This Persian fairytale has been retold for a modern audience, the story of The Phoenix of Persia is one of the ancient epic stories of Shahnameh (The Book of Kings) by the 10th century poet Ferdowsi, reminiscent of the classic fairytale Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
THE TRADITION OF PERSIAN STORYTELLING
Stories such as these were told on the street drawing in the crowds to listen to great literary masterpieces. This oral storytelling tradition called pardekahni was, in fact, one of the most widely practiced forms of storytelling in Iran.
This dramatic form of story narration uses a large canvas, known as a parde, elaborately painted with depictions of traditional stories. The pardekhan, the storyteller, would take the canvas to public places and perform the story using the parde to highlight and accent his storytelling. This immersion of story and art would mesmerize audiences as they sought to forget their daily struggles and connect to the characters, circumstances and morals of the tale.
WHY WE NEED CULTURALLY DIVERSE PICTURE BOOKS
At present, there is an urgent need for picture books which promote greater cultural awareness, understanding and tolerance of all cultures and, in particular, which offer a more positive image and understanding of Iran and the Middle East.
Books such as this will show readers something of the great cultural riches and traditions of the old Persian Empire, which refugees from many countries have been forced to abandon. Let us hope that it will enlighten readers and equally empower those who are now creating a new life with us.
The Phoenix of Persia also includes an original musical score by the British-Iranian composers Dr Laudan Nooshin and Soosan Lolavar, recorded by contemporary Iranian musicians and available free to download via a QR code and website with the book.
There, you will also find a narration of the story by Sally Pomme Clayton, set to the music and Cross-curricula teacher resources.