The Reign of Kayumars

The poet Abolqasem Ferdowsi composed the Shahnameh between 977 CE and 1010 CE. “Its subject matter is vast,” Dick Davis wrote in the introduction to his translation, “Being nothing less than the history of the country and its people from the creation of the world up to the Arab conquest.” The national epic of Iran begins with the reign of the first king, Kayumars.  

Image“What does the Persian poet say about the first man to seek the crown of world sovereignty? No one has any knowledge of those first days unless he has heard tales passed down from father to son. This is what those tales tell: The first man to be king, and to establish the ceremonies associated with the crown and the throne, was Kayumars. When he became lord of the world, he lived first in the mountains, where he established his throne, and he and his people dressed in leopard skins. It was he who first taught men about the preparation of food and clothing, which were new in the world at the time. Seated on his throne, as splendid as the sun, he reigned for thirty years. He was like a tall cypress tree topped by the full moon, and the royal farr shone from him. All the animals of the world, wild and tame alike, reverently paid homage to him, bowing down before his throne, and their obedience increased his glory and good fortune.”

Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings, Abolqasem Ferdowsi, translated by Dick Davis, Penguin Books, 1997.

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