The Omar Khayyám Society: 25 years

The ‘Nederlands Omar Khayyám Genootschap’, or Dutch Omar Khayyám Society, waWine glasss founded in 1990 by four enthusiasts to share their love and interest in Omar. Initiated by Jos Biegstraaten, the Society was set up to gather, discuss, share and distribute knowledge and relevant information on all sorts of Khayyám related facts, findings and opinions.

Soon after that the first Yearbook was published, in 1992, and others followed, with an irregular interval of about four years. The latest issue is a special on the occasion of the 25th anniversary, containing short essays in which the members reflect on their membership and their relation to Omar Khayyám.

Over the years members have been in contact with Omarians from all over the world. A special occasion for meetings and discussions was the congress held in July 2009 in Leiden and Cambridge, and musical festivities in Amsterdam, in which the Society played an active role. Another event that attracted attention was an exhibition in Museum Meermanno, in 2009, highlighting the most important editions of FitzGerald’s translation representing developments in book publishing, typography and illustration.

The 25th anniversary will be celebrated Saturday, May 30, in Leiden, with a small congress for members and guests and a dinner. The program lists a reading on Omar Khayyám and Kavafis, by Michiel Leezenberg, associate professor in the Department of Philosophy, University of Amsterdam.


Sufi masters of love

Sufi mastersThe Rosicrucian Foundation in The Netherlands will organize a symposium on the poetry and lyrics of Hafiz, Rumi and Khayyám. The meeting is part of a series to investigate the great oriental movements of wisdom and philosophy.

The delicate Persian lyrics still exert a specific attraction to us. Persian poetry, music and wisdom spread over the continents from China to the West when our ancestors still went at each other with prongs and forks.

Some of the subjects that will be discussed are stories and music about  Layla and Majnun, about Rumi, Shamsuddin of Tabriz, Mirabai, but also Krishna and Jesus. There will also be a small exhibition on Khayyám’s Rubáiyát, showing a number of mystical and sufi interpretations of his verses.

For more information (in Dutch) see: Soefi-meesters van de Liefde: Rumi en Hafez. Perzische bevrijdingslyriek voor het hart

The event will take place on June 13, 2016 in Bilthoven, The Netherlands.

Gilbert James: illustrator of The Rubáiyát

James portraitOne of the early illustrators of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám was Gilbert James (1865-1941).  His work can be found in numerous editions and reprints of The Rubáiyat, and a number of his illustrations have been issued as post cards as well. Although this indicates that his work was rather popular in his days, very little is known about the artist himself.

In a recently published document however, Bob Forrest reports the findings of his research into the artist and his work, particularly his Rubáiyát illustrations. They appeared for the first time in a magazine ‘The Sketch’ (1896) and in book form in 1898, published by Smithers (1898) as Fourteen Drawings illustrating Edward FitzGerald’s Translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

This highly important document is available on Bob Forrest’s website: