Exploring the Story of Layla and Majnun on Episode 2 of the Heartbreak Series

 

In this episode we take a closer look at Layla and Majnun, which has been a popular theme in literature since its origins in Bedouin oral storytelling. Majnun was associated with a real life character who probably lived in the second half of the seventh century in the Arabian peninsula, but by the Persian poet Nizami’s time in the twelfth century there were many variations of the Majnun theme circulating.

Here to discuss Layla and Majnun are Dr Mammad Aidani, from Melbourne University, Dr Michael Chagnon curator at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Dr Elisabetta Raffo, director of the Bruschettini Foundation in Genoa, and Shorsh Saleh, a Kurdish artist who includes carpet making and Persian miniatures in his practice.

Overview:

[2:39] Dr Mammad Aidani tells the story of Layla and Majnun and its cultural resonance with the contemporary Iranian diaspora.

Mammad Aidani is a human rights advocate, an acclaimed poet, playwright and theatre director. His interest in philosophy, particularly contemporary hermeneutics and phenomenology investigates the trauma and suffering experienced by victims of violence, injustice, torture and war. Mammad’s research work engages with refugee and asylum seekers’ experiences, and the impact of socio-cultural isolation and alienation they undergo pre-arrival (home country) and post-arrival (new) country. Mammad spearheaded the project Writing in Exile (2019) with Melbourne’s PEN and Wheeler Centre; you can listen to him in conversation here.

[12:53] Dr Michael Chagnon explains the form of Persian miniatures, and analyses two paintings that were used as inspiration for the artist Maryam Hoseini.

In this segment, Michael compares two paintings from a Khamsa in the collection of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (see below):

 
‘Layla and Majnun at School’, The Khamsa by Nizami, Iran, 1431-1431, Timurid Dynasty Miniatures, Gouache, 23.7x13.7 cm.

‘Layla and Majnun at School’, The Khamsa by Nizami, Iran, 1431-1431, Timurid Dynasty Miniatures, Gouache, 23.7x13.7 cm.

‘Majnun Dies on Layla’s Grave’, The Khamsa by Nizami, Iran, 1431-1431, Timurid Dynasty Miniatures, Gouache, 23.7x13.7 cm.

‘Majnun Dies on Layla’s Grave’, The Khamsa by Nizami, Iran, 1431-1431, Timurid Dynasty Miniatures, Gouache, 23.7x13.7 cm.

[24:25] Dr Elisabetta Raffo discusses how original and modern audiences respond to different elements of the work - with particular attention to its combination of text and image.

You can find out about the Bruschettini Foundation’s recent exhibition ‘Montefeltro and the Islamic East. Urbino 1430-1550’ here: https://hali.com/news/montefeltro-islamic-east-urbino-1430-1550/

[29:53] Shorsh Saleh describes his artistic practice and the use of Persian miniatures today.

You can find out more about Shorsh Saleh here: https://www.shorshsaleh.com/

RUYA MAPS