“Windows into Early Science and Craft” Exhibit 3/12-4/5 John Hay Library

Curated by Dr. Elaheh Kheirandish, Harvard University

Main Gallery, John Hay Library
20 Prospect Street, Providence, RI 02912
Open to the Public
March 12 – April 5, 2010

This exhibit presents the subject of early science and craft through a selection of Persian manuscripts from the Minassian Collection, a rich treasury of artistic and textual items donated to Brown University by Adrienne Minassian, the daughter of Kirkor Minassian, the active art collector and dealer of Central Asian origin. Two themes predominate in the selections: the science of the stars and the technology and craft of warfare. In this they mirror several of the other major collections of the John Hay Library dealing with the history of science and the military. Here we see these themes examined in the context of medieval Persian book arts with its traditions of manuscript calligraphy and miniature paintings. The display includes a number of folios from the famous Persian epic, the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, also known as the “Book of Kings.”

The cataloging of the Minassian manuscripts was undertaken in 1999 by the present curator of this exhibit in collaboration with the late Professor David Pingree of Brown University as part of a project sponsored by the American Committee for South Asian Manuscripts (ACSAM). This exhibit is the first display of any part of the vast and rich Persian manuscript collection, and is presented in conjunction with courses in Comparative Literature and Medieval Studies. Several of the contributors to text of the exhibit are by area students.

For more on the Minassian collection and its collection of Persian, Indian and Moghul miniatures see: