Washington DC – The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery takes us deep into the heart of divinity in Iran and Turkey during the 16th and 17th centuries in another fanciful exhibition entitled Falnama: The Book of Omens. The Ottomans and the Safavids looked to these large colorful manuscripts, in hopes of answering one of the most universal questions, “What will the Future Bring?”
The Sackler Gallery has brought together these works for the first time from Istanbul, New York, Dublin and Paris. These illustrated and rare manuscripts were used by sultans, shahs and everyday people to predict their futures. The fortunes are accompanied by beautiful images which are the key to unlocking the meaning of the augury. For example, images of the sun or Adam and Eve were probably a good sign, where an image of Mars, the God of war, was not surprisingly was an ominous omen. Dr. Massumeh Farhad, chief curator and the organizer of the exhibition, noted the universality of the books, “They appeal to our common desire to know what the future holds and our need for guidance and protection in an uncertain world.
Other exhibitions in the Year of Iran at the Smithisonian included “The Tsars and the East: Gifts from Iran and Turkey” and a celebration of Norooz. The Falnama: Book of Omens exhibition runs from Oct. 24 to Jan. 24, 2010 at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington DC. For more information about this and other exhibitions, please visit www.asia.si.edu.