Bijan and Manijeh
Bijan and Manijeh (also Bizhan and Manizheh, Persian بيژن و منيژه) is a love story in Ferdowsi's Shahnameh (Shāh-Nāmeh, The Epic of Kings). Bijan was the son of Geev, a famous Iranian knight during the reign of Kai Khosrow, the Shah of Iran, and Banu Goshasp, the heroine daughter of Rostam. Bijan falls in love with Manijeh, the daughter of Afrasiab, the king of Turan and the greatest enemy of Iran. The tale of his suffering and Manizheh's constancy has been quoted by several other Iranian authors.
People from Armenia complain to Kai Khosrow, the Shah of Iran, that wild boar are invading their fields. Bijan fights the boar, forcing them back to their lairs. The day after, Gorgin, an Iranian knight, describes the beautiful gardens of Afrasiab to Bijan, tempting him to cross the border from Iran, into the mythical land of Turan on the northern shores of the Caspian Sea. Turan is ruled over by the evil, and egotistical King Afrasiab. In the garden, he meets Manizheh, Afrasiab's beautiful daughter. They fall madly in love; however, knowing her father's reaction to accepting an Iranian prince in her private chambers, Manizheh drugs Bijhan, who then falls into a deep sleep. He wakes up in Manizheh's bed chamber, inside Afrasiab's palace. With the collusion of her maids, Manizheh manages to hide him from attention for a while before he is discovered by the palace guards.
Afrasiab condemns Bijhan to be thrown into a deep well, and its mouth to be covered by a heavy rock. He also sentences his daughter into exile, so that both Bijhan and Manizheh are forced to live out their days in the wilderness. Everynight, she secretly visits the mouth of the well, brings him food, and speaks lovingly to him. Manizheh also sends secret messages to Rostam, the Iranian hero charged with keeping the country safe from Afrasiab. Her act of treason against Turan condemns her to death if discovered by her father's agents. The Shah of Iran, Kay Khosro, looks into his Crystal Cup, and sees Bijhan trapped inside a well in the land of Turan. Manijheh's messages reach Rostam, the greatest of all Iranian heroes, who disguises himself as a merchant, and along with a few knights, enters Turan and finally discovers the well where Bijhan is imprisoned. He rolls the rock off the mouth of the well using his super human strength, and pulls Bijhan to safety. They escape into Iran where there is much rejoicing at Bijhan's return to his homeland. Furious with Bijhan's escape and his own daughter's treason, Afrasiab declares war on Iran. The Iranian and Turanian armies meet and a mighty battle ensues.The skies turn dark from the dust of the battle field while trumpets and crashing cymbals signify the attack of the Iranian cavalry. Turan is defeated, and Afrasiab is forced to return home without his daughter and in shame.
This story reflects the ongoing wars between the Iranian kings and two of their greatest enemies. "Turan" is a reference to the nomadic peoples of Central Asia (initially Farsi-speaking), and the boar is a symbol of the Roman armies advance into Armenia under the leadership of Marc Anthony. The theme of doomed love stories between the youth of Iran and Turan is repeated several times in the Shahnameh (Book of Kings) and reaches its pinnacle in the epic of Siavosh.
- Bijan and Manijeh, by Hakim Abol-Qasem Ferdowsi Tousi, translated into English by Helen Zimmern (Iran Chamber Society).
- Shahnameh, by Hakim Abol-Qasem Ferdowsi Tusi, the complete work (64 Epics), in Persian (ParsTech). This work can be freely downloaded (File size, compiled in the form of an HTML Help File: 1.4 MB).
- A king's book of kings: the Shah-nameh of Shah Tahmasp, an exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (fully available online as PDF), which contains material on Bijan and Manijeh