was long possessed by the rulers of ancient Greater Iran. Its name is associated with Jamshyd (Jam in New Persian), a mythological figure of Greater Iranian culture and tradition. The cup has also been called Jam-e Jahan nama, Jam-e Jahan Ara, Jam-e Giti nama, and Jam-e Kei-khosrow. The latter refers to Kaei Husravah in the Avesta, and Sushravas in the Vedas.

The cup has been the subject of many Persian poems and stories. Many authors ascribed the success of the Persian Empire to the possession of this artifact. It appears extensively in Persian literature.

The cup (‘Jām’) was said to be filled with an elixir of immortality and was used in scrying. As mentioned by Ali-Akbar Dehkhoda, it was believed that all seven heavens of the universe could be observed by looking into it (از هفت فلک در او مشاهده و معاینه کردی).

It was believed to have been discovered in Persepolis in ancient times. The whole world was said to be reflected in it, and divinations within the cup were said to reveal deep truths. Sometimes, especially in popular depictions such as The Heroic Legend of Arslan, the cup has been visualized as a crystal ball. Helen Zimmern’s English translation of the Shahnameh uses the term ‘crystal globe’.

The concave mirror of a telescope
Is as Jam’s world reflecting bowl or globe:
Beyond the seven-ringed celestials,
The secrets of the Cosmos are unveiled.


Wine Invented

According to Persian legend, Jamshyd banished one of his harem ladies from his kingdom, causing her to become despondent and wishing to commit suicide. Going to the king’s warehouse, the girl sought out a jar marked ‘poison’ which contained the rem-nants of grapes that had spoiled and were deemed undrinkable.

Unbeknownst to her, the ‘spoilage’ was actually the result of fermentation caused by the breakdown of the grapes by yeast into alcohol. After drinking the so-called poison, the harem girl discovered its effects to be pleasant and her spirits were lifted.

She took her discovery to Jamshyd, who became so enamored with this new ‘wine’ beverage that he not only accepted the girl back into his harem but also decreed that all grapes grown in Persepolis would be devoted to winemaking.

While most wine historians view this story as pure legend, there is archaeological evidence that wine was known and extensively traded by the early Persian kings.

— Shahnameh (The Epic of Kings): Bijan and Manijeh

Rubaiyat II — Table of Contents


-1.Title Page
1. Preface
2. Notation
3. Foreword

1. The Persian Climate and the Poetic Temperament
2. The Voices in the Sky
3. The Ancient Rulers
4. Time’s Blast

1. The Persian Night
2. In the Sultan’s Palace
3. Omar and His Beloved
4. The Astronomer Poet’s Star Garden
5. The Play of Worlds
6. Wine Versus Kings
7. Dichotomies
8. Whence Cometh Our Help
9. The Secret Life of the Rubaiyat Poems
10.Other Works
11.Two Treatises From Beyond
14.The Love Story of the Earth and the Moon
15.Omar’s Fire Returned
16.Sweet Love and Sleep Continue reading “Rubaiyat II — Table of Contents”

Mid-Evening at the OK Club — Part 15 — More of the Fake Movie

 photo Super BFEN A4 P9 40.jpeg a_zps5lkuhxuo.jpg
“I don’t understand the new road signs,” stated Virginia.”

“A 4-WAY-STOP sign means to use the foot brake, then downshift, pull the emergency brake, and drag your foot. STOP A-HEAD says that a head is in the road! WATCH OUT FOR CHILDREN means: Don’t hug, fondle, kiss, touch, or sweet-talk beneath the sign, for you may do the conceivable. So, get a room.

“BIKE PATH: The official path for bikes is between the two yellow lines in the middle of the road. Also remember that if you speed up when you see a yellow light it will never turn red, since its frequency shifts toward green as you near C, the speed of light! Furthermore, morons always drive slower than you and idiots drive faster than you! Finally, jay walkers have the right of death.”

Continue reading “Mid-Evening at the OK Club — Part 15 — More of the Fake Movie”