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Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam projects from Lois Pawson with University of Brighton 

July 11, 2022

Some while back we posted a couple of items about the work of artist Lois Pawson on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. The most recent of these can be found on https://omarkhayyamrubaiyat.wordpress.com/2022/01/14/new-illustrations-for-fitzgeralds-rubaiyat/. Lois has now sent us a further update on her work. We wish her all the best with her various projects. We are sorry that we are not closer to Brighton, in Sussex, UK, and so able to attend some of the events.

Illustrator Lois Pawson has focused her MA Illustration degree project about the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and has created an illustrated book, a headscarf-hijab inspired by Persian silk tent panels, and framed original artwork. The illustrations set out to capture what remains of Omar Khayyam’s world in modern day Iran and surviving ancient Persian artefacts. Her project research included over 40 virtual guided tours of Iran and ‘method illustration’ experimenting with traditional Persian arts and crafts – including pottery, weaving, miniature painting and dance. The project is currently on display at the University of Brighton galleries at the MA Summer Show until 16th July.  

Lois A Pawson Twilight Garden Tomb of Poet Hafez – 2022

In addition Lois is running three Rubaiyat related projects this summer; a creative workshop, an instagram-based poetry project, and a university-based display case of illustrated Rubaiyat books. 

Read Write & Draw Rubaiyat Poems’ is a creative workshop taking place on Tuesday 12th July from 1pm to 4pm at University of Brighton, Grand Parade, Brighton – the event is free to attend, materials provided, and is suitable for adults with all levels of creative skill or experience. The workshop will include reading and illustrating selected quatrains – including the Book of Pots and verses with flora and fauna – and using a quatrain structure to create modern-day rubaiyat poems. 

@versebeneaththebough is a newly launched instagram-based project encouraging people to read and engage with poetry outdoors with friends and to share ‘poetry picnic pics’ on instagram. This project is inspired by 11th quatrain of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam ‘Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough, A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse – and Thou Beside me singing in the Wilderness -And Wilderness is Paradise enow. 

  • To follow and join-in on Instagram: @versebeneaththebough #versebeneaththebough  

Design Matters is a student-led exhibition involving MA and PhD students concerning aspects of design relating to diverse topics. As part of this project Lois Pawson is displaying a selection of 20th century illustrated Rubaiyat books from the University of Brighton collection with commentary on the responsibility of artists relating to cultural appropriation and orientalism. The ground-floor vitrine display cases will be at St Peter’s House Library at University of Brighton from 17th August to 14th October, with visitor access to the public 9am to 5pm weekdays.  

Lois Pawson contact details are as follows: Website loispawson.wordpress.com; Instagram @loispawson 

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First Artists of the Rubaiyat, A Complete Illustrated Guide

June 28, 2022

Danton O’Day has sent us the following details of his latest book on the artists who first illustrated Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. He writes as follows.

The book is a complete catalog of early artists of Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and it offers a cornucopia of visual delights and discoveries. Hundreds of pictures by over 200 artists: photographs, oil paintings, watercolours, etchings, woodcuts, line drawings, calligraphy provide unique insight into the poetry and add beauty to one of the world’s most popular collections of verse. Many new artists are revealed with dozens of women artists identified. New revelations and discoveries plus new dates established for many artists make this not only a visually impressive book but also a unique and valuable document of this early history.

The following are some points of interest for Rubaiyat enthusiasts.

-Evidence Tearle 1910 was either inspired by or copied Sangorski 1906

-Ambrose Potter was also an artist

-Proper name of “Ad Marcel” revealed

-T.R.R. Ryder is not a true rubaiyat artist

-Gilbert James first pictures colourized by not one but two different artists

-Insights into numerous questionable publication dates

-Detailed information on Rubaiyat calendars

-See how Cade’s classic photo of FitzGerald is mis-credited.

Details of the book and its availablility.

First Artists of the Rubaiyat, A Complete Illustrated Guide by Danton H. O’Day
Softcover, 8”x10”, 213pp, ISBN 979-8-21-032614-0

Available from Amazon https://www.amazon.com/First-Artists-Rubaiyat-Complete-Illustrated/dp/B0B37RKS9F/ref=sr_1_4?qid=1656251424&refinements=p_27%3ADanton+H.+O%27Day&s=books&sr=1-4

And from Barnes & Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/first-artists-of-the-rubaiyat-a-complete-illustrated-guide-danton-h-oday/1141623426

Readers may be interested to know that Dan is also Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto in Canada, with a specialism in Cell and Developmental Biology. He recently published a guide to Alzheimer’s, details of which are as follows.

Alzheimer’s Explained, An Illustrated Guide by Danton H. O’Day, PhD

eBook: ISBN 9781005973100 (Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, AppleBooks);

Print: Softcover ISBN 9788210013699; Hardcover ISBN 9788210013705 (from AbeBooks & other online stores).

Alan Tabor, a 20th century illuminator

June 21, 2022

Alan Tabor, 1883-1957, was an artist and illuminator who was born in Bristol but lived most of his life in the Greater Manchester area. As well as studying oil and water colour painting, he trained as an illuminator and calligrapher, and, in 1908 at the age of 25, he set up his own studio, initially providing mainly illuminated addresses, certificates and Christmas cards, but later expanding into a flourishing business in illuminated poems and calendars.

Bob Forrest has been investigating Alan Tabor and his work, having become aware of two illuminations of verses from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam done by the artist. These are shown above and below. Sadly, Bob has only been able to track down one other distinctive image from the Rubaiyat produced by Tabor, though he probably created a number more, included those used for illuminated calendars which were popular in the early decades of the 20th century.

In a detailed article on his website (http://www.bobforrestweb.co.uk/The_Rubaiyat/N_and_Q/Alan_Tabor/Alan_Tabor.htm), Bob sets out his research on the subject, as well as giving much information about the varied work and life of the artist, and many images. Our thanks to Bob for again sharing his valuable research with us all. If any readers have more information on Alan Tabor and his Rubaiyat images, please comment below.

Two Mexican Rubaiyats – a Case of International Relations

June 2, 2022

It is not often that the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam has figured in international diplomacy. But, in his latest research project, Bob Forrest has identified two editions of the poem, published in Mexico in 1938/39, that were part of an attempt to improve international relations between Mexico and the UK at the time.

Illustration by Roberto Montenegro for Eduardo Hay’s translation 1938

The first of these Mexican editions was a translation of Edward FitzGerald’s fourth edition into Spanish by Eduardo Hay. It was published in Mexico in 1938 and contains four colour illustrations by the Mexican artist Roberto Montenegro. The second Mexican volume is, most unusually, a version in Welsh, with a translation of FitzGerald’s first edition by Thomas Ifor Rees, which, for reasons outlined below, was published in Mexico in 1939. It contained illustrations by R C Hesketh.

Bob has set out the results of his research into these two versions of the Rubaiyat in an article on his website, see http://www.bobforrestweb.co.uk/The_Rubaiyat/N_and_Q/Two_Mexican_Rubaiyats/Two_Mexican_Rubaiyats.htm. He discusses the content of the volumes in detail with excellent images of the illustrations from both. He also sets out how these editions were connected through a diplomatic initiative which helps to explain why the Welsh version came to be published in Mexico. It appears that Eduardo Hay, the translator of the Spanish version, was also for a time the Mexican foreign minister and a general in the Mexican army. Thomas Ifor Rees was a diplomat who was based in Mexico between 1938 and 1943, and in charge of British affairs in the country at a time of a serious rift between that country and the UK. Knowing that the Mexican foreign minister shared his interest in the Rubaiyat, he seems to have used this as a way of trying to ease the diplomatic situation, though Bob doubts whether this cultural initiative had a major effect.

Our thanks to Bob for enlightening us on a really unusual side story in Rubaiyat history. Both the Mexican volumes are rare and not easily found even in libraries, so it is great to have information about their contents and images available for consultation.

“Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam” Illustrated by Amos Stack

May 22, 2022

A couple of years ago, we posted an article by Joe Howard on an unuusal presentation of Rubaiyat verses in the form of An Omarian Alphabet – see https://omarkhayyamrubaiyat.wordpress.com/2020/07/14/an-omarian-alphabet/. This book was created in 1935 by an American Clarke W Walton, and, in his earlier article, Joe promised us more information about other Rubaiyat works by this publisher. Joe has now tracked down a Walton edition of the verses illustrated by Amos Stack, and he tell us more about this copy below. Our thanks to Joe for giving us a further instalment of the Clarke Walton story.

The fifteen editions of the Rubaiyat1 published by the amateur printer and publisher Clarke W Walton were issued in very limited numbers and are not readily available either for purchase or, as far as I am aware, as on-line digital copies.

One of them, the “Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam” (Coumans 74), published in 1934, includes five illustrations by Amos Stack. The text is Fitzgerald’s fifth version with all 101 quatrains. This book is quarter bound, with brown boards (5.25 by 7.5 ins.) and the title on the front in black: there are 44 numbered pages.  The five illustrations are shown below (Fig. 1.).

It appears to me that Amos has taken his inspiration for the male costumes from Edmund J Sullivan. The illustration for quatrain 1 (the frontispiece), includes a silhouette, which is quite different from the other four. These illustrations are straightforward interpretations of parts of the relevant quatrains. For example, the image for quatrain 1 combines the themes of awakening and sunrise, while that for quatrain 7, charming though it is, and while representing the quoted half line, brings to my mind a rather convivial “afternoon tea”, with no indications of the interpretations often associated with the remaining three and a half lines.

Internet searches did not yield information on an artist or illustrator with a name including both “Amos” and “Stack”. In many ways this is unsurprising. Clarke had extremely close ties with his community at Monroe, North Carolina. These included involving them in his publication and printing work. For example, Clark published (Coumans 255) “Illustrations for an Omar” containing photographs taken by Walter C Sprouse. Walter was well-known professional photographer and a resident of Monroe NC. Also, in my previous article1 I noted that the 24 quatrains of his “Omarian Alphabet” were imperfectly typeset by three individuals identified only by their initials. A magazine2, “The Bookmark” edited and published by Clarke, includes an article describing the “Omarian Alphabet”, Here it states, “The book is set and printed by schoolboys, each boy having printed his initials inconspicuously in small type on his pages.” One of these schoolboys was his son (Clarence Wilson Walton: CWW II). Clarke’s children and their friends regularly used his press to publish their own newspapers and notices.

Searches of the 1930 and 1940 census records yield two people in Monroe NC with names including “Amos” and “Stack”: one was an elderly judge, the other, much younger, a “cotton buyer”. In the local newspaper the cotton buyer is routinely referred to simply as “Amos Stack”, while the judge is referred to more formally. Since Clarke occupied a senior position in the local cotton mill, I suggest that this cotton buyer is the amateur Rubaiyat artist. Amos Milton Stack (1894-1981) moved to Monroe in 1922 and remained there until he died.

“About it and About”

The contents page of the Rubaiyat includes sections titled “About it and About” (p. 32-36) and “Index” (p. 37-44). Clarke was the author of both. In the first (dated September 22, 1934), he explains that he wanted to produce a Rubaiyat on his own press but that he was slow at setting type and was usually disappointed with his efforts to produce a creditable piece of printing. He therefore decided to have the work published under “another imprint”: the printer was “The Monroe Enquirer”, the town newspaper. Clarke then discusses the backgrounds and contents of the five Fitzgerald editions and provides useful information about how to identify each. While discussing the Fifth Version, Clarke states his opinion that Fitzgerald’s revisions are “…so few and minor, one may be led to believe that Fitzgerald considered it about as he wished to leave it. I am therefore using the Fifth Version in this present edition.”

Referring to the 8-page, double-column “Index” Clarke explains “I have endeavored to list some of the outstanding lines and passages, and all the capitalized words that appear in the body of sentences. The figures given in the index refer to quatrains.”

Clark completes this contribution with a list of 19 prior editions of the Rubaiyat.

A second publication

 In the November 1934 edition2 of“The Bookmark”, Clarke gave notice, without explanation, of a one-off price increase, from the usual 5¢ to 40¢, for the December issue and explained that it would be available only to regular subscribers-not distributed through the Mailing Bureaus of the Amateur Press Association.

For this December3 issue, in addition to four pages of the regular contents, he inserted without changes the entire Rubaiyat containing Amos Stack’s illustrations. The lower part of Amos Stack’s illustration of quatrain 7 is on the front cover of the magazine (Fig. 1.). It appears that the book and magazine editions of this Rubaiyat were published within, at most, 2-3 months of one another.

References

  1. https://omarkhayyamrubaiyat.wordpress.com/2020/07/14/an-omarian-alphabet/
  2. The Bookmark, Pack III. No.7 April 1935, Edited and Published by Clarke W Walton.
  3. The Bookmark, Pack III. No.3 December 1934, Edited and Published by Clarke W Walton.

This is the day to celebrate the birth of Omar Khayyam

May 18, 2022
The statue of Khayyam in United Nations Office in Vienna as a part of Persian Scholars Pavilion 

18th May 1048 is generally accepted as the birth date of Omar Khayyam, the famous Persian astronomer, mathematician and philosopher. The verses that inspired Edward FitzGerald to create his Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam have long been attributed to this historical Khayyam, though there is no very strong evidence to support this. Be that as it may, today is a good time to celebrate the existence of the Persian quatrains and the richness that their exploitation by many writers and artists has brought us over the years. We hope you with join us in raising a glass of something appropriate to toast the poetry of ‘Omar Khayyam’.

It is notable also that the Iranians choose to mark today as the National Day of Omar Khayyam. A Press Release this morning from the Mehr News Agency highlights the event, and provides an interesting write up of Omar Khayyam from the Iranian viewpoint, which is well worth reading. The post also contains some unusual images relating to Khayyam, some of which are new to us. They include the one shown above. The full Press Release can be accessed on https://en.mehrnews.com/news/186857/Iran-marks-National-Day-of-Omar-Khayyam

Now we are ten!

April 17, 2022

On 17th April 2012, we uploaded the first post on this OmarKhayyamRubaiyat blog. The post was headed Calling all lovers of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and in it we stated that “… we are aiming to use this blog to help everyone keep up to date with new happenings relating to the Rubaiyat – books, art works, exhibitions, lectures, research, and much more.  The year 2009 was a seminal point for Rubaiyat lovers, with so many happenings that marked the two anniversaries in that year.  But more has happened since.  And it would be great if we could create on on-going Rubaiyat community to which everyone can communicate their knowledge and thoughts.”

Ten years on seems a good point at which to look back to see what we have and have not achieved against the background of these aims. We are still ‘in business’, which is perhaps something, and we now have some 200 regular followers of the blog. In recent years, there have been 30-50 posts annually, and between 4000 and 7000 visitors each year. So there is clearly still interest in Khayyam, FitzGerald and the Rubaiyat, and the blog has been something of a focus for this interest and for putting people in touch with others who share their preoccupations.

To speak for ourselves, we have definitely benefited from the existence of the blog and we greatly value the new contacts and friends that we have made worldwide among other lovers of the Rubaiyat. We have been amazed by the variety and the enthusiasm of people who have been in touch through the blog and the range of subjects on which they have been able to contribute material for posts. As webmasters, we are enormously grateful to all our contributors, whether regular or one-off, who have allowed us to published their material on the blog. Without all of you, the blog would almost certainly not exist today, and it would undoubtedly be much less interesting. Thank you so much for sharing your research and findings with all of us.

Through the work of our contributors, the blog has been able to add significantly to knowledge about a wide variety of Rubaiyat related subjects. These range from identifying previously unknown editions of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat, and documenting the life and work of many Rubaiyat artists, to detailed discussions of the interpretation of particular verses and concepts in the poem, and much more. Through general calls for information, researchers have been able to share their data with others and to work co-operatively – how did we ever do this before the advent of the internet? It has also been possible to alert a much wider audience to interesting events such as readings of the Rubaiyat, films, exhibitions and performances of dance and music inspired by the verse.

Today we look forward to what the years ahead may bring. We hope that the blog will continue to provide a useful service to readers and researchers. Contributions on any Rubaiyat related subjects are always welcome and our aim will still be to widen the Rubaiyat loving community and to bring the great work of Khayyam, FitzGerald and others to an ever larger audience.

Victor Bridges and Edward FitzGerald – a call for information

April 4, 2022
Source: Hilobrow

We have received an inquiry via Charles Mugleston about Victor Bridges and his links with Edward FitzGerald and Woodbridge in Suffolk, UK. A retired American professor is writing a book about Bridges and is planning to visit Woodbridge in the summer in search of further information. Apparently Bridges was, interalia, the author of a book entitled Edward Fitzgerald [sic] and other verses, published by Hodder and Stoughton in London in 1932.

We confess to never having heard of Victor Bridges before, but that invaluable source, Wikipedia, describes him as follows. ‘Victor Bridges (real name Victor George de Freyne, 14 March 1878 – 29 November 1972) was a prolific English author of detective and fantasy fiction, and also a playwright and occasional poet.’ Neither we nor Charles have a copy of his FitzGerald poems in our libraries, but we wonder whether other readers of the blog are better informed? We know from WorldCat that there are copies of the book in the British Library, Oxford University, and the national Libraries of Wales and Scotland. If you have a copy of the book, or know more about Victor Bridges and his association with FitzGerald and/or Woodbridge, do please share your knowledge, initially in the form of a comment below. This can then be passed on to Charles and the scholar who is researching Bridges. Thanks in advance for any help you can give.

March 31st is an auspicious date for Rubaiyat lovers

March 31, 2022

On March 31st, two very important things happened. On this day in the year 1809, Edward FitzGerald was born, and on the same day in 1859, the first edition of his great work, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, was published. So today is a day on which all of us who value the Rubaiyat should pause and be thankful for the existence and work of a great literary figure from Suffolk in the east of England. Please join us in raising a glass to the memory of Edward FitzGerald and all he gave us those many years ago. In this present year of much confusion, the words of Khayyam, as interpreted by FitzGerald, are as usual very apposite (F1 Q30).

What, without asking, hither hurried whence?

And, without asking, whither hurried hence !

Another and another Cup to drown

The Memory of this Impertinence !

Greetings for Nowruz – and some Persian treasures

March 20, 2022

To all our readers we send greetings for Nowruz, the Persian New year which begins today. This brings with it a time of celebration when families and friends get together and mark the happy arrival of Spring with all its promise and hope. Sadly, for our friends in Ukraine and the surrounding areas, the present is very different and we are all concerned about what the next few months will bring. Let us strive to see that a sense of humanity prevails, so that Spring can come to all in that area as well.

Bahram Gur in the Green Pavilion

Charles Mugleston has sent the blog a Nowruz gift in the form of a link to details of the treasures of the Loewi Collection of Persian Miniatures. Christies, the auctioneers, have this collection for sale on 31st March 2022. To quote from their write up:

‘The Paul Richard Loewi Collection, complemented by a group of works acquired by his daughter Erica in the 1960s and 1970s, showcases some of the greatest achievements in Persian painting. … At the heart of the collection are two illustrated folios from a magnificent royal copy of the Shahnama, or ‘Book of Kings’, which has been dated to the reign of the third Safavid king, Shah Ismail II (r.1576-77).’

The link to details of the collection is as follows

https://www.christies.com/features/Persian-Miniatures-12133-7.aspx?sc_lang=en&cid=EM_EMLcontent04144C00Section_A_Story_4_0&COSID=42873161&cid=DM475415&bid=303343264

There is no sign of any work by Omar Khayyam in the collection. But we urge readers to have a look anyway. The paintings are magnificent examples of the richness and beauty that Persian art has given to us all. Even if the prices are beyond the budget of most of us, a few minute of study give a valuable reminder of positive human achievements to set against the turmoil and horrors of today’s world. Thank you, Charles, for this gift.