|Publication Date||January 1, 2003|
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In The Aura of Kings, Abolala Soudavar traces the symbolism of the Divine Glory to its early origins and demonstrates its continuity across Iranian history. The Divine Glory or farr-e izadi (Old Persian: khvarnah) is an everlasting principle of Iranian political ideology usually invoked to project legitimacy of rule and divine sanction. Persian literature abounds with references to the ruler’s Divine Glory, and scholarly studies often emphasize the centrality of this theme to the topic of authority and power. Yet, little attention has been devoted to the visual symbolism of farr and its potential for shedding more light on our perception of ancient Iranian history. In a culture where the written word is scarce and, even when available, is metaphoric and evasive, the pictorial document can be as valuable as text, and iconography can be developed into an essential tool of historiography. This important and very readable study sheds new light on the formulation and development of the symbolism of kingship in Iran and her geo-cultural neighbors, and contributes toward a better understanding of the Iranian worldview in general, and the propagation of the aura as a visual symbol of farr in particular.
"Abolala Soudavar has written a very informative book, which challenges many established views and introduces many new ideas, hypotheses, and interpretations concerning symbols of legitimacy in Iran. By drawing on a large number of coins, vessels, bas-reliefs, paintings, and texts and emphasizing the visual representations of the symbols of legitimacy he has considerably widened the scope of debate on this important issue. No historian of Persian politics, religions or art can exempt himself from pondering his interpretations and innovative ideas." —Ehsan Yarshater, Prof. Emeritus, Columbia University
"I have read The Aura of Kings with great interest. It contains new ideas and new approaches to explain the monuments of Iranian history and art. I find its arguments logical and well-conceived…." —Richard N. Frye, Prof. Emeritus, Harvard University