Omar Khayyam

Omar Khayyam The Rubaiyat

Who Was Omar Khayyam?

Omar Khayyam is the rock star of Persian literature and poetry. The writer, mathematician, philosopher and astronomer was one of the greatest minds of his time and his works remain influential today. This Persian Renaissance man was born on May 18, 1048, in the city of Nishapur, which is located in the province of Khorassan.

Omar Khayyam Famous Quote Nazmiyal Antique Persian Carpets

Famous Quote By Omar Khayyam

The Early Years And Travels Of Omar Khayyam

As a student, Khayyam traveled to the ancient educational center of Samarkand and spent time in Bokara where he composed the era’s most important book on algebra. Before age 25, Omar Khayyam had written several volumes on subjects as varied as math and music. Later, Sultan Malik-Shah, the grandson of the Seljuk founder, invited Khayyam to travel to the dynasty’s capital in Esfahan.

Omar Khayyam The Mathematician Nazmiyal antique persian rugs

Omar Khayyam The Mathematician

There, Khayyam established and managed an astronomical observatory. For nearly two decades, Khayyam worked in the city of Isfahan and maintained close connections with Malik-Shah. His astronomical and mathematical works and his contribution to the Jalali calendar are among his most well-known innovations.

However, after the sultan’s death, Khayyam fell from favor and embarked on a pilgrimage to Mecca followed by extensive travels. Khayyam’s life frequently intersects with Persia’s greatest cities, places where pictorial carpets featuring scenes from the Rubaiyat were later created.

Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayyam nazmiyal antique persian carpets

The Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayyam

Outside mathematical circles, Omar Khayyam is famous for his quatrains. These evocative poems were introduced to the West by Thomas Hyde in the 17th century and later by Edward Fitzgerald, who translated hundreds of quatrains and packaged them with dazzling illustrations. Ironically, European translations reintroduced the poet to Persian audiences. Over the years, more than 1,000 quatrains have been attributed to Khayyam. However, only one-tenth are certainly his. Poetry and mathematical manuscripts attributed to Khayyam have emerged perpetually since his death in 1131.

Omar Khayyam Famous Poem Antique Carpets

Omar Khayyam Famous Poem

Time has obscured much of what historians know about Khayyam’s early life. Nevertheless, no one can dispute that he has had an indelible influence on modern authors, artists and carpet makers who continue to find inspiration in his writings.

Although he wasn’t recognized as a poet during his life, “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam” has become a definitive example of Persian literature. Even today, whenever a jug of wine and a shaded bower are mentioned, the world thinks of this literary legend.

What is Omar Khayyam most known for?

Omar Khayyam is most known as a Persian mathematician, astronomer, and poet who lived during the 11th and 12th centuries. His fame primarily rests on his contributions to mathematics and his collection of philosophical and romantic poetry known as the “Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.”

The Rubaiyat and Poetry Of Omar Khayyam

However, it is his poetry that has gained the widest recognition and has made him an influential figure in the literary world. The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, a collection of quatrains (four-line verses) that explore themes of love, fate, mortality, and the transient nature of life, became widely popular after it was translated into English by Edward FitzGerald in the 19th century. The verses present a contemplative and often melancholic outlook on life, expressing a desire to seize the moment and find joy in the face of life’s uncertainties.

Khayyam’s poetry has had a profound impact on Western literature and has been celebrated for its philosophical depth and lyrical beauty. It has also influenced various artistic and musical works, cementing his place as one of the most renowned poets in both Persian and world literature.

Omar Khayyam’s method for solving cubic equations – the Khayyam-Saccheri solution:

Mathematically, Khayyam made significant advancements in algebraic equations and geometry. He developed a method for solving cubic equations, known as the “Khayyam-Saccheri solution,” which built upon the work of earlier mathematicians. His geometric studies focused on the classification and solutions of various types of conic sections.

Which artistic and musical works were influenced by Omar Khayyam?

Omar Khayyam’s poetry, particularly his “Rubaiyat,” has inspired numerous artistic and musical works over the years.

Here are some examples of how Omar Khayyam’s writings have influenced various creative endeavors:

  • Artworks: The evocative themes and imagery in Khayyam’s poetry have captured the imagination of many visual artists. Painters such as William Blake, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Edmund Dulac have created illustrations and artworks based on Khayyam’s verses, often depicting scenes of contemplation, nature, and the ephemeral nature of life.
  • Music: Khayyam’s poetry has been a source of inspiration for composers and musicians as well. One of the most famous musical adaptations is the “Khayyam Symphony” by the Russian composer Alexander Glazunov. This symphony was inspired by Khayyam’s quatrains and reflects the mood and philosophical underpinnings of his poetry.
  • Operas and Ballets: Several operas and ballets have been based on Khayyam’s works. The most notable among them is “Kismet,” a Broadway musical by Robert Wright and George Forrest. While not a direct adaptation of Khayyam’s poetry, it draws heavily on his themes and includes references to his verses.
  • Literary Influences: Khayyam’s poetry has had a significant impact on literary works across different cultures. Writers and poets, including Hafez, Rumi, and T.S. Eliot, have been influenced by his philosophical ideas and poetic style. Khayyam’s influence is particularly evident in English literature, where his quatrains have inspired numerous poets and writers.

It’s worth noting that the influence of Omar Khayyam’s poetry extends beyond these specific examples. His verses have resonated with readers and creative minds around the world, leading to a broader cultural impact that continues to inspire new works across various artistic mediums.

This blog about Omar Khayyam was published by Nazmiyal Rugs in New York City.

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