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A new documentary about Omar Khayyam

May 20, 2021

We have been alerted by Siamak Akhavan to a new feature length documentary film about Omar Khayyam which has recently been completed. The film is entitled Broken Grail: Khayyam Debates Caligula. It has been produced by some Iranian film makers who together make up the Noghteh Group. This group was formed in 2011 and they state that ‘Our primary mission is to make movies and launch creative ideas to promote knowledge, culture and anything which makes people’s life better and easier.’ See for more information.

In their trailer, the group describes their film about Khayyam as follows:

‘This movie depicts a millenium (sic) from Khayyam’s birth to this day, and it shows Khayyam’s life and the same time depicts a theatrical group in the year 2019 who are trying to stage a play about Khayyam, and the problems that they face somehow bewildered Khayyam at that time too. The confrontation of rationalism and fanaticism, free thinking and prejudice, and so on so forth. This movie tries to depict a valid and coherent picture of this Iranian polymath.’

We have not yet had a chance to view the film in full, so we cannot explain the link between Khayyam and Caligula which puzzles us somewhat, but presumably the narrative makes this clear. Most of the dialogue is in Farsi with English subtitles. It includes interviews with a number of experts in Persian literature and Khayyamic studies including Prof Mehdi Aminrezavi and Prof Leonard Lewisohn. It has taken seven years to produce the film, and the main researcher, writer and director is Armyn Naderi.

The film is well recommended by Prof Aminrezavi and Siamak Akhavan. It can be accessed via the following link . There is also a book (Farsi text only?) containing the script and background on making the film – see We look forward to seeing comments from our readers when they have looked at the film.

Omar Khayyam’s birthday?

May 18, 2021

It has become generally accepted that the historical Omar Khayyam was born on 18th May 1048. So today is the day on which we usually celebrate the anniversary of the famous astronomer, mathematician, philosopher, and perhaps poet. We shall be celebrating as usual this year with an appropriate beverage, and we hope that other readers will be joining us in marking the occasion. The verses (or rubaiyat) that are attributed to Omar Khayyam have given much that is good and valuable to the world.

However, this year, there is a question mark about the celebration. A forthcoming book by the Iranian American academic Mohammad H Tamdgidi raises doubts about the validity of 18 May 1048 as the birth date for Khayyam The existing dating is largely due to the work of the Indian Swami Govinda Tirtha, whose book The Nectar of Grace published in 1941 gives a detailed interpretation of earlier information about Khayyam’s horoscope. Dr Tamdgidi queries the validity of Tirtha’s analysis and suggests, from further horoscope interpretation, that a more accurate date for Khayyam’s birth is 10 June 1021. He also believes that Khayyam’s death was 10 June 1123, rather than the generally accepted idea of his death being some time between 1126 and 1131.

Dr Tamdgidi’s work is presented in a new book due to be published on 1 June 2021. The book is entitled Khayyami Millenium: Reporting the Discovery and the Reconfirmation of the True Dates of Birth and Passing of Omar Khayyam (AD 1021-1131). It is volume 2 of a series with the (to us rather impenetrable) title of Omar Khayyam’s Secret: Hermaneutics of the Rubaiyat in Quantum Sociological Imagination. It appears that there are intended to be 12 volumes in the series of which numbers 1 and 3 will be published simultaneously with number 2. More details are available on the web site of the series publishers OKCIR, see

We have no expertise in horoscope interpretation and so are in no position to judge the rival merits of Tirtha’s and Tamdgidi’s claims. We shall be very interested to hear views from readers who have more relevant knowledge and who get a chance to see the full analysis in the new books. Meanwhile we shall, for the time being, continue to mark today as an occasion to celebrate our heritage of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

A further post from Austin Torney

May 4, 2021

Austin Torney has upload a new post to the blog of the Omar Khayyam Club of America. The post is entitled Extended Rubaiyat, the new Deluxe Rubaiyat , and The Parallel Rubaiyat Book Editions, PDFs, and Videos, and it contains details of various versions of his recent Rubaiyat related publications and how they can be obtained. Brief extracts from his descriptions of each of the three publications are given below. The link to the full post is shown at the end of this note.

The Extended Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam Via Its Equal Interspersed:

Interwoven into FitzOmar’s 115 original Rubaiyat quatrains are many additional, improved ‘Omar Khayyam’ quatrains from the Bodleian and Calcutta manuscripts, as well as many of my own Omaresque inspirations.

I’ve added many more improved Bodleian Manuscript quatrains to The Extended Rubaiyat; FitzGerald only used about 35% of these. The Extended Rubaiyat videos referenced previously have been updated as well.

The best book renditions are on, as usual, since they allow very large uploads. The colors and details are the best ever, thanks to the Topaz AI Adjust filter.

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam Deluxe:

This is my final regular Rubaiyat rendition and is meant to be the end-all. There are 115 original FitzOmar quatrains colorfully lettered and lavishly illustrated, with section titles. There are illustrated Rubaiyat-related themes in text at the end: The Find of the Rubaiyat Edition Known as the ‘Great Omar’, the book being included whole; The Secret Life of the Rubaiyat Poems; The Transmogrification From the Farsi Arabic story; The Extended Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam Via Its Equal Interspersed text, and more.

The Parallel Rubaiyat—Echoes of Khayyam:

These are the quatrains paralleling ‘The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam’ that were merged into it to produce ‘The Extended Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam Via Its Equal Interspersed. The colored lettering here is portrait-oriented full page and many of the Boldeian-derived text and images are also.

Austin Torney’s full post can be accessed via the following link:


The Rubaiyat of Ned Wethered

May 3, 2021

Over the years, Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam has turned up in many varied formats, produced in different countries around the world. Bob Forrest recently found another of these far flung editions, and it is the subject of the latest research article on his web site (see link at end). Bob writes as follows.

For me, one of the most unusual, quirky, and fascinating interpretations of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat is the edition illustrated by Ned Wethered, published by Gilmour’s Bookshop, Sydney, New South Wales, in 1926. Its cover bearing the title The Australian Omar Khayyam, it uses the text of FitzGerald’s first edition and features short biographical notes on Omar and FitzGerald, pointing out, as had been noted by others before, that FitzGerald’s rendering of Omar was so extraordinary that it was as if the Persian poet had somehow been reborn in his English translator. This little booklet of 24 pages is Potter #177. Its ten cartoon illustrations led Potter to describe it as a parody, which arguably it is, even though FitzGerald’s verses are quoted verbatim. Potter dates it to [1927], but contemporary newspaper advertisements show it to have been published in 1926. …

In discussing Ned Wethered’s illustrations, Bob quotes from The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 October 1926, p.10:

“The text of “The Australian Omar Khayyam” is the familiar version by Edward Fitzgerald (sic). The only novelty is the illustrations by Mr Ned Wethered, which depict Australian types such as swagmen, deadbeats in Persian costume, and usually in alcoholic surroundings. It is sometimes held that the allusions to wine and taverns in which the Rubaiyat abound are merely symbolical. Mr Wethered, however, has taken them literally, except that beer is substituted for wine.”

As Bob adds: Actually, it isn’t quite true that beer is substituted for wine, as both – and whisky – feature in his illustrations. As the above quote makes clear, though, the illustrations are to be examined in the light of the artist’s life–experience, specifically, as it turns out, his experience of life in the goldfields of Western Australia in the early years of the twentieth century, …

In his article Bob sets out the information he has unearthed about Ned Wethered’s life and work, as well as providing images of all the Rubaiyat illustrations (one is shown left), and a detailed analysis and interpretation of the often unusual symbolism that they contain. The article makes a fascinating read and provides yet more proof of the wide ranging impact that FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat has had on people of all times and places. Our thanks to Bob for sharing his findings with us. The full article is available on

Omar Khayyam Poems – A Modern Translation

April 26, 2021

We have received advance notification of the forthcoming publication of a new translation of the rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam., taken from the original Persian sources. The translation is the work of an Iranian born author, Siamak Akhavan, who has lived in North America for many years and is currently based in California. In his Preface to the book, he writes :

<< As a bilingual author and avid reader of Persian poetry and literature, I had long found Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat to be an interpretation of Khayyam’s poems –v. a more direct translation of the literal and mystical essence of his poems–, written in an outdated English prose and hard to read (more on this in the Introduction). I believe that in this book, I have presented a more readable and accurate version. ….. One that’s been more understood by his Persian-speaking readers throughout the last millennia. >>

The author has selected 122 quatrains which he considers to be the most genuine of the many verses that have been attributed to Omar Khayyam. The selection is taken from the quatrains published by key Iranian sources, including Hedayat and Forughi and Ghani among others. In the pre-publication excerpts so far circulated, the translated verses are presented with the Farsi text below. The rhyming pattern of the English quatrains seems to vary and there is no apparent ordering of them by subject or theme. Our limited knowledge of Farsi suggests that the translations are a fairly direct interpretation of Khayyam’s originals. Two examples of verses in the new translation are shown below. Readers will reach their own views on whether these interpretations will be more accessible to a modern generation than other modern and earlier versions.

Siamak Akhavan is very keen that Khayyam’s wisdom should be shared with and enjoyed by everyone. Most of us would undoubtedly share that wish and we hope that his new book will achieve this aim. It is being published by Resource Publications (an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers, This is a non-profit publication venture and the author’s proceeds will go to support school building projects in Iran. July 2021 is the planned publication date with a print price of some $10. We look forward to seeing the final production.

Examples of new translation 1

This old court once ruled the world.
At its door many subjects curled.
Now at its ruins sits only a crow,
bemusedly calling, “who, who, who.”

آن قصر کھ با چرخ ھمیزد پھلو
بر درگھ آن شھان نھادندی رو
دیدیم کھ بر کنگرهاش فاختھای
بنشستھ ھمی گفت کھ کوکوکوکو

Examples of new translation 2

In youth we elated a brief prowess.
Gleed in the delusion of greatness.
Yet it proved only that in the end,
it was just going from soil to wind.

یک چند بھ کودکی باستاد شدیم
یک چند بھ استادی خود شاد شدیم
پایان سخن شنو کھ ما را چھ رسید
از خاک در آمدیم و بر باد شدیم

Let’s celebrate Edward FitzGerald’s birthday

March 31, 2021

Edward FitzGerald was born on 31st March 1809 and his Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam was published on the same day in 1859. So today in 2021 marks the 212th anniversary of his birth and 162nd anniversary of the first appearance of his famous poem. It is an appropriate time to pause and think about the self effacing author who brought so much of value to the world in terms of literature and philosophy and who has given so many of us much stimulus and joy.

We have already celebrated FitzGerald over a lunch of toasted cheese which was one of his favourite dishes. He described himself as a ‘philocaseotostus’ and we are certainly members of that exotic club. This evening we shall raise a glass of a suitable beverage in FitzGerald’s honour and we hope that others will join us in this way. We have no doubt that FitzGerald’s work will continue to bring much pleasure to old and new readers over the years ahead.

Some publications relating to the Omar Khayyam Club of London

March 30, 2021

Joe Howard has sent us interesting images and comments on some of the less well known publications of the Omar Khayyam Club of London which he has been investigating. Joe writes as follows.

The dinner menus of the Omar Khayyam Club of London (the Club) are well known for their illustrations: images can be readily found in books and on the internet. My purpose here is to provide examples of some of the Club’s rather less familiar documents/publications.

Membership Booklets
Below is an example of an annual booklet entitled “OMAR KHAYYAM CLUB” (10 by 12.8 cm.). It contains details of past presidents and, for the booklet period, lists of (a) club officials (b) the full membership, with addresses and years of election and (c) names of deceased members. I know of several such booklets published between 1899 and 1914-all having the same format. During the dinner at Pagani’s on 13 October 1892, at which the Club was formed1 , a decision was made to limit club membership to just fifty-nine: these booklets show that this number was routinely exceeded.

Dinner Invitation
This is an elaborate invitation to the 8th December 1895 dinner, complete with illustration. Although it is not easy to see, the words OMAR, KHAYYAM and CLUB are written in the left, top and right borders, respectively, of the illustration. On the inside, members are reminded to “…wear a red rose, the badge of the Club, while guests may wear roses of any other colour”. I enjoyed the explicit reminder, “Red wine is the wine of the Club…any member desiring to order white wine must first obtain the permission of the President.”

Ladies Night
The regular OKC dinners are well known to be men-only affairs. However, here is a large format menu (22.8 by 30.5 cm.) for a “Ladies Night” held in 1972. The cartoon, by DIZ, is appropriately multi-gender. The attendees list shows that ladies were very well represented. I am unaware of how often such events have been held. In an earlier post2 I presented a cartoon of an OK Club dinner which shows ladies present-I wonder if the cartoonist had heard of such an event, or the possibly of it? Perhaps he was simply prescient?

This menu for a Club dinner to be held at the Bull Hotel, Woodbridge on June 18th 1983 deviates significantly from the usual format in that it does not include any of; a Rubaiyat-related illustration (I acknowledge that this has occurred elsewhere); a poem; the usual quotation beginning “Oh, my friends, when I am sped, appoint a meeting…“ or a printed list of members and their guests. Instead, attendees simply signed the menu card. Many of the signatures are clearly of ladies (e.g Anne Briscoe, Helga Young, Sarah Curtis etc). The June timing is also unusual for a regular Club dinner.

Summer Outing
Here we have a trifold card that refers simply to the “OMAR KHAYYAM CLUB, SUMMER OUTING-WOODBRIDGE_JUNE 18th 1983”: I find it unappealing. It is printed on only one side and this event is for the same date and location (Woodbridge) as the dinner mentioned above.

Seating Plans
In his1 “Some notes on the history…” Bennet Maxwell notes “… a fascinating table plan for the dinner in March 1939, exists in the library of McMaster University in Canada.” I have come across references to several other table plans. One is for the November 23rd, 1905 dinner at Frascati’s restaurant3,4. This plan (image available on-line) is amongst a volume of papers containing draft biographical notes on Persian statesmen and notables compiled by George Percy Churchill. He was a guest at the dinner and was seated almost opposite the Club President.
Three other table plans, for 29 Nov. 1900, 24 Nov. 1938 and 16 Nov. 1949, are listed under the “Edward Fitzgerald Miscellany” section of the “Alfred Terhune Collection Relating to Edward Fitzgerald”, held at Syracuse University5.

Although not a publication of the Club, I include pictures of “A Keepsake for the Omar Khayyam Club”. It is one of 99 copies printed and generously presented to the Club by Het Nederlands Omar Khayyam Genootschap. The occasion being the centennial anniversary of the OKC of London in October 1992. The illustration is by Frans de Jong.



Our thanks to Joe for sharing his research and information with us all.

‘All is Number’ – Pythagoras

March 21, 2021

Charles Mugleston has sent us the following piece which looks at FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat from an unusual perspective. He writes:

1 2 7 72… 1000 – A Genius aiming for Perfection ?

Hardly a page of the noetic – poetic Ruba’iya’t of Omar Khayya’m is turned without the reader / listener being introduced to some form of implicit or explicit number symbolism.

The number Seven for instance with all Its Divine, Cosmic and Human Mysteries wins hands down as The Key to IT All, and yet…

Back in 2008  while doing some research for  a stage presentation of the poem at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich in 2009, I visited Claude Cox Books in Silent Street, Ipswich and happened to meet a man who was looking after the shop for the owner. He told me he owned E.F.G’s copy of the Book of Common Prayer & Psalms with E.F.G’s bookplate designed by W.M.Thackeray which apparently E.F.G used to carry around in his pocket and I certainly now regret not asking him if I could see it.

E J Sullivan Quatrain 38

However, reflecting on that recently and that a quote from Psalm 100 is inscribed on his gravestone” “It is He that has made us and not we ourselves” and remembering that there are 150 Psalms, it moved me to wonder why E.F.G possibly used not one numerical ‘blue print’ or ‘ground plan’ for the poem’s expansion & contraction in all its five editions, but three !!! ?

Do the numbers of the quatrains used… firstly 75, then 110 and then 101 follow certain patterns of thought, of awareness ?  have a certain reason for being there or did they just pour out of the ‘Cornucopia’ as they did… happen spontaneously ? “Light has Its reasons of course”

Well, trying to tune into his mind, reasoning, inspiration, intuition… perhaps we can discern a plausible reason as to why we are offered / given 75 quatrains in the first edition.

Could it be he wanted to share it based on 75 being exactly half the number of the Psalms “And David’s Lips are lock’t”?

Or, was he influenced by the number 72 in the poem “The Two-and-Seventy jarring Sects confute” ? adding his own touches – extra quatrains making it 75 – “a live sparrow”… ?

Did he then throw numerical symbolism to the winds in his efforts to draw more metaphorical water from the well of wisdom of quatrains  that became available to him when he chose to have 110 in the second edition ?

Then, how do we account for his using 101 quatrains for the fifth edition ? His love of pruning maybe ? for he liked to reduce the superfluous be it cutting paintings, poems, prose – which he was quite skilful at – rather more skilful indeed in those particular departments than pruning roses so local reports have it !

Or, could it actually be this… In the Islamic Religion there are the 99 Names of Allah, but in the Zoroastrian Religion of Ancient Persia as recorded in the Zend Avesta – a religion which influenced Buddhism, Christianity and Islam there are 101 Names of Ahura Mazda…AH !

Perhaps, in his reading of what was available to him and maybe through his purchases from Bernard Quaritch maybe such a Sacred number shaped his thought – crowned his Masterpiece helping to provide the underlying rich & resonant roots that give it such a universal appeal. So, I offer this numerical food for thought – a Persian Sweetmeat so to speak both for today being Nowruz and an early Easter Gift, likewise to share as we draw near to the 31st March – Edward Purcell’s /FitzGerald’s birthday remembering also his good friend Alfred Lord Tennyson who mentioned Pythagoras in the Prologue to Tiresias his poetic tribute to E.F.G.

Our thanks to Charles for sharing his thoughts. At this season of Nowruz, we also send greetings to all our readers. Let us hope that 2021/2 proves to be a better year for all of us.

Orlando Greenwood Illustrates the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

March 1, 2021

A couple of years ago, Danton O’Day drew our attention to some newly located illustrations for the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam by the British artist Orlando Greenwood – see links at the end of this post. He also made some of the illustrations available in the form of a video. Now Danton has been able to publish the Greenwood illustrations in book form, as he describes below.

Orlando Greenwood (1892-1989) was a brilliant and talented artist.  A full member of the Royal Society of British Artists he is recognized for his architectural studies, landscapes and still life pictures. His paintings and prints are on sale/display at art galleries across the UK (e.g., Manchester City Galleries, Towneley Hall Art Gallery & Museum, Harris Museum & Art Gallery and Grundy Art Gallery) and are also available online.

The collection of pictures presented in this book were discovered by Jo Briony. The black and white images illustrating Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam were done when Greenwood was a 21- to 22-year-old student at Goldsmiths’ College of Art. Greenwood appears to have felt a close relationship with the poetry. Now, for the first time, his Rubaiyat work is published in book form featuring nine of his illustrations plus a frontispiece image. The 6”x 9”, softcover book also explains the serendipitous discovery of these pictures and sheds some insight into Greenwood’s life and the selection of quatrains he illustrated.

The book reference is ISBN: 9781034492504. It is available online at Ingram and other online retailers, price US $19.99 (on Amazon UK, it is available at £17.49).

Earlier posts on this topic are: and

Some more information on the Whitcombe & Tombs Rubaiyats

February 2, 2021

In September last year, we posted two items on editions of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, published by the New Zealand publishers Whitcombe & Tombs in the 1940’s – see and

The posts highlighted research done by Bob Forrest on these editions, particularly his attempts to clarify the dating of their publication. Bob has now obtained further information on the subject, notably a new copy of another book in the Courage and Friendship Booklet series, which helps to confirm his chronology for the publication of the series. He has also made some revisions to the analysis of the second set of Rubaiyats published by Whitcombe and Tombs which have illustrations by an unknown artist with initials R.G.T. The covers of two versions of these books are shown below.

The revised analysis is now incorporated in Bob’s full write up on the subject which can be found on We all owe a debt to Bob for his continuing efforts to try to sort out a complicated puzzle in Rubaiyat publication.